This authentic German Sauerbraten recipe makes the most tender and juicy roast beef and a wonderful sweet and sour gravy. Beef is richly marinated for a few days in a mixture of red wine, vinegar, and a mix of flavorful herbs and warm spices. Then, the meat is braised until succulent and tender—it's so irresistible!

An image of German sauerbraten sliced on a plate with gravy on top.
Table of Contents
  1. What is Sauerbraten?
  2. Why We Love This Recipe
  3. What You'll Need
  4. How to Make Traditional German Sauerbraten
  5. What's the secret to the BEST Sauerbraten?
  6. More Delicious German Recipes To Try
  7. Authentic German Sauerbraten Recipe Recipe

Sauerbraten is one of the national dishes of Germany, and this version is the most authentic I can make it. The flavor is absolutely amazing, I always get rave reviews about it when I make it. Served with rotkohl and spaetzle, it's a filling meal that everyone will love!

I have long loved German food, German culture, and the German language. I even lived in Frankfurt for a time, and the very first meal I ever ate in Germany was a plate of sauerbraten with spaetzle and rotkohl, and you can bet I ate the whole thing. Even though I was jetlagged beyond belief at the time, the memory of that amazing traditional German pot roast has stayed with me for over 10 years!

Don't be daunted by the total cooking time! Real, authentic Sauerbraten needs to marinate for at least 2-3 days or even longer, but the effort is 100% worth it. The process isn't difficult at all - it will just take a bit of meal planning! Start it on Thursday or Friday (or a week earlier) and you can serve traditional German Sauerbraten for your Sunday dinner!

This classic German pot roast is perfect for celebrating Oktoberfest! Be sure to try some of my other favorite German recipes, including German Plum CakeHomemade German Spaetzle, and German Apple Strudel (Apfelstrudel) for something a bit different too!

An image of authentic sauerbraten with rotkohl (German red cabbage) and spaetzle on a plate.

What is Sauerbraten?

The name sauerbraten translates to "sour roasted meat." While it's not the most appealing name, anyone who has ever had sauerbraten will tell you how delicious it really is!

Sauerbraten is most often made with beef, although you could also make it with a lamb roast, pork, or even venison. It is actually fairly substantiated that sauerbraten used to be made with horse meat. There are even still some places where you can get it made with horse meat today, but we'll just stick with beef for now!

Making sauerbraten authentically requires the meat to be marinated for anywhere from 2 to 10 days in a mixture of red wine, vinegar, and spices. Afterward, the meat is both tenderized and deeply flavored. Traditionally, the cut of meat used for sauerbraten, like rump roast, are tougher than other choice cuts of meat. 

Sauerbraten recipes can vary from region to region and sometimes call for just red wine, sometimes just vinegar, but often it is a combination of both. One of the most interesting things about sauerbraten is that crushed gingersnaps are used to thicken and flavor the sauce, creating the wonderful gravy that is spooned over the sliced meat after it's done cooking.

An image of German sauerbraten on a plate.

Why We Love This Recipe

  • This traditional recipe from Germany is a great way to discover new cuisines.
  • It's a versatile recipe that works with many types and cuts of meat.
  • Sauerbraten is relatively easy to make, and it's perfect for making ahead of time!
  • It's a substantial dish, perfect for any special occasion!

What You'll Need

Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

Marinade

  • Vegetables - Onions, carrots, and leeks give a wonderful savory flavor to this dish.
  • Seasoning - Use freshly minced garlic, juniper berries, kosher salt, and whole black peppercorns in this beef roast.
  • Herbs - Fresh sprigs of thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and whole cloves are best for a fragrant dish.
  • Wine - Use red wine for a richly flavored marinade.
  • Red Wine Vinegar - Adds a wonderful tanginess to the marinade.
  • Sugar - This sweetens the marinade, giving it that sweet and sour flavor. You could use honey or a sweetener if you prefer.
  • Broth - Beef broth will work best for this recipe to blend with the beef cut.
  • Raisins - Use golden raisins to get an added sweetness in the marinade.

Roast

  • Oil: Use vegetable oil, olive oil, or another neutral-flavored oil to sear the roast before marinating.
  • Beef: I have used a rump roast in this recipe, but the beef eye of round or bottom round are more traditional cuts of beef for sauerbraten. You can even use a beef chuck roast or a pork roast if you prefer.
  • Gingersnaps: Ginger snaps will add to the sweetness of the dish, along with a spiced ginger flavor which is warming too!
An image of traditional German sauerbraten pot roast on a plate.

How to Make Traditional German Sauerbraten

Make marinade. Firstly, start by chopping the carrots, onions, garlic, and leeks and throwing them into a large dutch oven with some fresh rosemary and thyme. Add the bay leaves, juniper berries, cloves, peppercorns, salt, and sugar. Then add the red wine vinegar, beef broth, and raisins (if using), and stir everything together. Bring it to a boil and cook for 10 minutes, then remove it from the heat and let it cool completely.

Marinate meat. Nestle the meat in the marinade and refrigerate it for AT LEAST 48 hours and up to 1 week. Be sure to turn the meat over in the marinade once a day so it absorbs the flavor and tenderizes on all sides if it isn't able to be completely submerged in the marinade. Be warned: the meat may look quite unappealing from the color of the marinade, but it will turn into a brown roast once it is cooked.

Dry and sear beef. When ready to cook, remove the meat from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels. Then transfer the marinade to a bowl and reserve. Heat a little oil in a pan or dutch oven over high heat and sear the meat on all sides, cooking it without moving for about 2 minutes per side.

Sauerbraten Roast getting seared in pan.

Return marinade. Return the reserved marinade to the dutch oven with the seared meat, then bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce the heat to a medium-low. 

Cook beef. Simmer the beef and marinade for 2 to 2 ½ hours until the meat is tender. Then, remove the sauerbraten to a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, strain the cooking juices, reserving the liquids and discarding the solids. Return the strained liquid to the dutch oven and sprinkle with crushed gingersnaps, stirring and cooking over medium-low heat for 10 minutes until thickened to a nice gravy.

German Sauerbraten getting cooked with marinade in pot over stove.

Slice and serve. Slice the cooked beef and serve it with the sauce spooned over the top.

An image of sliced sauerbraten with gravy on a plate.

Recipe FAQs

Can I make this sauerbraten recipe in the oven?

Yes! Rather than simmering on the stove, you could stick your dutch oven with the lid on in a 350 degree F oven for 2-3 hours until the roast is done.

Can I make this sauerbraten recipe in the slow cooker?

Absolutely! Just transferred the browned roast and marinade to a slow cooker and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours.

What cut of beef for sauerbraten?

A rump roast, the beef eye of round, or bottom round are more traditional cuts of beef for sauerbraten. But you could also use a beef chuck roast or even pork roast if you prefer. I used a rump roast in these photos.

How long can you marinate sauerbraten?

I recommend anywhere for 2-7 days, but you can even marinate your meat for up to 2 weeks! The wine helps preserve the meat and the longer it marinates, the more tender it will be. 

How do I store sauerbraten?

Store your cooked and cooled sauerbraten and sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, and reheat in the oven.

Can I freeze sauerbraten?

Yes! Put your cooked and cooled sauerbraten and sauce in an airtight container that is freezer-safe and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in the oven.

What's the secret to the BEST Sauerbraten?

The secret to the BEST sauerbraten is to get the marinade deeply soaked into the meat for that amazing rich flavor! Bear in mind too, that the longer the meat marinates, the less time it will take to cook!

An image of an authentic German sauerbraten recipe with the meat sliced and served with gravy on top and rotkohl and spaetzle on the side.

More Delicious German Recipes To Try

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.

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Authentic German Sauerbraten Recipe

4.78 from 49 votes
Amy Nash
Course Dinner
Cuisine German
Servings 8 servings
Start marinating your roast at least 2-3 days in advance for the most tender, flavorful sauerbraten. Serve with rotkohl, knoedel, spaetzle, German potato pancakes, or boiled potatoes! This is one of Germany's national dishes for good reason!

Ingredients
  

Marinade

  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 large leek, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 juniper berries
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 10 whole black peppercorns, cracked
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1 ½ cups red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • ½ cup golden raisins, optional

Roast

  • 3-4 pounds beef chuck roast or rump roast
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 10 gingersnap cookies, crushed

Instructions
 

  • In a large dutch oven, or another large pot that is oven-proof, combine all of the marinade ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, boil for 10 minutes, then cool completely.
  • Nestle the meat down into the cooled marinade, then cover and refrigerate for at least 48 hours and up to 2 weeks. Turn the roast each day to make sure all of the meat gets a chance to marinade thoroughly.
  • Remove roast from the marinade and pat completely dry using paper towels. DO NOT DISCARD THE MARINADE. Transfer the marinade to a bowl.
  • Wipe out the dutch oven and heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in it over high heat. When the oil is hot, sear the roast on all sides until browned (about 2 minutes per side), then pour marinade into the dutch oven with the meat.
  • Bring the liquids to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Simmer for 2 to 2 ½ hours, until meat is tender. Alternatively, you can transfer the dutch oven to a 350 degree F oven with the lid on for 2 to 2 ½ hours until the meat is done if you prefer.
  • Remove meat from the cooking liquids and set it aside on a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, strain the marinade, discarding the solids and reserving the liquid. Return the liquid to the dutch oven.
  • Add the crushed gingersnap cookies to the reserved liquid. Cook and stir over medium-low heat for 10 minutes until thickened into a nice gravy. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
  • Slice the sauerbraten into thin slices and serve with the hot gravy poured over the top.

Notes

  • Storage: Store your cooked and cooled sauerbraten and sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. 
  • Freeze: Freeze cooked and cooled sauerbraten and sauce in an airtight container that is freezer-safe for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in the oven.

Nutrition

Calories: 470kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 117mg | Sodium: 1044mg | Potassium: 915mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 3232IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 5mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

This post was originally published in October, 2019. The content was updated in November, 2022 to be more helpful.

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

  1. I know you mentioned that the wine helps preserve the meat, so is that what makes it ok to leave in the fridge for that long before cooking?  And, is it important to make sure the whole thing is covered with liquid because of this?  I’m always crazy about shelf life of meat so I wanted to double check this! Lol.  Looking forward to making it for our Fancy Dinner night with friends!

    1. Yes, the wine helps preserve the meat which is why it can stay longer in the fridge. I just turned the meat each night rather than worry about making sure it was completely covered.

  2. I made this today.  Overall, it was good, my husband really liked it, which was my goal!  I marinated in my crockpot crock for 6 days, turning.  I cooed in my crockpot for 8 hours.  I personally found the meant to be well flavored, but a bit dry.  However once you make the gravy from the reserved liquids and ginger snaps it adds a whole new dimension.  Made with braised red cabbage and spaetzle.

    1. If you don't have access to gingersnaps, I would think that crushed up graham crackers would work, or even just something like panko breadcrumbs and maybe a tablespoon of brown sugar for sweetness.

  3. Sauerbraten was not originally made with horse meat despite what people say at that point in time the church was pretty much in charge and eating horse was not allowed!

    1. Some recipes supposedly date from pre-Christian Roman times, so horse meat may have been used. But where did they get the gingersnaps?

  4. Why do you discard the solids...carrots and onions in the marinade? Should I not use them when I cook the meat? I am using the crockpot for this recipe.

    1. It does state it. It says add all of the marinade ingredients. Juniper berries are one of the marinade ingredients.

  5. Not all sauerbraten recipes I'm seeing call for pre-boiling the marinade before soaking the meat. Indeed, I've read that some ingredients such as the chopped onions contribute natural enzymes (proteins) to tenderize the meat... but they denature (lose their shape, becoming inert) if heated. Would you ever marinate with unboiled ingredients (or at least add select ones after boiling & cooling others) in order to preserve those enzymes and harness their tenderizing action?

  6. there is no way that a 3-4lb roast is only 1 serving. you need to redue your calories and the correct number of servings because what you have it incorrect for the amount of calories.

    1. It states :
      NUTRITION INFORMATION: YIELD: 8 SERVING SIZE: 1
      The way I read it is that it yields 8 servings and the nutritional information is describing one serving.
      Also, "Yield: 8 servings" is at the top of the recipe.
      Nothing needs correction.

      Thank-you, Amy, for sharing your recipes.

  7. How can I create more gravy for the roast? It hasn’t yielded enough for my dish and we like to add to the accompanying potatoes. Thx 

    1. If you want more gravy, you can make stretch it by adding another 1 3/4 cups of beef broth, then whisking 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of cold water and whisking that in.

  8. Sounds wonderful. I am cooking for a crowd and would like to perhaps cook ahead of time. How does the recipe do as far as preparing ahead of time? If like pot roast, it might be better the second day?
    Thank you for your help.

  9. 5 stars
    My first time making or tasting Sauerbraten. My husband is a Wisconsin native  and he pronounced this delicious.I marinated it  5 plus days/had to use extra red wine as my full bottle of red wine vinegar was not enough.  Made mashed potatoes per my husband request. Was a complete success. 

  10. 1 star
    This is not a traditional marinate, you make it way too complicated there is a very basic way and its perfect its a roast not a fruit and vegetable stew I've making this dish for 50 years, and your way is definitetly not authentic

    1. I would love to hear how you prepare it! I definitely try to make my recipes as authentic as possible, but I also know that different regions of Germany have different preparations.

  11. 5 stars
    Giving you 5 stars as I know from your ingredient list this will be the best sauerbraten I made in a long time.

    Do you have a recipe for the potato dumplings? I didn't see one listed

  12. 5 stars
    This meal was so good! I don’t think I could find better in a German restaurant. My husband has been praising me all evening.

    1. Wow Nanette! That is so nice of you to say. I love a good German dish and am so glad you and your husband enjoyed this one! Thank you!

  13. I tried adding about a tablespoon of fresh grated ginger with the ginger snaps, when making the gravy. I really liked the result.

  14. 5 stars
    I am native german and living on a spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea. Since I am not living in the typical german colonies of our beautiful island there is no way to eat those delicious german meals in the area of the island where I am living. I hv been married to and in a relationship with 2 andalusian men. They don't like german food at all. So unfortunately I hv no way to just prepare any german food/meals just for me. But there will be a huge change in my life within a few months. My husband to be is american and he loves healthy, well tasting food. We will be living in America and he will help me to prepare our meals. That is why I appreciate your explications and publishing your recipes here. I already hv downloaded them on my phone and put them in a file. Thanks so much.

  15. I am making this for the first time today! I have leftover gingerbread men cookies. Can I substitute them for the gingersnaps for the gravy?

  16. Except for the addition of the vegetables, this seems more complicated than the way my great aunt always made it who was full-blooded German.
    She took about a 5 lb roast of top around or bottom round and put a whole container of pickling spice in cheesecloth, submerged it in the water with a roast, boiled it for about 2 hours and then left it marinating in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. She then alternated cider vinegar and white sugar to taste then made her gravy and served it over either mashed potatoes or egg noodles. Sometimes she would saute bread crumbs to sprinkle on top and it not only became a family favorite but I have a friend who requests it specifically for her birthday dinner each year. I believe all the spices you list would be generally included in a jar of pickling spice anyway so there would be no need to list them separately. Otherwise, the addition of the vegetables including the garlic would be a good variation.

    1. My husband and I lived in Germany for a time and I just love the German culture. I love that each family has traditions and recipes that get passed down! How fun that even your friend requests the recipe. Sounds like it's a good one!