Beef Rouladen are one of my favourite German dishes. They’re made from thin slices of beef filled with bacon, pickles onion and mustard, simmered to tender perfection in a delicious gravy.
This simple and traditional recipe is the ultimate comfort food and always popular at the German table.
What are Rouladen?
Rinderrouladen or ‘beef rolls’ is the German variation on a classic French roulade recipe.
While the French version is often made from chicken, in Germany we use thin beef steaks filled with mustard, schinken (bacon) onions and pickles.
This traditional recipe is one of the most popular dishes in Germany, though often reserved for special occasions as beef here can be expensive. It’s so popular that whenever I want to guarantee full seats at a dinner party, I let slip in advance that rouladen are on the menu as I know everybody will turn up!
I was introduced to this recipe by my German mother-in-law (an amazing cook), and it has been a firm favourite ever since.
Despite sounding fancy, rouladen are simple to make with the long cooking time in the oven doing most of the work.
How to make Rouladen
Rouladen are simple to make as the long, slow cooking time does most of the work. (Full instructions in the recipe card).
- First, you need to use a rolling pin or meat tenderizer to beat the steaks out thinly. Next, smear them with a generous amount of yellow mustard and top with a few slices of prosciutto or bacon.
- Top the bacon with thinly sliced pickles, onions and parsley, then fold in the sides of the steaks, roll them up and secure with kitchen twine or toothpicks. Dust in a little flour, brown well, then set aside.
- To make the sauce, sauté the vegetables until beginning to soften then add wine and stock to the pan. Return the rouladen to the pan, cover tightly and cook in the oven until meltingly tender and delicious!
To make authentic German-style rouladen, you’ll need the following main ingredients:
- Thin steaks: In Germany, they sell special rouladen steaks at the butcher, but you can easily make these yourself. It’s best to use a lean cut of beef like top round or flank steak, or ready-cut beef schnitzels. Each steak needs to be beaten out thinly and around 175-200g (6-7 oz.)
- Mustard: German mustard is mild in flavour, so the best substitute is a mild yellow mustard or a Dijon-style.
- Prosciutto or bacon: I like to use thinly sliced prosciutto in these rouladen for a deliciously smoky flavour, but thinly cut streaky bacon is a great substitute. The bacon fat flavours the lean cut of meat from the inside out and keeps it juicy.
- Dill pickles: German pickles are usually sweet and sour rather than salty, so look out for pickles with a vinegary crunch.
- Carrots, parsnips and celeriac or celery: These simple vegetables make the base for the sauce. German recipes usually call for celery root (celeriac) instead of celery, but both are tasty in this recipe.
- Red wine: Use a full-bodied red wine in this dish (but not an expensive one!)
- Beef broth or stock: This dish can be made using beef bouillon cubes, but as it is such a special occasion dish I’d recommend using a quality liquid broth or stock.
Pork: This type of long, slow cooking in liquid is called braising and it is suitable for pork as well. Be sure to use lean slices of pork for the best results.
Sauce: To thicken the sauce for a thick gravy, simply strain the sauce, then mix together 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with ⅓ cup cold water. Stir through the strained sauce then bring to a boil.
No alcohol: This recipe can be made successfully without alcohol (though the bulk of the alcohol cooks off during the long cooking time). Just use a low-sodium beef stock in place of the wine. I like to add a splash of cider vinegar or orange juice for a touch of acidity.
What to serve with German Rouladen?
- Blaukraut / Rotkohl: Braised red cabbage (recipe coming soon!) is a popular side dish to many German meals in the cooler months.
- Spätzle: a type of simple egg pasta, popular in Germany is great for soaking up the tasty sauce.
- Mashed potatoes: The simplest side dish for rouladen! Buttery mashed potatoes are always delicious!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I make rouladen in advance?
Yes! Like all braised meats, rouladen are delicious when reheated. All you need to do is place them in one layer in a saucepan, pour in the sauce and reheat very gently.
Do I have to use cooking twine (kitchen string) to tie rouladen?
Not at all! I use whatever I have to hand, and in fact, I think wooden toothpicks are easier for your guests to remove at the table. My mother-in-law has special metal rouladen pins which work perfectly too.
Looking for more traditional German recipes?
How about a classic Bavarian Krustenbraten (Roast pork in a dark beer sauce)? Fancy a traditional pot roast? Try my German Sauerbraten recipe! Looking for some German-inspired desserts? I’ve got a whole selection over here!
Rolling and stuffing meat is a great way to make meat go further. My Stuffed Turkey Breast Recipe makes a wonderful festive meal.
Authentic German Rouladen Recipe
for the rouladen:
- 6 slices top round steak or flank steak (ca. 200g / 7 oz.) each)
- 3 Tbsp dijon mustard or yellow mustard
- 6 slices prosciutto or 12 strips bacon
- 6 large dill pickles, cut into long spears
- 2 yellow onions, sliced
- small bunch of fresh parsley, finely diced
- 2 Tbsp plain or all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp oil
for the sauce:
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 2 carrots, cubed
- 2 parsnips, cubed
- ¼ head of celeriac, cubed
- ½ a small leek, sliced
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 500ml (2 cups) red wine
- 375ml (1.5 cups) beef stock
- sea salt and black pepper
- PREPARE: Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4. Use a meat tenderizer or rolling pin to pound the steaks out to around ¼ inch thick. Season well with salt and pepper.
- FILL STEAKS: Spread each steak generously with a thin layer of yellow mustard, then top with one slice of prosciutto (or two slices of bacon). Divide the pickle spears and onions between the rouladen and sprinkle over some fresh parsley.
- ROLL STEAKS: Fold the long sides of the steaks in to secure the filling, then roll up from the short end, securing with two wooden toothpicks or kitchen twine. (see notes).
- SEAR ROULADEN: Heat oil and butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan or large dutch oven (the rouladen need to fit in a single layer). Brown the rouladen well on all sides then set aside.
- SAUTÉ VEGETABLES: Add the butter and oil to the pan, then sauté the carrots, parsnips celeriac and leek until softened, around 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and sugar and cook for a further 2 minutes.
- BRAISE ROULADEN: Pour the red wine and beef broth into the pan and stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Place the meat rolls into the sauce, nestling them down so that they are half submerged. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and transfer to the oven for 90 minutes.
- TURN ROULADEN: After 45 minutes carefully turn the rouladen. After 90 minutes check to ensure the rouladen are tender, if they seem at all tough, return to the oven for a further 20 minutes.
- SERVE: Serve with spätzle, potatoes, or good quality white bread. Spoon over plenty of the pan sauce.
SAUCE VARIATION: In my household, we eat the delicious sauce and diced vegetables as they are. If you fancy you can strain out the vegetables and thicken the sauce by making a cornstarch slurry.
- Mix 2 Tbsp cornstarch with ⅓ cup cold water. Stir through the strained sauce then bring to a boil. Serve immediately.
TOOTHPICKS VS: KITCHEN TWINE: In the photos for this recipe I have used both methods to secure the rouladen so that you can see they work in the same way. Use what you have to hand, just warn your guests if there are toothpicks in the meat in case they try to eat them! Pro tip: If using string, tie the rouladen firmly, but not too tightly as they expand while cooking.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 514Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 131mgSodium: 2647mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 4gSugar: 8gProtein: 45g
Nutrition is calculated automatically and may not always be accurate.
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