Large sauerbraten


This is my German mother's original recipe for Sauerbraten. We have this every year at Christmas. The key to this Sauerbraten recipe is to allow the roast to marinate for the full 3 days.

Yield: 6-8 servings
Collections: Beef German Main Dish

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Sauerbraten Recipe

Preparation Instructions

Combine all marinade ingredients, except the roast itself, in 2-3 quart saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Place the beef in a deep, non-reactive (glass or ceramic) bowl or pot just large enough to hold it. Pour marinade over beef. The marinade should be at least halfway up the sides of the roast. If necessary add more wine. Cover tightly with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 days, turning the meat in the marinade at least twice each day.

Remove meat from marinade and pat completely dry with paper towels. Strain the marinade through a fine sieve and reserve the liquid. Discard spices and onions.

In heavy, 5-quart dutch oven, heat the butter until bubbling stops. Add the meat and brown on all sides, turning frequently, so that it browns evenly without burning. Transfer to platter and set aside.

For roasting, add the onions, carrots, and celery to the same pan you cooked the meat in. Cook over moderate heat until soft and light brown (5-8 minutes). Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring constantly, 2-3 minutes longer or until the flour begins to color. Pour in 2 cups of the reserved marinade and 1/2 cup of water and bring to boil over high heat. Return the meat to the pot, cover tightly, and simmer over low heat for 2 hours, or until the meat shows no resistance when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Alternatively, bake in 350 degree oven for 2 hours.

Transfer the roast to a heated platter and cover with foil to keep warm while sauce is made.

Pour the liquid left in the pot into a large measuring cup and skim fat from surface. You will need at least 2 1/2 cups for the sauce. If additional liquid is needed, add some of the reserved marinade.

Combine the liquid and the gingersnap crumbs in a saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently for approx. 10 minutes, allowing the cookie crumbs to dissolve completely and thicken the sauce to the desired consistency. Depending upon the amount of liquid, you may need to add additional cookie crumbs.

Strain the sauce through a fine sieve, pressing down hard with wooden spoon to force as much of the vegetables and crumbs through as possible. Return the sauce to the pan, adjust seasoning and allow to simmer over low heat until ready to serve.

Slice the roast, pour some sauce over slices on platter and pass remaining sauce separately.

Yield: 6-8 servings
Helpful Hints

Traditionally, sauerbraten is served with dumplings, boiled potatoes, spaetzle, and red cabbage. This classic, but easy, recipe requires advance planning and time (3 days!), but it has a flavor and aroma that is incredible.

Don't hesitate to adjust the amount of gingersnap cookies to give the sauce your preferred consistency. The flavorful gingersnap cookies are used as the thickener, not flour, so you don't run the risk of having a pasty sauce.


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Linda F

In response to wondering where this recipe came from....I have this exact recipe and wording in an old Foods of the World, The Cooking of Germany cookbook. This is a Time-Life book from 1969.

Paul W

I have made sauerbraten for a long time and have a craving for it lately. I was looking for any variations of the recipe I use, but this one seems to be very very similar to the one I pulled from my mom & dad's Cooking of the World series from long ago. I usually add more wine & vinegar plus spices for more flavor.

John S

Very close to what my grandmother made.

Kimberly H

responding to where it all began, well, according to legend frm my family, and we trace back 500 years to Germany. It began at the Hotel Berlin, A relative of mine having to come up with a way to preserve the meat with no refridgemration long enough and keep it fresh to serve to guest at the hotel.
Adding spices and putting meat into a high acid bath was a common way to ensure the days hunt was saved until a major event. They could not go out hunting on Yule, so this was the result.

Diane S

My family recipe is almost the same except we use 4 cups of water and 3 cups of red wine vinegar. Plus the one cup of red wine, a cup of apple juice, one tablespoon of lemon juice, and a little white sugar. This is from about 100 years ago that I can trace back. We always have served it over mashed potatoes. Yummy!

Kelley K

First let me say, I am not criticizing this recipe. There are many variations of this recipe. My family has Saurbraten every Christmas also for well over my 47 years, but with a different recipe from my great great grandmother from Germany. We belong to a German Club where over 400 members are from Germany within the last 30 years and most of their recipes are as my ancestors especially when it comes to the marinade. We use pickling spice in the marinade and do not cook the marinade before hand. Cooking before takes away from the flavoring. One thing that is really good with this is home made noodles.I remember as a child helping my grandmother and great grandma string them across the kitchen. mmm mmm good! It is one delicious meal and I know of several different recipes that are all good.


I have a Knorr Sauerbraten pkg written in German. Is this just the spices you use or is it everything?

Matthew C

I lived in Ingolstadt, Bayern during the summer of 1990. I fell in love with Deutscher essen, especially Sauerbraten, Blaukraut, und Knoedel. I recently made this Sauerbraten recipe for a great friend of mine from Berchtesgaden, Bayern. He helped me finish the gravy, after I followed all of the instructions, while not including gingersnaps. I also cut the time from two hours in the oven, to one and a half hours. He said that his mother never added gingersnaps. After the meat had rested, he added a little heavy cream to the gravy, and sliced the meat, which was then added to the gravy in the Dutch oven, and finished on the stovetop. His wife never eats meat; but she ate this, and loved every bite. We served it with Blaukraut, und Knoedel, (drizzled with the gravy,) and it was fantastic. Thank you Spice House, and all others with helpful culinary comments!

Tom S

Great recipe! IMHO this is an authetic German variation. I ate sauerbraten mit ginger snaps several times when I was stationed in Munich. Maybe this is a Bavarian variation?

I did use a half bottle of dry red wine in the marinade. Instead of juniper barries, I used 2 shots of very dry gin, Bombay Sapphire was my choice. I also could not resist adding a half tsp of whole cloves. I warmed to near simmer but did not boil. That gave the marinade a wonderful "nose".

But let's not quibble over details. Such a wonderful recipe and great memories. And I may just try using a touch of brown sugar and heavy cream next time instead of snaps.



This is very close to the recipie which we have enjoyed over the years. I use equal parts vinegar,wine and water. Add crushed peppercorns, crushed cloves with chopped onion for the marinade.

Leon L

Great marinade and gravy. I prepared the top round in a Dutch oven and at 2 hours the meat was not tender(done); and at 2 hours, 20 minutes it was dry and overcooked. Any suggestions?

Tom L

I've used this for Christmas dinner for three years in a row now, plus a couple additional uses. I serve it with red cabbage, boiled potatoes and homemade spaetzle, and have a good red wine with it. I use "pickling spices" instead of "sauerbraten spice", which is about the same thing and more readily available. I also have found that I generally need to add quite a bit more liquid to the gingersnap gravy than the recipe suggests, but I adjust by feel.

Overall my favorite sauerbraten recipe.

Andrea F

I agree that this is probably authentic. My german grandparents died young, but the Norwegians also made lots of German cookies as well as Scandinavian ones In reality we are very close because of Franks and Vikings. These cookies were hoarded in the pantry all winter in big ceramic bowls according to my mother who remembers this. Point being that cookies are a staple in cold weather countries. We never eat it but sauerbraten is also a way to use venison. Note that the common, but often dropped ingredient is Juniper berries which are used in many venison recipes.


I made this last night and it was excellent.
When it came to the sauce, I was a little confused as to what to do with all the veggies, so I poured off most of the liquid, added the ginger snaps, and heated it till the sauce was smooth and thick.
I served the veggies on the side and left the extra veggies in the sauce, instead of running it through the sieve.
Oh will this meat get more tender if I left it cook longer?


Can you use a pork roast?


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Alice E

Made this for my in-laws visit and it was delicious! Only added more gingersnaps to the sauce and then watered down a bit to keep consistency. Also roasted in dutch oven at 300 degrees for 3-3.5 hours. So very tender! This is going in my recipe box, for sure.

Elly B

Folks----I don't want to sound harsh or be anal (although I am Germany), but this is not the 'real' German recipe for the Rheinischer Sauerbraten. I should know, because I am a native of the Rheinland (center of Germany; Rhine and Mosel area) and moved ot the US about 11 yrs ago....Please try next time NOT to cook the marinade upfront.... and where is the (red)WINE??? Sauerbraten without the vinegar-wine-marinade is missing the true heart and soul of this classic dish (about 1/3 a bottle of good red wine).
One other thought, just in case you're interested in the 'real' recipe: as mentioned above, the meat is not only placed the uncooked marinade (or mordant) but browned AFTER it rested and marinaded for at least 3 days in the fridge. The third thing that will make this recipe the 'authentic German' recipe is, to not use Gingerbread, but a handfull of crumbled pumpernickel bread (sieve the sauce before serving though). You could also skip that ingredient and simply add a splash or two of heavy cream or a tblsp. of butter to thicken. I'd be happy to see America loving the Sauerbraten as much as it is known and loved in Germany :)

Lynn Z

This is the EXACT recipe that I got from my Grandmother also!! I am being featured this week cooking article in a newspaper using the recipe from my Grandmother! I would LOVE to find out the origin of this being that we both got it from our Grandmothers. It truely is an amazing recipe!


This is almost exactly how I make it. I use a chuck roast and marinate it 3-4 days. The spices are essential. Also, the gingersnaps really make the gravy. Cooking it for 2 - 2 1/2 hours keeps the slices in tact and you won't get a stringy roast (if you cook it too long).

Deb W

I have made this recipe for guests several times using The Spice House Sauerbraten spice mix. It is an easy recipe,
wonderfully flavorful, and a delightful surprise for our guests. It's always a big hit and gets great compliments. A great hearty "fall and winter" meal, and a welcome change from turkey. I like to open dinner with a little hot fresh beet soup, followed by the sauerbraten with brussel sprouts, homemade spaetzels, and pickled beets. Delicious!

Claire Y

I just made the recipe for Christmas/my husband's birthday. It was exactly what he remembered and what he was expecting although I forgot to boil the marinade. Next year he asked me to do it again. I'll try it boiling the marinade as I found many recipes asking for it. The kids (3, 6 and 8) liked all of it too (including red cabbage and spaetzle). I would like to make fresh tagliatelle and wild mushroom as side dishes instead. Remains to convince my husband to look out the German dish box. ;-)


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Tom W

I'd like to respond to Elly B down the list way, who will not make this again. She cannot read a recipe first as she says there is no wine in the recipe when it obviously calls for a cup in it. Second Pumpernickel is never used in Sauerbraten as it is a bread introduced from the plains of Russia, long after Sauerbraten was first made in Germany. I am from a long line of Germans and while ginger snaps were not probably in the original recipe they do make a nice addition, and could have been after the spice trade started in the 1600's. This is a very good recipe that reminds me of my great grandmother's.

Kit Schwitzer

I followed this recipe to the letter and it is horrible. Nothing like Grans.

Marie-Luise S

I am 60 years old and have eaten Sauerbraten since a child, when we immigrated to Australia in 1954. My Oma and mum have made it since as has I. The secret is the Knorr spices and I use half red wine and half tarragon vinegar. Naturally potatoe dumplings, red gab age and a fresh salad is a must. My Australian friends are always amazed at the tastiness of the dish and and are astounded that I marinate the meat for 5 days. I use fitter of girillo as the mean and it turns out like the texture of 'cotton wool'

Tonya B

Made this for Father's Day and decided to cook a day early. Marinating it 3 days instead of two would have given it more flavor. I cooked my just over 4 pound bottom round in the oven on 325 for 2 1/2 hours. I prefer to cook slower and like a little pink right in the middle. I am not a fan of Bottom rounds because they tough and get dry but it was pretty good for a bottom round. I might try a sirloin next time or use the crock pot. I do suggest marinating three days.

Tonya B

Made this for Father's Day and decided to cook a day early. Marinating it 3 days instead of two would have given it more flavor. I cooked my just over 4 pound bottom round in the oven on 325 for 2 1/2 hours. I prefer to cook slower and like a little pink right in the middle. I am not a fan of Bottom rounds because they tough and get dry but it was pretty good for a bottom round. I might try a sirloin next time or use the crock pot. I do suggest marinating three days.