Sauerkraut Balls at Veigel’s Kaiserhoff in New Ulm, MN

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Before you take a trip to the polka and brewing hotspot known as New Ulm, do the prudent thing: Call the town’s sausage merchant and ask the clerk to ID the town’s best restaurant. She’ll likely tell you, with an encouraging air of confidence, that Veigel’s Kaiserhoff is the place to go.

The throbbingly Teutonic Kaiserhoff has been doing its thing since its 1938 conversion from 3.2 bar to German eatery. Beers from Schell’s, Germanic drinking murals, and dark wood interior details make this place spot-on, from an ambiance perspective, and the menu of German favorites is unpretentious and soulful.

One particular novelty on the menu commands immediate attention: the Sauerkraut Balls.

Yes, the sauerkraut balls are spherical in shape. And yes, these fried lumps of house-made sauerkraut — if compared to sporting equipment — resemble balls more than they look like bats, rackets, gloves, or Frisbees. But there’s gotta be a better name for these appetizers than “balls.”  Maybe Sauerkraut Puffs? Sauerkraut Bites? Sauerorbs? Sauerkraut Shout-Outs?

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Sauerkraut Bites it is. The bites (which come 6 for $6.95) are served hot and have a crispy / crunchy exterior that recalls a good coconut macaroon in its depth of texture — the individual strands of kraut protrude a little from the mass as a whole and lend far more crunchy surface area to each bite than you might expect. The moist, sharp, pungent kick of the kraut inside of each bite is an ideal contrast to the exterior.

Better yet: The bites are a great fit with the Kaiserhoff’s house BBQ sauce, a substance served in syrup pitchers and essentially identical to Russian dressing. The cool tangy tomato kick of the dressing sauce plays well with the amiable warmth and crunch of the appetizers.

Awkwardly named, strangely conceived, absolutely addictive — these things may not be able to justify the entire drive to New Ulm, but they make a significant contribution.

(And if you’re intrigued but not ready for a pilgrimage, a slightly more elaborate take on these orb-shaped delights are available on Nicollet Avenue at the Black Forest Inn, which offers deep-fried Ham and Sauerkraut Balls made with ham, cheese, and sauerkraut.)

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Veigel’s Kaiserhoff
German food in New Ulm, MN

221 N. Minnesota St
New Ulm, MN 56073
OWNERS: Don and Jan Veigel
BAR: Beer and wine
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED: Yes / Not a bad idea on weekends
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Even the salads have meat


  1. Mark

    I grew up in New Ulm and return annually to ‘make the rounds’ of places/people. A trip is not complete – without a trip to the Kaiserhoff. From the great supper club atmosphere to the 1960’s decorations and memories of my youth – it is a great way to spend I love the sauerkraut balls and BBQ ribs, love the Ray’s Salad (all of which are made more fantastic with Veigel’s own BBQ dressing on everything!). You can buy bottles for $5 in the bar and the dressing goes great on everything from deviled eggs, hot dogs, sandwiches, to grilled meat. Drink the Schell’s beer too! And with a trip to Domeier’s German Store – and a visit to the Schell’s brewery – it is a great way to spend a day in New Ulm. Prost!!

  2. Parker

    Sauerkraut balls are an absolute staple in Northeast Ohio–I had hitherto thought them relegated to the Akron-Cleveland area until this post.
    A trip to New Ulm might just be in the offing for a taste of my youth…

  3. Josie

    I can vouch for the ham & sauerkraut balls at the Black Forest. And I don’t even like sauerkraut…

  4. Mac

    I must concur with Parker. I had thought that Sauerkraut Balls were strictly an Columbus Ohio phenomenon. I am intrigued.

  5. Martin

    Only in Minnesota, a German themed place with a reviewer praising the BBQ sauce. LOL in capital letters.

  6. Mary

    Noted this is not a vegetarian hang out, but are these balls vegetarian? ie-no ham or bacon in them or drippings? I ask for others who might want to trek with this carnivore to New Ulm….

  7. Mark

    No Mary – they are not vegetarian. They have meat in them (smoked pork/ham I think). Even the kraut, most of the salads etc. have meat in them.

  8. Paula

    We have been enjoying this New Ulm German delight since 1970. Since 1999 we have been enjoying the tart kraut & pork with a glass of ZEITGEIST from Morgan Creek Vineyards (rural New Ulm) wine cellar. ZEITGEIST was the number one white wine poured at the Minnesota State Fair in 2009 and placed first in MSF competition 3 years. Its Riesling like character makes a perfect pairing of locally produced products from historic New Ulm’s culture and cuisine. Cheers!

  9. Susan

    I too grew up near New Ulm and have wonderful memories of the Kaiserhoff. This article fails to mention the fabulous German Potato Salad served at the restaurant. It is hot, full of bacon and a luscious sweet/sour dressing. My family and I make the long drive at least twice a year to have the Kaiserhoff ribs with a side of German Potato Salad. It is so worth it.

  10. James (Jim) Sturm, born & raised in New Ulm

    Minnie Veigel developed her special barbecue sauce in the 1940s when her husband Al had a 3.2 beer tavern on 1st North St. In New Ulm. Her barbecued spare ribs flavored with this sauce was – and are – as tasty as can be. The family was able to move to the present North Minnesota St. location after WW II. People come from, say, 50 miles away just to have Minnie’s barbecued ribs. The menu now is more varied but still in the German tradition.

Comments are closed.