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!
Table of Contents
- Traditional Sauerbraten Recipe
- What is Sauerbraten?
- Why we love this German Pot Roast
- German Sauerbraten ingredients
- How to make Sauerbraten
- How to serve this Sauerbraten Recipe
- How to store German Pot Roast
- Easy Sauerbraten Recipe FAQs
- What's the secret to the BEST Sauerbraten?
- More Delicious German Recipes To Try
- German Sauerbraten (German Pot Roast) Recipe
Traditional Sauerbraten 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 Cake, Homemade German Spaetzle, and German Apple Strudel (Apfelstrudel) for something a bit different too!
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.
Why we love this German Pot Roast
- 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!
German Sauerbraten ingredients
Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- 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.
- 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!
How to make 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.
- 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.
- Slice and serve. Slice the cooked beef and serve it with the sauce spooned over the top.
How to serve this Sauerbraten Recipe
When serving sauerbraten, you can complement it with a variety of side dishes to create a well-rounded meal. Some traditional options include:
- Red Cabbage (Rotkohl): This sweet and tangy side dish pairs wonderfully with sauerbraten and its sweet and sour flavors complement the dish. It’s one of our favorite authentic German dishes!
- Potato Dumplings (Kartoffelklöße) or Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer): Both of these potato-based sides are commonly paired with sauerbraten in Germany and they go well with the delicious gravy.
- Spaetzle: Another family favorite, these soft egg noodles are a classic German side dish and are perfect for soaking up the sauerbraten sauce.
- Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes are always a good choice and can be a comforting addition to your sauerbraten meal.
- Green Beans or Asparagus: A simple vegetable side dish can add freshness and color to your plate.
How to store German Pot Roast
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.
Easy Sauerbraten Recipe FAQs
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.
Absolutely! Just transferred the browned roast and marinade to a slow cooker and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours.
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.
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.
The name sauerbraten translates to “sour roasted meat.” Sauer meaning "sour" or "pickled" and Braten meaning "roast meat". Don’t be scared by the name though, it’s not sour and it’s just a delicious way to make a roast.
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!
More Delicious German Recipes To Try
- Apple Strudel
- Homemade Soft Pretzels
- Traditional German Red Cabbage Rotkohl
- Sauerkraut and Sausages with Apples
- Pork Schnitzel & Mushroom Gravy (Jägerschnitzel)
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.
German Sauerbraten (German Pot Roast)
- 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
- 3-4 pounds beef chuck roast or rump roast
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 10 gingersnap cookies, crushed
- 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.
- 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.
This post was originally published in October, 2019. The content was updated in November, 2022 to be more helpful.