A number of years ago my wife and I spent twelve days in Europe. We flew into Frankfurt, Germany and immediately drove down to the little historic town of Heidelburg. We walked around the old town and when it started to rain we ducked into a local tavern right on the main market square.

After perusing the menu, I chose the Sauerbraten. I knew that I had eaten it before, but honestly could not have described it at the time. This plate of savory slices of beef in a rich tangy gravy arrived and I dug right in. For the rest of my time in Germany, I fought off the desire from ordering it every time as it was so good.

Back home I found out that it was one of my father-in-law’s favorite dishes and months later made it for his birthday. This time he once again was at the table.

Photo Dec 24, 6 53 55 PM

Succulent and robust.

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This is one dish that requires much forethought. You need to start 2-3 days in advance.

Photo Dec 22, 11 45 05 AM

Making the marinade.

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In the bag for the long haul.

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After the marinating. It has a vinegary smell and a purplish color.

Photo Dec 24, 3 45 04 PM

Straining out the solids.

Photo Dec 24, 3 54 55 PM

Browning up the meat.

Photo Dec 24, 4 03 02 PM

Cooking up the aromatics.

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With the liquid back in.

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Done cooking.

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Thickening the gravy.

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Cook Time: 2 hr 45 min | Makes: 6 servings | Difficulty: Easy


  • 3 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 large onions, cut into large chunks
  • 5 cloves garlic; 3 crushed, 2 chopped
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 1 tablespoon chopped leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon juniper berries (available in the spice aisle)
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 3-to-4-pound boneless beef top chuck roast
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons crushed gingersnap cookies
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Spaetzle, for serving (see page 152)
  • Sour cream, for serving (optional)
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish


Combine 2 cups broth, the wine, vinegar, 1 chopped onion, the crushed garlic, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, juniper berries, peppercorns and cloves in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Place the beef in a large resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 2 to 3 days, turning daily.

Preheat the oven to 350. Remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry; season with salt. Strain the marinade, discarding the solids. Heat a large ovenproof pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the meat and brown on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes, then transfer to a plate. Add the carrots, celery and the remaining onion to the pot and cook until slightly softened, 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped garlic and chopped thyme and cook 1 minute. Sprinkle in the flour and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the strained marinade and the remaining 1 cup broth and bring to a simmer. Return the meat to the pot, cover and cook in the oven until tender, 2 hours 30 minutes.

Remove the meat and transfer to a plate. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk in the gingersnaps and simmer until thickened; season with salt and pepper. Thinly slice the meat; serve with spaetzle, the vegetables and sauce and sour cream, if desired. Top with parsley.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Beef, German, kosher, Low Carb, Main Dish 2, Recipes

Author:The Ranting Chef

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9 Comments on “Sauerbraten”

  1. April 3, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    Love Sauerbraten! My mother and grandmother always made this. Never had it with the gingersnaps though.


  2. April 3, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    This looks delicious! Awesome pictures of the process!


  3. April 3, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    Interesting cultural recipe – looks delicious!


  4. April 3, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    Looks delicious….reminds me of Sgt. Shultz…..


  5. Leilani
    April 3, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

    Heidelberg is one lovely city! Had my first slice of black forest cake there. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


  6. lifesmystery
    April 3, 2013 at 4:54 pm #

    Being a full blooded German myself, I loved seeing this recipe for Sauerbraten. And right down to the big Bay leaves you use for the marinate. Great!. And what a wonderful City to start your journey. Heidelberg just absolutely beautiful. Hope you and your wife had a wonderful time and enjoyed the food. I was commenting to one of my friends just the other day after I fixed a ” Fraenkisch Meal” that it is good I live over here now, otherwise I would be round and porkly from all the German cooking and eating I’d be doing over there, because the meal turned out so good. Even called my Mom back home to boast about Anyway great job


  7. April 3, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    I absolutely love this dish and have my mom’s recipe from when we lived in Germany. I always make it with the red cabbage and apples and the spaetzle. Delish!


  8. Becoming Whole
    April 4, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    This looks so good! I love German cuisine (my dad was stationed there when I was a kid). I will have to try this at some point!


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