Bigos- Hunter’s Stew (Polish stew/Ukrainian version)

Bigos Ukrainian Polish Hunter's Stew with garlic, onion and sausage
Posted On: January 21, 2016
Last updated: May 14th, 2024

Bigos (Hunter’s Stew), pronounced, “Bee-Gose”, also known as Kielbasa Kapusta is a comfort food dish I grew up with that I always looked forward to. My Mom made the best Bigos and she always made it for us around the holidays. It’s a dish my Mom ALWAYS made well, and it was always enjoyed by the whole family.  Bigos is a cabbage and sauerkraut stew consisting of smoked meats. In my family is was always made with smoked Kielbasa or Polish sausage.  As with any recipe I post on here, this Bigos recipe is one I make for my own family. This Bigos hunter’s stew recipe has the flavor of comfort and always feels like home to me.  As you’ll read below, Polish food had a big influence on my Ukrainian born side of the family. 

Ukrainian Cabbage & Sausage Stew Up close in Dutch Oven

Bigos Hunter’s Stew Variations

As with any ethnic recipe I post on my site, if you’re familiar with a recipe, you might notice my recipe varies from others you see online.  My particular Bigos recipe here is now a family recipe my husband and I have developed over many years actually.  Since my husband’s 1st taste of Bigos 11-12 years back, he’s wanted to document exactly what we do to cook it just right.  Bigos is also the very 1st recipe we have ever documented for our family before creating this site.  Little did we know when we were cooking and documenting this recipe that we would actually start sharing our recipes with the world.

Ukrainian Influence

The reason this recipe was popular in my family is because my family is originally from Eastern Europe.  My Father is from Belarus and grew up with Polish cuisine, also living in Poland for part of  his childhood.  My mother is originally from the Ukraine, Odessa. Ukraine is very close to Poland so the food in Ukraine has a lot of Polish influence, not just Russian. Ukrainian food seems to take be a fusion of many different Eastern European countries due to it’s location.  My mother and grandmother, both from Ukraine cooked this dish on special occasions, after breaking fasts.  My father and his family also cooked bigos, so it’s definitely a recipe that’s been passed down through the generations.  A traditional Polish bigos doesn’t have dill weed, but with the Ukrainian/Russian influence as with my family, we load up the dill! 

Bigos Variations

There are many different variations of bigos that include mushrooms (dried or fresh wild mushrooms), tomato paste, bacon, bay leaves and other seasonings.  This version of bigos has the taste of the delectable warm stew I grew up with.  It’s a simpler version with the main components being white cabbage, smoked sausage and sauerkraut . If I add or take away anything from this recipe it just wouldn’t be the Bigos taste I know and love.  It’s got a savory attraction that gives you that comfort food fix. The cabbage gives you a sweet undertone and the sauerkraut just balances it out to make it a true Bigos stew.  I’ve heard of people making it with game meat and wild boar sausage as well.  Hence the name “hunter’s stew” stemming back from medieval times when they added wild mushrooms and freshly caught game to their meat stew. 

Bigos in a white bowl with fork and Polish sausage

Smoked Sausage Factor

In my opinion Bigos is not extra special without a great smoked Polish Kielbasa to create the base of this hearty stew.  Our smoked sausage choice is one thing that is not consistent every time we make this dish.  What is consistent though is our need for a great smoked Kielbasa to use in this bigos recipe.  We try not to use regular grocery store bought sausage to make this dish.  We prefer to use a good local sausage from an Eastern European market or even homemade Kielbasa. My husband has made homemade Kielbasa for this dish in years past and hopefully again in the near future.

You’ll find not only the flavor of a good local Kielbasa to be better, but the quality is ideal.  It’s less greasy, without fillers and full of really good flavor to make your dish stand out.  Plus, you’ll be supporting the local businesses which is a great thing as well.

Bigos Main Ingredients

  • Cabbage- Standard Green/White cabbage.  If you’re in a pinch, you can make it with red cabbage.  I’ve made it with a mixture of fresh cabbage many times.
  • Sausage- Our favorite kind of meat for this stew is Polish smoked Kielbasa.  Use your favorite type of smoked sausage or mix it up with pork and beef sausages. 
  • Sauerkraut- Use a good quality sauerkraut.  If you’re hard-core you can use your own sauerkraut, or just cheat like me and use a good refrigerated fermented sauerkraut.  I also like Aldi’s Bavarian sauerkraut as well (with or without caraway seeds, your preference)

Other Ingredients:

  • Garlic– 4 large garlic cloves
  • Onion– Sweet yellow onion is great, but you can use any kind in a pinch.
  • Olive oil– I like extra virgin olive oil, but you will also have grease in your pan from the sausage as well.
  • Fresh Dill weed– I a pinch you can use dried dill, but I always prefer fresh when it’s feasible.
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Sugar– Just a couple Tablespoons to sweeten it up a touch.

Optional Additions:

  • Bacon– a little smoky bacon is always a delicious addition, but again, just not how we make it growing up. 
  • Mushrooms– fresh wild or dried mushrooms (aka forest mushrooms) or porcini mushrooms

Check out these recipes related to our Bigos Recipe!

Give this hearty warm sausage stew a try and let us know how you like it in the comment section below.

Ukrainian Cabbage & Sausage Stew Up close in Dutch Oven

Bigos- Hunter's Stew (Polish stew/Ukrainian version)

This is a Polish stew with Ukrainian influence from my family, made with smoked Kielbasa, cabbage and sauerkraut.  This recipe makes enough for a feast!  Grab a large wooden spoon and a heavy pot and start cooking!  This is one of those dishes that's even better the next day!  
4.67 from 3 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Main Dish/Stew
Cuisine Eastern European
Servings 12
Calories 252 kcal



  • 2 medium heads Green Cabbage shredded (about 4 lbs.)
  • 1 1/2 lbs good smoked Kielbasa cut into 1/2 " circles or half circles
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion halved and sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 4 large garlic cloves minced
  • 1-24 oz. jar Sauerkraut drained, but not rinsed
  • 1/3 cup packed chopped Dill weed
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar


  • Heat Dutch Oven or Large Stock Pot over Medium Heat. (Please remember if cooking in a stock pot vs a dutch oven, you might need to adjust temps slightly as a stock pot might not hold in the heat as much)
  • Add sausage to render out fat a little bit and slightly brown sausage, about 10 mins.
  • Remove sausage from pot to separate bowl and cover.
  • Add olive oil to pot, warm on medium low and then add onions. Saute until translucent and slightly caramelized, about 10 mins. While cooking onions add salt and pepper.
  • Once onions are caramelized, add garlic and continue cooking about 2 mins.
  • Add a couple handfuls of cabbage to the pot and stir with the onions and garlic in the pot. (This initial stirring prevents the onions and garlic from sitting at the bottom of the pot and burning while the cabbage wilts) Then add remaining cabbage, cover pot and let cabbage wilt on medium low heat, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.
  • Once cabbage primarily wilted return sausage to pot, add the sauerkraut and sugar, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for another 30-45 minutes, depending of your time.
  • Finally, add dill, adjust seasoning if necessary and continue simmering for another 5 mins.
  • Now enjoy a hot bowl of Bigos!


We now prefer cooking this dish in a dutch oven, but keep in mind a dutch oven holds in more heat so if you use a stock pot, you might need to cook at a slightly higher temp.
You can reheat leftover bigos in the microwave, or even better in a pot on the stove on low heat. 

Nutrition Disclaimer:

The nutritional information provided is only an estimate based on a third party nutritional plugin. Different online calculators may give different results depending on their own sources. The estimates may also change based on the ingredients you use. If you have dietary restrictions and need to accurately calculate the nutrition of this recipe, Whole Made Living recommends consulting a professional nutritionist.


Calories: 252kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 10gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 737mgPotassium: 443mgFiber: 4gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 250IUVitamin C: 59mgCalcium: 79mgIron: 2mg
Keyword gluten free, low carb, Polish, sausage, stew, Ukrainian
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


  • The first time I had Bigus was at Soyuzivka and I loved it! Nothing beats great Uki food. Unfortunately my mom passed away last fall at the age of 99 and now it’s up to me to carry on with traditional Ukrainian cooking. Fortunately my wife learned how to make Kapusta and my mom told her that it was just as good as her mom’s if not better. Thanks again for the recipe. Smachnoho!

    • George, Thank you so much for sharing your story regarding Bigus. My mother is from Odessa and I grew up with it and loved it so much that I had to let it live on and share it with family and friends or the world for that matter. I completely understand your sentiment and love of this great comfort food. Vse naykrashche…Vsevo Horoshevo!

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4.67 from 3 votes (3 ratings without comment)

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