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This article is about a roast meat dish from German cuisine. For the game, see Cube 2: Sauerbraten.
Sauerbraten with potato dumplings.jpg
Sauerbraten served with Kartoffelklöße (potato dumplings)
Type meat course
Course main course
Place of origin Germany
Region or state throughout Germany and German-speaking regions.
Main ingredients meat (usually beef, veal, venison), marinated in wine and/or vinegar, vegetables, and spices.
Cookbook: Sauerbraten  Media: Sauerbraten

Sauerbraten (German: "sour roast" from sauer for "sour" or "pickled" and Braten for "roast meat")[1] is a German pot roast that can be prepared with a variety of meats—most often beef, but also from venison, lamb, mutton, pork, and traditionally, horse.[2][3][4] Before cooking, the cut of meat is marinated for several days (recipes vary from three to ten days) in a mixture of vinegar or wine, water, herbs, spices, and seasonings. Since usually tougher cuts of meat (like rump roast, or bottom round of beef) are used for Sauerbraten, the longer marinating of the meat acts to tenderize it, resulting in a finished dish that is tender, soft, and juicy. The ingredients of the marinade vary based on regional styles and traditions throughout Germany.

Sauerbraten is regarded as one of the national dishes of Germany.[5] It is one of the best known German meals. Because of German immigration to the New World (the United States, Argentina, etc.), it is frequently found on the menus of German-style restaurants outside Germany. Several regions' variations on the dish are well known including those from Franconia, Thuringia, Rhineland, Saarland, Silesia, and Swabia.[2]

Sauerbraten is traditionally served with traditional German side dishes, such as Rotkohl (red cabbage), Knödel or Kartoffelklöße (potato dumplings), Spätzle (an egg and flour noodle), and boiled potatoes.[6][7] While many German-style restaurants in America pair potato pancakes (either Kartoffelpuffer or Reibekuchen) with sauerbraten, this is common only in a small part of Germany.[8]


Julius Caesar has been assigned a role in the inspiration for sauerbraten as he sent amphoras filled with beef marinated in wine over the Alps to the newly founded Roman colony of Cologne. According to this legend (Julius Caesar was murdered in 44 BC and the Roman city of Cologne was founded in 50 AD), this inspired the residents of Cologne to imitate the Roman import.[9] While quite common, these claims are largely unsubstantiated.

Sauerbraten was originally made from horse meat, but today is most often made from beef[3][10] Particularly in the Rhineland, however, there are still many restaurants offering traditional Sauerbraten from horse meat.

Several sources believe sauerbraten was invented by Charlemagne in the ninth century AD as a means of using leftover roasted meat.[11][12] Saint Albertus Magnus, also known as Saint Albert the Great and Albert of Cologne, is also credited with popularizing the dish in the thirteenth century.[13][unreliable source?]

Regional variations[edit]

Rheinischer Sauerbraten, in which raisins are added to provide a sweet balance to the sourness and acidity of the marinade

Sauerbraten is a dish that is influenced by regional variations on the recipe. Many of these variations are in the ingredients used for the marinade in which the cut of meat is immersed for several days before cooking.

Generally, the marinade's base is either red wine, vinegar or a combination of both. While Germany largely produces white wines (like Riesling and Gewürtztraminer), regions of Germany that are closer to France often encounter red wines being used as the base for the marinade. Wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar and other varieties can be used as a base. Recipes from eastern regions of Germany closer to Poland and the Czech Republic tend to use vinegar as the base more frequently. In many regions, wine and vinegar are used together.

  • Rheinischer Sauerbraten is prepared in Germany's Rhineland region—along the valley of the Rhine River. It is noted for a gravy to which have been added raisins and sometimes sugar beet syrup to provide sweetness to counter the general sourness and acidity of the marinade.[9]


Selection of the roast[edit]

Sauerbraten can be made with many different kinds of roasting meat. Tougher, less expensive cuts of meat are used—typically a rump roast or bottom round of beef.

Venison or other game are often prepared as sauerbraten as the spices and vinegar take away the gamey taste of the meat.[11]

Marinating the roast[edit]

Sauerbraten marinating

A solid cut from the bottom round[14] or rump is marinated for three or four days,[15] or as many as 10,[16] before cooking.

Red wine vinegar and wine typically form the basis of the marinade, which also includes earthy aromatic spices such as peppercorns, juniper berries, cloves, nutmeg, and bay leaves and less commonly coriander, mustard seed, cinnamon, mace, ginger, and thyme.[3][17][18] The marinade may also include vegetables such as onions, celery, and carrots.[15] The acidic marinade helps tenderize the meat (which is typically a tougher cut) before it cooks. Buttermilk is also used as a marinade in certain regional varieties.[8][19]

It is frequently advised to marinate the meat in an earthenware, glass, plastic, or enamel container rather than one made of metal, so the acidic marinade does not react with the vessel during the extended marinating process.

Cooking the roast[edit]

After the meat is removed from the marinade and dried, it is first browned in oil or lard and then braised with the strained marinade in a covered dish in a medium oven or on the stovetop. After simmering for four hours or more, depending on the size of the roast, the marinade will continue to flavor the roast, and as the meat cooks, its juices will also be released resulting in a very tender roast.

Preparing the gravy[edit]

After the roast is cooked, the marinade is strained and returned to a saucepan where it is thickened (often with crushed gingerbread, lebkuchen, or gingersnaps, flour, sour cream, brown sugar, and/or roux)[3][20] which brings both body and flavor to the sauce. Before it closed its doors in 1982, Luchow's famous German restaurant in New York City used crushed gingersnap cookies to season and thicken the gravy of its sauerbraten, one of the favored dishes.[8][21] This style was made popular in the U.S. after the publication of “Luchow's German Cookbook: The Story and the Favorite Dishes of America's Most Famous German Restaurant” by Jan Mitchell in 1952.[15]


Sauerbraten seasonings are available in pre-made packets from Unilever as Knorr Sauerbraten (Pot Roast) recipe mix[22] and from Alba Gewürze GmbH & Co. KG.[23]

You can also buy Sauerbraten already sitting in marinade in sealed plastic containers. This way, the Sauerbraten marinates in the Supermarket and can be prepared instantly.

While sauerbraten is most traditionally eaten with beer,[24] it does pair well with the following wine varietals: Burgundy,[25] Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer, Pinot noir, Riesling, and Syrah.[26][unreliable source?]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th Ed.). (2006)
  2. ^ a b Sheraton 1965, p.147.
  3. ^ a b c d Kummer 2007, p. 553.
  4. ^ Casada 1996, p. 30.
  5. ^ Garrett 1898.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Barer-Stein 1999, pp. 172–174.
  8. ^ a b c Saekel 2005, F-5.
  9. ^ a b Hassani 2004, p.156.
  10. ^ Babcock 2002 p.248.
  11. ^ a b Schmidt 2003, p.94.
  12. ^ Herter 1995.
  13. ^ April 2 Today's Events in Food History
  14. ^ The Culinary Institute of America Publisher 2006, p.178.
  15. ^ a b c Mitchell 1953, p.106.
  16. ^ Sales 1977, p.176.
  17. ^ Sauerbraten Blend of Whole Spices
  18. ^ Wood 1983, p.95.
  19. ^ Richards 1966, p.182.
  20. ^ Youngkrantz 1997, p.105.
  21. ^ O'Neill 1992, p. 181.
  22. ^ Knorr Entree Mixes-Pot Roast (Sauerbraten) Recipe Mix, 2-Ounce Packet (Pack of 12): Grocery & Gourmet Food
  23. ^ Alba Sauerbraten Spices, 0.53-Ounce Packets (Pack of 12): Grocery & Gourmet Food
  24. ^ Jackson 1998, p.53.
  25. ^ Mitchell 1953, p. 107
  26. ^ Sauerbraten Wine Pairing | Food and Wine Pairings | Pair Food and Wine


  • Babcock, Erika M. L. (2002). Rika's Stories from the Other Side. IUniverse.
  • Barer-Stein, Thelma (1999). You Eat What You Are. A FireFly Book.
  • Casada, Jim & Casada, Ann (1996). The Complete Venison Cookbook: From Field to Table. Krause Publications.
  • Clancy, Tom (2003). The Teeth of the Tiger (1st ed). G. P. Putnam's Sons.
  • Garrett, Theodore Francis (Ed.) (1898). The Encyclopedia of Practical Cookery. L. Upcott Gill, 170, Strand, W.C. London. Vol. III.
  • Hassani, Nadia (2004). Spoonfuls of Germany: Culinary Delights of the German Regions in 170 Recipes. Hippocrene Books.
  • Herter, George Leonard & Herter, Berthe (1995). Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices (9th ed.). Ecco.
  • Jackson, Michael (1998). Ultimate Beer. DK ADULT.
  • Kummer, Madison (2007). 1,001 Foods to Die For. Andrews McMeel Publishing.
  • Mitchell, Jan (1953). Luchow's German Cookbook: The Story and the Favorite Dishes of America's Most Famous German Restaurant. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc.
  • O'Neill, Molly (1992). New York Cookbook: From Pelham Bay to Park Avenue, Firehouses to Four-Star Restaurants. Workman Publishing Company.
  • Richards, Lenore & Treat, Nola (1966). Quantity Cookery: Menu Planning and Cooking for Large Numbers (4th ed.). Little, Brown, & Co.
  • Saekel, Karola (December 28, 2005). "Sauerbraten recipe surfaces just in time". San Francisco Chronicle, F-5.
  • Sales, Georgia (1977). The Clay Pot Cookbook. Wiley & Sons.
  • Schmidt, Gretchen (2003). German Pride: 101 Reasons to Be Proud You're German. Citadel Press.
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  • The Culinary Institute of America (2011). The Professional Chef (9th ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. p. 587. ISBN 978-0-470-42135-2. OCLC 707248142. 
  • Wood, Morrison (1983). Through Europe with a Jug of Wine. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, p. 95.
  • Youngkrantz, Gini (1997). Authentic German Home Style Recipes (4th ed.). B. G. Youngkrantz Company.