Bacon, beef broth, and tomato paste make this hearty beef recipe for Rouladen a major umami delight. Try this gravy-topped classic German entree as part of your Oktoberfest menu or anytime you’re craving comfort food.

A plate with rouladen, braised red cabbage, and mashed potatoes.

Rouladen is a traditional German recipe made with long, thin strips of meat, often beef, stuffed with bacon and smothered in a rich gravy. Translation: This beef recipe is the epitome of comfort food, and ideal for warming up a cold winter day or any Oktoberfest feast.

Think of its format somewhat like a jelly roll or cake roll; just savory-style with mustard, bacon, onion, and pickles in the flank steak filling.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step by step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Rouladen Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for rouladen.

Ingredient notes

  • Flank steak: If your store doesn’t sell this beef cut pre-packaged and thinly-sliced, ask at the meat counter. Most butchers will be happy to slice the steak thin for you so less pounding is required in step 1 of this Rouladen recipe. Otherwise, you’ll just need to pound your beef a little longer to get it thin enough to roll. Hanger steak and skirt steak are terrific alternatives if you can’t find flank.
  • Mustard: Brown or yellow; homemade or store-bought.
  • Bacon: Thick or regular strips work great, just skip the sweet-flavored styles such as maple or apple.
  • Dill pickle spears: I love the tang and texture these add to the Rouladen stuffing, but these are totally optional. Omit if pickles aren’t a family favorite.
  • Dry red wine: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Merlot all fit the bill. For an alcohol-free alternative, use 3 cups of beef broth instead of 2 cups of broth and 1 cup of wine.

Step by step instructions

  1. On a cutting board lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper, lay out beef slices in a single layer. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap, and gently pound slices using a meat tenderizer.
Pounding beef thin to make rouladen.
  1. Spread a thin layer of brown mustard over each slice, about 1 ½ teaspoons each. Lay one bacon slice over each slice of beef, trimming if necessary. Top each with a small amount of the sliced onions and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground back pepper. Top with a pickle spear, if using.
Meat layered with onions, pickles, and sauce to make rouladen.
  1. Roll each rouladen jelly-roll style, and secure with twine.
Uncooked rouladen tied on a cutting board.
  1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat butter over medium-high heat. Brown each roll, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove rouladen, set on a plate, and cover to keep warm.
Rouladen in a saucepan.
  1. Add remaining onions, garlic, leeks, carrots, celery to pot and saute until the onions start to become translucent, about 5 minutes.
Vegetables for rouladen in a saucepan.
  1. Add red wine to Dutch oven, deglaze pan making sure to scrape up any brown bits. Stir in beef broth, tomato paste, bay leaf, sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Return rouladen to pan, cover, reduce heat and simmer until fork-tender, about 60 to 90 minutes.
Rouladen in a saucepan.
  1. Remove rouladen from pot, set aside. Increase heat to medium-high and bring broth to a boil. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with water to make a slurry. Add cornstarch slurry to the boiling broth while whisking until it reaches the desired thickness. Remove bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Rouladen in a saucepan.
  1. Remove twine from rouladen. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley. Serve over mashed potatoes topped with gravy, if desired.
A platter of rouladen.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This Rouladen recipe serves 6 adults: either in one large Rouladen or 6 single-steak portions.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Make ahead: Rouladen tastes even better when it has a day to rest and let the flavors blend. Make it a day or two in advance and reheat over the stove on medium until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  • Freezer: The Rouladen can be fully cooked, cooled, and frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat over the stove on medium until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  • Upgrade your garnish game: I call for fresh parsley, but chopped fresh sage or even a few of those extra carrot tops sprinkled over top would be beautiful, too.
  • Go-to gravy: The Rouladen drippings add a more complex flavor, but if you adore this Rouladen gravy recipe, you can absolutely make that alone. Simply skip to part-way through step 4 and follow my method through step 6, then spoon this gravy over buttered noodles, mashed potatoes, or pot roast.
A plate with rouladen, braised red cabbage, and mashed potatoes.

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A plate with rouladen, braised red cabbage, and mashed potatoes.

Rouladen

Bacon, beef broth, and tomato paste make this hearty beef recipe a major umami delight. Try this gravy-topped classic German entree as part of your Oktoberfest menu or anytime you're craving comfort food.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 35 mins
Servings 6 (1 rouladen) servings
Course Main Course
Cuisine German
Calories 177

Ingredients 

For the rouladen:

  • 1 to 1 ¼ pounds beef round roast sliced into 6 steaks or use thinly-sliced flank steak
  • 3 tablespoons brown mustard or yellow mustard
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 yellow onion thinly sliced, plus more if desired, divided
  • 6 dill pickle spears optional
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the gravy:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 1 small leek white parts only, rinsed, and chopped
  • 1 large carrot peeled and diced
  • 1 large celery rib diced
  • 1 cup dry red wine such as pinot noir or cabernet
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • fresh parsley finely chopped, for garnish

Instructions 

  • On a cutting board lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper, lay out beef slices in a single layer. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap, and gently pound slices using a meat tenderizer.
  • Spread a thin layer of brown mustard over each slice, about 1 ½ teaspoons each. Lay one bacon slice over each slice of beef, trimming if necessary. Top each with a small amount of the sliced onions and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground back pepper. Top with a pickle spear, if using.
  • Roll each rouladen jelly-roll style, and secure with twine.
  • In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat butter over medium-high heat. Brown each roll, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove rouladen, set on a plate, and cover to keep warm. Add remaining onions, garlic, leeks, carrots, celery to pot and saute until the onions start to become translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add red wine to Dutch oven, deglaze pan making sure to scrape up any brown bits. Stir in beef broth, tomato paste, bay leaf, sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Return rouladen to pan, cover, reduce heat and simmer until fork-tender, about 60 to 90 minutes.
  • Remove rouladen from pot, set aside. Increase heat to medium-high and bring broth to a boil. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with water to make a slurry. Add cornstarch slurry to the boiling broth while whisking until it reaches the desired thickness. Remove bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Remove twine from rouladen. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley. Serve over mashed potatoes topped with gravy, if desired.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Flank steak: If your store doesn’t sell this beef cut pre-packaged and thinly-sliced, ask at the meat counter. Most butchers will be happy to slice the steak thin for you so less pounding is required in step 1 of this Rouladen recipe. Otherwise, you’ll just need to pound your beef a little longer to get it thin enough to roll. Hanger steak and skirt steak are terrific alternatives if you can’t find flank.
  2. Mustard: Brown or yellow; homemade or store-bought.
  3. Bacon: Thick or regular strips work great, just skip the sweet-flavored styles such as maple or apple.
  4. Dill pickle spears: I love the tang and texture these add to the Rouladen stuffing, but these are totally optional. Omit if pickles aren’t a family favorite.
  5. Dry red wine: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Merlot all fit the bill. For an alcohol-free alternative, use 3 cups of beef broth instead of 2 cups of broth and 1 cup of wine.
  6. Yield: This Rouladen recipe serves 6 adults: either in one large Rouladen or 6 single-steak portions.
  7. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  8. Make ahead: Rouladen tastes even better when it has a day to rest and let the flavors blend. Make it a day or two in advance and reheat over the stove on medium until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  9. Freezer: The Rouladen can be fully cooked, cooled, and frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat over the stove on medium until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  10. Upgrade your garnish game: I call for fresh parsley, but chopped fresh sage or even a few of those extra carrot tops sprinkled over top would be beautiful, too.
  11. Go-to gravy: The Rouladen drippings add a more complex flavor, but if you adore this Rouladen gravy recipe, you can absolutely make that alone. Simply skip to part-way through step 4 and follow my method through step 6, then spoon this gravy over buttered noodles, mashed potatoes, or pot roast.

Nutrition

Calories: 177kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 5gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 1056mgPotassium: 304mgFiber: 2gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 2478IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 60mgIron: 1mg
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Comments

  1. Just a few ingredients that I would not use in my recipe. I’m sure your version is very good, and I will definitely try it. I don’t use leek,tomato paste, bay leaf. For the filling and seasoning of the rolladen, salt, paprika, hot or mild according to preference. Chopped onion, chopped dill pickles and cubed uncooked bacon lean preferred, some fat is okay. That of course depends on how much or how little you want showing up in your gravy. I would use the same cooking method, but would use flour for thickening of the gravy. Served with homemade Spatzel or cooked potato dumpling.

    1. Hi Hedwig, thank you so much for your ideas and feedback. We started with my grandma’s rouladen and she didn’t use the leeks, tomato paste, or bay leaf either, but her gravy tasted really flat so we wanted to try more things. Paprika sounds great, and of course bacon and pickles would add a lot of flavor to the gravy. This sounds so good! Thank you! -Meggan