German beef rouladen with mushrooms in a white crock, cloth napkin and fork, rotkohl in a dish alongside

Rollin that den (Rouladen)

This post contains affiliate links.


The German classic beef dish in an easy instant pot or crockpot recipe! Dairy-free with a gluten-free option. A fun new take on beef roast with gravy.



  • Top round beef sliced thinly against the grain. (Any cut that benefits from slow cooking would do well, trim gristle and fat.)
  • Carrot spears or baby carrots 1 for each roll
  • Beef Broth
  • Frozen diced Onions- 1/4 cup
  • Mushrooms fresh or canned (optional) - 1/4 cup
  • Bacon- 1 slice for each roll
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • Pickle spears- 1 for each roll
  • Flour- 1-2 tablespoons to thicken gravy whisked with 2 tbsp water until smooth
  • Gluten free version: 2 tablespoons corn starch whisked with two tablespoons water
  • Splash of red wine or balsamic vinegar to finish If extra balance is needed in your gravy
  • Approximately 1 teaspoon each of smoked paprika onion powder, garlic powder, fresh ground pepper, salt to taste (do not salt until gravy is fully cooked and thickened)
  • 1 tbsp juniper berries



  1. Spray slow cooker with oil, grease, or use slow cooker liner. Salt and pepper the inside of each roll. Place pickle spear and bacon slice inside each roll. Secure with toothpick. Put in base of slow cooker, top with beef broth, onions, mushrooms, bay leaf and other spices. Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 4-6.

  2. (Optional: While dinner is cooking, bathe baby. Sing oldies, get the words wrong.)
  3. When one or two hours of cooking is left, add whisked flour mixture. Important- you must give flour time to thicken!
  4. Remove bay leaf and Rouladen. Taste gravy. Does it need acid? Red wine or balsamic vinegar. Sweetness? Sprinkle sugar. Salt? Add salt. Remove toothpicks from Rouladen. Serve!

  5. Stove top method: Brown onions, add beef rolls to pan. Deglaze with broth mixture, add spices. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook approximately 45 minutes.
  6. Instant Pot Method:  Saute onions, add rolls and brown. Deglaze with broth mixture, add spices. Prepare using meat setting according to Instant Pot directions. Remove Rouladen, add flour mixture and thicken gravy on Saute feature. Remove toothpicks from Rouladen, serve.

  7. Variations: For even more flavor, slightly brown bacon along with onions before filling rolls.
  8. You can also dice bacon and brown with onions and fill inside rolls to make a tasty, tasty bacon-onion filling.
  9. Many German recipes call for a layer of mustard inside your rolls. I would recommend a Deli brown or German style.
  10. For Sauerbraten style gravy, add 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or German Altmeister vinegar with broth to slow cook.
  11. For Rahm style gravy, finish gravy with 1-2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream or sour cream after removed from heat. For my dairy free friends, culinary coconut milk.
  12. Gluten Free Gravy: Thicken with arrowroot, cornstarch, or add additional onions and carrots to sauce and puree for a thickened gravy.
  13. Serve with potatoes, red cabbage, green beans, anything you like! Frankly I could eat this alone. For breakfast.

My affection for Germany runs deep. This German rouladen reminds me of beautiful places and kind people.

German beef rouladen with mushrooms in a white crock, cloth napkin and fork, rotkohl in a dish alongside

I’ve lived there seven years of my life, learned the language, hiked, biked, and most importantly eaten my way from Spargel in Erfurt to deer Goulash in the classic Black Forest. Language mistakes are generously glossed over. The generosity and kindness of their people is earned, not given freely. A friend one made is a friend for life. I have many fond memories of friends sitting down with me plying me with coffee, cakes, and most importantly their friendship.

Germany is an amazing place to be a kid. Their population growth is negative, so children are fawned over, cherished. There are free baby changing stations stocked with diapers, wipes, and anything else you might need in their pharmacy stores.

We were even friends with bakery owners, more on that later.

I once found a completely buffed and polished wooden children’s slide in a shoe store.

A shoe store.

Yes I went on it.

Living there as an adult with my husband, we visited a museum that included airplanes. The airplanes were positioned on the second story with cut pieces of rugs. There were metal slides that went from the airplane on the second story to the first story. It was mandatory you use a rug so you went faster.

Great country.

German beef rouladen with mushrooms in a white crock, cloth napkin and fork, rotkohl in a dish alongside

We picked up a few recipes while we were there, Rouladen being the comforting classic that required a fair amount of effort.

Anytime we had ‘German night’ at my family’s house, many hours were devoted. The rolls were browned, baked, mushrooms were sautéed, gravy was made. Homemade Spaetzle pasta was squeezed into boiling water, topped with butter and breadcrumbs.  Red cabbage was heated with cloves and apples. Fruits were delicately arranged on cakes and glazed . Heavy whipping cream was beaten into clouds.

My mother, sister and I all sharing the space, whirling around each other in the steam . Once everything was finished it was laid out on our table, the rich gravy wafting from our plates as my father said grace. Nobody spoke the first few minutes we ate, it was simply too good to muddle with conversation. Even now I can hear the sizzling, smell the bacon and the sour tang of Rotkohl, see the steam rolling from the stove.

German beef rouladen with mushrooms in a white crock, cloth napkin and fork, rotkohl in a dish alongside

I simply don’t have the time, but you better believe I’m not giving up the Rouladen of my youth.

Enter the Cooking one Handed method. I sincerely hope you’ll give my spin a taste. You can use most any beef that does well with slow cooking sliced thin, and you can adapt the recipe to your own tastes, omitting or adding any flavors you like to make it your own. What does Rouladen mean? Rolled.

A note on gravy: I love it. I may have a reputation in my family as the gravy maker. I have stepped in to stranger’s Thanksgivings and overseen gravy making because I couldn’t bear the thought of a store bought gravy, or even worse, none at all. Please enjoy my gravy renditions, and if you like, I’d love to answer any questions you have. I may devote a post in the future to my gravy methods.

Guten appetit!

Rouladen Pinterest Pin German beef rouladen with mushrooms in a white crock, cloth napkin and fork, rotkohl in a dish alongside, this recipe is instant pot and crock pot friendly. Dairy free with a gluten free option


Leave a Reply