Beef Roulades with Walnut Parsley Pesto

You can use prosciutto instead of the bacon (no need to cook, it's already cured), or skip it all together and just do a roll-up with the pesto of your choice.

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6



  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup shelled walnuts, about 1 3/4 ounces
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Flank steak roulade:

  • 1/2 pound thin-cut bacon
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds flank steak
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Lemon wedges to serve


1 Make the pesto: Put the parsley, cheese, garlic, salt and walnuts into a food processor. Pulse to combine. Turn the machine on again and slowly pour in the olive oil, just to combine. Reserve.

2 Cook the bacon in a large pan — you will be searing the roulade in this later, so it needs to be wide — over medium-low heat until it is about half-cooked. You want it cooked, but still limp. Do not crisp it up or it will break when you try to wrap it inside the roulade. When the bacon is ready, set it aside on paper towels.

3 Pound the meat thin: Place heavy duty plastic wrap (or two layers of plastic wrap) on a large work surface and place the flank steak on it. Cover with more plastic wrap.

Using a rubber mallet, the flat side of a meat mallet or an empty wine bottle, pound the flank steak until it is 1/2 inch thick or thinner. Flip the meat from time to time to pound everything evenly.


Once the meat is as thin as you want it, if you have a meat mallet with a tenderizing side (the pointy side), remove the plastic wrap and pound this on both sides for a minute or two. If you don't have a meat mallet, you can skip this step.

4 Find the grain of the steak: Look at your steak. You will be rolling it up with the grain of the meat facing side to side. You do this because when you slice it later, the beef will be more tender when you cut across the grain.

Arrange the meat until the grain faces side to side, and if it is not squarish or rectangular, cut it to fit. Sprinkle on some salt and black pepper.


5 Layer with pesto and bacon: Spread a thin layer of pesto on the meat, leaving about 1/2 inch free on all sides of the meat. Lay down the bacon across the grain of the beef. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

beef-roulades-pesto-method-3a beef-roulades-pesto-method-4

6 Carefully roll  the roulade up tightly, as you would a carpet. If you want, cut off any bacon that is extending beyond the steak.

beef-roulades-pesto-method-5 beef-roulades-pesto-method-6

Tie off the meat with 6 to 8 lengths of string, each about an inch or so apart.


7 Sear the tied roulade in the pan with the bacon fat. You want to quickly brown the surface, not cook the inside of the roulade.


8 Roast: Put the roulade in a roasting pan on a rack, seam side down. If you don't have a rack, improvise with celery stalks. Roast this for 20-25 minutes, or until the interior of the meat is 130°F when tested with a meat thermometer.

(Note that the ends of the roulade will be far hotter than the center — so always test the temperature from the center of the roulade.)


Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

9 Slice the roulade so each serving is wrapped in string. You can either let everyone cut their own string at the table, or cut it yourself and secure the roulades with toothpicks if you want. Serve with lemon wedges to add a little tartness to the dish.

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  • me

    Delicious recipe! I cooked this in my 5.3qt air frier and it was amazing 400 degrees for 20 to 30 min just check the internal temperature is right. Served with herb new potatoes, carrots, and young peas. I used hollandaise as well but I don’t think it needed it. Thanks for sharing this great recipe.


  • Jo

    Can I prepare it, freeze and bake a couple of days later, do you think?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Jo, I haven’t tried freezing it in advance, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. You could also prepare it a day ahead and refrigerate it instead of freezing it.

  • pegs

    Great instructions, really helpful visuals, thank you. Will definitely be trying this.

  • sandra sill

    Anyone cooked this on the bbq? Would it be fine to do ? Thanks.

    • Dane Dawson

      Yes and it is wonderful! I did Not pan sear it put it on the grill with indirect heat. You should try it!

  • Jason

    Made this for Christmas dinner. Knocked it out of the park. Everyone raved about it. Cut it with a butter knife. Used prosciutto in lieu of bacon but don’t feel either are necessary as did my guests.


  • Haidee Quarles

    Can you replace the bacon for prosiutto??

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Haidi, sure! If you use prosciutto, you don’t need to cook it first.

  • Question

    How much in advance of serving could I make this? Could I keep it warm in a low (145 degree) oven or crockpot?

    • Elise Bauer

      Good question. I think it might dry out if you kept it warm like that, but perhaps if you wrapped it in foil?

  • Ann Veille

    Elise, this recipe was awesome for Christmas Eve. However, I substituted ground pistachio for the walnuts and used 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.. Absolutely delicious!.. I made it again using chicken.. Wonderful wonderful… Your recipes are scrumptious and am making more and more fresh and tasty meals each week from your website..

  • Philippa

    Amazing! I was so worried that the steak would be chewey if not slow cooked but I spent ages tendering it and it was perfect. A total winner!! Served with celariac and apple rémoulade as a starter. Yum.


  • Novella

    This was such an amazing dish! Absolutely loved it!! Will be making again.


  • Maxia Sev

    Is it possible to replace the parsley pesto for a basil one? I couldn’t find any parsley neither on the market or the supermarket today. :( Thank you!

  • Page

    Looks delicious! What would you serve as a side with this?

  • Joe O'R

    Beautiful!!! This was my first time having flank steak and it won’t be last…..

  • vito

    quale taglio di carne usi ??? ciao

    • Hank Shaw

      Si, e taglio di carne (bistecca fianco). “Flank steak” in English.

  • Lise

    Looks fantastic! What would you serve as a side dish with this?

  • Gina Moore

    I have the same concern. What is the Oven Temperature? Am setting it at 350 and see what happens.

    • Hank Shaw

      Hey Gina: In Step 5 I say to preheat the oven to 350 degrees, so you are good to go.

  • Pieter

    I made the rcipe and it was delicious! However I’m concerned about the temperature of 130. Isn’t that too low in terms of killing any potential e-coli bacteria?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Pieter – e-coli is an issue with ground meat, because of contamination at the processing plant. It is not an issue with whole cuts of meat such as the flank steak used in this recipe.

  • RD

    Our son is a major red meat carnivore so I made this for him last Saturday night as we were taking him back to school at UC Davis the next day. We all loved it. It would be a nice dish for company provided they are not vegetarians. I had to cook it about 10m longer than the recipe called for but it came out a perfect medium-rare. Served it with creamy polenta and salad.

    I made the full separate Walnut Pesto recipe and used half of it for this dish. My wife and I used the rest of it over pasta a couple of days later. Delicious!

  • Espahan

    I made this 3 days ago and froze it to prepare Christmas day at my daughter’s home 200 miles away. It was perfect. Thanks for another fab recipe.


  • Rachel in Oregon

    I made this last night for a small friend-family Christmas gathering. It was amazing! So easy and delicious. Everyone thinks I am a genius (and rightly so)! Thanks so much Hank and Elise!

  • Christine

    Could I slice this thin for a buffet-style dish, or is it more of a everyone-sit-down dinner party entree?

    • Hank Shaw

      The trick with slicing it thin is to keep each roulade intact. You’ll need a very sharp knife to cut cleanly, and I would keep the roulades together with toothpicks. ~Hank

  • Christian Gehman

    A small amount of panko crumbs in the pesto might help stabilize the olive oil.

  • Jen Petree

    Can you roll the meat a let it sit for 24 hours before cooking? I am looking for a make ahead dish for Xmas day.

    • Hank Shaw

      I don’t see why not, although the pesto might get a little stale. You certainly can do it in the morning before you cook it for dinner.

  • NancyM

    Not that I’m not following the recipe to a “T”, but what does one do if they opt for the prosciutto instead of the bacon as far as searing the flank steak goes? EVOO? I always have a stash of bacon fat in the freezer but not everyone does.

    • Hank Shaw

      Yep, I’d go with olive oil, or really any fat or oil of your choice.