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Sauerbraten, the RIGHT Way

March 23, 2008

Well, I’ve been promising this recipe for a while – the Bayer family sauerbraten. My great-grandmother Clara Bayer Lynch made this recipe, and my mom gave it to me, scribbled on a greasy, food-stained scrap of paper, written in a very shaky handwriting with many misspellings. I think it belonged to HER mother, and it’s been passed down to me. It’s the recipe I remember from my childhood.

My mom tells me that my great-grandmother (I called her Grammy), was not a very good cook, but she could make a mean German dinner. Although, she and her family tried to refute their heritage by calling themselves “German-descent”, rather than “German”. I don’t get the distinction, but after WWII, no one wanted to be known as German. Anyway, my family’s traditional sauerbraten recipe is direct from Bavaria (or “Bayern” as it’s known in Deutschland – hence my family’s name, changed from the original “Bayerer”).

I am so proud of my ability to make this delicious dish, and to possess so much culinary heritage, that I decided to make this for Bob when we first began dating. If I like you, I cook for you. Since he’s from a German family as well, I thought it would be even that much more special. I know his grandmother Voelker was from Germany (Munich, Bayern also), so I figured this was a dish he probably liked. I decided to do the whole thing, a traditional German dinner: sauerbraten, potato pancakes, spaetzle, red cabbage, and apple strudel for dessert. I was very impressed with myself, and Bob really seemed to enjoy it. But, when I asked him how he liked the sauerbraten, he said, “It’s not as good as my sister’s. But it’s good.” WHAT THE –?? Bob’s sister possesses the Voelker family sauerbraten recipe, and that’s the one she makes.

This comment is now a huge joke in our family – both my side and his. His sister was OUTRAGED that he actually said this to me, and his father laughed out loud. Turns out, not only did Bob say this to me, but his father said it to his mother, and his uncle Bill said it to his wife, too! Sounds like Grandma Voelker was a hell of a cook. No one can live up to her! From what I understand, her recipe calls for crushed gingersnaps in the gravy – mine does not. Apparently that makes all the difference.

I’m making sauerbraten today for Easter (MY recipe), and Bob’s sister is making it today, too. Bob called her to wish her a Happy Easter, and told her I was making it – she told him that he was NOT to scrutinize my dinner, just shut up and eat it.

So, here it is, and I believe in my heart that it’s the BEST version out there. I’ve also included an easy recipe for turning leftover pot roast into sauerbraten. Enjoy!


  • 3-4 lb. pot roast
  • 1 clove garlic halved
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 lg onions sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 cloves
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2T lard or Crisco (olive oil works too)

Rub meat with cut side of garlic, then with salt & pepper. Put meat & garlic into deep covered casserole.

Heat just to boiling vinegar and next 6 ingredients. Pour over meat and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate 4 days, turning meat each day.

Remove meat; strain and reserve liquid for cooking meat. Brown meat in hot oil in Dutch oven, turning to brown all sides evenly. Add half reserved liquid, then cover and simmer 2-3 hours, or until meat is tender. Add more liquid as needed. Slice and serve.


  • 2 cups gravy
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp whole cloves
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 bay leaves

Mix all together and cook 20-25 min. Strain and pour over thinly sliced pot roast, rump roast, round, or any lean solid cut. Let stand 4-6 hours or overnight. Reheat and serve over buttered egg noodles.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Claire Lynch permalink
    October 2, 2008 6:57 pm

    Well, my dear niece, I too have the family recipe, but I chose to add the gingersnaps because that is what my father (your grandpa) told me I had to do. As for the spaetzle, you need no fancy equipment to make them the grandma Clara way. You make the dough and if you want the spaetle, you cut them from the cutting board into the boiling water. If you are going to use the dough to make kniffles (I don’tremember the correct spelling-but the word means “little buttons” in German) you push the dough through a sieve into the water. If you want them a little crispier, after they have cooked, throw them into a frying pan with some butter and bread crumbs until they are a little brown.

    See, I can cook something other than cassaroles or poison spaghetti. .

    Oh, in the Lynch/Kittleman household at Christmas, we have started a culinary tradition that forces me to think globally/regionally-the boys pick an ethnic or regional cuisine for our Christmas dinner. We have done the traditional family German meal, Italian, French, Creole/Cajun and last year we had a soul food Christmas. We had catfish, collards, fried chicken, Jaspers Mac and Cheese, Grits, etc. My African American friends from work were impressed with my soul connections.

  2. wendalicious permalink
    October 2, 2008 7:02 pm

    Wow! I am impressed with the Christmas cuisine thing. That’s a great idea. What are the plans for this year?

    And, ix-nay on the ingersnaps-ay. I don’t want anyone in Bob’s family to know that you add gingersnaps – I will never live it down…

  3. Claire Lynch permalink
    October 3, 2008 4:48 pm

    OK, the gingersnaps will be our secret. You could crush them up and tell them it is a special dark flour. I’d never tell. As for Christmas 2008, we haven’t thought that far ahead. I just want Ryan home for the holdiay. If he doesn’t make it home, I’m coming to your house for dinner.
    Of course, i would be driving aimlessly trying to find you since I have no idea where you live. Just think that in 8 short months, your cousin will be a law school graduate. So, I will then offically have Law and Order in my family. That is my ringtone on the phone for when the boys call.

  4. Chris Catharine permalink
    December 28, 2008 2:03 pm

    I love sauerbraten. Your recipe is very similar to mine, except in the marinade I also add an equal part of white wine to the vinegar and water. I do not serve spaetzle, but serve potato klosse or potato pancakes. Creamed spinach is a staple in this house, along with creamed peas and carrots. I always add a pinch of nutmeg. I enjoy your blog. You have a lovely way of expressing your thoughts of day to day life


  1. Homemade Spaetzle, As Promised « Wendalicious

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