Easy Cabbage Rolls – Spend with Pennies

Cabbage roll recipe with cooked rice

The smell of Rouladen meat cooking in my grandmother Mary’s kitchen is one of my most cherished childhood memories.

The thin slices of meat are rolled with a little mustard, bacon, onions and a dill pickle! Meat rolls are slowly roasted and served with a rich brown sauce.

This dish has an old-fashioned and hearty flavor with tender meat that melts in the mouth. Serve with mashed potatoes or cooked macaroni as my grandmother always did.

Rouladen veneered beef with mashed potatoes

What is Rouladen?

Just one of the best comfort foods ever! If you come from a German heritage, you probably grew up with Rouladen beef. My Polish grandmother and mother made these meat rolls frequently and they are definitely the favorites.

In this meat rouladen recipe, thin slices of meat are brushed with mustard and then wrapped with bacon, onion, and dill pickles before cooking slowly. It is served with a rich brown sauce.

Ingredients for beef rouladen on a marble boardIngredients for Rouladen

Beef: Some grocery stores in my area sell meat labeled “Rouladen.” You’ll want slices of beef that are about 8″ to 10″ long x 4.5″ wide and 1/4 inch thick. Ask the butcher or use thinly sliced round steak or even flank steak. If you use thin round fillets, you may need to lay two layers to get a length of 10″.

Fillings: My grandmother always used yellow mustard, although Dijon mustard is great too. Thin slices of bacon, onion and dill or sweet pickle (I definitely prefer dill) are wrapped in the meat.

Broth: This recipe uses meat broth with some dill pickle juice. My mom always added a can of mushrooms with the juices, so I add them too. The juices are later used to make the sauce or sauce to serve.

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While some recipes add some red wine, my grandmother kept it simple. You can add extra onions to the sauce and a rib of celery and carrot if you want to flavor it. Discard the carrot/celery before thickening the sauce.

add pickles to meat to make Beef Rouladen

process of rolling Beef RouladenHow to make Rouladen

  1. Place the meat slices and gently crush them with a meat tenderizer until they are all evenly thin (as per the recipe below).
  2. Top with mustard, bacon, onion and roll a whole pickle of dill, secure it with a toothpick or tie with twine.
  3. Brown the outside in a Dutch oven or skillet. Add the broth and a splash of pickle juice. Roast or simmer the rouladen until tender.
  4. Thicken the juices with flour or a suspension of cornstarch to make sauce.

Rouladen can also cook in a slow cooker over low heat for 7-8 hours.

Rouladen cooked beef in the pan

cook Rouladen beef in sauce

To make the sauce

  • When finished, remove from the pan and pour the juices into a pot over heat middle.
  • Make a suspension by beating the cornstarch with an equal amount of water or meat broth until it dissolves completely. When the juices in the pan are boiling, add the suspension little by little and cook until the desired sauce thickness is reached.
  • I always add a can of mushrooms with juices to my rouladen sauce just like my mother did.

My favorite way to enjoy rouladen is on top of elbow macaroni with lots of spoon sauce on top. Of course, it’s great about mashed potatoes, spƤtzle, egg noodles or potato dumplings, or even baby potatoes. It’s great with a side of braised red cabbage to complete the meal.

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Open meat rouladen on a plate

To freeze


This easy dish can be prepared and the rolls can be frozen before or after cooking. Simply prepare as directed, place it in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen, transfer it to a freezer bag or airtight container.

To enjoy freezing, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and cook as directed in the recipe.

Do you have leftovers?

Rouladen tastes great the next day! It’s a perfect lunch for the workday with mashed potatoes or even cauliflower rice! You can also chop the rouladen and add the sauce to a soup!

close-up of Beef Rouladen in mashed potatoes with writing

Rouladen beef with mushrooms and mashed potatoes with title
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cooking Rouladen meat and plated with a title

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