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Photo of Sauerbraten

Sauerbraten (German for "sour braised meat") is a traditional German dish. It is a beef roast that is marinated for a few days in red wine, vinegar and spices, so that the meat acquires a tangy but pleasant flavor.

Marinating in an acidic environment also helps to tenderize the meat.

The meat is then braised with vegetables, fruit, the marinade and a bit of nutmeg, ginger and clove. The roast is served with a sweet and sour sauce that is made from the braising liquid.

There are regional variants of Sauerbraten in Germany. I prefer the sweet-and-sour variant from the Rhineland ("Rheinischer Sauerbraten").

In my recipe, I create a spicy note by adding 1-2 hot chili piquins to the marinade, but you can of course leave it out if you don't like spicy food. I also use some dried apricot to add flavor to the sauce. The recipe is also a bit heavier on garlic than the average German recipe.


Meat and Marinade

  • 2 ½ lbs / ca. 1kg beef chuck roast (not too lean)
  • 1 cup / 250ml red wine
  • 1 cup / 250ml vinegar
  • 2 cups / 500ml water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 juniper berries
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns cracked
  • 1-2 chili piquin (optional)

Preparing the Roast

  • 1-2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp clarified butter / butterfat
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ½ stalk celery, chopped
  • ½ carrot, chopped
  • 1 oz / 30g dried apricot
  • 5 oz / 150g raisins
  • pinch of dried ginger
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • pinch of allspice
  • 2 cloves
  • ¼ cup / 60ml sour cream
  • 2-3 tbsp tomato paste


Marinating the Meat

  1. Combine wine, vinegar, bay leaves, juniper berries, pepper and chili in a pan
  2. Set over heat, bring to a boil and boil for a few minutes
  3. Let cool down
  4. Place the meat in a bowl. Add marinade. Marinate for 2-4 days in the refrigerator. Turn meat 1-2 times a day.

Making the Sauerbraten

  1. Take meat out of the marinade, blot dry. Rub with freshly ground black pepper and salt.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C
  3. Set large ovenproof pan over high heat. Add clarified butter. Sear the meat and brown well from all sides. Remove from pan.
  4. Reduce heat. Add chopped onion, cook until golden brown. Add garlic, celery, apricot, carrot, about one third of the raisins, allspice, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the marinade to the pan, bring to a boil, cook for ca. 5 minutes. Return meat to the pan. Cover and place in the pre-heated oven.
  6. Cook for about 90-120 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, remove meat from pan.
  8. Strain the liquid into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cook uncovered to reduce.
  9. Add remaining raisins. Whisk in sour cream and tomato paste
  10. If necessary and desired, thicken with a bit of cornstarch slurry (optional).
  11. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper
  12. Cut the meat into thin slices. Serve with the sauce.

Serve with potato dumplings, spätzle or pasta and a vegetable like green beans, peas or braised red cabbage.

Preparation time: A few days (includes marinating the meat).

Yields 6-8 servings

This recipe got its main inspiration from a few phone calls to my Mom, asking her about recipes for Sauerbraten and Kartoffelklöße.

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