Classic German Rouladen

An Authentic Rouladen Recipe For A Classic German Dish!

If you want to make German Rouladen, you’re in the right place! This special meat dish is made from thinly cut and rolled beef stuffed with onions, pickles, mustard, and bacon.

Served with delicious red wine gravy, beef Rouladen is a popular dish that takes a few steps but is definitely worth the effort!

To complete the meal, Rouladen are often served with hearty sides like spaetzle, bread dumplings, or potatoes as well as red cabbage and a simple green salad.

two beef rouladen in bowl with gravy and noodles
We love German Rouladen with gravy and egg dumplings!

We’re big fans of Rouladen. In the part of Germany that Lisa grew up in, it’s one of these classic Sunday lunch dishes for when the whole family gets together.

Eric had never had Rouladen until Lisa’s mom made it when they came to visit – and now he’s hooked!

Since we both like it so much, we also frequently make it for the family now that we live in North America, and they always enjoy the flavors and uniqueness of the dish!

Recipe Tips & Substitutions

When making German Rouladen, be sure to consider these few recipe tips and suggestions:

  • As for portions, we calculate one Roulade per person if the meat cut is on the larger side and you’ve got other dishes to serve with it. If the beef cuts are smaller, or you’ve got big eaters to serve, you should probably make two Rouladen per person.
  • When pounding the meat, be gentle. You do not want to create holes in beef as this will make stuffing, rolling, and searing more difficult.
  • For the wine, use a wine that you like to drink. If you choose a wine of lesser quality, you’ll taste the difference. That said, you don’t need a wildly expensive wine to make decent Rouladen.
  • Before serving, be sure to remove what you held the beef rolls together with (cooking twine or toothpicks).
  • Also keep in mind that you can make German beef Rouladen in advance. Lisa’s mom often makes hers the day before so they get a chance to develop more flavor overnight! She then just stores them in the fridge overnight and gently reheats them the next day.
two beef rouladen in bowl with gravy and noodles
Our Rouladen were nicely browned on the outside….

How to Make Rouladen – Step by Step Instructions

If you want to make Rouladen at home, you can find the recipe card at the bottom of this post with measurements and instructions.

For those wanting to follow along visually with the recipe steps (there are quite a few steps involved), you can find the step-by-step recipe photos in this section.

This way, if you have any questions about what a step should look like, you can refer back to this beef Rouladen recipe as a guide!

chopped onions and pickles on white cutting board for rouladen
Cut the onion and pickles.

First, peel the onion, then chop it into small cubes. Also, cut the baby dill pickles into small cubes.

sliced carrots and celery on wooden cutting board on counter
Cut the carrots and celery.

Next, peel the carrot and cut it into slices. Wash the celery and then cut those into slices as well.

chopped leek on wooden cutting board with knife
Cut the leek.

Also, wash the leek (make sure to wash it well – leek can be quite dirty) and cut it into rings. Set the vegetables aside for now.

wooden hammer pounding beef between cling wrap on wooden board
Pound the meat.

Wash the meat and trim the excess fat (if applicable). Place one piece of meat between two pieces of cling film, then pound it thin using the smooth side of a meat hammer.

piece of beef on cling wrap with salt and pepper on top
Salt and pepper the meat.

Remove the cling film. Salt and pepper on both sides of the meat.

beef spread with yellow mustard with knife on wooden board
Add mustard.

Then evenly spread one of the sides with mustard (approximately 1 tablespoon per roulade).

beef covered in mustard with bacon pickles and onion on top
Add the bacon, onions, and pickles.

Add one slice of bacon as well as some of the cut-up onion and pickles.

Be sure to place the onion and pickles in the middle of the beef with room at the edges – you’ll need this space for rolling/tucking the beef.

You can do it either how we did it in the photo above (only add onions and pickles to a small area) or spread it out across the whole roulade.

hands rolling beef on wooden cutting board
Roll up the meat.

Now roll up the piece of meat and try tucking in the edges.

rolled beef rouladen on cling wrap on wooden board
Secure the meat with toothpicks or twine.

Secure the roll of meat either with toothpicks (we like using a whole toothpick in the middle and a half toothpick for each end) or cooking twine (you can tie the beef roll as you would ribbon in four directions on a present).

raw beef rouladen on plate on counter
Set the meat aside.

Set the roulade aside on a plate and repeat the steps with the other pieces of meat.

If some mustard is leaking out, don’t worry about it – it will just add more flavor to the gravy.

At this time, preheat your oven to 310 degrees Fahrenheit.

seared beef rouladen in pot on stove
Sear the meat.

Once you have rolled all the pieces of meat, heat oil in a pan/pot with high sides. Alternatively, you can also use a Dutch oven or similar that you can put in the oven.

Add the rouladen and sear the meat on high heat on all sides (so make sure to rotate them!). Once all the sides are browned, remove the meat from the pan.

chopped vegetables in large pot on stove top
Sauté the vegetables.

Turn down the heat to medium and add the vegetables to the pan. Sauté them for around 5 minutes.

chopped vegetables with tomato paste in pot on stove
Add the tomato paste and sugar.

Then add the tomato paste and the sugar. Give everything a stir.

vegetables in wine sauce stirred with wooden spoon in pot
Add the red wine.

Now add 1/2 cup of wine to the pot and wait until it reduces. Then add the other 1/2 cup and wait for it to reduce and thicken again.

beef broth with vegetables in pot on stove
Add the beef broth.

Add the beef broth to the pan/pot and bring everything to a simmer.

seared beef rouladen on bed of vegetables
Place everything into an oven safe pan.

Then pour the contents of the pan into a roasting pan for the oven or leave them in the pan/pot if it is oven safe.

Place the meat on top of the evenly spread out sauce and vegetables and put the roasting pan with the lid off into the oven.

After 30 minutes, take the pan out of the oven, flip the rouladen and place them back in the oven.

Bake them for another 30 minutes, flip them again, and put the lid on at the 1-hour mark.

This way, they get a nice dark color. If you don’t want them to be that dark, place them into the oven with the lid on from the beginning – but still flip them every 30 minutes.

cooked rolled beef rouladen on cooked vegetables in roasting pan
Test to see if the meat is tender.

Test if the meat is tender after 90 minutes. If it is, remove the pan from the oven. If not, put it back in to continue cooking the beef.

Once the meat is tender, remove the rouladen from the roasting pan and set them aside.

cooked vegetables in metallic strainer sitting on pot
Capture the vegetables.

Pour the sauce through a sifter to capture the cooked vegetables.

stewed vegetables in a blender on counter top
Blend some of the vegetables.

To thicken the sauce, you have two options. Either blend approximately 1/2 of the cooked vegetables with some of the liquid from the sauce drippings.

blended vegetables pouring into gravy in sauce pan on stove with whisk
Add the pureed vegetables to the sauce.

Then add it back to the strained liquid and bring this mixture to a simmer on the stove in a pot.

thick brown beef rouladen gravy in pot on stove with whisk
A delicous gravy for the rouladen.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Alternatively – if you don’t want to use any vegetables to thicken the sauce – thicken the sauce with approximately 1 tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in a little bit of cold water and discard the cooked vegetables or eat them on the side.

two german rouladen in bowl with spaetzle and gravy
Rouladen look great when you cut them open!

Serve the meat and gravy with potato dumplings, bread dumplings, spaetzle noodles, or potatoes. German red cabbage and a green side salad are also popular additions.

Storage Tips

Store any uneaten Rouladen in a sealed container in the fridge. We usually store the leftover gravy in another container but they can be combined.

It’s best to eat leftovers within 1-2 days. If you prepared the Rouladen in advance, it’s especially important to consume leftovers soon.

To re-heat Rouladen, you can pan fry the beef on low or just toss it in the microwave. For the sauce, add a bit of water to the leftover gravy and add it to a pot on the stovetop on low heat while stirring frequently.

FAQ

What is Rouladen?

Rouladen are German rolled beef stuffed with onions, pickles, bacon, and mustard. They are seared then roasted and served with the beef gravy produced in the dish.

What cut of meat is Rouladen?

Round – often from the top. We sometimes use outside round cutlets and they work as well.

What to serve with Rouladen?

Rouladen are best served with a filling side that goes well with gravy such as potato dumplings, spaetzle, bread dumplings, or boiled potatoes. Red cabbage, cucumber salad, or a simple green salad are popular additions are well.

How do you make Rouladen from scratch?

To make Rouladen from scratch, chop all the fillings and fill and roll the beef. Pan sear them, then prepare the vegetables, wine, and broth for roasting. Roast the beef and vegetables until tender, then create gravy from the vegetables and/or broth. For the complete recipe, follow the Rouladen recipe card below.

Related Recipes

For more classic German meat dishes, try out these tasty recipes:

two german rouladen in bowl with spaetzle and gravy

Rouladen

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Rouladen is a classic German dish. Made from thinly cut and pounded beef filled with onion, pickles, bacon, and mustard, this filling meat dish includes a thick gravy that serves well with bread or potato dumplings, spaetzle, or potatoes.

Ingredients

The Meat

  • 4 thin slices of beef, approximately 9x5 inches or slightly bigger (ideally top round cut, but flank steak or outside round cutlets also work)
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 baby dill pickles
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • toothpicks or cooking twine

The Sauce

  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 small leek
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • salt, pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Peel the onion, then chop it into small cubes. Also, cut the baby dill pickles into small cubes.
  2. Peel the carrot and cut it into slices. Wash the celery and leek (make sure to wash it well - leek can be quite dirty), then cut those into slices/rings as well. Set the vegetables aside for now.
  3. Wash the meat and trim the excess fat (if applicable). Place one piece of meat between two pieces of cling film, then pound it thin using the smooth side of a meat hammer.
  4. Remove the cling film. Salt and pepper on both sides of the meat, then evenly spread one of the sides with mustard (approximately 1 tablespoon per roulade). Add one slice of bacon as well as some of the cut-up onion and pickles. Be sure to place the onion and pickles in the middle of the beef with room at the edges - you'll need this space for rolling/tucking the beef.
  5. Now roll up the piece of meat and try tucking in the edges. Secure the roll of meat either with toothpicks (we like using a whole toothpick in the middle and a half toothpick for each end) or cooking twine (you can tie the beef roll as you would ribbon in four directions on a present). Set the roulade aside on a plate and repeat the steps with the other pieces of meat.
  6. Preheat your oven to 310 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Once you have rolled all the pieces of meat, heat oil in a pan/pot with high sides. Alternatively, you can also use a Dutch oven or similar that you can put in the oven. Add the rouladen and sear the meat on high heat on all sides (so make sure to rotate them!). Once all the sides are browned, remove the meat from the pan.
  8. Turn down the heat to medium and add the vegetables to the pan. Sauté them for around 5 minutes, then add the tomato paste and the sugar. Give everything a stir.
  9. Now add 1/2 cup of red wine to the pot and wait until it reduces. Then add the other 1/2 cup and wait for it to reduce and thicken again.
  10. Add the beef broth to the pan/pot and bring everything to a simmer. Then pour the contents of the pan into a roasting pan for the oven or leave them in the pan/pot if it is oven safe.
  11. Place the meat on top of the evenly spread out sauce and vegetables and put the roasting pan with the lid off into the oven. After 30 minutes, take the pan out of the oven, flip the rouladen and place them back in the oven. Bake them for another 30 minutes, flip them again, and put the lid on at the 1-hour mark. This way, they get a nice dark color. If you don't want them to be that dark, place them into the oven with the lid on from the beginning - but still flip them every 30 minutes.
  12. Test if the meat is tender after 90 minutes. If it is, remove the pan from the oven. If not, put it back in to continue cooking the beef.
  13. Once the meat is tender, remove the rouladen from the roasting pan and set them aside.
  14. Pour the sauce through a sifter to capture the cooked vegetables.
  15. To thicken the sauce, you have two options. Either blend approximately 1/2 of the cooked vegetables with some of the liquid from the sauce drippings. Then add it back to the strained liquid and bring this mixture to a simmer on the stove in a pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Alternatively - if you don't want to use any vegetables to thicken the sauce - thicken the sauce with approximately 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in a little bit of cold water and discard the cooked vegetables or eat them on the side.
  16. Serve the meat and gravy with potato dumplings, bread dumplings, spaetzle noodles, or potatoes. German red cabbage and a green side salad are also popular additions.

Notes

  • We usually calculate one roulade per person if the meat is on the bigger side and there are different side dishes. If the meat is smaller and/or you are cooking this dish for people with large appetites, it's best to calculate two rouladen per person.
  • Use a wine that you would also drink. If you use one with poor quality, you'll taste it. At the same time, there's no need to use a very expensive wine either.
  • Be careful when you pound the meat - you want to get it thin but don't want to break through the grains and create holes in the piece of beef.
  • Make sure to remove the toothpicks or cooking twine from the meat before eating it.
  • You can prepare the rouladen the day before. Some people (Lisa's mom include) like doing this since it gives the flavors in the rouladen time to mingle. Just place them in the fridge overnight and then gently reheat them the next day.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1016Total Fat: 65gSaturated Fat: 24gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 32gCholesterol: 259mgSodium: 1831mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 82g

This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice.

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