janet @ the taste space

Traditional German Rouladen, aka Beef Rolls (step-by-step photos)

In Favourites, Mains (Meat) on November 1, 2009 at 10:43 AM


I was thankful to be able to visit my family over the Thanksgiving weekend. Any weekend we can come together as a family is a time to celebrate, but an extra day to stay certainly helps.  My mom asks what we want to eat, and there is usually no hesitation because I always ask for the same dish: Rouladen. Rouladen is a traditional southern German dish that is usually served at special occasions at our household (by request!).  Succulent pieces of beef filled with only the tastiest of ingredients: pickles, onions, bacon and mustard. The roll is then smothered in a red wine sauce. It is no wonder this is such a popular dish.

I wasn’t expecting to do much cooking this weekend, as some people don’t really like to share their kitchen (ah, the horrors of strudel making on Christmas Day), but we were invited to learn the art of making rouladen.  There is nothing better at bringing the family together than passing culinary secrets from one generation to another.

My mom took us under her wings, and we had to watch intently, as she was also not going to supply an accompanying recipe. This is my adaptation of the traditional dish. It is best served with spaetzle, as it sops up the gravy nicely

rouladen 1

rouladen making 2







12 slices of Rouladen meat (approximately 1kg, ask your European butcher, but I think it is topside or round beef, thinly sliced)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
12 baby dill pickles, thinly sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup mustard
12 slices of bacon
2 tbsp oil
1/3 cup red wine
2 tbsp brown gravy mix

1. Unroll rouladen meat on a large surface. Add 1 bacon slice, lengthwise, and add pickles and onions liberally to cover and squirt with mustard, to taste.

2. Fold ends in, and roll tightly into a cigar-shape. Use butcher’s twine (or toothpicks) to hold together. Continue with remaining slices of meat.

3. Add oil to large shallow pan and heat over medium-high heat. Then brown each rouladen on each side. You may need to remove the finished rouladen to make room for others. Once all are browned, return to pan and add wine. Cover and braise in oven at 300F for 50-90 minutes.

4. On stovetop, remove strings or toothpicks from rouladen and set on platter. Thicken juices with gravy mix and pour overtop.


Serves 6-8 generously.

  1. That looks delicious! I don’t think I’ve ever seen that at a restaurant before so thankyou for the recipe! 😀

  2. Dear Saveur,
    I saw your Rouladen on Tastespotting and felt I had to visit your blog because they looked so strange to me – so long and shaped like a cigar. I am German and just made Rouladen a few days ago and I have to say that we roll them in a different way: you just fold the edges of the long sides in (to keep the filling in) and then you roll them up starting at the short side. You will end up with a short and thick Roulade and when you cut into it it looks a bit like a jelly role since you can see the different layers. You could also try adding a carrot, an onion and a bit of celery to the braising liquid (remove before serving or puree, strain and add to the sauce). Otherwise your recipe is very authentic and the result looks really, really tasty… I think I’ll have to make Rouladen again soon!
    Best wishes from Germany,

  3. Gorgeous photos…love the ‘beefeater’ apron too! 😉

  4. I’ll back up Christina. My german mother’s been making rouladen for as long as I can remember. Had it at a couple restaurants as well. It’s always rolled up the other way. Other than that, your recipe is spot on. Good to see someone doing this dish. It’s really, REALLY good and should be more common.

  5. I made rouladen a few weeks ago too as an Oktoberfest celebration (link below). It looked quite different from yours as I too rolled it up from the short end, but I’m sure the taste was very similar. They are delicious aren’t they?

  6. Thanks for the feedback, guys! I never knew we ate backwards rouladen… although I saw that Dr Oetker recommended rolling it up on the short side in an old German cookbook from the 1950s. This is the way it has always been served for us.. I suppose we get more pickle goodness this way?

  7. My sister-in-law just made my mother’s saurbraten recipe and the subject of rouladen came up. My mother used round steak and pounded the heck out of it, sprinkling flour on it at the same time. The insides were chopped mushroom, onion and bacon. The steak was folded in half and sealed with turkey skewers. Made the most delicious gravy ever. There are several recipes my mom made, which when I see them elsewhere, have pickles in them – like steak tartare. I love pickles but glad they weren’t in her recipes. must originate from a different section of Germany.

  8. Rouladen is a fabulous dish. I’ve never had it with pickles though and I’m glad, too. Otherwise, it’s an amazing meal. We first had it when we chartered a yacht in the BVIs. Our wonderful chef/co-owner was German. She made some very special meals for us that week.

    Yours looks beautiful. So glad you added this recipe to the Holiday Food Fest. I’ll be hosting one week in December. 😉


  9. I have never enjoyed this dish before, but it looks fabulous! What a wonderful meal.

  10. I thought this recipe looked familiar! I see I commented last year about this time. I still love rouladen, but haven’t made it yet. I definitely should though. Thanks so much for sharing it as a Thanksgiving Favorite at our Gluten-Free Holiday event. Final note–Anyone who is gluten free needs to remember to use gluten-free brown gravy.


  11. I thought this looked familiar – I commented last year! Wow, looks so good. I am getting hungry and would totally go for this for lunch right about now!

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  13. […] With a simple mise-en-place, this Chickpea Piccata from Appetite for Reduction, was easy for me to whip together as my Mom tended to the spaetzle to go with the rouladen. […]

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  15. […] have questions or ones that are constructive. One of my very first posts, about our family’s rouladen, stemmed such interesting comments. Everyone thought we were rolling them backwards! As you can […]

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