Berliner Pork Hocks and Sauerkraut – Oma's Eisbein und Sauerkraut

Oma Gerhild

by: Gerhild Fulson  /  Cookbook Author, Blogger, German Oma!

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Pork hocks and sauerkraut, aka Eisbein und Sauerkraut, a favorite of my Opa, is a real traditional German food. This version of Eisbein is a classic in northern Germany, not to be confused with Schweinshaxe from the southern part. 

Eisbein is a really old traditional German meal, especially well-known in the Berlin area.

German pork hocks are cooked from raw rather than smoked hocks. Although I admit, if I can only find smoked pork hocks, I'll buy them. They're just like ham and are great in a potato or pea soup.

Make this northern German dish, Eisbein, aka pork hocks, with sauerkraut.

Fresh pork hocks are another matter. They may be difficult to find in many grocery stores and you may need to go to a deli or a butcher.

All that fat and bones!?!

When you look at the hocks, you may see nothing but fat and bones. So, look for meaty ones and you'll be surprised by the delicious taste of the tender meat. The long slow cooking makes the hocks tender, yet retaining their juiciness.

When serving, you can cut away the fat. Traditionally though, this was eaten, just dunked in mustard!

I used to wonder how healthy this could be? Yet my Opa ate lots of "fatty" meats and little vegetables. He lived to his late 80's. Me, however, I cut away most of the fat!

Buying Pork hocks: Tips and Tricks

  • When you buy the fresh pork hocks, try to find the meatiest ones you can.
  • Depending on the size of the hocks, one to two meaty hocks will feed about three to four people. Served with boiled potatoes and sauerkraut, you've a traditional Oktoberfest meal
  • Check the fresh pork hocks to see if there are any hairs on the hocks before you cook them. If there are, the easiest way to get rid of them is to singe them off. Light a candle and hold the "hairy" hock over the flame, and the hair will "melt away".

Buying Sauerkraut: Tips and Tricks

  • When shopping for sauerkraut, the crisper the better! You want to avoid anything slimy and rotten looking/smelling.
  • Buying raw is always a great option to avoid any pasteurization that can kill any healthy contents and benefits.
  • Know your brands! Some can be true to their word, while some load their sauerkraut with sugar or undergo pasteurization. It is important to know what you're looking for in sauerkraut before buying. Whether it's for health benefits, or merely just enjoyment. They can all be made so differently.

Looking for Schweinshaxn? Crispy roasted hocks?

If you prefer the hocks to have a crispy crust as in this photo, then follow the recipe for Schweinshaxn. This one is started on the stove and finished in the oven. A bit more work, but worth it. There's also a recipe there for just doing it in the oven.

Celebrate Oktoberfest right at home with these German recipes found right here in Oma's Oktoberfest e-Cookbook.  

Take a look at Just like Oma’s eCookbook and enjoy the traditional taste of German cuisine!

Take a peek at all Oma's eCookbooks. They make sharing your German heritage a delicious adventure!

In comparison to the Schweinshaxn, the recipe below is an easy and quick one to prepare, yet it does take some time to cook. Serve this with boiled potatoes for a traditional German meal.

Are Pork Hocks and Sauerkraut Healthy?

This is a common question among meat dishes, with many wondering 'How healthy is this, really?'

The answer is actually, very! Any meats, especially pork are rich in carbohydrates and especially protein, which your body needs lots of to be strong and healthy. Pork is also a huge contributor to your vitamins and minerals supply that your body also needs. This can make it a wonderful addition to your diet.

For this meal, just make sure you cut away all that fat. (Although, I must admit, my Opa LOVED that fat dunked in mustard.)

Now sauerkraut, on the other hand, is even MORE full of nutrients and health benefits! Did you know that eating sauerkraut can help strengthen your immune system? 

Sauerkraut is packed full of probiotics and vitamins, which can help improve your digestive system and strengthen your bones too! With such large amounts of vitamin K2, the vitamin responsible for helping create calcium, it makes for such healthy food. 

Pork Hock Info

  • Schweinshaxe (as it's called in southern Germany) is a roasted ham hock or pork knuckle and usually served with sauerkraut
  • Eisbein (as it's called in northern Germany) is usually boiled and served with sauerkraut and pureed yellow peas
  • Originally this was considered food for the poor people, aka Armeleuteessen, since it was made with inexpensive cuts of meat  
  • Since this is a tough piece of meat, full of connective tissue, ligaments, and muscle, it needs to be cooked low and slow, to turn it into delicious fork-tender meat

Ready for some Eisbein?

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Berliner Pork Hocks and Sauerkraut – Oma's Eisbein und Sauerkraut

Pork hocks and sauerkraut, aka Eisbein und Sauerkraut, was a favorite of my Opa. It's a really old traditional German meal especially well known in the Berlin area. Make sure you buy fresh pork hocks, not smoked.

In the southern part, Schweinshaxe are more traditional, but in the north, it's this Eisbein that's beloved.

Prep Time

10 minutes

Cook Time

150 minutes

Total Time

160 minutes


Makes 4 servings


  • 4 large meaty fresh pork hocks
  • 2 large onions, quartered
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 peppercorns, slightly crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 28-ounce can sauerkraut, drained
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds


  1. Add pork hocks, onion, bay leaf, peppercorns and salt to a large pot. 
  2. Cover with hot water and bring to simmer.
  3. Cover and simmer for about 2 hours. 
  4. Drain off most of the cooking liquid, saving the liquid for other uses. Add sauerkraut and caraway seeds.
  5. Simmer for another half hour. Remove the bay leaves and check the seasoning. Serve.


  • For a different taste treat, try Schweinshaxe next time.
  • Serve with your favorite mustard.
  • The remaining cooking liquid is a wonderful broth to use for soups. Just refrigerate and remove the fat layer. Then use immediately or freeze for later.
  • You can also make the sauerkraut this way instead.

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04.20.2021 revision update

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Make this northern German dish, Eisbein, aka pork hocks, with sauerkraut.

Oma's Pork Hocks and Sauerkraut ~ Eisbein und Sauerkraut

Oma's Pork Hocks and Sauerkraut ~ Eisbein und Sauerkraut
Pork hocks and sauerkraut, a favorite of my Opa, is a real traditional German food. This version of Eisbein is a classic in northern Germany, not to be confused with Schweinshaxe from the southern part.

Ingredients: fresh pork hocks, sauerkraut, onions, seasonings,

For the full recipe, scroll up ...

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