Northern German Kale and Sausage (Grünkohl und Pinkel)

Grünkohl und Pinkel: German kale and sausages

schlauschnacker / pixabay

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 75 mins
Total: 105 mins
Servings: 2 to 3 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
315 Calories
21g Fat
15g Carbs
18g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 3
Amount per serving
Calories 315
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 28%
Saturated Fat 7g 37%
Cholesterol 57mg 19%
Sodium 1267mg 55%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 6%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Protein 18g
Calcium 188mg 14%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Cooked kale and sausage is a delicious winter comfort food. Grünkohl is German for "kale", and this hearty green is a popular choice in East Frisia, the Rhine, and Northern Germany. Everyone has different ways of eating kale, and one of the most famous is called grünkohl und pinkel (also Bregenwurst or Grützwurst).

Germans celebrate winter with a Grünkohlfahrt, which is a brisk hike accompanied by schnapps and a warm kale dinner afterward. Cooked kale is mixed with mustard, bacon, and sausage for a nutritious dinner. Common accompaniments are boiled potatoes or caramelized potatoes, which have been boiled, then sliced and browned in butter and sugar. Give this a tradition a try with your family, or serve it up after a day of skiing.

Pinkel is an East Frisian term that might come from their word for the little finger or from the word for dripping, as in the fat dripping from the sausage. The pinkel sausage traditionally contained brain (not any longer), oats, bacon, and pork, and is flavored with allspice, cloves, pepper and maybe marjoram. The recipes are held secret and every family has its favorite butcher. For this recipe, you can use any type of sausage, including smoked bratwurst.


  • 1 pound kale (cleaned and chopped, or 12 ounces frozen chopped kale)
  • 2 pieces of bacon (chopped, or 50 grams of Bauchspeck diced)
  • 1/2 onion ( chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons beef bouillon
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • Optional: pepper to taste
  • 4 sausages (such as bratwurst, frankfurters or other)
  • Optional: 1 thick slice of ham

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Clean the kale. Remove the thick middle stem and chop the leaves. Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch the kale for 1 minute, then drain. You may also use frozen kale, thawed and drained.

  3. In a frying pan, brown the bacon. Sauté the onion in the pan with the bacon and its grease and add the kale. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes and then add water to cover. Stir in beef bouillon. Simmer for 30 minutes.

  4. Add the mustard and stir. Place the sausages and optional ham on top of the kale and simmer for another 30 minutes. Pepper to taste. Salt only after tasting as the meat is salty.

  5. Serve hot and enjoy.


  • Fresh kale is available throughout the winter, or you can use frozen chopped kale, which looks like spinach. This is easy to find in Germany but may or may not be stocked at your supermarket.
  • You can chop the kale before or after you blanch it. Just be sure to drain it well and if you chop it afterward, allow it to cool a bit for ease of handling.
  • Germans prefer to harvest the kale after the first frost, as they believe this makes the kale sweeter. If you are growing your own kale, give this a test and see what you think.
  • Store any leftovers in the refrigerator. They will keep for two to three days. You can reheat servings in the microwave.

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