Venison Sauerbraten

You can of course use beef for this recipe; brisket or a chuck roast would be good, and you could also use London broil or tri-tip.

  • Prep time: 5 days
  • Cook time: 5 hours
  • Yield: Serves 6-8


  • 3-4 pound roast of venison (or beef chuck)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter or extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 gingersnap cookies
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • Salt

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp juniper berries
  • 1 Tbsp mustard seed
  • 6-8 cloves
  • 3-5 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped


1 Marinate the venison: Put marinade ingredients (wine, vinegar, water, peppercorns, juniper, mustard, cloves, bay leaves, thyme, celery, carrots and onion) in a pot and bring to a boil.

Turn off heat and allow the marinade to cool.

Submerge the venison in the marinade and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, and up to 5 days. Three days is a good length of time for this.

When you are ready to cook, remove the roast from the marinade and sprinkle it all over with salt. Set it aside for 15-20 minutes or so.

2 Preheat the oven to 275°F. Actually, 225°F is a better temperature, but the roast can take up to 8 hours to properly cook then; this is what I do at home on weekends. At 275°F, the roast will probably take about 5 hours to cook. You can go up to 300°F – a typical venison roast will be ready in 3 1/2 hours at this temperature – but you will get gray, not pink, meat. It will still taste good, though.

3 Brown venison in butter or oil (optional): Now you have an optional step: You can, if you choose, brown the venison in butter or oil. I chose not to because if you then simmer the venison at a low enough temperature, it will remain pink all the way through. If you brown the outside, you will get a gray ring around the edge of the venison when you cut into it. Either way is fine.

4 Cook the venison in the marinade: Pour the marinade into a Dutch oven or other lidded, oven-proof pot and bring it to a boil. Add the venison to the pot. Cover and put in the oven.

If the venison is not submerged by the marinade, turn the roast over every hour. This is also a good way to test for doneness – you want the roast to almost be falling apart.

The roast should take between 3 1/2 to 8 hours to cook, depending on the oven temperature. At 275°F, it should take about 5 hours to cook.

5 Remove roast from oven and coat with oil or melted butter: When the roast is done (completely tender), take it out of the pot and coat it with some of the 1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter. Reserve the rest of the oil or butter for later. Wrap it in foil.

6 Make the sauerbraten sauce: Sauerbraten is all about the sauce. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl.

Take the 8 gingersnap cookies and pulverize them in a blender. You want it to look like a rough meal or coarse flour.

In a medium-sized pot, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. When it is frothing and totally melted, whisk in 2 tablespoons flour. Cook the roux until it is the color of coffee-and-cream, stirring often.

Slowly whisk in the strained cooking liquid, one cup at a time. The mixture will turn to clay at first, then loosen into a silky sauce.

Taste for salt – it will probably need it – and add enough to your taste.

Whisk in 4 tablespoons of the pulverized gingersnaps. They will not dissolve completely at first, but keep stirring and they will disappear.

Taste the sauce. Add another tablespoon of gingersnaps if you want, or add a tablespoon of sugar.

The sauce should taste sour, warm (a pumpkin pie sort of spicy warm) and a little zippy and sweet.

7 To serve, slice the roast into 1/4 inch thick slices. Venison can be dry – it has zero fat – so one trick I do is to coat each slice in melted butter before I serve it. You’ll need about 1/2 stick melted to do this trick.

Serve with lots of sauce, some braised onions, and either mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or spaetzle. A hearty red wine would be an ideal match here, as would a dark, malty beer.

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  • Eric

    Followed the recipe in Hank Shaw’s excellent cookbook Buck, Buck, Moose, which looks to be the same as this one.

    I have half a side of beef in my freezer, so I used a cross rib roast. I’ve made sauerbraten a few times before but it never came out as great as this – the sauce is unbelievable!


  • alan deroos

    my sauerbraten roast must be 10 lbs, how long should i cook it and at what temp? do u have an internal temp?

  • Nicole

    This may be a dumb question, but should the meat be on or off the bone while weighed and cooked? I make many venison stews and chilis and would love to find a recipe that works to cook the meat before removing it from the bone.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Nicole, the meat for this recipe should be weighed off the bone. That said, it will probably work just as well with the bone on.

      • Nicole Evans

        Thank you! I can’t wait to make this!

  • Dale

    I used 4 pounds of venison rump to make this recipe. I was very pleased with the result. The flavor was far better than any sauerbraten I have ordered at a “German” restaurant. The flavor of the gravy/sauce was intensely wonderful. Due to unavoidable changes in my schedule after I started the process I marinated the meat for six days before the oven. I think the meat would have been better, less dry, if I had marinated for a lesser amount of time. This is a great recipe.

  • V.Rehberg

    My mother is European and I grew up eating venison soaked in buttermilk also.

  • Lyndsay

    What a gprgeous recipe. I’m intrigued by the ginger snaps. I’ve also never cooked with juniper berries before. Are they difficult to find?

    You can find juniper berries in larger supermarkets. I know Whole Foods carries them. ~Hank

  • Tom

    how much red wine? how many cups? will merlot be good? Thanks,

    A bottle of wine is 3 1/4 cups. And yep, merlot would work just fine! ~Hank

  • Rev. D. Joe Dunlap, Peoria IL

    I enjoyed venison sauerbraten during years living in WI ~ luscious! Thanks for this recipe; hope I may prepare it for my deer-hunter buddies (I don’t hunt critters). ONE CAUTION: I suggest using only NON-REACTIVE pots for marinating & cooking, such as stainless steel or heavy enamel ware or stove & oven safe glass: No aluminum, no bare cast iron.

  • Cindy

    This dish turned out even better than I had hoped! The sauce is extraordinary. I highly recommend making homemade spaetzle to go with this (it’s very easy and so worth it!). I used a leg of venison, which only took 2 days to thaw in the fridge (a miracle). When I was trimming up the leg, I had intended to make stews, so some of my pieces in this dish were smaller than I would have done otherwise. I let the meat marinate for 3 days, cooked it on high in the Crock Pot for 6 hours–a little longer than necessary, I think, but I was away from the house. I think you could cook it on low for 7 to 8 hours or high for 4 or 5 and have nice, tender meat. It all depends on the size of the roast (or chunks of meat, in my case). When I went to cut the meat, it basically shredded but was still delicious. The few thinner pieces of meat (1/2 to 3/4″ thick) I cooked had a stronger flavor, which was fine, but I liked the larger pieces better.
    Thank you, Hank! This is one of the best venison dishes I’ve ever had.

  • jim austin

    On 1220, I posted a comment inquiring about length of time one may leave the venison roast in the marinade wout problems. As it worked out, I cooked it on the 8th day after putting it
    in the marinade, and it was again excellent. Now my final question deals with the sauce.After cooking for about 8 hours, there were still many cups of liquid left after straining. I made a decent sauce, but would like a little advice on how much of the liquid to use with the other ingredients listed to achieve maximum results.My sauce did not turn out as you described or pictured it.It was a bit thin and tended more toward a gray than a brown.I of course fooled around a bit, but could not achieve a sauce that was really right. A little more detailed help here would be greatly appreciated.We also hunt and fish for most of what we eat from squirrel to bluefin tuna . Our most recent, unexpected, and fantastic recipe was for concord grape pie! As good as, but slightly different than, the best cherry pie you have ever had. I hope this is not too long — thanks, Jim

  • jim

    I have made this recipe once with great success. I was preparing a second roast to cook this last weekend, but plans changed. This may be alittle stupid, but what maximum length of time can you leave it in the marinade with no change in results? I have plans to use it after 7 days — does this pose any problem? Thank you .Jim

    It seems a little long, but I’ve gone 5 days with no problem. If I were you I’d make it. Let us know how it turns out! ~Hank

  • jim

    I have made this recipe once with great success. I was preparing a second roast to cook this last weekend, but plans changed. This may be a little stupid, but what maximum length of time can you leave it in the marinade with no change in results? I have plans to use it after 7 days — does this pose any problem? Thank you .Jim

    Great question. I have no idea what the answer is. Your guess is as good as mine. ~Elise

  • Sarah

    Thank you for this! We had it last night, and it was delicious. I marinated beef chuck for three days, and followed the recipe entirely except for the venison. Loved it.


  • Christopher Jennings

    Great to see a hunter giving back some of his knowledge. Was in Missouri this weekend, for ducks. Though a couple fellas at camp were there for bucks. Bow season ended and rifle season was begining. A gent bagged an 11 pointer, stripped it right there. What a great experience to see the whole process from start to finish. So much great meat on that animal…We cleaned out birds(all puddlers), marinated them for an hour with soy, honey, ginger, garlic and a few other ingredietns…sliced and put out for pickin. Didnt last 10 minutes. I do some gunning on Long Island sound as well…only divers(broad bill, buffles, old squaw(long tails)) Anyhow, their diet is brutal(crustations, seaweed, slime and grime. I dont mind some gamey taste, but this bird can be tough to cook. Any advice? God Bless ya and God Bless America. Keep Sippin.

    Sea ducks? That’s a hard one. I’d skin them, as most of the fishy flavor is in the skin and fat… ~Hank

  • Michele

    I too rarely buy meat for our household. My oldest son bagged his first deer this season so we are stocked and hoping for more. (proud mommy moment – biggest doe of the season so far!) Would a loin work here or should I specifically request a roast at the processors next time?

    I’d never use a loin here – backstraps are too precious for this sort of long, slow cooking. Back leg roasts are best for sauerbraten. ~Hank

    • Dale

      I agree the backstrap is already tender enough to not need the long marinating time and slow cook. However, there is a difference between the backstrap and tenderloin. They are entirely different cuts of meat. The tenderloin is removed from under the ribs inside the body cavity.

  • Nicole

    Wow, this looks great. Back when my BIL was healthy enough to hunt, my sister used to make venison stroganoff, very tasty.

  • allen

    Is there a crockpot version? Just so you don’t have to hang around all day.

    I don’t normally cook with a crockpot, so i don’t really know. If you try it, let us know so we can help others who want to use one. Thanks! ~Hank

  • emily

    Actually, I don’t believe that wine is a requirement for sauerbraten. You’ll find that in some parts of Germany buttermilk is used as a marinade instead. Like you said, there’s a lot of variety in this dish. But what cannot be left out is the vinegar! My husband remembers his grandmother (who made deliveries for the German army during WWII–very interesting history there) making saurbraten by soaking a roast in a buttermilk mixture for days before cooking, and then cooking it all day. She’s still alive and well, but I haven’t had her sauerbraten in years. I’m lazy and use the Knorr seasoning with a generous amount of red wine vinegar, bay leaves, and onion, then thicken it with sour cream. I’ve not tried the ginger snaps, but it sounds delicious! I’m not a fan of venison so I imagine they used the seasonings that make a traditional sauerbraten to mask the wild/gamey flavor of the meat. ;) I’ll have to check out your other German recipes. Thanks!

  • Renee

    Neither venison nor juniper berries are readily accessible here, but I will definitely make this using beef and maybe some rosemary. It sounds like a great sauerbraten.

  • Laurel

    Looks great, but need a source for venison! No hunters in my house! Plenty of deer in my backyard, but not the buying kind. Most places charge an arm and a leg for shipping!

    True enough. My first suggestion would be to try to find a bison roast, as it would be pretty similar. Beef is also fine. ~Hank

  • Gregory

    This looks to be a great recipe … thank you! A question: can this dish be made in a slow cooker and, if so, what length of time, and temperature, would you recommend?

    I am certain it can be cooked in a slow cooker, but I never use them, so I have no idea about specifics. Sorry! ~Hank

  • Casscoop

    The Berghoff in Chicago, serves sauerbauten with crisp, light potatoe pancakes. Another idea for a side and wonderful with the sauce. Thanks for the recipe. We’ve plenty of Nebraska vension in the freezer.

  • Joanne @

    This brought back wonderful memories! My favorite childhood (and adult!) meal was venison sauerbraten. Mom’s venison ended up more shredded in the sauce, instead of solid slices, but she used ginger snaps like this recipe, and it was so very good. Dad passed five years ago, so no more venison for us. He got his last deer at the age of 80.

  • Susan

    Husband is a hunter too and we’ve had many venison pot roasts, but sauerbraten would have been the perfect way to prepare them. The gingersnapped sauce is so good with beef, but I can imagine it’s even a better flavor for deer. Thanks for this, Hank.