Hasenpfeffer (German Rabbit Stew)

Nothing beats a rich and comforting stew when the weather turns cold outside. Hasenpfeffer, or German Rabbit Stew, is a deliciously flavoursome meal made from tender red wine marinated rabbit. Serve this traditional German dish with plenty of mashed potatoes and braised red cabbage. Guten Appetit!

Autumn is my favourite season. Cool, clear days and cosy nights call for comfort food, and nothing is more comforting than a slowly simmered stew. Hasenpfeffer, or German Rabbit Stew, is one of my favourite seasonal treats.

This melt-in-your-mouth dish is always a crowd-pleaser made from rabbit that has marinated for a couple of days in a mixture of herbs, red wine, and vinegar.

A plate of Hasenpfeffer German Rabbit Stew with braised red cabbage and mashed potatoes.

Ingredients

To make my Hasenpfeffer recipe, you’ll need the following main ingredients:

  • Rabbit: The star ingredient! You’ll need around 1.5kg (3.25lb.) of rabbit for this recipe, so you’ll need 1 large or 2 smaller rabbits. Some people swear by wild rabbit, but farmed rabbit tastes just as good. You can buy rabbit pieces or a whole rabbit and joint it yourself.
  • Red wine and vinegar: The base of the spicy marinade. When I say spicy, I mean richly spiced rather than chilli hot. This is a very old-fashioned recipe, so mustard and pepper provide the heat rather than chillies.
  • Spices: Black pepper, juniper berries, allspice berries, bay leaf, and marjoram make up the main flavouring in this dish. I love to use masses of crushed peppercorns in the marinade and when serving the dish (it is called Hasenpfeffer / Pepper Rabbit, after all). You can adjust this to taste. Try to get fresh bay leaves if you can; the flavour is so much more intense than dry, old, dusty ones from the back of the spice cupboard.
  • Bacon: Bacon is a popular ingredient in game recipes as its smoky-saltiness compliments wild game meat beautifully and adds a depth of flavour.
  • Carrot, Parsnip and Celery Root: These root vegetables flavour and sweeten the gravy.

The complete ingredient list and detailed instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.

Instructions

While Hasenpfeffer is simple, it requires some preparation to get the best results.

  1. First, place the rabbit pieces in a large bowl or large pot. Stir together all marinade ingredients, then pour over the rabbit meat, making sure it is completely covered. You can top it up with some water or more wine if you need to. Cover and refrigerate for 48 hours.
  2. When you are ready to cook, remove the rabbit from the marinade and pat dry with a paper towel. Strain the marinade through a fine sieve. Reserve marinade and onions.
  3. In a wide Dutch oven (see recipe card for an example) or a large, deep skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat and brown rabbit well on all sides. You are best to work in batches to get a lovely golden colour on the rabbit.
  4. Remove the rabbit from the pan, then add chopped vegetables and bacon. Cook over medium heat until softened, then deglaze the pan with the reserved marinade. Return the rabbit to the pan with the fresh herbs, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook gently for 2 hours.
  5. After two hours, the rabbit should be fall off the bone tender. You can serve the rabbit pieces whole, but shredding the meat from the bones is much more delicious and makes a lovely rich stew.
  6. Carefully remove all the bones, sprinkle the rabbit with some extra crushed pepper to bump up the peppery flavour, and serve immediately with buttery mashed potatoes and braised red cabbage (we call that Blaukraut or Rotkohl).

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I freeze Rabbit Stew?

Yes! Stews freeze brilliantly and are even more tender the second time around.

​Can I make this recipe without alcohol?

​You could use an alcohol-free red wine in the marinade and omit the brandy from the recipe.

Can I leave the rabbit in the marinade for longer or less time than stated in the recipe?

​Yes, though it will be best between 48 and 72 hours. The long soak in the marinade both flavours and tenderises the rabbit meat.

Looking for more tasty German Recipes? Try my delicious recipe for Rinderrouladen (Braised Beef Rolls). Or how about a classic Bavarian Roast Pork?

Cooked Hasenpfeffer before shredding.

Fun fact: Hasenpfeffer was made famous by none other than Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam in the Looney Tunes short Shiskabugs! 

A c,loseup of shredded rabbit Stew or Hasenpfeffer.
A plate of Hasenpfeffer German Rabbit Stew with braised red cabbage and mashed potatoes.

Hasenpfeffer Recipe

A closeup of shredded rabbit Stew or Hasenpfeffer.

Hasenpfeffer (German Rabbit Stew)

Jay Wadams
Nothing beats a rich and comforting stew when the weather turns cold outside. Hasenpfeffer, or German Rabbit Stew, is a deliciously flavoursome meal made from tender red wine marinated rabbit. Serve this traditional German dish with plenty of mashed potatoes and braised red cabbage. Guten Appetit!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Marinating Time 2 days
Total Time 2 days 2 hours 20 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients
 

  • 1.5 kg rabbit, cut into 8 pieces

for the marinade:

  • 500 ml dry red wine
  • 125 ml red wine vinegar
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp marjoram
  • 2 tsp juniper berries, crushed
  • 1 tsp allspice berries
  • 1 tsp sea salt

to cook:

  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 parsnip, diced
  • 1/8 th celery root / celeriac, peeled and diced
  • 125 g bacon, diced
  • 2 Tbsp plain or all-purpose flour
  • 250 ml vegetable or chicken stock or broth
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp brandy
  • 1 Tbsp peppercorns, crushed

to serve:

  • small bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
  • mashed potatoes
  • red cabbage

Instructions
 

  • MARINATE THE RABBIT: Place rabbit in a large bowl or dish big enough to hold all the pieces. Mix together all marinade ingredients, then pour over the rabbit. Cover with plastic wrap, then marinate in the fridge for 24-48 hours.
  • PREPARE: When ready to cook, remove the pieces of rabbit from the marinade, then strain the marinade through a fine sieve, reserving both the liquid and the onions. 
  • BROWN THE RABBIT: Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a wide, heavy-based saucepan, casserole or Dutch oven. Pat the rabbit dry with paper towels, then fry the rabbit in batches in the hot butter, taking care to get plenty of colour on the rabbit pieces; it should be a beautiful golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • COOK VEGETABLES: Add the remaining butter to the pan, along with the reserved onions, carrot, parsnip, celery root and bacon. Cook for 3 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften, then add the flour to the pan, stir well to coat, then cook for 2 minutes.
  • ADD LIQUID: Deglaze the pan by adding 250ml (1 cup) of the reserved marinade and stirring well, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the vegetable stock and rosemary, then return rabbit pieces and any resting liquid to the pan, tucking the pieces in snugly, in one layer if possible and as much under the liquid as possible.
  • COOK: Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to very low, cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer gently for 2 hours until the rabbit is very tender and pulls easily away from the bone with a fork.
  • SHRED: Using two forks, pull the meat away from the bones, discarding the bones. Stir well, then season to taste with salt, crushed peppercorns (I use a whole tablespoon, but it's up to you), or a pinch of sugar. (see notes).
  • SERVE: Serve with mashed potatoes and braised red cabbage garnished with parsley.

Notes

Sweetening the gravy: It is common in this sort of dish to sweeten and flavour the gravy with gingerbread. If you'd like to try this (it is delicious!), crumble 2-3 Specula's/Biscoff cookies into the cup of reserved marinade before adding it to the pan. You could also try adding a splash of maple syrup or similar.
Pepper: It's not traditional, but I like to add loads of pepper to this dish. I crush peppercorns in a mortar and pestle and sprinkle them, but this step is up to your personal tastes.

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Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 947kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 82g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 259mg | Sodium: 1269mg | Potassium: 1873mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 2877IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 137mg | Iron: 8mg
Tried this recipe?Leave a review or a star rating and let me know how it was! Use the hashtag #daysofjay on Instagram so I can see your delicious creations.
Course | Main Event
Cuisine | German
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Jay Wadams
Jay Wadams

Jay Wadams is a cookbook author, food photographer and Le Cordon Bleu Gastronomy and Nutrition graduate. Based in Italy 🇮🇹 Germany 🇩🇪 and Australia 🇦🇺.

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