Traditional German Beef Roulade

Beef roulade is an absolute classic of German cuisine. My mother used to make it frequently and I always loved it, and I guess few children of my generation do not share the same memory.  I also served beef roulades several times to guests who were unfamiliar with German cuisine and they all became instant fans. No wonder – rich and flavorful, this is feel-good food, and a warming treat particularly during the winter time.

A classic side would be spaetzle, potatoes or potato dumplings and red cabbage.


Ingredients (serves 4):

For the roulades:

  • 4 beef roulades (a thin large cut form the the topside or silverside)
  • freshly ground pepper, salt
  • (Dijon or another spicy) mustard (approximately 2-3 heaped teaspoons per roulade)
  • 8 to 12 shallots, very finely chopped (approximately 2-3 small or 1-2 medium shallots per roulade)
  • 8 to 12 (medium to large) gherkins, sliced lengthwise
  • 8 slices of bacon
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of concentrated butter (alternatively 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil)
  • kitchen string (or roulade clamps or needles)

For the sauce:

  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • ca. 200 grams of carrots, roughly chopped
  • ca. 200 grams of celeriac, roughly chopped
  • ca. 200 grams leek, roughly chopped
  • 750 ml of (cooking) red wine
  • ca. 10 pepper corns
  • ca. 10 myrtle corns (or 5 juniper berries)
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 4 to 5 branches of fresh thyme
  • 1 l of beef stock
  • 200 grams of saure sahne (alternatively, smetana or low-fat crème fraîche)
  • 100 grams of ice-cold butter (from the freezer), cut into cubes (alternatively, 3-4 tablespoons of sauce binder)
  • For serving: fresh chives, chopped


  1. Place each beef roulade on the kitchen counter and flatten with a meat pounder until very thin. Alternatively, you can also cover the meat with cling film and use a rolling pin to flatten the roulade.
  2. Season with pepper and salt.
  3. Spread the mustard on one side until well covered.
  4. Spread the chopped shallots on top of the mustard.
  5. Then place the gherkin side by side on top and cover with 2 slices of bacon.
  6. Roll up the roulades as follows: Fold the long sides over the filling about 1 to 2 cm to avoid that the filling falls out when the roulade is rolled up. Then fold a ca. 5 cm section of one of the short sides over and start rolling up the roulade from the short end until completely rolled up. Tie together with kitchen string or roulade clamps.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  8. On the stove, melt the concentrated butter in a large oven-proof roaster over medium to high heat.
  9. Place the roulades in the roaster and quickly brown from all sides, then set aside. Do not throw out the fat used for frying.
  10. Reduce the temperature to medium heat. Add the shallot and the tomato paste in the concentrated butter used for frying the roulades. Fry for approximately 3 to 4 minutes.
  11. Add the carrots and the celeriac, fry for approximately 5 minutes, then add the leek and fry for another 5 minutes.
  12. Add 250 ml of the red wine, the spices and the herbs. Over low to medium heat, let reduce by approximately 1/3. Then add another 250 ml and let reduce again, and repeat with the remaining 250 ml of red wine.
  13. One the red wine has reduced, add the beef stock and put the roulades back in the roaster. Make sure they are covered with liquid at up to 2/3.
  14. Cover the roaster with a lid or aluminium foil and place in the oven for approximately 90 minutes. If the meat should not be very soft by then, give it more oven time.
  15. Remove the roulades from the cooking liquid (careful – very soft!) and set aside.
  16. Pass the liquid through a sieve into a large saucepan. Discard the vegetables, herbs and spices.
  17. Add the saure sahne and whisk until smooth.
  18. Make sure, the sauce is well warm but is not boiling, then quickly add the butter cubes and whisk the sauce vigorously until smooth. Do not bring to the boil anymore!
  19. Serve the roulades with sauce and sprinkled with chives.


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