German beef rouladen is a traditional recipe that’s perfect for special occasions or Oktoberfest gatherings. Think thin slices of inside round rolled up with bacon, mustard, pickles, onions and seasoning that’s slowly braised until it’s melt-in-your-mouth tender. Scrumptious!
WHAT’S GERMAN BEEF ROULADEN?
The recipe I’m sharing with you today is one that is near and dear to my heart. It’s a dish that I grew up with that was reserved for special occasions.
German beef rouladen is essentially thinly sliced inside round that’s rolled up with mustard, onions, pickles, bacon and spices. It is then slowly braised in a low temperature oven.
The end result is a tender piece of meat that practically falls apart at the slightest touch and bursts with rich flavours. It was one of my most requested meals growing up and it remains a special treat to this day.
GERMAN BEEF ROULADEN RECIPE VIDEO
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COOKING ROULADEN SLOW AND LOW
This is German comfort food.
It’s something best served on a frigid day. It’s the kind of dish that can be popped in the oven to be left alone and forgotten while you get on with your afternoon.
German beef rouladen should braise for a minimum of four hours. By the time the aromas flood your kitchen, you’ll be eager to dive in; that’s how you know it’s almost done. It’s definitely not the kind of dish you want to make when you’re in a rush!
WARNING: SLICED ROULADEN MEAT IS HARD TO COME BY
Unless you do the work yourself, sliced rouladen meat is hard to find. When you do have the good fortune to stumble across rouladen meat, it’s not prohibitively expensive. You can expect to pay around $3 per slice. Most folks usually have two helpings of rouladen, so that’s $6 a head, which isn’t that bad.
Beef rouladen needs to be sliced thin. Getting quality slices requires a special slicer that most butchers don’t have on site. In fact, I’ve only been able to find rouladen meat when there’s a German butcher running the shop. Fortunately (and I’ve never done this), you can get the job done yourself.
SLICING YOUR OWN ROULADEN MEAT
I’ve never cut my own rouladen meat. Neither has my mother (that I know of). However, if you’re unable to get your hands on sliced rouladen meat, you can slice it yourself.
Look for a lean cut of meat, like top, bottom or inside round. Popping it in the freezer before slicing it will firm it up enough to slice it thinly. From there, use a meat tenderizer to pound it even thinner. That’s it!
WHAT GOES INTO GERMAN MEAT ROULADEN?
There are different recipes out there for German meat rouladen, I’m sure, but I wouldn’t know. I’ve never looked at a recipe other than the one my mother taught me to make. I already listed what goes into German meat rouladen, but let’s go into more detail.
Rouladen translates into rolls so to make these, a thin slice of beef is needed. If you’re trying to get a non-German butcher to help, you probably won’t get what you need, but you can try to make it work. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you! My mom has tried in the past and what she always seems to get are uneven slices, or slices cut so thin that you can’t do anything with them.
If you’re going the route of using a butcher, ask for inside round and get it sliced so it measures around nine inches in length. If the slices seem on the thick side, pound them with a meat tenderizer. If you get proper rouladen meat, you may skip that step.
When I have my slices of beef laid out on the counter (I like creating myself a little assembly line), the first ingredient I add is mustard.
My absolutely favourite mustard to work with is a whole grain mustard. I love seedy mustard for this job, but a good old-fashioned Dijon will do the trick, too. Whatever you do, stay far away from ballpark mustard. This is beef rouladen, not a hot dog!
The way I see if, if you’re going to spend a pretty penny on beef for rouladen, you might as well splurge on good bacon at the local butcher. The bacon not only imparts a smoky flavour, but it also helps to close off the rolls. When you start rolling the meat, the bacon ends get tucked inside, helping to give you a neat package of meat.
Once my rouladen are dressed with mustard, I add the onion. I’m not super particular about what kind of onion is best for the job. My pick would be yellow cooking onions or Spanish onions, but use what’s on hand.
To slice, cut the onion in half lengthwise, and then again. From there, slice the quarters lengthwise. Or, you know, slice and dice it however you want. Run them through a food processor, if you’d like.
I slice onions this way because that’s how my mom does them for rouladen, but did you ever hear the story about the roast? There was a mother who always trimmed her roasts into a square, and so that’s what her daughter continued to practice. One day they asked the grandmother the reasoning behind it. The answer? It was the only way her roasts would fit in her pan!
Slice dill pickles into quarter spears or get the pre-sliced ones. Please avoid using butter pickles as they will completely ruin the flavour. Speaking of butter pickles, are you a fan? I always think it’s rotten luck when I think I’m biting into a dill pickle slice and it turns out to be sweet. Talk about a nasty shock! I’ve never been a fan…
Once all the goodies are ready to be ensconced in a blanket roll of beef, the rouladen are ready to be seasoned. Use paprika, salt and pepper for this. If you can get your hands on it, opt for smoked paprika (this is one of my favourite brands of paprika).
WHAT SHOULD I SERVE WITH MY GERMAN BEEF ROULADEN?
When my mom makes her German beef rouladen, there’s no question about what’s going to be served. My brothers and I know full well that she’ll be making enough spätzle to feed an army. Spätzle, by the way, is a fresh egg pasta. Here’s a list of my favourite beef rouladen sides:
Potatoes (boiled, mashed, etc.)
How could I almost forget the gravy? German beef rouladen come with a potentially gorgeous gravy that shouldn’t be left to waste!
Before you pop the rouladen in the oven, the rolls are seared and the pan is deglazed with a cup of water. The water is poured into the roasting pan with the rouladen, which gets mixed with bacon fat, mustard, onion, and pickle juices. It’s a punch of flavour that makes an awesome gravy with a bit of attention. Cornstarch will thicken everything, milk (or cream!) will mellow it out, and red wine will tie everything together.
MAKING GERMAN ROULADEN
I hope you love this recipe for German beef rouladen as much as I do! If you end up making this dish, let me know how it goes in the comments below. Guten appetit!
OTHER GERMAN RECIPES YOU MIGHT LIKE:
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Metal skewers (poultry lacers)
Roasting pan. My mom swears by her granite ware roaster for her rouladen, but I use something like this and cover it with tinfoil.
GERMAN BEEF ROULADEN INGREDIENTS:
FOR TEN (10) MEAT ROLLS
10 slices rouladen meat
5 dill pickles, sliced into 1/4 spears
10 rashers bacon
1 large onion, sliced
10 tbsp wholegrain mustard
4 tbsp avocado or grape seed oil
For the gravy:
1 cup water to deglaze
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water
1/2 cup milk
generous splash of red wine
GERMAN BEEF ROULADEN INSTRUCTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 275ºF.
Line up half of the beef slices on a clean counter, assembly line style.
Spread a tablespoon of mustard on each slice of beef.
Arrange a rasher of bacon towards the bottom of each beef slice, making sure it's centred.
Add the onion and two pickle spears to each roll.
Sprinkle with paprika, salt and pepper.
Begin rolling, tucking the sides of the bacon in after the first roll to close it off.
Close off the roll by securing it with a metal skewer.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and add the oil.
Sear the rouladen in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the pan.
Transfer the seared rolls to a roasting pan.
Deglaze the skillet with a cup of water and pour into the roasting pan.
Allow to braise for a minimum of five hours.
For the gravy
Filter the drippings into a saucepan.
Whisk the cornstarch with 1 tbsp water and mix into the pan.
Once the gravy thickens, add the milk and the wine.
Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
PRINTABLE GERMAN BEEF ROULADEN RECIPE CARD
German Beef Rouladen: a Traditional Recipe
- Roasting Pan
- 10 Metal Skewers (poultry lacers)
- 10 slices rouladen meat
- 5 dill pickles sliced into 1/4 spears
- 10 rashers bacon
- 1 large onion sliced
- 10 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- Smoked paprika
- 4 tbsp avocado or grape seed oil
For the gravy:
- 1 cup water to deglaze
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp water
- 1/2 cup milk
- generous splash of red wine
- Preheat the oven to 275ºF.
- Line up half of the beef slices on a clean counter, assembly line style.
- Spread a tablespoon of mustard on each slice of beef.
- Arrange a rasher of bacon towards the bottom of each beef slice, making sure it’s centred.
- Add the onion and two pickle spears to each roll.
- Sprinkle with paprika, salt and pepper.
- Begin rolling, tucking the sides of the bacon in after the first roll to close it off. Close off the roll by securing it with a metal skewer.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and add the oil.
- Sear the rouladen in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the pan.
- Transfer the seared rolls to a roasting pan.
- Deglaze the skillet with a cup of water and pour into the roasting pan.
- Allow to braise for a minimum of five hours.
For the gravy
- Filter the drippings into a saucepan.
- Whisk the cornstarch with 1 tbsp water and mix into the pan.
- Once the gravy thickens, add the milk and the wine.
- Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
- Plan on two rouladen per person.
- German beef rouladen freeze well.
PIN IT FOR LATER
Love and gratitude,
I’m a 1979 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY. My wife lived in Germany while her dad was stationed there with the United States Air Force. We both found this recipe to be authentic and it tastes excellent. I bought meat from a local butcher and pounded it out with a meat mallet. It only cost me $3 a pound to do it myself. Good job!
I’m so glad to hear that you and your wife enjoyed the recipe! At $3 a pound it looks like I need to take a page out of your book and revisit the meat mallet! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review 🙂
Jim, what cut of meat did you buy?
I am not of direct German Ancestry, but many of my in-laws and outlaws are. However, I am a chef. I have eaten many genuine German dishes, but not in Germany. I have developed fairly successful recipes for many German dishes, such as Sauerbraten, Spaetzle, a few very popular Sauerkrauts, as well as Rouladen. Most of the Germans I know, and am related to — while Rouladen IS somewhat a special occasion meal, the meat, as with most German dishes, is typically made from what is available. Any fairly lean cut, such as from either top or bottom round, because they slice well, will work well. Then you get to the thickness of the cut, and if it is too thick, it can be tenderized– pounded down, “jaccarded”. or run through a tenderizer. So, in summary, it does NOT take a rare, highly obscure cut for this dish.
Thank you for sharing your insight! I’ve had trouble in the past with thicker cuts, so I like letting a German butcher do all the work for me 🙂
Thank for this recipe. I spent 3 years and 9 months in Germany and had the plesure you of tasting all kind of German cuisine. My mother was a cook / chef and prided herself in cooking authentic dishes. One of the dishes she would prepare for us was Rouladen. It has one of those flavors that stick with you for life.
It really does!
Carla Mae Weimer
This is a scrumptious German Oktoberfest entree! Can this recipe be made in a pressure cooker?
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I don’t have much experience with pressure cooking, I’m afraid. My mom has been making rouladen in the slow cooker lately, but if you ever try making them in a pressure cooker, please let me know how it goes!
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