Baltimore Sour Beef and Dumplings is our take on the German Sauerbraten – a marinated beef roast cooked with vinegar and other seasonings and served with potato dumplings.
what is sour beef and dumplings?
Baltimore’s large German population led to the americanized version of sauerbraten, which was once a hugely popular dish in the city. Sauerbraten is essentially a pickled pot roast, a roast cut of beef that has been marinated in vinegar and pickling spices then slow cooked. Baltimore’s version uses gingersnap cookies to create a gravy and the dish is served with potato dumplings.
Many of the restaurants that used to serve this iconic Baltimore dish have now closed, so finding this recipe on a menu somewhere is not going to be easy to do. Luckily, many versions of the recipe have been written down so you can enjoy Baltimore Sour Beef and Dumplings in the comfort of your own kitchen.
🥘 Ingredients for this recipe
- Marinade: red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, black peppercorns, whole mustard seeds, whole cloves, whole allspice, juniper berries, bay leaves
- Stew: beef roast, carrots, onions
- Gravy: gingersnap cookies
- Dumplings: prepared mashed potatoes, all purpose flour, egg, baking powder, salt
🔪 Instructions for this recipe
PLEASE NOTE: THE BEEF NEEDS TO MARINATE OVERNIGHT BEFORE YOU CAN MAKE SOUR BEEF AND DUMPLINGS. PLAN ACCORDINGLY!
- First, prepare the marinade. Combine marinade ingredients in a glass bowl. (If you have cheesecloth or something similar, put the spices in there) Place the roast in the marinade, making sure it is covered and refrigerate overnight.
- Next, cook the roast. Discard the spices from the marinade and place liquid into the slow cooker. Quickly sear the beef on all sides and transfer to the slow cooker with the carrots and onions. Cook on low for 6 hours.
- Then, make the potato dumplings. Combine mashed potatoes with egg and salt, then baking powder and flour. Continue mixing and adding more flour until the potatoes turn into a dough. Form into 3 inch sized balls. Cook in boiling water until they rise to the surface, then set aside.
- Finally, make the gravy. Process gingersnap cookies in a food processor until crumbs. Use liquid from slow cooker to make a gravy.
FAQ’s for the best sour beef
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- What is sauerbraten? A German pot roast marinated in vinegar and spices before cooking.
- Do I have to make potato dumplings? No! Honestly, we thought this would have been just as good served over mashed potatoes.
- Can I use a mix instead? Sure, but it won’t be exactly the same. There is a flavor packet for Sauerbraten that could be used and a sour beef sauce by Mrs Minnicks
- Do I have to make the gravy separately? No, you can add the crushed gingersnaps right to the slow cooker and let them thicken in there.
- What to serve with sour beef and dumplings? A popular side dish is sweet and sour cabbage.
- Marinade: use pickling spices instead of buying the ingredients separately. Add the spices to cheesecloth or a mesh bag for easier disposal. (I didn’t do this and we were picking peppercorns out of the beef for 15 minutes before we could eat it.)
- Mashed Potatoes: use prepared mashed potatoes or make my Perfect Creamy Mashed Potatoes when you first put the beef in the slow cooker. Let them cool completely.
- Beef Roast: I used a round roast, but a chuck roast or rump roast will work just as well.
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Baltimore Sour Beef and Dumplings
- slow cooker
Marinade – *see notes at bottom
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 whole bay leaves
- 1 tsp whole allspice
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp whole cloves
- 1 tsp salt
Sour Beef and Gravy
- 2 lbs beef roast bottom round
- 1 cup carrots diced
- 1 large onion sliced
- 8 gingersnap cookies
- 2 cups prepared mashed potatoes
- 1 large egg
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour *see note at bottom
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- Combine spices of marinade together in a cheesecloth or mesh bag. Add to a non-reactive bowl with the apple cider and red wine vinegar.
- Cut the beef roast into large slices. Place in the non-reactive bowl with the marinade and refrigerate overnight or for at least 12 hours, but up to 3 days.
- Pour the liquid of the marinade into a 6 quart or larger slow cooker. Discard the spices.
- Add carrots and onion to the slow cooker.
- Over medium high heat, quickly sear the marinated beef for a minute on each side, then transfer to the slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Gravy – *see notes at bottom
- Put gingersnap cookies into a food processor and pulse until smooth.
- 30 minutes before sour beef is done cooking, remove 1 cup of the liquid from the crockpot and place into a saucepan. Over low heat, stir in the gingersnaps and continue to whisk until dissolved and thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Set the gravy aside, or pour into the slow cooker and stir until combined with beef and vegetables.
- Prepare dumplings 15 minutes before serving meal.
- Combine prepared mashed potatoes with egg and salt, then mix in flour and baking powder until a dough forms. You may need additional flour. Mix until they're tacky but not sticky.
- Bring 6 cups of water to a boil and drop in the dumplings. Cook for 2 minutes and when they float back to the top, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Shred the beef using two forks. Spread beef and vegetable mixture onto a plate and place dumplings to the side. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.
Recipes on Cookaholic Wife are for information purposes only. Nutritional Data provided has not been evaluated by a nutritionist.