Recipes

Brown Sugar Kielbasa

I’m letting you in on my secret go-to potluck dish: Brown Sugar Kielbasa, a crowd pleasing recipe that only has two ingredients and cooks all by itself in the slow cooker while you’re at work. The only downside is that it’s not vegetarian.

Ingredients: 3 packages kielbasa, any variety, and 1 package (1 lb.) of dark brown sugar (light brown sugar is OK if dark is unavailable). You want a rough ratio of two or three packages kielbasa to one package sugar, but this recipe is flexible enough that you can add or subtract a kielbasa link and it’ll turn out fine.

The sugar cooks over either low or high heat until it forms a liquid sauce, like magic!

Directions: Slice the kielbasa into quarter-size pieces and place them in the slow cooker. Pour the entire box of sugar on top of the kielbasa, and stir quickly to combine.

Cook on low for 5 hours OR on high for 2 1/2 hours. That’s it!

Set it overnight or while you’re at work, and when you get home you can take your slow cooker directly to the potluck or party. You’ll have perfectly cooked kielbasa chunks swimming in a sweet, syrupy brown sugar sauce.

Inevitably, someone asks me what’s in the sauce, and when I tell them it’s just sugar and kielbasa, they never believe me. I’ve heard different variations on this recipe, everything from adding mustard or onions to various fruit preserves into the sauce, but I still think it’s best kept simple. Enjoy!

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101 thoughts on “Brown Sugar Kielbasa

  1. I’m making this tonight for new years, and it smells so good! I’ve done this before with lil smokies and bacon, so I know this will be yum!

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    1. Hi Donna,
      Roughly — I think most packages of kielbasa have about 14 oz. each, and there’s 16 oz. to a pound, so I use 3 packages per 1 lb. box of sugar.
      It’s a very forgiving recipe, so the small difference wouldn’t make or break the flavor if you are buying in one-pound increments. Enjoy!

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      1. I agree, loved this recipe and have used many times. This last time I sautéed onions and a green pepper to kielbasa then took my brown sugar and used a bottle of chili sauce and poured over top. Was wonderful. Ty

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    1. I have brought this to gatherings with anywhere from 20 to 40 people and it does really well serving big crowds when served in a party spread alongside chips & dip, cheese and crackers, a veggie platter, etc. It always runs out!But I think because it’s very sweet, people don’t load up on just this; they balance it with other foods available. Honestly, if you have a lot more people, you can double this to your heart’s content if your slow cooker can handle the capacity.

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    1. If it’s straight out of the package it won’t turn mushy. If you’ve already cooked it, then yes it could break down. I’d start the sugar first then add the kielbasa for the last bit. Let me know how it turns out!

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      1. Hi Debbie,
        I’ve left it out at parties without keeping it warm and it’s been fine. If you leave it all day, the sugar will eventually get pretty thick and harden, but I usually just serve it straight from the slow cooker dish (either still in the whole thing or just the inner bowl set on trivets) and it’s always been fine. It tastes good at room temp!

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    1. I’ve never tried it but I am sure the taste would differ only slightly. All sugar breaks down the same way due to heat, which is the key to this recipe working. Good luck! Let me know how it turns out if you try it.

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  2. I’m making this now. I added half a pound of cooked bacon, some Dijon mustard, and a clove of garlic (chopped). My house smells insane right now! Thanks for sharing your recipe! Love the blog!

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    1. I am making this for my xmas eve appetizer night, can’t wait to try the bacon, had to come back to the site, to see if the bacon was cook before hand, along with the Dijon mustard, and clove garlic.

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  3. I made this recipe for an Origami Owl party I had. I was hesitant at first because there wasn’t a picture to go by. Plus I had never tried it before. Well, I was not disappointed. It turned out wonderful. The only thing I did different was during the last half hour, I added a can of cut up (drained) pineapple to it. You would think that this recipe would be really sweet but it’s not.
    Thanks for the recipe. It’s a keeper!

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  4. Is the sauce supposed to turn dark brown, almost black? I thought I burned mine until I tasted it and it tasted fine, but the sauce was very very dark, and there is no “after” picture so I wasn’t sure if I did it right.

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    1. Yes! The sauce turns extremely dark brown as it liquefies. The lack of an “after” shot is a big problem that I’m working on fixing ASAP. It sounds super corny, but the absolute truth is that by the time I put this out as an appetizer, it gets eaten so fast that I never grab a pic. I’m hoping to fix this soon!

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  5. Have you ever tried this with Cajun sausage instead of the Kielbasa? Cajun is a little spicy and with the brown sugar, I’m thinking it could be an incredible mixture!

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    1. I would say you can safely halve it — I’ve never done less than two kielbasa links, but I am sure you could do one and use half the sugar, and just keep an eye on the time since it likely won’t need as long. Two kielbasa links gets eaten very, very quickly though, so you may want to do two!

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  6. I have a party to go to tonight and was at a loss of what to bring. So happy I came across your recipe since I have everything on hand. The only additional thing that I added is a chili powder mixture I make that I also usually add to the brown sugar when I make the Lil’ smokies wrapped in bacon. Thank you and I know already it will be a hit.

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  7. I’m making this for the first time tonight. Every year our neighbors get together for caroling. Tonight is the night and I’m bringing this. Will let you know how it turns out. Also if it looks ‘yummy’ enough, I hope to post an ‘after picture’.

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    1. I usually have it in a potluck setting, with finger foods like a veggie tray, cheese and crackers, chips and dip, etc. It’s very sweet, so it’s not much of a standalone dish, but does great in a buffet with either brunch or dinner food (waffles, eggs, fruit, ham, etc.)

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  8. I added a large drained can of pinto beans, a regular rinsed can kidney beans, and a whole sliced onion to mine. It was AMAZING!!! Everyone raved about it!!

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  9. I made this tonight to test before my potluck Tuesday. It was good, but so dark I thought I’d done something wrong. I saw another comment on here about how dark it gets, which put my mind at ease. Thanks for posting!

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  10. I mix the dark brown sugar with spicy mustard before adding it to crockpot. I bring this easy dish to all picnics and family functions. Everyone loves it.

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  11. I made this for my husband but just did 1 sausage and half a bag of brown sugar and it was amazing! It has now became a weekly meal, I like to serve slice potatoes baked in butter and garlic and corn on the cob. GREAT RECIPE!!

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  12. I made this for my husband and used 1 sausage and half a bag of brown sugar and served with sliced potatoes baked in then oven with garlic, red peppers, salt, pepper and butter and corn on the cob and he was amazed at how good it was, this has now turned into a once a month meal in our house! Thanks for the amazing recipe!

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    1. I have never tried that, but i’d assume that if you do, the sugar will re-harden…so you’ll want to allow ample time for it to completely liquefy again through reheating. Let me know how it turns out!

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  13. Making this for the first time to serve at my Halloween party this weekend. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I was getting tired of the same thing every year. This sounds awesome!

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  14. I have a picture of the finished product but am unsure of how to upload it in the comments. I must admit, the end result looked a bit scary but it turned out great and was a big hit at my potluck.

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  15. Sounds perfect and easy (my style)! Just found out a friend is bringing what I planned to bring to a holiday party tomorrow. Will try this, but how long is too long in the crock pot? I leave for work at 6:30 am and party is at 6:30 pm.

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    1. If your crock pot sets to “warm” once it’s done cooking it should be ok. The kielbasa will probably just look darker because it’ll absorb more color from the sugar but it’ll taste the same.

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      1. Wow, thanks for the superfast response. Unfortunately, my crockpot isn’t that kind but found out my son can put it on later for me. So, it’s off to ready it and put in fridge!

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  16. For anyone that has added spicy mustard – how much of that do you mix with brown sugar? Since it’s said to be sweet, does that just kick the sweetness down a knotch? Appreciate the help! Looking to make this Christmas Eve so if someone could answer before then, that’d be great!

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  17. I made this SOOO good I also made a Dijon glaze with the left over sauce in the pot for dipping!! Hahah people were asking for the recipe! Just take the extra sauce from the bottom of the crock pot and add Dijon mustard to your taste liking yum!!!

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  18. Great simple Recipe. Thank You. I have made it a bunch of times. This week I pan fried it with onions and peppers then the last 20min I added brown sugar. It was amazing. My family loved it 🙂

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  19. Making it for the buffet at my son’s wedding Saturday. I usually make a sauce using a jar of red currant jelly to one cup of ketchup which I heat in a sauce pan and then pour over the kielbasa in the slow cooker. Really good but I wanted something simpler for this, thanks!

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  20. I have made this MULTIPLE times since finding your recipe. My husband loves sauerkraut, I’m OK with it, kids despise it! But they will eat it prepared this way😂 I serve it as a main entree, along with a salad. Today I’m putting it in the oven for lunch — we got snowed in, so hubby is home to eat with us.

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