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
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
508 Calories
41g Fat
13g Carbs
24g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 3
Amount per serving
Calories 508
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 41g 52%
Saturated Fat 13g 67%
Cholesterol 93mg 31%
Sodium 1708mg 74%
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 24g
Vitamin C 63mg 314%
Calcium 136mg 10%
Iron 2mg 13%
Potassium 1004mg 21%
*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 kale, chopped

  • 2 pieces bacon, chopped, or 50 grams German Bauchspeck, diced

  • 1/2 onion, chopped

  • 2 teaspoons beef bouillon

  • 1 tablespoon mustard

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste, optional

  • 4 sausages, such as bratwurst, frankfurters or other

  • 1 thick slice ham, optional

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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