Sauerbraten is a classic German pot roast dish that dates back to the Middle Ages. The name "Sauerbraten" literally translates to "sour roast," referring to the marinating process involved. Traditionally, the meat is marinated in a mixture of vinegar or wine along with aromatic spices for several days to tenderize and infuse it with flavor. This process, which was originally used to preserve the meat, gave rise to the dish's popularity in German cuisine. Today, Sauerbraten is often served with red cabbage, potato dumplings, or boiled potatoes, and it remains a favorite comfort food across Germany.

Cooking Time: 3 hours and 30 minutes

Calories per serving: Approximately 450 calories

Here's a step-by-step guide to cooking Sauerbraten:


  • 3 to 4 pounds beef roast (such as bottom round or rump roast)
  • 2 cups red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 10-12 whole black peppercorns
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon juniper berries (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs (optional, for thickening and sweetness)

For the Gingersnap Gravy (optional):

  • Reserved marinade liquid
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 8-10 gingersnap cookies, crushed


  1. Marinating the Meat:
    • Place the beef roast in a large, non-reactive bowl or a ziplock bag.
    • In a saucepan, combine red wine vinegar, water, chopped onion, carrots, celery, black peppercorns, cloves, bay leaves, juniper berries (if using), mustard seeds, salt, and black pepper.
    • Bring the marinade mixture to a boil, then remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly.
    • Pour the cooled marinade over the beef roast, ensuring it is fully submerged. Cover the bowl or seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 3-5 days. Turn the meat occasionally to evenly marinate it.
  2. Cooking the Sauerbraten:
    • After marinating, remove the beef roast from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels. Reserve the marinade liquid.
    • In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
    • Add the beef roast and sear it on all sides until browned. This helps to seal in the flavors and juices.
    • Pour the reserved marinade liquid over the beef roast. If it doesn't fully cover the meat, add some water to cover it completely.
    • Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the Sauerbraten simmer for about 2.5 to 3 hours or until the meat becomes tender. You can also cook it in the oven at 325°F (160°C) for the same duration.
  3. Preparing the Gingersnap Gravy (optional):
    • Once the Sauerbraten is done, remove the beef roast from the pot and keep it warm.
    • Strain the liquid from the pot to remove the vegetables and spices, reserving the liquid. Discard the solids.
    • In a separate saucepan, heat the reserved liquid along with beef broth and crushed gingersnap cookies.
    • Stir the mixture continuously over medium heat until the gravy thickens and the gingersnaps dissolve. Adjust the seasoning if needed.
  4. Finishing touches:
    • If you prefer a thicker gravy, you can mix in the gingersnap cookie crumbs during the last few minutes of cooking the gravy, and stir until it thickens.
    • Slice the Sauerbraten, and serve it with the gingersnap gravy on top. Traditionally, it is served with sides like potato dumplings, spaetzle, or red cabbage.

Enjoy your homemade Sauerbraten, and savor the delightful flavors of this classic German dish!

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