Long ago, when I was a young soldier stationed in Germany, I took my equally young wife to dinner at a little restaurant called Wienerwald, in Frankfurt am Main. I remember ordering a plate of sauerbraten, and I was amazed at how good it was. This recipe is my attempt to recreate that wonderful dish from long ago. Serve with riced potatoes, pickled red cabbage, sauerkraut, or spaetzle, and a hearty German beer, Riesling, or Gewurztraminer wine.


Recipe Summary

15 mins
1 hr 40 mins
4 days 20 mins
4 days 2 hrs 15 mins
1 6-pound roast


Original recipe yields 24 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Heat 2 cups water and 2 cups vinegar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add salt, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, mustard seeds, ginger, allspice, and cloves. Bring to a simmer; immediately remove from heat. Stir in brown sugar until dissolved. Add Marsala wine. Let mixture steep until pan is cool enough to touch, at least 20 minutes.

  • Place beef top round in a 1 1/2-quart resealable zip-top bag. Pour liquid around the beef. Pour in remaining water and vinegar and seal bag, removing as much air as possible. Place bag in a leak-proof container and refrigerate for 4 days, turning once a day.

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Remove meat from bag and transfer into a roasting pan; reserve the marinade.

  • Strain spices out of the marinade and discard. Pour 1/2 of the liquid into the pan with the meat and reserve the rest, about 4 cups, in a saucepan.

  • Bake in the preheated oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 165 degrees F (74 degrees C), about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer to a platter and let rest.

  • Bring the 4 cups of remaining marinade to a simmer. Stir in sour cream and cook until thickened to your preference, 6 to 10 minutes. Slice beef against the grain and spoon the gravy on top.

Cook's Notes:

Feel free to substitute beef top round with any similar cut.

You can use another sweet fortified wine (like ruby port or sherry) instead of Marsala.

Add flour to the gravy to further thicken it, if desired.

Editor's Note:

Nutrition data for this recipe includes the full amount of marinade ingredients. The actual amount of marinade consumed will vary.

Nutrition Facts

314 calories; protein 23.7g; carbohydrates 24.5g; fat 12g; cholesterol 68.9mg; sodium 1022mg. Full Nutrition