German Beef Rouladen (Rinderrouladen)

Beef and bacon rolled around a pickle sitting on a bed of red cabbage.

Beef Rouladen is a comforting German rolled meat dish made from thin beef, bacon, onions, mustard, and pickles. Serve this hearty dish alongside Spätzle, Kartoffelknödel, or creamy mashed potatoes.

I’m very excited to share one of my favourite German meals with you! It’s an important (and delicious) part of my family’s heritage cuisine. This recipe creates the ultimate comfort food for Germans and German cuisine enthusiasts alike.

As you can see from the pictures, we enjoyed our Rouladen with a healthy side of German Red Cabbage (Rotkohl). However, I would also eat it with Sauteed Homemade Sauerkraut.

One Beef and bacon roll in a spoon above a pan of more meat rolls sitting on a bed of red cabbage.

German Beef Rouladen (Rinderrouladen)

This dish consists of tender braised beef layered with tasty bacon, zesty mustard, onions, and pickles! Yes…you all know how much I love adding pickles to dishes and these layers upon layers of flavours are so amazing!

All the pronounced flavours meld together to create the ultimate comfort food. One bite and you’ll be transported right back to your Oma’s kitchen!

Ingredients

  • thinly sliced beef
  • mustard
  • bacon
  • onion
  • pickles
  • beef stock
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • flour (or corn starch)
  • butter

For this recipe, I used grainy mustard because that’s what I had. For the most authentic treat, slather spicy German mustard over the beef. You can also use Dijon mustard. Please do not use bright yellow ballpark American mustard. That’s for hotdogs.

One beef roulade spread with grainy mustard.

I love the flavour of my locally double smoked thick cut bacon in this recipe, however feel free to use your preferred variety of bacon…just maybe not maple bacon!

The style of pickle really doesn’t matter in this recipe, though I do recommend garlic dill pickles.

When I made this recipe I accidentally grabbed a jar of my homemade spicy dill pickles. They added the bit of heat I would have missed by using grainy mustard instead of hot German mustard.

Lastly when making the gravy, there are many acceptable methods. I’ve used beef stock, Worcestershire Sauce, mustard, flour, and butter in this recipe.

Other gravy versions may include diced onions, carrots, and celery as well as sliced mushrooms. Some also contain a splash of red wine.

Four process shots showing how to layer beef rouladen.

Regional History and Variations

This hearty rolled meat treat has become popular over the last century. However, it is thought that the earliest recipes may have used venison or pork.

Though most people consider Rouladen a German dish, it is also popular in parts of Poland and Czech Republic known as the Upper Silesia. Of course it is also popular around the world, wherever Germans, Polish, or Czechs have settled.

The main proteins of the dish may vary by region, with beef and veal being the most common, with pork as yet another version.

Sometimes the Rouladen may also include ground meat mixtures and pork belly. However, most versions contain onions, pickles, and are served with gravy.

Four raw beef rolls on a wooden cutting board.

Which Cut of Meat to Use for Beef Rouladen

The best cuts of beef to use for this recipe are the outside or bottom round, or rump roast (silverside in the UK) because it comes from the hind quarter just above the leg. Topside, which is located above the outside or bottom round cut, is a leaner, slightly more tender cut.

Find this secondary cut of beef (or veal) at your local grocery store or request it at your butcher.

Select beef that is cut into thin layers approximately the same width as your hand and slightly longer than a piece of bacon. This cut is best cooked low and slow so that the meat breaks down and becomes quite tender.

Beef and bacon rolled around a pickle sitting on a bed of red cabbage.

How to Assemble Beef Rouladen

Assembling the Rouladen is actually kind of fun and incredibly easy…it’s almost like building a pizza or rolling a jelly roll.

Begin by laying out the beef slices on a cutting board. The pieces should be all of a similar size and thickness; approximately two bacon slices wide and slightly longer than a bacon slice.

Spread approximately 1/2 – 1 tbsp mustard on the surface of each slice then lay two slices of bacon on top of the mustard. If the rouladen isn’t wide enough, slice the bacon lengthwise and use 1 1/2 slices.

Beef and bacon rolled around a pickle sitting on a bed of red cabbage.

Next, evenly scatter the diced onion and pickles over the bacon.

Now, for the fun part! Place a pickle spear at the top of each rouladen. Grab the meat and roll it around the pickle in a downward motion. Continue rolling until you have a nice tight roll and secure with toothpicks.

Beef and bacon rolled around a pickle sitting on a bed of red cabbage.

How to Cook Rouladen

A low and slow braising period is key here (this is a great slow cooker recipe!), as it serves to break down and tenderize the secondary (as opposed to primary) cut of meat.

Brown the rolls in a large Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed oven proof pan with a lid.

Remove the beef rolls from the pan. Next, add the beef stock or water to the pan and de-glaze it for a few moments, scraping the browned bits from the bottom. Add the Worcestershire sauce and 1 tbsp mustard then season with salt and pepper.

One Beef and bacon roll in a spoon above a pan of more meat rolls sitting on a bed of red cabbage.

Return the Rouladen to the pan and add enough water (if needed) to cover them 1/3 way. Cover and braise in 350 F oven for 60-90 minutes or until tender (depending on how large the rolls are).

To finish the gravy, remove the rolls from the pan. Slowly simmer the gravy on the stove while you make a flour slurry. Add the slurry to the gravy and whisk to avoid clumping. Allow to thicken then drop in the butter.

Cooked meat rolls sitting on top of red cabbage in a black pan.

Preparing Rouladen Ahead of Time

This Beef Rouladen Recipe is perfect for when you need to meal prep ahead of time. It freezes well whether it’s raw or cooked. To freeze it cooked, make the gravy as directed and freeze in a container for later use.

To freeze, just place the rolls on a baking sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, store the rolls in a freezer bag or air tight container.

To use just thaw in the refrigerator overnight then cook as directed in the recipe. If you are reheating previously cooked Rouladen, gently reheat it in the gravy so it doesn’t dry out.

One Beef and bacon roll in a spoon above a pan of more meat rolls sitting on a bed of red cabbage.

What to Serve with Beef Rouladen

When serving Rouladen, the side dishes are as glorious as the main! I suggest traditional German Egg Noodles (Spätzle), German Potato Dumplings (Kartoffelknödel) or creamy mashed potatoes. Oh, and don’t forget the Red Cabbage (Rotkohl)!

There is no greater comfort than these savoury meat rolls served on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes and smothered with rich gravy. The wonderful flavours just come together to make every bite a delight.

Pinterest image of beef and bacon rolled around a pickle sitting on a bed of red cabbage.
Yield: 4 servings

German Beef Rouladen (Rinderrouladen)

One Beef and bacon roll in a spoon above a pan of more meat rolls sitting on a bed of red cabbage.

Beef Rouladen is a comforting German rolled meat dish made from thin beef, bacon, onions, and pickles. Serve this hearty dish alongside Spaeztle, Kartoffelknödel, or creamy mashed potatoes.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours

Ingredients

  • 4 slices inside round rouladen
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 3 pickles (regular garlic dill or spicy garlic dill)
  • 1/4 cup hot German, grainy mustard, or dijon mustard
  • 1 small onion; very finely diced
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce 
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups beef stock (or water)
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. Lay out the rouladen on a cutting board. They should be all of a similar size and thickness; approximately two bacon slices wide and slightly longer than a bacon slice.
  2. Spread approximately 1/2 - 1 tbsp mustard on the surface of each rouladen.
  3. Lay two slices of bacon on top of the rouladen. If the rouladen isn't wide enough, slice the bacon lengthwise and use 1 1/2 slices.
  4. Slice one pickle in half lengthwise, then slice in half again so there are four pickle spears. Finely dice the other two pickles.
  5. Sprinkle diced onions over the bacon, then sprinkle the diced pickles.
  6. Place a pickle spear at the top of each rouladen. Grab the meat and roll it around the pickle in a downward motion.
  7. Continue rolling until you have a nice tight roll. Use two wooden toothpicks to hold the rolls together.
  8. Heat a large Dutch oven and add some olive oil to the pan. Brown the rouladen on all sides then remove from the pan.
  9. Add the beef stock or water to the pan and de-glaze it for a few moments, scraping the browned bits from the bottom. Add the Worcestershire sauce and 1 tbsp mustard.
  10. Replace the rouladen in the pan and add enough water (if needed) to cover them 1/3 way.
  11. Cover and braise in 350 F oven for 60-90 minutes or until tender (depending on how large the rolls are).
  12. Remove the rouladen from the pan and allow the remaining liquid to slowly simmer.
  13. Mix 1 tbsp flour with 2 tbsp cold water and add it slowly to the simmering liquid, whisking continuously. Add 1 tbsp butter and allow to thicken.
  14. Slice diagonally and serve the rouladen on mashed potatoes (spaetzle, or Kartoffelknödel (German Potato Balls) with gravy and German Red Cabbage.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 207Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 1697mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 13g

Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.

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27 comments

  1. Kari Alana

    This is such a yummy recipe so thanks for it because it has basic ingredients but comes together in a totally fresh way for me .

    Reply

  2. Terri

    Although I’m not familiar with this dish- I LOVE the sound of it! It has all my faves – beef, onion, bacon, mustard and pickles!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      oh yeah..the combination is FANTASTIC!!

  3. Jo

    I must admit I have never tried German beef rouladen before, oh it looks sooo delicious. I love the pretty presentation there. Love how delicious it must be paired with red cabbage.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Oh, for sure! There’s usually gravy involved too, plus carbs!!

  4. Ramona

    I’ve never tried or made this dish before and now I’m inspired to try it out! the steps are really easy to follow. It looks really interesting and tasty. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      It looks daunting but it’s awesome! I hope you try it Ramona.

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