This authentic German Sauerbraten recipe makes the most tender, juicy roast beef in a wonderful sweet and sour gravy. Marinated for days in red wine, vinegar, and spices, then braised until the meat is succulent and tender, and served with rotkohl and spaetzle, sauerbraten is one of Germany's national dishes for good reason!

Be sure to try some of my other favorite German recipes, including German Plum Cake, Homemade German Spaetzle, and German Apple Strudel (Apfelstrudel)!

An image of German sauerbraten sliced on a plate with gravy on top.

I have long loved German food, German culture, and the German language. It all started in high school in Frau Kolk's German class when I was a sophmore. I even ended up living in Frankfurt working for a law firm between my first and second years of law school!

The very first meal I ever ate in Germany was not schnitzel or wurst or even one of their famous soft pretzels. It was a plate of sauerbraten with spaetzle and rotkohl. And even though I was jetlagged beyond belief, that memory has stayed with me for over 10 years!

Sauerbraten is one of the national dishes of Germany and this version is as authentic as I can possibly make it. The flavor is absolutely amazing and it tastes just like the sauerbraten I ate in Germany. It's perfect for celebrating Oktoberfest!

Don't be daunted by the preparation time! Real, authentic Sauerbraten takes a couple of days to make since it needs to marinate for at least 2-3 days or even longer. But the effort is 100% worth it and the rest of the process isn't difficult at all. Start it on Thursday or Friday (or a week earlier) and you can serve traditional German sauerbraten for Sunday dinner!

An image of German sauerbraten on a plate.

What is Sauerbraten?

Sauerbraten is a traditional German roast recipe that translates to "sour roasted meat." It's not the most appealing name, but ask anyone who has ever had sauerbraten and they 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. And okay, it is fairly substantiated that sauerbraten used to be made with horse meat and there are still some places where you can get it that way today. We'll just stick with beef though, okay?

The meat is marinated for anywhere from 2 to 10 days in a mixture of red wine, vinegar, and spices to both tenderize and flavor the meat, since traditionally the cuts 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 wine, sometimes just vinegar, but often it's a combination of both, which is what I'm using here. One of the most interesting things about sauerbraten is that crushed gingersnaps are used to thicken and flavor the sauce to create the wonderful gravy that is spooned over the sliced meat after it's done cooking.

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

How to make sauerbraten

  1. Make the marinade. Start by chopping carrots, onion, garlic, and leeks and throwing them in a large dutch oven with some fresh rosemary and thyme. Add the bay leaves, juniper berries, cloves, peppercorns, salt, and sugar. Then add red vine, vinegar, and 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.
  2. Nestle the meat in the marinade and refrigerate 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 submerged in the marinade. Be warned, the meat may look quite unappealing from the color of the marinade, but it will brown up beautifully once it is cooked.
  3. When ready to cook, remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Transfer the marinade to a bowl and reserve.
  4. Heat a little oil in a pan or dutch oven over high heat and sear the meat on all sides, cooking without moving for about 2 minutes per side.
  5. Return the 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. 
  6. Simmer for 2 to 2 ½ hours until the meat is tender. Remove the sauerbraten to a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes.
  7. 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.
  8. Slice the meat and serve with the sauce spooned over the top.
A collage of images showing step by step how to make authentic German sauerbraten.
An image of sliced sauerbraten with gravy on a plate.

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, 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. 

Also, 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.

What to serve with sauerbraten

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

4.65 from 31 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, combine all of the marinade ingredients and 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 return the marinade to 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.

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!

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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!

  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.