Baltimore-Style Sour Beef and Dumplings (Sauerbraten)

Total Time
Prep 24 hrs
Cook 6 hrs

From Coconut and Lime cooking blog, July 2008. The absolute best recipe for Sour Beef and Dumplings ever, according to my Baltimore-born husband....

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. WARNING: This part has to be done the day before you want to serve. Stir together all of the marinade ingredients in a nonreactive bowl. Place the roast in a nonreactive container (or large ziplock bag) and marinate overnight. The day before is also a good time to make the gingersnaps if, like me, you are using homemade.
  2. The next day: Remove the meat and pour the marinade in the slow cooker. In a large skillet, quickly brown all sides of the meat in the canola oil. Add the meat into the slow cooker and turn on low for 6 hours.
  3. During the last hour or so of cooking time: Start to make the dumplings. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. In a large bowl, combine the cooled mashed potatoes and salt and the egg. Stir in the baking powder and add the flour in 1/2 cup increments until the it resembles a dough and the mixture holds its shape when molded (roughly 3 cups). Form into 2 to 4 inch balls. They should be able to hold their shape but not be too floury. Drop them into the water. They should sink, then rise to the surface when cooked through. Set aside.
  4. During the last 1/2 hour of cooking time: Skim off any visible fat that may have risen to the top then add the gingersnaps and turn the heat to high.
  5. After the time is up, shred the meat a bit with a fork or break it into pieces. Serve hot, with dumplings on the side.
Most Helpful

A lot of people have their own twist to traditional recipes. That's the fun of experimenting. I tried this version and it was very good, though not necessarily suiting the pallet of some others. Some versions are more or less sour depending on individual preferences. This one is more on the sour side. I used a 3 lb chuck roast and followed the recipe exactly, then tweaked the flavor a little. The meat was absolutely fall-apart tender and flavorful. I added more brown sugar at the end to balance the sour side otherwise just fine.

shorepeople March 03, 2016

This is NOT a traditional Baltimore Sour Beef recipe nor a traditional German recipe for Sour Beef. They do not call for red wine vinegar. Do yourself a favor and find a different recipe on the web. Pickling spices are key not the spices listed in this recipe. McCormick's makes a great pickling spice (Cinnamon, Allspice, Mustard Seed, Coriander, Bay Leaves, Ginger, Chilies, Cloves, Black Pepper, Mace, Cardamom). If you are lucky enough to live in Baltimore you could "cheat" and buy a bottle of Mrs. Minnick's Sour Beef mix.

marycurley September 18, 2015

I grew up in Baltimore. My grandmother made sauerbraten often for large Sunday family dinners. It was outstanding/excellent and one of the best food memories of my childhood. This recipe is as close to horrible as one can get. We tried to eat it and could not. I am heartbroken. I hoped that this would be a memory trip back to Baltimore from North Carolina. Instead we have frozen the remains of the meal until trash day. <br/><br/>The meal from my childhood was cooked in a pressure cooker. I cooked this in a very expensive slow-cooker and I followed the recipe 100%. The results were dismal. The meat was dry as wall board and the gravy was soooooo sour from quality vinegar that it nearly made us gag. <br/><br/>Too bad.

hjg2_8327497 June 21, 2014