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Oma's Authentic German Beef Rouladen Recipe

➤ by Gerhild Fulson

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This traditional German beef Rouladen recipe, aka beef rolls, steak rolls, or beef birds, served with potato dumplings and red cabbage is my most cherished German food from my childhood and still our very favorite.

What could be better than to serve this as your traditional German Christmas food or other holidays or birthdays… or anytime you have something special to celebrate?

What's better than to have a special feast meal that is actually quite easy to make? On top of that, there are so many versions of this braised beef Rouladen recipe, that it is easy to find one that matches your tastes and favorite method.

Wunderbar! Beef Rouladen. THE traditional German food! Served here with potato dumplings and red cabbage.

One major difference is in the ingredients that the Rouladen are filled with. The differences stem from the different regions of Germany.

This actually makes it possible to have many traditional recipes for Rouladen that are so different from each other, meaning you can find one with a stuffing that matches your German food taste buds.

Then, there are four different methods for making these stuffed beef rolls. I grew up with my Mutti making them on the stove top. As years went by and Mutti got her first slow cooker, that became her favorite way of making them. She would cook them on low heat for 6-8 hours. Always so tender. Check out the hints section of the recipe for this version.

In Germany, the most popular ways are using a pressure cooker or the oven. Each method has its following. I vary between all four of them, depending on the situation and how much time I have.

My favorite? I think it would be pressure cooker if I'm making just a few ('cause they are so tender and moist) and the stove top for making enough for the whole family.

Interesting Rouladen Facts

  • Different versions of Rouladen (thought to come from the French) are throughout Europe: Italy has Braciole, France has Paupiette, Czech Republic has Španělské ptáčky, Hungary has Szüz tekercsek, and Hungary, as well as Germany, have Rouladen.
  • Some of the interesting names are beef birds, olive birds, steak birds, bacon rolls, and stuffed rolls. These are filled with a variety of ingredients, such as vegetables, cheese, and other meats.
  • Originally, venison and pork were used although now beef (Rindsrouladen) or veal are usually used. However, I've also enjoyed using thinly sliced chicken breast for these.

How many Rouladen do I need to make?

  • I usually make two rouladen for each person, but this really depends on the size of the top round slices I get from the butcher. Sometimes they are quite large and one roulade is all that's needed for one serving.
  • I find that even though one SHOULD be enough per person, because they are so good, most people like to take a second one. Or, oftentimes they will share a second one with someone else.
  • Because of this, I usually make as many as my budget allows, hoping for leftovers, because these taste so great the next day, heated gently in their gravy.

There’s something absolutely mouth-watering about having a German meat-and-potato dinner. Get Oma's revised collection of her favorites in German Meat Dishes.

Take a look at Oma's German Meat Dishes eCookbook filled with traditional favorites.

Take a peek at all Oma's eCookbooks. They make sharing your German heritage a delicious adventure!

How to make this Beef Rouladen Recipe, easily…

Clear your work surface and set up an assembly line…

Rouladen assembly line makes easier preparation!

Prep all your ingredients, pound your beef, season it, and spread mustard on it (if using). 

Then distribute the fillings over the top.

How to tie your Rouladen ...

Tie your rouladen to hold them together during the cooking process

Above, I've used metal skewers (the kind sold to truss poultry) to fasten my rouladen, a bit of a fiddly job. You can also use wooden picks, kitchen string, and, of course, the popular rouladen clamps.

Brown your Rouladen ...

It is important to brown your meat in small batches.

Always brown your meat in small batches. For the large lot I was making in these photos, I did this in three batches.

When all are nicely browned, add a bit of water to scrape up the browned bits at the bottom of the saucepan and then return all the rouladen to the saucepan.

Add the liquid, bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer till tender.

When tender, make that heavenly Gravy!

Once your rouladen are ready, use the leftover juice in the pan to make that delicious gravy!

These rouladen are done. Tender and almost ready to serve. Remove to a warm plate and carefully remove the skewers, or whatever you used to hold them together. Cover and keep warm.

Then, make that rouladen gravy. (If these German beef rolls need to be gluten free, make sure your cornstarch doesn't have any flour in it.)

The gravy is really the best part of this classic German dish... well, along with the meat. Once done, you're ready to serve.  

Can you freeze leftover Rouladen?

Absolutely! In fact, I usually make extra Rouladen, just to have leftovers. Just make sure your meat rolls are covered in gravy in the container.

To reheat Rouladen, you can place them in 350-degree oven, covered, until hot, about 30 minutes. You can also microwave them or just put them, thawed, into a saucepan and gently bring to a simmer. Simmer until heated through.

Alana making her rouladen: 

Instead of using slices of bacon, she put a slice of Black Forest ham down the length of the rouladen. A delicious variation on the traditional beef rouladen recipe, one I'll be doing often.

Beef rouladen in the making!

Wunderbar! Here my granddaughter, Alana, made these for her 13th birthday dinner party:

These completed and scrumptious rouladen are absolutely perfect for dinner parties!

Two years later, Alana made these for her 15th birthday dinner party. She does love her rouladen!

Everyone loves beef rouladen! My granddaughter showing off her masterpiece.

Wanting to use your pressure cooker instead to make this traditional German dish?

Yes, it's easy to make this classic German recipe with your pressure cooker. The result is a quicker meal and it's fork-tender always. I use my Instant Pot pressure cooker, but any will do.

Check out the recipe right here.


Oma says,

Does your budget say "too expensive" to make these German rouladen often? Want something a bit easier for everyday?

Try my own flatladen recipeCreated by me for my boys. We ALL love it! I use whichever cut of beef is on sale and we get that same great rouladen and gravy taste without all the work or expense.

Or try my delicious Slow Cooker Roast Beef recipe that also tastes amazingly like rouladen. Another great way to save time and money.


What to Serve with Rouladen?

If you're wanting a traditional German beef rouladen dinner, there are several side dishes that are a MUST! Of course, there are other ones that also pair perfectly with rouladen and its fabulous gravy.

The Top 10 German Recipes to serve with Rouladen are:

  1. Potato Dumplings
  2. Red Cabbage
  3. Click to see the rest of the Top 10 Side Dishes to serve with Rouladen.

Ready to make this Authentic Rouladen Recipe?

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➤ As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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Oma's Beef Rouladen Recipe

This German beef Rouladen recipe, served with traditional dishes like potato dumplings and red cabbage, is my most cherished German comfort food from my childhood. It is still a popular choice in our family for Sunday dinners, birthday dinners, and other special occasions.

This comforting dish is also fabulous with other sides like creamy mashed potatoes and green beans. What's better than to have a special occasion dish that's so versatile and is actually quite easy to make?

Prep Time

30 minutes

Cook Time

2 hours

Total Time

2.5 hours

Servings:

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices top round (see hints below)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • regular or Dijon mustard, to taste
  • 3 slices lean bacon, cut into pieces
  • 3 garlic dill pickles, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 - 2 cups water
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Instructions:

  1. Season the thin slices of beef with salt and freshly ground pepper. Thinly spread mustard on top of each slice.
  2. Divide pieces of bacon, dill pickle slices, and onion slices on one end of each of the beef slices.
  3. Roll up slices, tucking the ends in and securing each roll with a skewer, wooden cocktail stick, or string.
  4. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown beef rolls well on all sides. Do not crowd rouladen in skillet, or they will not brown nicely. Do in small batches if necessary. Add extra butter if needed.
  5. Once all rouladen are well browned, add 1 to 2 cups of hot water, gently stirring up browned bits. Place beef rolls, along with any accumulated juices back in the skillet, bring to simmer, and cover.
  6. Simmer for about 1½ hours.
  7. Remove beef roulades. To thicken gravy, make a cornstarch slurry: combine cornstarch in a little cold water and stir gently into cooking liquid until slightly thickened.
  8. Season gravy to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. If you wish, add sour cream for a nice rich gravy.
  9. Remove strings, wooden picks, or skewers from rouladen.
  10. Ladle gravy over the tender beef rolls to serve.

Notes/Hints:

  • Have your local butcher cut beef top round steak (or flank steak) into thin slices, about ⅜-inch thick. Each roulade should measure at least 6 inches by 4 inches. Gently pound meat until it is about ⅛- to ¼-inch thick. Be careful not to put holes in the meat. The larger the roulade, the easier it is to roll up. 
  • Some add pickles, others don't. Some add vegetables, others minimize the fillings. Use Black Forest ham instead of bacon. Use spicy brown mustard for a little heat.
  • You can use beef broth or beef stock instead of water.
  • If you're wanting to use your crock pot, in step 5 put everything into the slow cooker and cook on high 3-4 hours or low 6-8 hours.
  • You can also make rouladen in your pressure cooker.
  • Take a look at What to Serve with Rouladen.

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Unless otherwise noted recipe, images and content © Just like Oma | www.quick-german-recipes.com

01.12.2022 revision update

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Wanting to know about different cuts of beef? Check out this post.

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Wunderbar! Beef Rouladen. THE traditional German food!

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