Home » Sour Roast – traditional German Pot Roast “Sauerbraten”

Sour Roast – traditional German Pot Roast “Sauerbraten”

sour beef

Sauerbraten is translated to Sour Roast and is a German pot roast with a slightly sour taste for the meat and also for the gravy. To counter the sourness of the ingredients like wine and vinegar, some sweet ingredients are added.

Sauerbraten with potato dumplings and red cabbage.

There are different variations of the German Sour-Roast and like so often the recipe depends on the regions of Germany. There are different recipes in Saxony than in Rhineland or Swabia and so on.

My recipe for Sauerbraten is probably closest to the Rhineland version with a hint of Swabia in it. And while in Rhineland, in the past, it was common to use horse meat for this dish, it was usually beef that was used in other regions. Similar variations of this meal also exist in other European countries but though I am not entirely sure, I believe it originates from Germany.

Two Recipes for Sauerbraten

In this post, I will publish two recipes for Sauerbraten: A traditional German Sour Roast and a version that one of my followers, Martin Par, sent me. He highly recommends his recipe and I think it is worth trying, too. So, thank you, Martin, for sharing your recipe with us and letting me publish it!

Video for German Sour Roast

Marinade The Sour Roast

The traditional Sour-Roast was made with meat that was rather tough like the meat of an old horse or certain parts of the cattle. To make that meat tender, the meat is soaked in a marinade for at least 5 to 7 days or even more. The vinegar in the marinade is crucial for making the meat tender but the wine and spices give it a delicious and unique taste.

I would advise you to keep the roast in the fridge during the entire marinade time.

Raisins or No Raisins?

The Rhineland version of the recipe asks for raisins and I think they really make a difference when it comes to the taste of the gravy. Other regions like Swabia, usually don’t have raisins in the recipe. You decide what you want to make out of that!

Gingerbread and Sour Roast

The really cool thing about the gravy is, that we make it with gingerbread. There are certain sauces gingerbreads in Germany for Gingerbread Sauce. We don’t regularly use them in this recipe though. Instead, my recipe asks for a certain honey bread or honey cake (Honigkuchen) that is available in Germany especially during Christmas time. It is a rectangle bread, smaller than a regular loaf, and has a rather strong honey taste while also tasting a little bitter from molasse. But we Germans also use other gingerbreads.

I was wondering what I could use in the US, since we don’t have that honey bread. Luckily, the recipe from Martin gave me the answer: He is using Ginger Snaps. I didn’t even know that Ginger Snaps exist, never had them before but it turns out that they are perfect for this. They are very much like my “Spekulatius” cookies.
The Ginger Snaps or honey bread or gingerbread not only give the gravy a sweet note, they also thicken the gravy and give it a nice, silky consistency.

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sour beef

Sauerbraten – Sour Roast (traditional)

GermanPot Roast / Sour Beef
4.42 from 12 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Marinade Time 7 days
Total Time 7 days 32 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch (or Dinner), Meat Dish
Cuisine German
Servings 6 people


Immersion Blender or equivalent
large pot


Marinade & Meat

  • 1,2  kg Beef Roast  i.e. from shoulder or roundroast
  • 1 Carrot
  • ¼ Root Celery
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • ½ Leek
  • 1 Onion large
  • 2 Cloves
  • 2 Bay Leafs
  • 5 Juniper Berries
  • 10 Pepper Corns
  • 2 Allspice Berries
  • some Salt
  • some Pepper
  • 400  ml Red Wine
  • 200 ml Red Wine Vinegar

For the Roast &Gravy

  • 2 tbsp. Oil for frying
  • 1 Onion  large
  • 2 tbsp. Honey
  • 200  ml Beef Stock / Beef Broth
  • 4 tbsp. Raisins
  • 100 g Ginger Snaps optional



  • Chop the vegetables.
  • Add roast, vegetables, and spices into a fitting pot.
  • Spice with salt and pepper if needed.
  • Cover with wine and red wine vinegar.
  • Close the lid, place the pot into the fridge and marinade for 5 to 7 days.

Cooking the Roast & Gravy

  • After marinating the roast, take the meat out of the pot and pad it dry from all sides.
  • Strain the marinade through a sieve, keeping the liquid and discarding the vegetables.
  • In a large pot, heat the oil.
  • Add the meat and roast it from all sides.
  • Add the chopped onions and sauté for a bit.
  • Now pour the marinade and beef stock over the roast and bring to a boil.
  • Add the honey.
  • Let the roast simmer for 2hours, flip the meat every 30 minutes.
  • After 2 hours, remove the roast from the pot, cover, and let rest while making the gravy.
  • Put the Ginger Snaps into the gravy and let soak for a few minutes. Then blend with an immersion blender until smooth.
  • Add honey and spices if needed, optional smoothen with a little cream if the gravy has too much acid.
  • Add the raisins.
  • Cut the roast into slices, serve with the gravy and potato dumplings or spätzle or potatoes and red cabbage or carrots.
Keyword meat, pot roast, roast
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
sauerbraten sour beef

Sour-Roast / Sauerbraten nontraditional

Recipefrom Martin Par
4.67 from 6 votes
Course Dinner, Lunch (or Dinner)
Cuisine American, International
Servings 6 persons


  • 1½  cups Red Wine
  • ½ cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • ½ tsp  ground Mustard Powder
  • ¼ tsp ground Cloves
  • ¼ tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp minced Garlic
  • 3 lbs. boneless Beef Roast
  • some  cooking Oil to brown roast
  • 1 tbsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 cup shredded Carrots
  • ¼ cup Raisins
  • 1 cup Beef Broth
  • 8 oz. Tomato Sauce, canned
  • 1 handful  Gingersnap Cookies or more


  • Mix the first 6 ingredients in a 1 gallon Ziploc bag –alternatively use a large bow.
  • Trim excess fat from the meat and place the meat into the Ziplocbag. Remove most of the air and let marinate 24 to 72 hours.
  • After meat marinates, remove the meat from the bag and pat dry.Heat oil in a 5-qt. pot and brown meat on all sides in hot oil. Use a papertowel to wipe up excess oil from bottom of pan.
  • Add carrots, raisins, beef broth, tomato sauce, and onion powder,bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for 1½ to 2 hours.
  • When meat is tender, remove the meat and cover to keep warm.
  • Strain liquids, add water if needed to make two cups of liquid andput liquid in a sauce pan, skim as much fat as possible from the liquid. Inyour hads, grind gingersnaps into the liquid and whisk, don't worry if thereare clumps as the gingersnaps will dissolve as the liquid cooks. Bring liquidto a slow boil and stir occasionally to prevent burning. Cook until saucereaches your desired thickness. Sauce will thicken as it cools down.
  • Slice meat and serve with red cabbage, Kartoffel-Knödel, Boehmische Hefeknoedel or Spätzle covered in sauce.
Keyword meat, pot roast, roast
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

About The Author

2 thoughts on “Sour Roast – traditional German Pot Roast “Sauerbraten””

  1. 5 stars
    This traditional sauerbraten roast was fun to make and tasted great, every one enjoyed it at our German Theme Dinner night with close friends within our bubble. The meal went well with some good German beer and wine, and a great end with black forest trifle.

  2. 5 stars
    Gingersnap cookies are not listed as an ingredient for your traditional roast. I tried to count how many you added from the video but it was too fast for me. Please, about how many cookies did you use?

    I look forward to trying this recipe and thanks for all your work with this and your other 160 recipes.

Comments are closed.

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