Recipe: German Slow Cooker Pot Roast (Sauerbraten)

updated Jan 29, 2020
German Pot Roast in the Slow Cooker (Sauerbraten)
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(Image credit: Christine Han)

When it comes to fall comfort food, it doesn’t get much better than sauerbraten, the traditional German pot roast. An ideal candidate for the slow cooker, this hearty, sturdy cut of beef is transformed into an ultra-tender meal, flavored with the aromas of warm red wine and bright vinegar.

(Image credit: Christine Han)

Made for the Slow Cooker

Because tougher cuts of beef, like chuck and bottom round, are favored for this German favorite, sauerbraten is an ideal candidate for the slow cooker. The low, slow cooking and long cook time result in a meal with pieces of meat so tender they practically fall off the roast. It all starts with a lengthy marinade.

A Long Marinade for More Flavor

Part of what sets sauerbraten apart from other pot roast recipes is its two-day marinade. This soak in red wine, tart vinegar, and spices tenderizes the thick cut of beef and infuses it with sharp, tangy flavor. Don’t cut this time short — while it seems like a long time, it’s mostly hands-off and the result is worth the wait.

Learn more about pot roast: The Best Cuts of Beef for Pot Roast

After braising, the resulting cooking liquid is whisked into a roux and simmered into a quick gravy. This becomes the finishing touch and perfect complement to the tender beef. Serve this hearty dish with German favorites like spaetzle, braised or roasted red cabbage, or boiled potatoes.

(Image credit: Christine Han)

German Pot Roast in the Slow Cooker (Sauerbraten)

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


For the marinade and beef:

  • 2 cups


  • 1 cup

    dry red wine

  • 1 cup

    red wine vinegar

  • 2

    medium carrots, peeled and chopped

  • 2

    medium celery stalks, chopped

  • 1

    medium onion, halved and sliced

  • 2

    cloves garlic, smashed

  • 1 tablespoon

    whole black peppercorns

  • 1 tablespoon

    juniper berries

  • 1 tablespoon

    mustard seeds

  • 2

    bay leaves

  • 1

    (3-to-4 pound) beef chuck roast or bottom round roast

For cooking and finishing the roast:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons

    all-purpose flour


  1. Marinate the beef: Stir all the ingredients except the beef together in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then remove from the heat and cool completely.

  2. Place the beef in the bowl of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker and pour in the cooled marinade. (The meat will not be completely submerged.) Cover and place the bowl in the refrigerator to marinate for 2 days, flipping the meat once or twice per day.

  3. Slow-cook the beef: Remove the beef from refrigerator about 30 minutes before cooking. Transfer the meat to a large plate and pat completely dry with paper towels. Do not discard the marinade. Generously season the meat all over with the salt and pepper.

  4. Heat the oil over high heat in a large cast iron or heavy-bottomed skillet until shimmering. Add the beef and sear each side until deeply browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

  5. Return the beef to the marinade in the slow cooker. Cover with the lid. Cook until the beef is tender and cooked through, 8 to 9 hours on LOW, or 5 to 6 hours on HIGH. Transfer the beef to a cutting board and rest for about 5 minutes.

  6. Meanwhile, strain the cooking liquid through a strainer or colander set over a bowl. Measure out 2 cups of the liquid and set aside (discard the remaining cooking liquid and solids).

  7. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the 2 cups reserved cooking liquid. Cook, whisking frequently, until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Slice the meat and serve hot.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.