This flavorful beef Rouladen recipe features fork-tender meat rolls stuffed with bacon, onions, mustard, and pickles. With a rich gravy, this classic German dish is delicious with boiled or mashed potatoes, or spaetzle!
Homemade Beef Rouladen
Beef Rouladen is a traditional German dish that’s hearty, comforting, and super flavorful. We love the bacon and pickles rolled up inside the tender beef!
My heritage is predominantly German, so I’m always up for exploring authentic German dishes – our family especially likes warm German potato salad.
This recipe for beef roulades (beef rolls) features thin strips of beef schmeared with mustard, then rolled up with bacon, onions, and pickles. The little stuffed beef pockets are browned and then braised in a tasty beef broth until they’re perfectly tender. Served with a rich gravy over mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes, or spaetzle, this is perfect for Sunday dinner or a special holiday meal!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
We’re big fans of beef here in this house, and this classic beef dish is extra delicious and very fun! Here’s why you’ll love this German rouladen:
- Hearty and satisfying. Beef is packed with protein, always a satisfying meal. We love this twist on a more typical beef dish like roast beef or classic pot roast, featuring fun rolls of tender, melt-in-your-mouth meat.
- Super savory. These beef rolls are packed with savory flavor, including bacon, mustard, onions, garlic, soy sauce, tomato paste, pickles (so fun!), and more. They all combine to make a truly unique and flavor-packed bite.
- There’s gravy! Seriously. Who can resist a dish that includes a rich, flavorful gravy?!
- Easy & FUN to put together. This rouladen dish is not hard to make, and it’s fun to roll up the beef strips! But it does take some time. So choose a day when you can be relaxed and enjoy the beauty of the process. Also, you can prepare this partially in advance – I talk more about that later in the post!
What Is Rouladen?
Rouladen is a traditional German dish.
It features thin slices of beef that are spread with mustard, then rolled up with bacon, onions, and pickles. The rolled beef is browned and then simmered in a savory broth until it’s fork-tender and flavorful.
To finish the dish, a rich gravy is made from the simmering broth, and then the beef rolls are settled back into the gravy.
The word roulade originated from the French word rouler, which means “to roll”. A roulade dish can be savory or sweet, one that includes rolled meat or rolled pastry or cake. A Swiss roll is a great example of a sweet roulade, where a layer of cake is rolled up with pastry cream or jam.
Here’s an overview of what you’ll need to make this recipe.
Scroll down to the printable recipe card at the end of this post for the exact ingredient amounts.
- Beef – Use top round beef steak, cut about 1/4″ thick (ask your butcher to do this)
- Salt & freshly ground pepper
- Mustard – I like to use prepared yellow German mustard. Spicy brown mustard is also good.
- Bacon – I like to use slices that are not overly thick or thin.
- Pickles – Use a savory dill pickle.
- Yellow onion – You can substitute white onion if needed.
- Butter – Use unsalted butter. This adds a touch of rich flavor and texture to the gravy.
- Olive oil
- Vegetables – Fresh onion, carrot, celery, and garlic add a variety of earthy flavors to the cooking liquid, which turns into the gravy.
- Beef broth – This makes the base of the gravy.
- Soy sauce – This gives a wonderful umami flavor to the gravy.
- Tomato paste – Tomato paste adds rich flavor to the gravy.
- Cornstarch & water – To thicken the gravy a bit – you can use as little or as much as you like.
- Parsley – For garnish, optional.
How to Make Rouladen
Follow along with the photos and method below to make beef rouladen:
PREPARE THE ROULADEN
- Prepare the beef slices. Lay out the beef slices on a flat surface and gently pound them until they’re a little thinner than 1/4 inch. Take care to not pound holes in the beef. Season each slice with salt & pepper.
- Spread on some mustard. Spread a tablespoon of yellow mustard evenly over each beef slice.
- Add the bacon. Place bacon slices on top of the mustard on each beef slice.
- Tuck in some pickle. Place sliced pickle horizontally on one end of each beef slice.
- Sprinkle with onion. Sprinkle the chopped yellow onion over the bacon and pickles on each beef slice.
- Roll up the rouladen. Roll up each beef slice tightly, starting from the end with the pickle. Secure the rolls with toothpicks to hold them together.
COOK THE ROULADEN
- Heat the butter and olive oil. In the same Dutch oven, melt the butter with the olive oil.
- Brown the rouladen. Add the rouladen and brown them on all sides until they are nicely seared.
- Remove and set aside. Once the rouladen are browned, remove them from the Dutch oven and set them aside.
PREPARE THE GRAVY
- Cook the vegetables. In the same Dutch oven, sauté the chopped onion, carrot, and celery until tender. Then stir in the minced garlic and sauté 1 more minute.
- Create the cooking broth. Stir in the soy sauce, beef broth, and tomato paste. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Add the rouladen to the cooking broth. Return the browned rouladen to the Dutch oven, making sure they are submerged in the liquid.
- Simmer for 1½-2 hours. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and let simmer gently for about 1½-2 hours, or until the beef is absolutely tender.
THICKEN THE GRAVY
- Remove the rouladen. Once the rouladen are cooked and tender, remove them from the Dutch oven. Discard the toothpicks.
- Strain the cooking broth. Place a strainer over a large bowl and carefully pour the hot cooking broth with veggies through the strainer. Add the strained cooking broth (without the veggies) back to the Dutch oven and return to a simmer. (Save the strained-out veggies to enjoy with another meal.)
- Whisk in a simple slurry. In a small bowl, mix together cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Slowly pour the cornstarch slurry into the simmering cooking broth, whisking continuously.
- Simmer the gravy until thick. Let the gravy simmer for a few minutes until it thickens to your desired consistency.
- Taste test. Give the gravy a taste and season with salt & pepper if needed.
- Stir in the chilled butter. Remove the Dutch oven from the heat and stir in the chilled butter until it melts and gives the gravy a glossy finish.
Tips for Success
Rouladen is not difficult to make, but there are a few tips that can ensure success every time. Here are a few ideas that will help you make this dish:
- Tenderize the meat. When you tenderize, or pound and flatten, the beef strips, it makes them easier to roll. The meat will also cook up more tender.
- Have all of your ingredients assembled before beginning to make the recipe. This will simply help everything come together smoothly.
- Make it an authentic German meal. To go all-in on German flavors, serve braised red cabbage with rouladen, plus spaetzle, a German egg noodle pasta with a chewy, dumpling-like texture. You can buy pre-made spaetzle or make it from scratch. Boiled potatoes are easy to make, and also a traditional side. My family really likes this with mashed potatoes, so that’s what I usually make.
- Freeze uncooked rouladen for another time. You can freeze rouladen raw or cooked. To make the rouladen in advance and freeze it, place rouladen pieces on a rimmed sheet pan and freeze for 1 hour, then transfer to a freezer bag or other freezer-friendly container and freeze for up to 3 months. Separate any layers with parchment paper. When you’re ready to use the rouladen, thaw it in the fridge overnight.
Top round beef steak is typically used to make rouladen.
The beef slices should be about 8-10 inches long by 4-6 inches wide and ¼-inch thick
Use cornstarch to make a simple slurry to thicken the gravy in rouladen.
What to Serve with German Rouladen
Beef rouladen makes a great main dish. It’s traditionally served with boiled potatoes, bread dumplings, potato dumpings, or spaetzle. I like to serve it with some of the suggestions below:
- Mashed potatoes. My family likes to eat rouladen, with its rich flavorful gravy, with mashed potatoes. I have two delicious recipes for you – my Easy Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, either of which would be perfect with rouladen.
- A vegetable (or two). Beef rouladen is decadent and rich, and vegetables balance it out nicely. Try my honey garlic carrots recipe for a slightly sweet companion to the hearty beef, or add roasted or grilled asparagus alongside.
- Fresh salad. You could also add a simple, refreshing side salad, like my cucumber salad or this bright, crunchy winter apple salad.
Can These Be Assembled In Advance?
Yes, you can make rouladen in advance.
Make the rouladen according to the recipe directions, then place the rolls in an airtight container or covered casserole dish in the fridge for up to two days before cooking them.
Here’s how to store beef rouladen. You can also make it and freeze it in advance.
- Fridge – Store leftover rouladen in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Freezer – Place rouladen in a single layer in a freezer-safe baking dish and cover tightly. Place in the freezer and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge before reheating.
- To Reheat – Make sure to have some extra gravy or beef broth handy. Then place the rouladen in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with gravy or broth. Reheat until hot. You can also reheat in the oven by placing the rouladen in an oven-safe dish, covering with gravy or broth, and heating at 375° F until heated through.
For the Rouladen
- 5 slices top round beef steak, sliced horizontally about ¼" thick (have your butcher do this)
- Kosher salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 5 tablespoons prepared yellow German mustard
- 10 slices bacon
- 5 medium dill pickles, sliced lengthwise into 2 to 4 slices depending on their size
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the Gravy
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 large celery stalk, chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 2 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Kosher salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon water
- Chopped fresh parsley, optional garnish
- For the rouladen: Lay out the beef slices on a flat surface and gently pound them with a meat mallet until they’re a little thinner than ¼". Take care to not pound holes in the beef. Season beef with salt and black pepper, to taste.
- Spread a tablespoon of yellow mustard evenly onto each beef slice, and then add two slices of bacon. Place sliced pickle horizontally on one end of each beef slice, then sprinkle chopped yellow onion over the top of the entire beef slice. Repeat this layering of ingredients with all beef pieces.
- Starting from the end with the pickle, roll up each beef slice tightly. Secure each roll with a toothpick.
- In a Dutch oven or large skillet (make sure you have a lid that fits) over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the olive oil.
- Add the rouladen to the Dutch oven and brown them on all sides until they are nicely seared. Once browned, remove them from the skillet and set aside.
- For the gravy: To the same Dutch oven, add the chopped onion, carrot, and celery. Sauté until the vegetables are tender. Then stir in the garlic and sauté for 1 more minute.
- Stir in the soy sauce, beef broth, and tomato paste. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Return the browned rouladen to the Dutch oven, making sure they are submerged in the liquid. If needed, add more beef broth to cover the rouladen.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover the Dutch oven, and let it simmer gently for 1½ to 2 hours, or until the beef is absolutely tender. Then remove the rouladen from the Dutch oven, and remove the toothpicks.
- Carefully pour the hot cooking broth and vegetables through a strainer set over a bowl, and reserve the cooking broth. Return the strained cooking broth back to the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer.
- In a small cup or bowl, mix the cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Slowly pour the cornstarch slurry into the simmering cooking broth, whisking continuously. Let simmer for a few minutes, until the gravy thickens to your desired consistency. If you'd like it thicker, make another batch of slurry and repeat. Taste test the gravy, then season with salt and black pepper if needed.
- Remove the Dutch oven from the heat. Then sir in the chilled butter until it melts and gives the gravy a glossy finish.
- To serve: Place the rouladen in a low wide serving bowl or platter. Spoon the gravy over the rouladen. If desired, garnish with chopped fresh parsley.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 619Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 173mgSodium: 1102mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 50g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.