This Sauerbraten recipe (traditional German pot roast) is made in the slow cooker. It’s so tender it just falls apart. Marinated in vinegar, wine and simple spices it’s perfect for your own authentic Oktoberfest party!
If you are looking for more Octoberfest Ideas be sure and check out the complete list of all of the Bavarian Food Party Menu Ideas here!
Today’s post is for a Traditional Sauerbraten Recipe. My husband loves Germany and my mom had many German recipes in her recipe box and when I was going thru them he saw this one and said I had to make it for an Oktoberfest Celebration!
I’d had it in the back of my mind for a while and I’ve never met an Oktoberfest I haven’t enjoyed! What’s not to love? There are beer gardens, authentic German food like these Homemade German Pretzels, and Bratwurst with Kraut , along with dancing and singing! (Beer barrel polkas and the chicken dance are played often!)
Everything you ever wanted to know about Oktoberfest!
What is Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest is more than a week long festival that began in 1810 in Munich Germany. The original event was a celebration for the people to commemorate the marriage of King Ludwig I to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburgausen.
The Bavarian celebration originally had horse races for the public as part of the events. The celebration continues today with Munich being a destination for people all over the world to attend the real event!
Today there is a parade, carnival, beer gardens and lots of polka music playing for dancing and of course lots of delicious German foods!
When is Oktoberfest celebrated?
It seems crazy, but Oktoberfest is actually mostly in September. In 2019 the official Oktoberfest will be celebrated Sept 22- October 7th.
The festival is not limited to Munich ~~ it’s now celebrated all over the world. In California there are many places to go to celebrate! (Don’t say I didnt warn you, in America all Oktoberfest celebrations often include many dances to the chicken dance so be ready to have that song in your head for days!!)
What do people wear to a traditional Oktoberfest event?
Men wear lederhosen which are shorts with suspenders on them. The suspenders are usually worn over white button down shirts. Women wear dirndl dresses which is a snug fitting bodice over a white blouse. There is usually an apron worn over the skirt of the dress.
People go all out at these events with the women wearing twin braids and the men wearing Alpine hats which often have feathers in them.
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Now that you know the history of Oktoberfest let’s talk about todays recipe for traditional Sauerbraten!
What is Sauerbraten?
Sauerbraten is essentially Germany’s version of pot roast. It’s usually made from beef, but you could use pork or lamb as well. The beauty of this recipe is that you can buy the cheapest meat out there and through a several day marinating process and cooking it on low heat for a long time it turns into one of the most delicious flavored roast that falls apart as you use your fork.
What cut of meat can you use for to make this for your celebration at home?
I used a boneless beef chuck roast but you could use a rump roast or eye of round roast. If you can only find bone in roast cuts that will work too (actually, the bone can often yield a more flavorful gravy than without one.)
Don’t want to use beef, often it is made with a pork roast or a lamb roast too. Pork Sauerbraten is very delicious and I highly recommend that as an option too.
How do you make it?
Start with your roast and make a marinade for it. The main ingredient is vinegar. The taste of the finished roast gets its name from the vinegar. Sauer translates to sour (braten means braised roast.) It isn’t sour as you know it, but slightly pungent. But don’t worry all of the other ingredients balance it out beautifully. I promise the gravy, in the end, is something you will want to sop up every last drop of!
What do you marinate Sauerbraten in?
- Juniper Berries
- Beef Broth
- Red Wine
- Red Wine Vinegar
The Marinating Process
The marinade needs to come to a boil to release the oils and flavors of all of the solids.
Once it cools you will place the liquid in a zip lock bag with the roast and let it marinate for 2 -3 days.
You’ll want to occasionally flip the bag so that the meat is completely covered.
After two to three days you’ll strain out the solids and reserve some of the liquid to place into the crockpot.
RECIPE NOTE: When you pull the roast out the meat will be a slightly pink/fuschia color from marinating in the wine and vinegar. There is no need for concern, it’s perfectly fine and will brown up very nicely.
Step by Step Process to Slow Cook Roast
Heat a stockpot and brown all sides of the meat before placing it into the crockpot / slow cooker. Then you can caramelize more onions and the carrots which adds a nice smoky-sweet flavor to your sauerbraten.
Now you’re ready to put it in the crockpot / slow cooker to let it do its thing! Slow cooking in a crockpot is ideal to allow the meat to tenderize and become fork tender. Your vegetables will become nice and tender as well.
Once the roast is done you’ll thicken the jus with a little bit of flour then add the subtle flavor of ginger by adding ginger snap cookie crumbs to make the gravy. It doesnt sound like a lot but it adds an amazing flavor to a super lightweight gravy for the Octoberfest Sauerbraten.
Other Questions you may have in making Sauerbraten:
- Can you make German Pot Roast on the stovetop? Yes absolutely! You can make it in a stockpot on the stove or in the oven. On the stove, you will cook it for 2-3 hours on a slow braise. Slight bubbles should come up, but not a rolling boil. You follow the recipe up until placing it into the crockpot. You’ll have to stir it occasionally and watch to make sure it isn’t getting too hot. You need to slow cook it so the meat has time to breakdown and become tender.
- Can you make the Sauerbraten recipe in the oven? Yes, cook it in a stockpot at 350° for 2 -3 hours. Leave the lid on in the oven. Stir every 30 minutes to make sure the broth isn’t evaporating.
- Can you make Sauerbraten in an instant pot instead of a slow cooker? Yes, if you want to do that I suggest you use this tried and try method from Lemon Blossoms.
- Can you make Authentic Sauerbraten without red wine? It will be slightly different, but substitute the cup of red wine with 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar and 1/2 cup more beef broth.
- I can’t find juniper berries is there a substitute? Gin is a good substitute for juniper berries. Use 1/4 cup of gin in place of the berries.
- I don’t like gingersnaps do I have to use them in the gravy? You can use a thickener like a little of the gravy mixed with flour or cornstarch but its not only the ginger flavor you’ll be leaving out. You may want to add a little cinnamon, sugar and/or nutmeg to the gravy too.
What to serve along side Sauerbraten
- Spaetzel: a German egg dumpling that is perfect with the gravy. (Recipe coming later this week!)
- Boiled Potatoes: Top them with melted butter and fresh parsley
- Beer Cheese Mac and Cheese
- RhotKohl– aka German Red Cabbage is perfect to pair with this German Pot Roast
More Oktoberfest Food Ideas to serve for your Oktoberfest Celebration:
- Sauerkraut Stuffed Brats (pictured below)
- Traditional German Red Cabbage
- Homemade German Pretzels (pictured above)
- Soft Pretzel Bite’s with Beer Cheese dipping sauce
- Brat Burgers w/ Kraut
- Oktoberfest Chili
- Apple Kutchen: German Apple Cake
Whatever you serve this Oktoberfest serve it along side a Lager or Oktoberfest special beer! It’s goes beautifully with this Sauerbraten recipe! The rich full flavored gravy over the top of fall apart tender pungent German pot roast!
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Authentic Sauerbraten Recipe: Oktoberfest Foods
This Sauerbraten recipe (traditional German pot roast) is made in the slow cooker it's tender it just falls apart. Marinated in vinegar, wine and simple spices it's perfect for your own authentic Oktoberfest party!
- 3 cups beef broth
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 large onions, cut into 1/4" strips
- 10 cloves garlic, 5, minced, 5 smashed
- 1 teaspoon cloves , whole
- 10 sprigs thyme
- 1 tablespoon thyme, minced
- 1 teaspoon juniper berries, (see note 1 for substitute)
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 3 - 4 pound boneless beef chuck roast
- generous amount salt and pepper to season beef before browning
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound baby carrots
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 cup gingersnap cookies, crumbs
- parsley for garnish
- Combine 2 cups brith, wine, vinegar, one of the onions, the crushed garlic, sprigs of thyme, juniper berries, peppercorns and cloves in a pan. Bring to a boil then simmer for 5 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
- Once marinade has cooled, place the roast in a large ziplock bag and pour the marinade over the top. Seal the bag after removing any air pockets. Place bag in fridge to marinate for 48 hours. Turning a couple of times to make sure meat is well covered in all edges.
- Once marinade is done remove the meat from the zip lock bag. Strain solids reserving 2 cups of the vinegar/wine liquid. Use a paper towel to dry roast, and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Preheat a large pot (or if your slow cooker allows, heat that to high. Add olive oil and once hot, add the roast browning all sides for about 4 minutes per side. (top, bottom and the sides too.)
- Place the roast in the bottom of the slow cooker(or on a side plate if you are using the slow cooker container) Caramelize the remaining onions, and the carrots for 5-7 minutes until the onions are softened and starting to brown and the carrots are starting to brown too. Then add the flour, garlic and thyme leaves and stir for 3 mins more. Remove the vegetables and deglaze the pan with the strained marinade and the remaining cup of broth scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Place the meat and carrots into the slow cooker then pour the liquid over the top. Turn slow cooker to low and cook for 7-8 hours (check the manual for cooking roast, each machine is slightly different.) Once roast is easily pulled apart and tender remove the meat and vegetables to a side plate. Slice the meat thinly (1/4" thick)
- Add the crushed gingersnaps, season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon a couple of spoonfuls of the sauce over the roast and veggies then place the gravy in a gravy boat for people to sauce their own.
- If you dont have juniper berries, you can use gin. Sub 1/4 cup Gin.
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Serving Size:8 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 545Saturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 156mgSodium: 586mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 46g
Laura K Fomby
Saturday 16th of October 2021
can I use fresh ginger instead of gingersnap cookies? Thank you!
Thursday 4th of November 2021
I think fresh ginger would be a little strong. Maybe a pinch of ground ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The cookies also help thicken the gravy so maybe a touch of gravy mix as well. Thanks!
Sunday 3rd of October 2021
The directions state to Turn slow cooker to high and cook for 7-8 hours. This seems like an exceptionally long time when cooking on high. The meat was very dry. Should the roast be cooked on "low" for 7-8 hours?
Thursday 4th of November 2021
Sorry for the confusion. Yes it should read cook on low for 7-8 hours. I hope this helps.
Wednesday 12th of May 2021
If I wanted to potatoes when, would I add them in so they wouldn’t get over cooked?
Monday 17th of May 2021
It really depends on the size and kind of potatoes. Id add them a couple of hours in and have them be larger in size--- so they hold their shape. I tend to use russet potatoes because if they break down a little, they still hold their shape. Hope this helps- Michele
Monday 4th of November 2019
No need to wait for Oktoberfest...I could make this recipe over and over again, it's so good!
Monday 4th of November 2019
We fixed this for Sunday dinner and loved it. It was so tender and delicious. We enjoyed what was left for dinner tonight too. I love a meal that is delicious as leftovers too! Cooking it in the crockpot sure freed us up to enjoy our day too!