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Best Authentic German Rouladen (Beef Roll-Ups) Recipe

Old family recipes make the most satisfying meals and are always a hit with family and friends. Here are some of Stephanie's favorites.

A Family Favorite

In my husband's German family, everyone loves rouladen (German beef roll-ups). This German stuffed-beef-rolls recipe is made for many special occasions. I had it for the first time when my future in-laws invited my parents to dinner to celebrate our engagement. Although very much different from the Polish- and American-style food my family was accustomed to, we all liked it instantly.

I didn't know then that this was one of my German mother-in-law's specialty dishes, but I did know that I would have to learn to make rouladen one day. Eventually, she taught me how to make it, and it was easier than I expected. I still use her recipe today.

Ingredients

  • 1–2 lbs. of flank steak or round steak (this can also be made from venison)
  • Spicy, dark mustard
  • Dill pickles cut into wedges
  • Bacon
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • A toothpick or sewing string to keep the rolls closed

Instructions

  1. You will need about 2 pounds of thinly sliced steak. Some grocery stores will carry steak sliced 1/8" thick. If not, get the thinnest cut you can find, and pound it between two sheets of plastic wrap until it's the right thickness.
  2. Cut into 3" x 6" strips. Plan on two to three pieces per person.
  3. Lay meat on a board, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. Spread with a light coating of spicy mustard.
  5. Lay half a strip of bacon lengthwise on the meat, and then place a dill pickle wedge crosswise near one end.
  6. Roll the meat into rolls starting at the pickle end, and then tie with some white sewing thread or fasten with a wooden toothpick.
  7. In a heavy skillet, sauté onion in butter or oil, and then brown the meat rolls in the pan.
  8. After rolls are browned, add a quarter cup of red wine to the skillet to deglaze it, and then add 2 cups of water.
  9. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. This can also be cooked in a pressure cooker at 10 lbs. pressure for about 30 minutes.
  10. When finished cooking, remove rouladen to a bowl.
  11. Carefully remove string or toothpicks so that rolls don't fall apart. Mix about 2 tablespoons of flour with 1/2 cup of water and whisk into the pan juices, cooking until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Pour gravy over rouladen. Serve with red cabbage and mashed potatoes.

Ethnic Foods Are Family Traditions

Some foods, particularly ethnic foods, become a part of a family's traditions and bring back memories of happy family gatherings and good times. Rouladen and sauerbraten are two of those dishes in my husband's German family. Each of these meals brings back memories of his mother's joy as she shared her cooking with her five children and, later, their spouses and thirteen grandchildren at big family gatherings. Either of these dishes are great winter recipes, though we're happy to eat them any time of year. I remember her serving either rouladen or sauerbraten on New Year's Day and at special birthday dinners.

These days, when I cook one of these traditional German recipes, I'm sure to play some German music to get us all in the mood, and offer some German beer, dark bread and butter, and pickled herring before dinner. On very special occasions, Black Forest cake is served for dessert!

Black Forest Cake for Dessert

What Can I Serve With Rouladen?

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Sweet and sour red cabbage
  • Potato dumplings (Knoedel)
  • Spaetzel (homemade noodles)
  • Pumpernickel bread
  • Apple strudels
  • Black Forest cake

Questions & Answers

Question: Is rouladen always made with pickles in Germany? Or is it regional?

Answer: It's possible that using pickles in rouladen is regional in Germany, but I would argue that the dish would lose the distinctive, slightly sour flavor if the pickles were omitted. I've only had it with pickles in the rolls. However, each cook has the option of altering the recipe to his/her taste preferences.

Question: Potato dumplings are potato dumplings. Are spaetzle homemade noodles?

Answer: Yes, spaetzle are a thick homemade noodle. They are yummy with rouladen or sauerbraten, or any meat dish with gravy!

Question: Do I precook the bacon?

Answer: No, the bacon is raw. It will cook with the rest of the mean during the cooking process.

Question: Is your black forest cake recipe a genuine recipe?

Answer: The recipe I have posted is one that I've made many times for my family to enjoy, so it's a real recipe. However, it's not something that was handed down to me through generations.

© 2010 Stephanie Henkel

Comments

Patricia Vasel on March 30, 2020:

My mother in law is from Germany. She and my father moved to NY over 60 yrs ago. My husband born in NY is still 100% German born in the states and this year having to be homebound from coronavirus he's going to be making us Easter dinner with this exact recipe. His mom made it the exact same way and I'm looking forward to finally trying it. All i I have to do is find an Easter dessert to make to go with it. He's making red cabbage and potatoes for the sides

Cc on November 09, 2019:

I years ago had a very nice friend (Rose) her Mother was German .Rose showed me how to make these they are delishes and although i have seen Rose in many,many years i will never forget her.

Trudy Gernert on October 26, 2019:

My husband is from a region which does not require pickles in Rouladen. Hi mother used to serve it with gravy made from gently browning the Rouladen in lard, draining and adding water with beef bouillion to cover. She boiled it one hour if the meat was thin, more if thicker. She also added cut carrots to the boiling pot. Meanwhile she made spaetzli and or potato balls and a green bean salad. Yummy!

kip on September 30, 2019:

with you on the paprika bob! Only use Hungarian paprika not Spanish paprika (also known as sweet paprika) or it wont have the right flavor.

Dorie on June 29, 2019:

My grandparents were from Germany and I've learned how to make many of the German dishes. One of my favorites is sauerkraut and dumplings. I make the traditional bread dumplings. I also make kraut runzas.

Bob on May 28, 2019:

Try a little paprika with your recipe, surprising what it add to Rouladen

Cindie on March 08, 2019:

Hi Kathy, My mom and I make Rouladen often it's one of my family favorite only we don't put pickle in ours. My mom learned from her grandmother as my mom and grandparents were born in Germany and brought their receipt with them.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 01, 2018:

Hi Kathy, I do not know what bread dumplings are, but I will look them up. My family and I love all German food!

Kathy on September 01, 2018:

I work for German couple at a fishing camp . The lady taught me to make this dish with the bread dumplings. She showed me two different kinds of bread dumplings and they were great the next day for breakfast. I have made this dish over the years when my husband was alive, seeing your recipe has brought back wonderful memories. I saved the recipe to make again.

Peppermint1701 on January 01, 2018:

We had Rouladen, Rotkohl und Kartoffelknödel (potato dumplings) at Christmas. All the family loved it.

N.b: spätzle are egg-noodles which are nice with rouladen, too!

Potato dumplings are made from half cooked(mashed) and half raw grated potatoes mixed with some flour and egg, cooked in hot (not boiling) water.

Thanks for sharing your receipe

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 19, 2012:

Joaniebaby - Some grocery stores carry the very thinly sliced beef that is good for Rouladen, but you can cut your own from a nice cut of beef. The flavor is the same. Good luck with your Rouladen! Thanks for stopping by to read and comment!

joaniebaby on September 19, 2012:

What a coincidence! My daughter works for a man who has a very German background and he invited her and her husband over for a Rouladen dinner, and she was so impressed she sent me the recipe. I have not tried it yet because I thought I needed a special cut of beef. But you say I can use round steak, so am going to try Rouladen now. Wish me luck as my husband isn't always eager for my "new recipes." Voted up and useful and shared. Thanks so much for this Hub.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 18, 2012:

Glimmer Twin Fan - Mom's cooking is always the best, but I hope you enjoy this recipe for rouladen, too. Thanks for stopping in and for the comments!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on September 18, 2012:

Sunshine625 - No, I haven't figured out how to add zucchini to this and still have it taste this yummy! :) This is pretty good just as is!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on September 18, 2012:

This looks yummy! I'm in as long as you don't add zucchini relish!:)

Claudia Mitchell on September 18, 2012:

Ahh, the favorite thing that my German mom makes. She rarely does it anymore and it's the best thing. Nice recipe. Useful hub and shared! Thanks for the memories!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on August 25, 2012:

Sally's Trove - You're a girl after my own heart, Sherri! We do love pickled beets, and they always add a nice touch of color to any meal. Thanks for your comment and the pin! Hope you enjoy the rouladen!

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on August 25, 2012:

I've never made rouladen, but I'm going to now. I just cooked some fresh beets. I think I'll pickle them with onions, and that might make a colorful and tasty accompaniment. Pinned!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 03, 2012:

Hi Steph,

Mmmm...can I come to your house for dinner? We love rouladen, but I just don't make it often enough! The addition of beer sounds interesting...will have to give that version a try sometime. Thanks for commenting and enjoy your dinner!

Steph on April 03, 2012:

Thanks for this! I made it with just pickles and bacon last time in beer rather then everything else and it was great. this time i got the rouladen meat :) cant wait for dinner tonight!! Thanks for this recipe!!

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 21, 2012:

Dolores Monet - Did your mother still wrap the pickles and bacon into the Rouladen? Leaving out those ingredients would change the flavor considerably. Stuffed beef roll-ups with bread stuffing sounds interesting, though. However you make it, Rouladen is a wonderful fall or winter meal. Thanks for your comments!

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on January 21, 2012:

My mother used to make a version of this rouladen. Only she stuffed the beef with a kind of bread stuffing like you use for turkey. What a wonderful meal in the winter, so cozy and warming. Haven't had it in years.

Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on December 09, 2010:

Thanks for stopping by, Oceanssunsets. Our family really enjoys German food. I hope you will enjoy it, too!

Paula from The Midwest, USA on December 09, 2010:

Stephanie, this rouladen recipe sounds wonderful, thanks for sharing it! I would love to try to make it. Great story and hub.