Savory German Beef Rouladen: A Culinary Journey into Stuffed, Rolled, and Braised Perfection
Rindfleischrouladen, also known as German Beef Rouladen, is a traditional German dish that has been passed down through generations. It is a hearty and flavorful meal that is perfect for cold weather and special occasions.
As someone with German heritage, Beef Rouladen holds a special place in my heart. Growing up, my Oma would make it for special occasions, and the scent of it cooking would fill the house, signaling that a feast was on the way.
As an adult, I’ve tried making it myself, and while it can be a bit time-consuming, the end result is always worth it. There’s something incredibly satisfying about rolling up the thin slices of beef and filling them with bacon, onions, and pickles. And the gravy, oh, the gravy! It’s rich, savory, and the perfect complement to the tender beef rolls.
One of my favorite memories of Beef Rouladen was when I made it for a dinner party with friends. It was a cold winter night, and we were all craving something warm and comforting. I spent the afternoon in the kitchen, chopping vegetables and rolling up the beef, while the scent of it cooking filled the house. When it was finally ready, we gathered around the table, and the first bite transported me back to my childhood. It was like a warm hug in a bowl.
There’s something special about cooking a dish that has been passed down through generations. It’s a way to connect with my heritage and keep those traditions alive. And while I may not be able to recreate my Oma’s Beef Rouladen exactly, I know that every time I make it, I’m honoring her and the generations of German women who came before me.
The dish consists of thin slices of beef that are wrapped around a savory filling of bacon, onions, and pickles. The beef is then cooked in a rich gravy made from beef stock, red wine, and vegetables. The end result is a tender and juicy meat roll that is bursting with flavor.
Preparing Beef Rouladen requires a bit of time and effort, but the end result is well worth it. To make the dish, you will need:
- Thinly sliced beef (preferably top round or flank steak)
- Salt and pepper
- Beef stock
- Red wine
- Carrots, celery, and leeks
- Bay leaves
To begin, you will need to lay out the beef slices and spread mustard over each one. Next, add a strip of bacon, a few slices of onion, and a pickle to each slice of beef. Roll up the beef tightly and secure with toothpicks or kitchen twine.
Next, heat some oil in a large pot or Dutch oven and brown the beef rolls on all sides. Remove the beef from the pot and set it aside. Add flour to the pot and whisk it together with the oil and beef drippings to create a roux. Slowly add beef stock and red wine to the roux, whisking constantly to create a smooth gravy. Add the beef rolls back to the pot, along with diced carrots, celery, and leeks. Tuck in a few bay leaves and sprigs of thyme and let the mixture simmer for several hours, until the beef is tender and the flavors have melded together.
When the Beef Rouladen are ready, remove the beef rolls from the pot and slice them into rounds. Serve with the gravy and your choice of side dishes, such as mashed potatoes, spaetzle, or red cabbage.
Beef Rouladen are a comforting and satisfying meal that is perfect for a cozy dinner with family and friends. It is a labor of love, but the delicious results make it well worth the effort. Give this classic German dish a try and enjoy a taste of tradition.
As always, there are regional differences in the filling, for example pickles or no pickles. For that reason I provided some variations of my favorite German Beef Rouladen recipe.
- What cut of beef should I use? Slices from the Top Round Beef are always a little bit different in size. For that reason please use the measurements in this recipe only as an approximation. It’s totally okay to use more pickles for example, if your beef slices are bigger. Just be careful to not overfill the Rouladen, because it would make it more difficult to roll them up.
- How do I secure my Beef Rolls? You can make a little package with cooking twine like I did in the picture above or you can use toothpick to hold the Rouladen together.
- How do I know that my Rouladen are done? To check if the Beef Rouladen are fully cooked, carefully poke the Rouladen with a small knife. If you feel resistance, let the Roulades cook for another 10 minutes. Or use a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should be between 165°F and 185°F depending on the cut of meat.
- What do I serve with Rouladen? Serve the Rouladen with Red Cabbage and either Boiled Potatoes, Bavarian Bread or Potato Dumplings or Spätzle.
- Can Rouladen be prepared ahead of time? Rouladen can be prepared in bigger batches and even stored in the freezer. Reheat the Rouladen in the gravy when needed. For that reason it’s an easy dish for bigger groups.
Variations of German Beef Rouladen
As I mentioned earlier there are many variations of Rouladen in Germany, depending on region you coming from. You can fill your Beef Rouladen with a lot of different ingredients. Here are some ideas:
- Mushroom Herb Filling: Sauté a finely chopped mushrooms and onions in butter until soft. Mix together with ground beef, mustard, thyme and parsley, egg yolk, salt & pepper and bread crumbs. Spread the mixture thin on the beef slices.
- Ground Beef & Cheese Filling: Sauté a finely chopped onion and minced garlic in butter until soft. Mix together with ground beef, egg yolk, shredded cheese, parsley, salt & pepper and bread crumbs. Spread the mixture thin on the beef slices.
German Beef Rouladen - Rindfleisch Rouladen
- 4 slices Top Round Beef about 4x6 inch in size and ¼ inch thick, gently pound the slices with a meat mallet until they're a little thinner than 1/4 inch, be careful not to pound holes into them
- Salt & Pepper
- 2 tbsp. Yellow Mustard preferable German Mustard
- 4 slices Bacon
- 4 medium Dill Pickles sliced lengthwise
- 1 medium Yellow Onion chopped in slices
- 1 tbsp. Cooking Oil
- 1 tbsp. Butter
- 1 Red Onion roughly chopped
- 1 Leek roughly chopped
- 1 Carrot roughly chopped
- 1 Celery Stalk roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp. Tomato Paste
- 1 cup Dry Red Wine
- 2 cups Beef Stock
- 1 tbsp. Paprika
- 1 Bay Leave
- 2 Fresh Thyme Twigs
- 1 tbsp. Corn Starch
- Gently pound the beef slices between two layers of plastic wrap until ¼ inch thick4 slices Top Round Beef
- Season the beef slices from both sides with salt and pepperSalt & Pepper
- Spread each beef slice with the Yellow Mustard2 tbsp. Yellow Mustard
- Lay a slice of Bacon on each beef slice, the bacon should have the same length as the beef slice4 slices Bacon
- Place the sliced pickles and onions on each beef slice4 medium Dill Pickles, 1 medium Yellow Onion
- Roll up the beef slices, tucking in the sides as best you can and securing the beef rolls with toothpicks or cooking twine.
- Heat the oil and butter in an oven safe pot or Dutch oven to medium high heat. Brown the Beef Rouladen from all sides. Set the Rouladen aside on a plate.1 tbsp. Butter, 1 tbsp. Cooking Oil
- Add the copped red onions to the pot and add a little more butter or oil if needed. Cook the onions until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.1 Red Onion
- Add the chopped leek, carrot and celery for another 5 minutes.1 Leek, 1 Carrot, 1 Celery Stalk
- Add the tomato paste and let it caramelize.1 tbsp. Tomato Paste
- Pour in the Red Wine and bring to a boil. Try to scrape off the brown pieces at the bottom of your pot. Reduce the heat and let the Red Wine evaporate for about 5 minutes.1 cup Dry Red Wine
- Pour in the Beef Stock, add the Bay Leave, Paprika and Thyme twigs. Add the Beef Rouladen back to the pot.2 cups Beef Stock, 1 tbsp. Paprika, 1 Bay Leave, 2 Fresh Thyme Twigs
- If the liquid evaporates too much and gets too thick, add more stock.
- Once the Rouladen are fork tender, remove them from the pot and keep them warm.
- You have two options for the gravy:1. You can use a blender and puree the veggies and mix them with liquid. That creates a thick flavorful gravy. If it gets too thick, add more beef stock. Season to taste with salt & pepper.2. Pour the liquid and vegetables through a strainer and reserve the liquid. Return the strained liquid back to the pot and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Optional: Thicken the gravy with a cornstarch slurry. This will create a fine gravy. You can add back the veggies if you want.1 tbsp. Corn Starch
- Carefully remove the toothpicks or cooking twine from the Rouladen and return them to the gravy and heat through.