Beef Rouladen (Rindsrouladen)

The first time I had dinner in a private home in Germany, my soon-to-be Mother-in-Law welcomed us with the Schwabian customary cake and champagne at 4:00 p.m. Two hours later, dinner was Beef Rouladen and Spätzle as the main course. I was ready to sign on the dotted line by desert.

This recipe wants a little planning, it is after all a traditional holiday meal. When you are just starting out, planning and serving holiday meals, especially meats, can seem like a daunting task. How much food for how many people and how do I know?

Before we start planning, I should mention:

  • Beef rouladen are extremely yummy as leftovers the next day, chopped up and served over hot, buttery noodles. Add a dollop of sour cream for a fancy stroganoff feeling.
  • Beef rouladen also freeze well.
  • About the pot: You’ll need one big enough to fit all your rouladen at once. And, for browning your rouladen, you’ll need enough oil to mostly cover the bottom of said pot.

Planning Your Ingredients

By the time your guests have nibbled your hors d’vores and come to the table, they are hopefully not completely starving any more. I usually serve mashed potatoes although spätzle are tradtional. I think it must be my “stockyards town” upbringing.

If they are big Plan 1 rouladen for each of your moderate eaters, children and older guests. Plan 2 rouladen for the hearty eater known for a healthy appetite. Plan x rouladen for your leftover / freezer needs.

If they are small Plan 2 rouladen for each guest.

What is a big rouladen and what is a small one? I promise to answer that question the next time I buy rouladen.

For Every 1 Rouladen

Quantity Ingredients
1 thin slice of skirt or round steak
1 Tbsp Djon mustard
2-3 slices Bacon
1 Dill pickle
1 Celery Stalk
1/2 tsp Tomato paste

You will also need some toothpicks or string1 for tying the rouladen.

For Every 2 Rouladen

1 Onion
1/2 Carrot

For the Pot

2-3 Bay Leaves
4-6 Peppercorns
2-3 cloves Garlic
1 cup (or more) Red wine 2
1 tsp Rosemary / Thyme / Fennel seeds (optional)
2-3 Juniper berries (optional) 3
2-3 Allspice berries (optional)
  Salt (to taste)

Personally, I nearly always add juniper and allspice berries. I usually add garlic and I sometimes remember rosemary or fennel seeds. It’s a crap-shoot.


Tip: Use the checkboxes as placeholders while you work your way through the recipe. Reload the page to clear them.

Prepare the Rouladen

I was hoping to find a good description of how to do this on the internet so I could just link to that. But I didn’t find one. All the recipes I read just offered advice amounting to roll it up as best you can and good luck with that. Let’s try and do better here.

With the meat and stuffing laid out in front of you so that the longest side is closest to you…

Now you have something resembling a tube of beef with your stuffing inside, right?

Ok, time to close it all up. Stretch and pull the ends, up-and-over, and with luck they will stick in place4 while you fumble around fastening them with your toothpicks or what-have-you.5

Cooking the Rouladen

Whew! Now comes the easy part. You’ve done all the fumbling and cursing you are going to have to do before you get to the red wine and wow. Congratulations!


  1. I have stainless steel “rouladen stickers”, as I call them. They are small versions of a shish-ka-bob sticks and I use them for fastening the rouladen together. If I didn’t have such things, I would use toothpicks or kitchen twine. Dental floss will work too. Mainly your tool should withstand heat both high heat and heat over time. Try not to overthink this. As you see by my example here, it doesn’t make things clearer. Just use toothpicks. Everyone has toothpicks.  2

  2. What you are after with the wine addition is the acid that will help tenderize your meat as it cooks. If you prefer not to use alcohol, substitute a tablespoon or two of red wine vinegar here for the same effect.  2

  3. The internet claims that Whole Foods, Wallmart, and that ubiquitous online reseller named after the second-longest river in the world carries juniper berries, usually in the spices section. 

  4. If you have enough mustard on the meat, and not too much filling 10, you might get lucky and be dealing with a flappy bit of meat that will stick to the tube part of your rouladen while you get your pokey-things or your string organized. If not, this is why I suggested you get all your ducks in a row before starting. 

  5. I know that reads like a total cop-out of an instruction but it’s really quite the best I can do at this moment. If we all live long enough I will see about making some pictures or drawings for this part. 

  6. Did I forget to mention that earlier? Damn. Let me edit that in right now. 

  7. Remember our beef choice is a very lean cut and the addition of a good quality fat has nutrients your body needs to optimally process your dinner and to “build strong bones and teeth” as they used to say when I was young and unicorns ran free upon the plains. 

  8. Browning tomato paste with your veggies when making a “brown sauce” (referring to the finished color) is an excellent way to get some color and a bundle of aroma without a lot of meat and to remove the thick, paste-y taste it has when it’s not been simmered for a long period of time. 

  9. I like to take a nap and then get charming for my guests. Check the tenderness of the meat at the 1 hour mark for small rouladen, the 2 hour mark for large rouladen and then set the table and choose the wine. 

  10. In other words, the pickles and onion are not escaping out the ends. If they are, give them a stern talking to and stuff them back inside. If that doesn’t work, you’ll have to remove one or two. No worries, my friend, rouladen are mathematically designed by Mother Nature to hold exactly the amount of stuffing required to season them perfectly. Chin up and onwards. You got this.