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Bigos Hultajski in Slow Cooker

Updated: Aug 29

I am thrilled to share with you my recipe for Bigos Hultajski, a hearty and flavourful Polish stew prepared in a slow cooker. It is perfect for chilly nights and will warm both your body and soul with every delicious bite. The combination of sauerkraut, beef, potatoes and smoked sausage creates a symphony of flavours that will leave you craving for more. So, let's put on our aprons and start cooking!

Bigos Hultajski is a simplified version of the traditional stew with fewer ingredients and requires less preparation time. This peasant version is flavoured with beer, which gives it a unique taste, and also contains potatoes and carrots. It is opposite to Bigos Królewski that requires more ingredients.

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Side view of a bowl filled with Bigos Hultajski, showcasing layers of beef, sauerkraut, and smoked sausage, garnished with fresh herbs.
The distinctive aroma of Bigos permeates the house...

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Preparation Details:

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 6h

Number of portions: 6

Slow Cooker Bigos Ingredients: A Traditional Polish Stew Recipe

  • 14oz stewing beef (400g) cut into large dice (chuck, brisket, round steak, or short ribs)

  • 14oz oz kielbasa (400g) Polish smoked sausage

  • 17.6 oz sauerkraut with liquid (500g)

  • 4 medium sized potatoes, halved, skin on

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced

  • 1 large onion diced

  • 4 cups of beef stock (1L) enough to cover everything in the slow cooker

  • 1 glass beer (240ml)

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 4 juniper berries

  • 1 tbsp marjoram

  • 1 tbsp caraway (helps with digestion)

  • 1 tbsp honey (add enough to balance sourness)

  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

  • 1 tbsp tomato puree

Step by Step Guide On How To Prepare Authentic Bigos Hultajski:

1. Heat a frying pan over high heat and sear the diced beef until browned. Transfer the beef to the slow cooker, leaving the fat in the pan.

2. Add sliced sausage to the same pan and continue frying until browned, then transfer it to the slow cooker.

3. In the same pan, sear the diced onions, carrots, and garlic until they are softened and lightly browned. Transfer them to the slow cooker as well.

4. Add all the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker and stir well to combine. Cover with a lid and set the slow cooker to high heat for 6 hours. After the first hour, give it a good stir and repeat every hour or so to distribute the flavours.

5. When the Bigos is ready, remove the bay leaves and serve hot with buttered sourdough bread. Bigos tastes even better with time, so you can store it in the fridge for up to three days, freeze it, or store it in jars if you make a bigger batch. Reheat it gently on the stovetop or in the microwave before serving. Enjoy!

Overhead shot of a bowl filled with Bigos Hultajski, showcasing the rich mix of sauerkraut, beef, potatoes, and smoked sausage.
Dig in!

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Mastering Bigos Preparation: Slow Cooking and Serving Suggestions

  • Use a slow cooker: A slow cooker is ideal for making Bigos as it allows the flavours to develop slowly over time. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can also use a Dutch oven or a large pot on the stove, but you’ll need to keep an eye on it and stir it regularly to prevent sticking or burning.

  • Adjust the seasoning: Taste the Bigos as it cooks and adjust the seasoning as needed. You may need to add more salt, pepper, or honey depending on your preferences.

  • Let it rest: Like many stews, Bigos tastes even better the next day, once the flavours have had a chance to meld together. Consider making it a day in advance and reheating it gently on the stovetop before serving.

  • Serve with traditional accompaniments: Bigos is traditionally served with bread, but you can also serve it with grains like pearl barley. Some people also like to serve it with a dollop of sour cream on top.

FAQs and Variations for the Bigos Recipe:

  • Can I use a different type of meat instead of beef? Yes, you can use pork or venison instead of beef. The cooking time may vary depending on the type of meat used, so keep an eye on it and adjust the cooking time accordingly.

  • Can I omit the beer from the recipe? Yes, you can omit the beer from the recipe or substitute it with beef broth or red wine.

  • Can I use canned sauerkraut instead of fresh sauerkraut? Yes, you can use canned sauerkraut instead of fresh sauerkraut. Make sure to drain the liquid before using it in the recipe.

  • Can I use different types of sausage in the recipe? Yes, you can use any type of sausage you prefer, such as chorizo, Italian sausage, or bratwurst.

  • Can I make Bigos in advance and freeze it? Yes, you can make Bigos in advance and freeze it for up to three months. Thaw it in the fridge overnight before reheating it gently on the stovetop or in the microwave.


  • Vegetarian Bigos: Omit the beef and sausage from the recipe and use vegetable broth instead of beef broth. Add more vegetables, such as mushrooms, bell peppers, and cabbage, to make up for the meat.

  • Spicy Bigos: Add some chopped chili peppers or red pepper flakes to the recipe to give it a spicy kick.

  • Bigos with dumplings: Serve Bigos with homemade dumplings instead of bread. Add some flour and eggs to the recipe to make a dough, then cut it into small pieces and drop them into the simmering Bigos. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until the dumplings are cooked through.

  • Bigos with mashed potatoes: Serve Bigos over mashed potatoes instead of bread. Boil some potatoes until soft, then mash them with butter and milk until smooth. Spoon the Bigos over the mashed potatoes and serve hot.

Enjoy experimenting with these variations and find your favourite Bigos recipe!

Discover More Authentic Polish Dishes on My Blog:

  • Żurek - traditional Polish soup with a tangy and hearty flavour that will warm you up from the inside out - give it a try and experience the delicious taste of Poland!

  • Racuchy z Jabłkami - Racuchy are fluffy, delicious Polish apple pancakes that are easy to make and perfect for breakfast, brunch or even dessert - give them a try and indulge in their sweet and fruity goodness!

  • Krokiety - Krokiety, a delicious Polish dish made of rolled crepes stuffed with mushrooms and sauerkraut, is the perfect comfort food to try at home!

  • Beetroot Kvass - Tangy, probiotic-rich drink that not only boosts digestion but also supports liver function and immune system, so give it a try and experience its numerous health benefits!

  • Bigos Królewski - Polish Hunter's Stew - Royal version of Bigos with more ingredients.

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