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How to Make Authentic Norwegian Surkal – VEGAN!

How to Make Authentic Norwegian Surkal – VEGAN!

Norwegian sauerkraut is a staple on our holiday table each year. In Norway, it’s customary to celebrate Christmas Eve with a festive feast followed by singing by the Christmas tree – more accurately, around the Christmas tree – and opening presents.

Alongside a roast you’ll find gravy, parsley potatoes, tangy lingonberry sauce, and Surkal. Which is a Norwegian side dish is that is notably different than the sharply acidic condiment we often see here in the states. It’s well-balanced, mellow, and richly flavored with cararway seeds and just a handful of simple ingredients like salt, sugar, and vinegar.

You can find caraway seeds in the spice section of most grocery stores, including Walmart and Target!

We usually make it in the morning and let it simmer all day so that it’s deeply flavorful by dinnertime. But it really gets better with time, so you can make this a few days a head of time as a holiday meal-prep item and have it all ready to go for Christmas. Just heat and serve, how’s that for stress free?!

This easy one-pot recipe is very simple to make but it took me a while to create the perfect vegan version because my Grandma often gave it a touch of umami richness by adding the drippings from the holiday pork roast into the pot. She also used a concentrated Norwegian vinegar that is hard to find here in the US so I opted for plain white rice vinegar (the kind you can find at any grocery store) and played round with the measurements until I got it to taste just right. Instead of the pan drippings, I opted to add a tiny touch of olive oil and some vegetable broth to mimic the richness and texture that her method provided.

I finally feel that I’ve been able to recreate all fo the same flavors and textures of my Grandma’s Christmas Surkal but without the animal products and I think my Bestemor would be impressed 😊

I hope you enjoy my easy, meal-prep friendly, and now VEGANIZED Scandinavian side dish recipe! My family and I love it and we hope you and yours will too!

Happy cooking and God Jul!

Watch the Recipe Here

Norwegian Surkal

Nicole Vranjican
How to make authentic Norwegian sauerkraut. This warm Scandinavian side dish is a staple on our holiday table so I created a vegan version of Surkal that is flavored with earthy caraway seeds and brightened with tangy vinegar. Hope you enjoy!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Norwegian
Servings 8 people


  • 6.5 cups green cabbage about 1 medium sized cabbage, finley shredded
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tsp kosher salt I use Morton's Kosher salt
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp caraway seeds whole, not ground
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup white rice vinegar



  • Start by washing and drying a medium sized green cabbage. Trim the stem and cut the cabbage in half. Then cut each half into 3 or 4 wedges and remove the core/stem.
    Then finely chop the cabbage into thin ribbons and set aside.


  • In a large pot (choose one that has a lid that fits on top) set the heat to medium high and add in the olive oil, cabbage, water, broth, salt, sugar, caraway seeds, and vinegar.
    Bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling, lower the heat (about a 2 out of 10) and cover with a lid. I keep it slightly ajar so it doesn't boil over.
  • Cook for 2 hours, strring occasionally. After about 10-15 minutes you should be able to move the lid so that it's covered completely and just check back every 20-30 minutes to give it a stir.


  • You'll definitely want to taste this to see if you need to add more salt, sugar, or vinegar. We want the flavors to pop so adding an extra pinch of salt can be useful for that.
    We often add an extra splash of vinegar right before serving too to make sure it has a subtle zing!


  • This is a brothy dish, so we serve it in a large bowl with a slotted spoon to allow some of the juice to remain in the bowl and not on our dinner plates.
    We serve this as a side dish alongside a vegan roast or meatballs with gravy, some boiled potatoes, and lingonberry (or cranberry) sauce. Enjoy!


Cook for 2 hours on very low heat. I usually move it from boiling to about a 2 out of 10 low heat, and leave it to simmer for 2 hours. If we’re making it for that night, I often turn off the heat after two hours but leave it on the stove with the lid on. Then I’ll just quickly warm it back up before serving.Β 
This is also great for meal prep because you can make it 2-3 days in advance and warm it up as needed. It keeps in the fridge for a week or so. I don’t recommend freezing.
Keyword cabbage, caraway seeds, family recipes, healthy hygge recipes, healthy hyggee, holidays, nikki vegan, norwegian recipes, norwegian surkal, serves a crowd, slow cooking, vegan norwegian food, vegan scandinanvian food, vinegar

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I hope you enjoy this Norwegian Surkal recipe! What are some of your favorite holiday recipes? I would love to know!

Happy holidays everyone ✨

Nicole Vranjican

Hey! I’m Nicole and I make practical vegan recipes for REAL life. I cook with simple, easy to find ingredients and I’m passionate about creating delicious plant-based meals that everyone will love!

I hope you enjoy my recipes and videos :) Happy Cooking!

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