In Polish, kielbasa means “sausage.” In North America, it’s a catch-all term for different varieties of traditional Polish sausages: spicy or mild, smoked or not, dried or fresh, made exclusively with pork or a mix of meats. In U.S. supermarkets, kielbasa is mostly either unsmoked or very lightly smoked, and often stands in as a slightly more rustic and more filling substitute for the hot dog. Outside of a bun, though, kielbasa is a very useful and adaptable ingredient. Here are 9 ways to let it shine.
1. Kielbasa with Warm Apple-Bacon Slaw
Kielbasa is best, arguably, when it’s paired with something crisp and tart and entirely un-kielbasa-like. This recipe checks all the boxes, thanks to a warm cabbage, bacon, and green apple salad. Get our Kielbasa with Warm Apple-Bacon Slaw recipe.
2. Kielbasa Reubens
The Reuben sandwich (corned beef or pastrami with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing) is an American icon that looms as large as the Stature of Liberty. Kielbasa is a logical replacement for the corned beef: rich, meaty, and caraway-flavored. It both respects and reimagines a classic. Get our Kielbasa Reubens recipe.
3. Kielbasa Hash
This is exactly the kind of recipe we like to make when we come home from work. It involves something meaty (kielbasa), starchy (red potatoes), and vegetable (spinach). It comes together in a cast-iron skillet—one of our favorite cooking vessels—and has a spunky, vinegar-and-mustard flavor profile. Get our Kielbasa Hash recipe.
4. Slow Cooker Pork and Sauerkraut
The traditional Alsatian dish, choucroute garni, gets a contemporary American makeover in the crockpot. Here, kielbasa simmers with country pork spareribs, onion, sauerkraut and caraway seed until everything is tender and mellow. Get our Slow Cooker Pork and Sauerkraut recipe.
5. Kielbasa with Chili Sauce
Four ingredients: pineapple, chili sauce, brown sugar, and—of course—kielbasa. Haute cuisine it is not, but it’s tasty, easy, and satisfying, eaten with steamed rice over studying or heated up at the office. Get My Simple but Blessed Life’s Kielbasa with Chili Sauce recipe.
6. Muenster Kielbasa Casserole
Kielbasa gets the easy American casserole treatment. Here. Wide egg noodles combine with onion, kale, sour cream, Muenster cheese, and the starring sausage. Make it for a potluck, or on the weekend to store in the fridge for a fast, one-dish weeknight dinner. Get Pillsbury.com’s Muenster Kielbasa Casserole recipe.
7. Tortellini Soup with Cannellini, Kielbasa, and Kale
Sturdy, rustic ingredients like beans and kale stand up beautifully to kielbasa. Here, the trio meets more delicate cheese tortellini in a soup that eats like a one-bowl meal. Get Bon Appétit’s Tortellini Soup with Cannellini, Kielbasa, and Kale recipe.
8. Cabbage and Kielbasa Soup
In Poland, where the broad category of sausages known as kielbasa comes from, cabbage is a frequent accompaniment. It makes sense: Cabbage is hearty and rustic, the vegetable kingdom’s perfect match. In this recipe, beef stock, paprika, and tomatoes contribute to this comforting soup. Get CDKitchen’s Cabbage and Kielbasa Soup recipe.
9. Pierogi and Kielbasa Bake
One of the coolest (and heartiest) twists on lasagna we’ve seen. Premade potato and onion pierogis are layered with browned kielbasa and a softened mixture of red cabbage, onions, sauerkraut, and mustard. Shredded cheddar cheese makes it hold together. Get Woman’s Day’s Pierogi and Kielbasa Bake recipe.