Instant Pot: Sauerbraten (German-Style Pot Roast)

During the fall, a good pot roast is a great comforting dish to enjoy. Since it's Oktoberfest season, I wanted to attempt a traditional Sauerbraten, which is a German style pot roast. The roast is marinated in a combination of cider and red vinegar, along with water and a few spices. Traditionally, juniper berries are used in making this dish. I didn't get a chance to pick any up at my local spice shop but even without the juniper berries, the dish was delicious! The roast marinates for 2-3 days (I marinated for 2) and then sugar is added to both the marinade and meat. It's then pressure cooked and the results were amazing!

Once the roast has pressure cooked, the marinade is strained and then placed back into the Instant Pot to create the gravy. It's such a acidic mixture that to balance it out, some sugar and spices are needed. What was interesting about making a gravy from the marinade is the addition of powdered gingersnap cookies. After it boiled a bit, a gorgeous, thick and rich gravy was made and perfectly complimented the roast.

Sauerbraten (German-style Pot Roast)
recipe adapted from Alton Brown

2 cups water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, additional for seasoning meat
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
6 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1 (3 1/2 to 4-pound) bottom round, cut to fit into the Instant Pot
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup sugar
18 dark old-fashioned gingersnaps (about 5 ounces), crushed

In your Instant Pot:

Plug in the IP with insert set in place.

Press SAUTE and combine the water, cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, onion, carrot, salt, pepper, bay leaves, cloves, and ground mustard. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and transfer to another container to cool.

Pat the bottom round dry and rub with vegetable oil and salt on all sides. 

In the now empty IP, press SAUTE. Once hot, add the meat and brown on all sides, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Turn off IP and add the cooled marinade into the IP over the beef. Remove the filled IP insert, cover and place into the refrigerator for 3 days. If the meat is not completely submerged in the liquid, turn it over once a day.

After 3 days of marinating, return the filled IP insert to the IP and add sugar. 

Secure the lid of the IP and ensure the valve is set to SEALING.

Press MANUAL and adjust the time to 60 minutes on HIGH pressure.

The display will reflect ON while the IP comes to pressure. Allow a few minutes for your IP to come to pressure.

Once at pressure, the display will reflect 60 (the number of minutes you initially set) and will begin to countdown to 0 minutes.

When the IP beeps after pressure cooking for 60 minutes, allow your IP to naturally release pressure for 20 minutes. While naturally releasing pressure (also known as NPR or NR), the display will reflect numbers counting up from 1. The numbers indicate how many minutes the IP has stopped cooking since it beeped (or how many minutes it has been naturally releasing pressure).  No need to touch your IP while it naturally releases pressure. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.

When the display reflects L00:20 (which is 20 minutes since the IP has beeped), turn the setting on top of your IP to VENTING. Doing so allows the IP to quickly release any remaining pressure (also known as QPR or QR). I use a wooden spoon to carefully turn the setting to avoid close contact with the potential steam. You may also want to turn your IP away from cabinets to allow the released steam to escape freely. The pin at the top of your IP will drop when all pressure has been released and it's safe to open.

Open up your IP when the pin has dropped (allow a few minutes for this to happen).

Remove the meat from the IP and keep warm. Strain the liquid to remove the solids. 

Press SAUTE and return the liquid to the empty IP pot and place over medium-high heat. Whisk in the gingersnaps and cook until thickened, stirring occasionally. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps. 

Slice the meat and serve with the sauce.


  1. Sauerbraten is an amazing dish and well worth the three day marinating! I haven't made Sauerbraten since the early 1980s but remember how great it tastes! Thank you for the recipe, especially for the Instant Pot.

  2. Is there a ginger snap brand that you like for this recipe?

    1. Here are brands I've used in the past for this recipe that worked well!

      Archway (found at Target) -

      Nabisco (found at Walmart) -

  3. I have juniper berries , where do I use them, the marinade?

    1. Yes - you can add the juniper berries for the marinade, although this recipe doesn't call for it.

  4. What a delicious recipe! I even bought a spaetzle press so I could have that as a side. My husband’s Opa and Oma introduced me to sauerbraten and spaetzle (Milwaukee-area most of our lives). He would have loved this meal so much. I couldn’t get the sauce to thicken into that yummy gravy in your photo, though. How long should it sauté? I finally used a thickener. It didn’t stop me from enjoying it and I have lots of leftovers,

  5. I am using a 9 lb bottom round in an 8 Q Instant Pot. What is the correct cooking time?

  6. Delightful experience making this for family. I spent some years in Germany as a kid and still remember the rich gravy with sauerbraten!! Cooking is not my forte...but with your steps I was able to do this AND with Instant Pot!!! Thank you so much.