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Classic German Beef Roulades with Gherkins and Bacon

by Adina 18/11/2015 6 comments

German Beef Roulades

Beef roulades are a typical German Sunday/festive dish, I would say. Pretty large and very thin pieces of beef, smeared with mustard and filled with onions, bacon and a little gherkin. Everything simmered in a delicious sauce and served with mashed potatoes and vegetables of choice. For me, there can be hardly any dish more German than that (well, maybe Sauerbraten).

I had these for the first time at my mother-in-law’s place and it took me years until I finally decided to make my own roulades. I have always thought it would be too much hassle with the rolling and then cooking and everything, but once I have cooked this, I realized it wasn’t that complicated at all . I mean, you can buy the already cut roulades at the butcher, all you have to do is to fill and roll them and that really isn’t that big a deal.

rouladen german Classic German Beef Roulades with Gherkins and Bacon

So if you want to impress your family or friends with some real German cooking, this is the dish for you. Everybody will love these and they will think you are an amazing cook, not only because the food tastes so good, but also because the roulades look like so much hard work. Only you will know, it isn’t actually soooo much effort involved. πŸ™‚

As I mentioned above this would make an ideal festive lunch for a special Sunday or winterly birthday celebration, but if you are looking for some fresh Christmas lunch ideas this might be something for you as well. Do not leave out the mashed potatoes, the sauce is so amazing and you will want the potatoes to be soaked in it. As for the vegetables side dish, my mother-in-law usually made cauliflower or Brussels sprouts, so I kind of stick to that, but do take the veggies you have or like best.

I always have some leftover sauce, the roulades need quite a lot of liquid to simmer properly, so I pour the cold sauce in a plastic container and freeze it to enjoy it later, most of the times with meatballs and mashed potatoes. It will keep for 2 or 3 months.

Buy some good quality beef for this dish. I only had this once with lower quality cuts bought in the supermarket and I will never do it again. There is a world of difference between the butcher’s roulades and those you can buy already packed. The butcher’s roulades are soft and tender, you can cut them with the fork, while the already packed ones were stringy and tough. Of course, you will have to pay a little bit more at the butcher’s, but in this case it is well worth. This is not something you will cook every week, so better to enjoy something really exquisite from once in a while than something inferior on a regular basis. This is my philosophy, anyway. πŸ™‚

rouladen Classic German Beef Roulades with Gherkins and Bacon

German Beef Roulades


Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 4

rouladen german Classic German Beef Roulades with Gherkins and Bacon
  • For the roulades:
  • 4 very thin roulades, about 160 g – 200 g/ 5.6 – 7 oz each
  • 2 pretty large onions
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 small gherkins
  • 2-3 teaspoons mustard
  • 4-8 very thin bacon slices, depending on width
  • salt
  • pepper
  • some oil for brushing
  • For the sauce:
  • 2 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ΒΌ liter/ 1 cup red wine
  • Β½ liter/ 2 cups beef broth
  • ΒΌ liter/ 1 cup water
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 – 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch, optional
  • salt and pepper
  • mashed potatoes, to serve
  • vegetables of choice, to serve
  1. Cut two pieces of plastic foil larger than the roulades and brush them with a little oil. Lay the roulades one at a time on one of the plastic foil pieces, cover them with the second piece and tenderize them using a flat object (I used a heavy saucepan with a handle, I β€œbeat” the meat with the bottom of the saucepan). Set the meat aside.
  2. Peel and halve the onions, then cut them into thin half circles. Melt the butter in a pan and cook the onions until nicely golden. Leave them to cool down a little.
  3. Brush each roulade with the mustard. Place one or two very thin bacon pieces on the meat. Divide the onions into four portions and spread one portion on each roulade. Place one small gherkin at the end of the roulade.
  4. Fold the long sides of the roulade just a little bit so that the filling would not come out. Roll the roulade starting at the end where the gherkin lies. Fix the roulades by sticking them with a special roulade needle (if you have any) or with a toothpick. Sprinkle with salt and pepper on all sides.
  5. To make the sauce start by chopping the onions and the carrots. Heat the oil in stew pot or Dutch oven. Brown the roulades on all sides, take out of the pot and set aside.
  6. Add the onions and the carrots to the pot and cook until the onions are golden brown. Add the tomato paste and the sugar and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Add the flour and continue cooking while stirring for another minute or two until the flour is slightly golden . Add the red wine little by little (3 or 4 large splashes) and let it reduce before adding the following splash. Add the last splash of wine, the beef broth and the water and bring everything to a boil.
  7. Give the roulades back to the pot, together with the finely chopped garlic clove and the thyme sprigs. Cover, turn the heat down and simmer for about 1 ΒΌ hours.
  8. Take the roulades out of the sauce, carefully remove the needles or toothpicks and keep them warm.
  9. Cook the sauce down for about 10 minutes, then blend it smooth. You can thicken it with 2 tablespoons corn starch mixed with a little bit of water if too thin. Pour this paste slowly into the sauce while whisking all the time and boil for another minute. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper.
  10. Place the roulades back into the sauce and heat them up again. Serve immediately with mashed potatoes and vegetables.

rouladen german bacon Classic German Beef Roulades with Gherkins and Bacon


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[email protected]'s Recipes 18/11/2015 - 16:08

Not really a fan of beef roulade, well, I generally don’t eat red meat, but yours looks really tender and inviting, Adina.

Adina 18/11/2015 - 18:31

We don’t eat much red meat either, once or twice a month I would say, but when then really good quality. I think you would like these. ?

Rachel @ Simple Seasonal 19/11/2015 - 06:17

This recipe is awesome! I’ve never had anything like it before and I’m really intrigued. Your place setting is so elegant too!

Adina 19/11/2015 - 09:40

Thank you, Rachel, I am sure you would like these. My plates are also an heirloom from my husband’s grandmother. πŸ™‚

Kelsey 15/07/2018 - 01:20

This recipe was amazing. I am allergic to wheat, so I am on a gluten free diet. I used Bob Mill’s Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour as a replacement and the Rouladen was still amazing!

Adina 15/07/2018 - 09:55

Thank you, Kelsey. I am some glad you liked it, they are delicious.


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