German Christmas Meal

by Leonie Milde
contributing writer

Photo by juefraphoto/

While many Germans resort to classic dishes like potato salad and sausages or Schnitzel, most take advantage of the spare time that comes with the holidays and create extravagant meals for the whole family. The basic concept is the same as American feasts: a combination of meat, seasonal vegetables and carbs. While you can never go wrong with a classic pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts menu, here’s an option that’s slightly more effort but definitely worth the time it takes to prepare: Rinderrouladen (beef rolls), homemade red cabbage and bread dumplings. Don’t let the number of steps fool you, this requires none of the German cooking experience and results in all of the German flavors. Bonus: legend has it that leftovers taste even better and everything about this meal is suitable for reheating the next day.

Serves 4 adults. Including cooking time, it will take you a little over 2 hours.



  • 6 “Rinderrouladen” (buy pre cut at German butchers)
  • 6 thick slices of bacon
  • 6 pickled cucumbers, sliced lengthwise
  • 12 tsp. mustard
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp. clarified butter or vegetable oil
  • Salt, pepper
  • cooking string or toothpicks


  • 1 bouquet of soup greens (carrot, celery, leek)
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 9 fl. oz. red wine
  • 14 fl. oz. beef stock
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • 2 oz. butter cubes, frozen
  • 1 packet of chestnuts, pre-cooked
  • Optional: 1 tbsp. crème fraîche


  1. Slice and dice all of your vegetables.
  2. Use a meat hammer to flatten your Rouladen.
  3. Season with salt and pepper. Evenly spread 2 tsp. of mustard, a slice of bacon, the slices equivalent of one pickled cucumber and some of the shallots.
  4. Roll the roulade like a burrito to ensure nothing falls out.
  5. Wrap like a Christmas present using the cooking string. Toothpicks work, too.
  6. Preheat the oven at 320°F/160°C
  7. Use a large, oven proof pan to brown the Rouladen in butter on all sides.
  8. Take meat out of the pan and add the soup greens, remaining shallots and tomato paste that will later become the sauce.
  9. Sauté for 5 minutes.
  10. Gradually add red wine and beef stock, giving it time to set between pours.
  11. Put Rouladen back in the pan, on top of your sauce base, and put in the oven for circa 90 minutes. If they start to get too dark for your liking, simply place a lid or aluminum foil on top.
  12. Check if the meat is well done before taking it out. Keep warm.
  13. Press sauce through a strainer and add cold butter cubes and, if desired, crème fraîche to make it extra creamy.
  14. Add chestnuts and simmer for a few more minutes before adding the Rouladen again.

Red Cabbage


  • 3/4 red cabbage
  • 1 onion
  • 2 apples
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • 4 fl. oz. red wine (can be substituted with cherry or elderberry juice)
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon or gingerbread spice
  • 2 tbsp. red currant jam (“Johannisbeergelee”)
  • Salt, pepper
  • 2 tbsp. clarified butter or vegetable oil


  1. Keep in mind that, like spinach, cabbage shrinks while cooking.
  2. Cut cabbage into fine strips, toss the stem.
  3. Dice apples and onion.
  4. Melt the butter in a pot and sauté the apples and onion for a minute before adding the cabbage and mixing everything together.
  5. Add spices, jam, vinegar and wine.
  6. Simmer on medium heat for anything between 30 and 120 minutes depending on how soft you want it to be.
  7. You can prepare this a day in advance without missing out on flavor. Simply add a splash of water and reheat it when needed.

Bread Dumplings


  • 6 bread rolls, at least a day old
  • 1 onion
  • 2 oz. butter
  • 7 fl. oz. milk
  • 3 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1.5 oz. flour
  • 3 tsbp. chopped parsley


  1. Dice bread and onions.
  2. Sauté the onions in butter for 4-5 min.
  3. Add milk to the onions, heat up for a moment and pour into a bowl containing the breadcrumbs.
  4. Add eggs, flour, parsley, pepper and salt, knead thoroughly.
  5. Tip: if the dough feels too dry, add more milk.
  6. Let the mixture sit for 30 min.
  7. Wet your hands to form 12 dumplings.
  8. Boil a little more than half a gallon of salt water.
  9. Add dumplings and simmer for 10-12 min.