Classic German Sauerbraten

published Jan 12, 2022
Sauerbraten Recipe

This ultra-tender German classic is worth the two-day marinating wait.


Prep20 minutes

Cook3 hours 20 minutes

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Sauerbraten (a traditional German roast of heavily marinated meat. It is regarded as a national dish of Germany, and is frequently served in German-style restaurants internationally. It can be prepared from a variety of meats, most often from beef) on a white plate with a a spoon resting on it, and glass of red wine and a bottle in the background
Credit: Photo: Eric Kleinberg; Food Stylist: Kristina Vanni

I’m always looking for a reason to dive into my grandma’s recipe box to find some mealtime treasures, so I was excited when I came across her version of sauerbraten. My recipe is a take on the dish she used to make for my mom and uncles when they were growing up. My mom remembers all of the kids smelling the strong vinegar marinade and thinking yuck, there’s no way we are going to eat that! But lo and behold a few days later when it was slowly simmering on the stovetop, they couldn’t wait to have it for dinner.

While the vinegar, herb, and spice blend can seem strong at first, this potent marinade is perfect for tougher cuts of meat. The vinegar, along with a lengthy marinating time, tenderizes the meat, resulting in slices of roast beef that practically melt in your mouth. Traditionally sauerbraten is served with a gravy that has been thickened and flavored with crushed gingersnap cookies. The result is a hearty meal that families have loved for generations.  

What Is Sauerbraten?

Sauerbraten is a German dish meaning “sour” or “pickled” roast meat. Rump roast or top round of beef is marinated for several days in a vinegar and spice mixture. This tenderizes and flavors the beef.

How Do You Reheat Sauerbraten?

The braised beef can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop with the leftover gravy to keep it moist and tender.

Credit: Photo: Eric Kleinberg; Food Stylist: Kristina Vanni

What to Serve with Sauerbraten

A sauerbraten dinner is delicious when served with potato pancakes, potato dumplings, mashed potatoes, or spätzle. A side of German cabbage is also a wonderful accompaniment.

Sauerbraten Recipe

This ultra-tender German classic is worth the two-day marinating wait.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 3 hours 20 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1/2

    small yellow onion

  • 1 cup

    red wine vinegar

  • 1 1/2 cups

    beef broth, divided

  • 2

    bay leaves

  • 1 tablespoon


  • 6

    whole cloves

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    dried thyme

  • 3 pounds

    beef top round

  • 1/2 cup

    all-purpose flour, divided

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1

    small carrot

  • 1

    small parsnip

  • 1 stalk


  • 5

    gingersnap cookies

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 cup

    dry red wine


  1. Dice 1/2 small yellow onion until you have 1/2 cup. Place half in a medium saucepan and reserve the other half for later. Add 1 cup red wine vinegar, 1 cup of the beef broth, 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon paprika, 6 whole cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme to the saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

  2. Place 3 pounds beef top round in a large container or bowl and pour the marinade over the meat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 days, turning the meat once to allow all sides to soak in the marinade.

  3. Remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Strain the marinade through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl and reserve. Coat the meat on all sides with 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour.

  4. Melt 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the meat and sear until browned on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes total. Meanwhile, dice 1 small carrot, 1 small parsnip, and 1 stalk celery until you have 1/4 cup of each.

  5. Transfer the meat to a plate. Add the reserved onion, carrot, parsnip, and celery to the pot and cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the reserved marinade and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

  6. Return the meat and any accumulated juices on the plate to the pot. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer until the meat is very tender and shreds easily with a fork, about 3 hours. Meanwhile, place 5 gingersnap cookies in a small zip-top bag and gently crush with a rolling pin or meat mallet.

  7. Transfer the meat to a clean cutting board and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm. Pour the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a small saucepan. Add the remaining 1/2 cup beef broth, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking often, and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes.

  8. Add the crushed gingersnap crumbs and 1/4 cup dry red wine. Whisk to combine and gently heat until warmed through. Slice the meat across the grain and serve with the sauce.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.