There is no better addition to Sunday sauce than Beef Braciole! My version of this iconic Italian-American staple combines thinly sliced beef rolled and stuffed with breadcrumbs, pine nuts, cheese, and raisins and is braised in tomato sauce until tender.

Beef braciole in grey plate with pasta.


Editor’s Note: Originally published on May 16, 2018. Updated with new photos and expanded information.

Most Italian-American families have their own beloved version of beef braciole.

Some use pork, some include hard-boiled egg yolks, and some are more Sicilian-influenced and use raisins and pignoli like I do.

I often include braciole in my Sunday sauce with meatballs and pork ribs served alongside pasta, garlic-sauteed broccoli rabe, and finished with a green salad.

Recipe Ingredients

All ingredients for this recipe are shown in the pic below and special notes are made in this bulleted list to assist you.

Ingredients shown: top round, pine nuts, breadcrumbs, raisins, Pecorino Romano, parsley, canned tomatoes, onion, red wine, olive oil, and garlic.
  • Beef. I prefer top round (often sold as London broil) for braciole. It’s inexpensive and works great. Depending on where you shop, you may be able to find thinly sliced top round that’s marked as “for braciole”, but if you need to filet a whole top round, I walk you through that process in the steps below.
  • Breadcrumbs. For the stuffing. I used plain, but you can also use Italian-seasoned.
  • Cheese. I prefer to use Pecorino Romano, a salty sheep’s milk cheese, in the beef braciole filling, but you can also use Parmigiano Reggiano, or domestic parmesan if you prefer.
  • Pine nuts (pignoli) and raisins. These ingredients give a Sicilian twist to the braciole and are a winning flavor combination. Soak the raisins in water to reconstitute them.
  • Tomatoes. 3 28-ounce cans of whole plum tomatoes (plus 2 ounces of tomato paste) will yield enough sauce for the braciole, plus 1 pound of pasta. You will have some extra sauce. That’s much better than not enough!
  • Red wine. I always include a dry red wine, like a Sangiovese in my Sunday sauce, but you can omit it if you can’t have alcohol. I also use red wine to deglaze the pan, but this is optional (see steps 13 and 14 below).

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

How to make it

Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.

  1. Dice 1 medium onion and mince 5 cloves of garlic. Heat a large pot to a touch less than medium heat and add 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and the onion and cook for 7-10 minutes or until soft. Then, add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes or until fragrant. (Photo #1)
  2. Add 2 ounces of tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes, spreading the paste around with a wooden spoon. If the paste begins to burn, add a splash of water to bring the temperature down. (Photo #2)
Beef braciole recipe process shot collage group one showing making of the sauce and sauteing garlic and pine nuts.
  1. Add 1/2 cup of dry red wine and cook for 2 minutes while scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any brown bits, then add 3 28-ounce cans of plum tomatoes (hand-crushed or blender-pulsed) plus a 1/2 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, cover with the lid slightly ajar and lower the heat to the lowest level. The sauce should be barely bubbling. (Photo #3)
  2. Soak a 1/4 cup of raisins in warm water for 10 minutes, then drain. Mince 3 cloves of garlic and use the back of your knife to turn it into a paste, then mince 1/2 cup of flat-leaf parsley. Grate 1/2 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese. Heat a small pan to medium heat and add 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and the garlic paste. Once the garlic is lightly golden, add 1/4 cup of pine nuts and cook for 1-2 minutes. (Photo #4)
  3. Add 1 cup of breadcrumbs, the parsley, and the raisins and mix well until a paste is formed. Remove the pan from the heat, add the grated cheese, and set aside. (Photo #5)
  4. Take a 2-pound top round roast and filet to 1/2″ thick. (Photo #6)
Recipe collage two showing making of stuffing, butterflying of top round, portioning each section of beef, and pounding the beef into very thin slices.
  1. Cut the beef into 3×4″ rectangles. (Photo #7)
  2. Pound each rectangle to roughly 1/4″ thick which will make them substantially larger. (Photo #8)
  3. Arrange the pounded meat on a cutting board and season with salt and pepper. (Photo #9)
  4. Scoop an even amount of filling onto each piece of beef, then spread the filling out but leave 1/2 an inch or more around the edges. (Photo #10)
Recipe collage group three showing stuffing of braciole, rolling them, and searing in stainless steel pan.
  1. Roll the meat tightly and secure with toothpicks or strings. Note that toothpicks will be much easier to remove later, while string will hold better. The choice is yours. (Photo #11)
  2. Heat a large pan to a touch less than medium, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and sear the braciole on all sides working in batches to not overcrowd the pan, then set aside. (Photo #12)
  3. If the pan isn’t burnt (brown is fine, black is not) drain or wipe away any excess fat and deglaze in the next step. If the pan is burnt you won’t want to deglaze and should skip to step 15. (Photo #13)
  4. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of dry red wine and scrape the brown bits with a flat-edged wooden spoon, then add the pan juices and wine to the pot of sauce and mix to incorporate. (Photo #14)
Recipe collage four showing deglazing of pan with red wine, adding braciole to the pot of sauce, and testing for tenderness.
  1. Add the braciole to the sauce and cook on very low heat with the lid ajar for 2-3 hours or until fork-tender. Stir the sauce occasionally to prevent sticking. You can also choose to place the pot of sauce in the oven, covered, and cook for 2-3 hours at 300f. (Photo #15)
  2. If the sauce reduces too much while cooking, add a 1/2 cup of water or more as needed. Once tender, remove the braciole from the sauce and remove the twine or toothpicks, then taste test the sauce and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve with pasta, grated cheese, and crusty bread. Enjoy! (Photo #16)

Top tips

  • Low and slow. Beef braciole is not something to be rushed. Because we’re using a tougher cut of meat, cooking it requires time to tenderize and break down the connective tissue. It’s best to start your braciole early in the day and allow it to cook in the sauce for several hours on a very low simmer.
  • Deglazing the pan. After the braciole are seared I like to deglaze with some red wine, then add the mixture to the sauce. This enhances the flavor, but isn’t required and should only be done if the pan drippings are brown. If they’re black, they’re burnt and should not be added to the sauce.
  • Serving with pasta. I purposely wrote this recipe to yield enough sauce to cook the braciole and to sufficiently sauce 1 pound of pasta. If you don’t plan to use pasta, you can save the leftover sauce and store in the fridge for 3-5 days, or freeze it for up to 3 months.
Beef braciole cut open and showing interior in white plate.

More Italian-American favorites

If you love beef braciole with Sunday sauce, here are a few more Italian-American red sauce meals I think you’ll enjoy!

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Beef Braciole

5 from 22 votes
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Beef braciole stuffed with breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, pine nuts, and raisins simmered in tomato sauce is a hearty and delicious Italian-American meal.

Ingredients 

For the sauce

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 ounces tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 3 28-ounce cans plum tomatoes hand crushed or blender pulsed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup water plus more if required to thin sauce

For the braciole

  • 2 pounds top round
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic paste
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley minced
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup raisins or currants soaked in water then drained
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano grated
  • olive oil for shallow frying
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine optional, see notes below
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

For the sauce

  • Heat a large pot to a touch less than medium heat with the extra virgin olive oil. Add the onion and cook until soft (about 7-10 minutes) then add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes or until fragrant.
  • Add the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes, spreading the paste around with a wooden spoon. If it starts to burn, add a few ounces of water.
  • Add 1/2 cup of the wine and cook for 2 minutes while scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any brown bits.
  • Add the plum tomatoes and water and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, cover with the lid left slightly ajar, and lower the heat to the lowest level so that the sauce is barely bubbling. You can season with a touch of salt right now, but it's best to wait since the sauce will reduce and concentrate.

For the braciole

  • Heat a small pan to medium heat with the extra virgin olive oil and add the garlic. Once lightly golden, add the pine nuts and cook for 1-2 minutes until golden. Add the breadcrumbs, parsley, and raisins. Mix well until a paste forms. Remove the pan from the heat, mix in the Pecorino Romano, and set aside.
  • Filet the top round to a 1/2" thick. Cut the beef into rectangles approximately 3×4 inches. Pound each rectangle to roughly a 1/4" thick which will make them substantially larger.
  • Arrange the pounded meat on a cutting board and season the with salt and pepper.  Leaving some space around the edges, evenly spread the paste onto each piece.
  • You should have a thin layer of the mixture on each piece of meat.  Roll each piece tightly and secure them with toothpicks or kitchen twine. 
  • Heat a large pan to a touch less than medium heat with olive oil.  Sear the pieces on all sides, working in batches if required to not overcrowd the pan.
  • After the braciole are seared, add each one to the pot of sauce. If the pan isn't burnt, pour off the fat from the pan and deglaze with the remaining 1/2 cup of dry red wine. Scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Pour the pan juices into the pot of sauce and mix to incorporate.
  • Cook for 2-3 hours, or until fork tender, on very low heat with the lid left slightly ajar, making sure to stir the sauce occasionally.  If the sauce dries out during the cooking process, add a 1/2 cup of water or more as needed. Alternative method: Cover the pot and place it in the center of the oven at 300f for 2-3 hours or until tender.
  • Once tender, remove the braciole from the sauce and cut away the twine or remove the toothpicks.  Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Serve with pasta, grated cheese, and crusty bread. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Besides top round, bottom round, eye of round, flank steak, or sirloin can be used.  They should all be pounded flat to 1/4″ thick for easy rolling.  
  • Kitchen twine will hold more securely, but toothpicks work well and are far easier to remove.
  • If the pan is burnt (very black) after searing the braciole,  forgo deglazing the pan.  If you want to try it anyway, simply deglaze and taste the mixture, checking for a burnt flavor, before adding it to the sauce.  
  • Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.  It will taste even better the next day.  Just reheat on a stovetop until completely heated through.  Freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 875kcal | Carbohydrates: 41.7g | Protein: 78.8g | Fat: 42g | Saturated Fat: 9.3g | Cholesterol: 187mg | Sodium: 930mg | Potassium: 1158mg | Fiber: 5.2g | Sugar: 15.2g | Calcium: 187mg | Iron: 8mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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This recipe was originally published on May 16, 2018.  It was fully updated with new photos, process shots, and text on January 26, 2024.

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60 Comments

  1. Hi Jim. Your instructions say to add it to the pot of sauce, but real instruction on the actual sauce. How do you usually prepare the sauce? I was thinking about something simple like deglazing with some red wine after searing, adding some chopped red onion and a can of tomato sauce, a little salt and pepper. What do you think?

  2. 5 stars
    Your Braciole recipe was the best. Absolutely awesome!! Similar to the way I make it but going to add a couple of your tips/ingredients that you suggested.

    Super presentation!!! I’ll be watching for your other recipes.

    Thank you.

  3. Jim, you have suggested several options for the meat. With your experience making these over the years, do you have have a favorite “goto” cut for these? Thank you.

    1. Hi Den, thanks for the comment. Top round that’s pounded thin is probably the best option. You can also filet flank steak but those are often sold in thicker pieces. You just have to make sure you’re using meat with enough connective tissue to hold up to the hours of simmering, but that can also be pounded to 1/4″ thickness. I hope that helps!

  4. In Texas they sell pig skin to make Mexican chicharrones, fried pork skins , can I use that to make the pig skin braciola that Brooklyn Sicilians used to make? Looks like the same type recipe but not sure if pig skin is pig skin.(ha)

  5. Hey Jim, Love watching you cook and watching your son do the taste tasting. I do cook a lot of Italian dishes, especially braciole. We had a family member who made the “Poor Man’s Braciole” which is made from chop meat instead of top round, braciole meat or flank steak, and they were delicious. I haven’t had any luck in rolling the braciole (made from chop meat). Have you ever made these, if so can you please share on how to roll them?

    1. Hi Dorothy, thanks for the comment and so happy you’re enjoying the recipes. I haven’t tested braciole with chopped meat but I have a hunch you may need to add something to it to help it bind, like egg, similar to a meatball. If you happen to test it out, let me know how it turns out!

  6. 5 stars
    Hi Jim, I married into an Italian family in the early 70s. My husband’s mother used to make these, often and we all enjoyed them. None of us got the recipe. Over the years I have attempted to recreate this dish. I was pretty successful a few years back, but only made them on occasion. I used your recipe to make Braciole on Christmas Eve for a small gathering. They turned out wonderfully. I also made the Sunday sauce and meatballs. My husband especially enjoyed them, it took him back several years. So, thank you, I’ll be making these over and over.

    1. Hi Susan, thanks for the comment and I’m so happy you were able to recreate a taste of the past with this recipe!

  7. 5 stars
    I made these yesterday. Amazing like all your recipes. You are the king of cozy in the culinary world. After a few hours in the sauce, I left my house to run an errand and, when I returned and opened the front door, I was brought back to my childhood in the early 1970’s, playing outside on a Sunday afternoon in Nutley, New Jersey while all the Italian women were cooking with their windows open. I really do appreciate your skills and your unpretentious teaching methods. You never release a recipe before you are 100% sure it will be outstanding and you never disappoint.

    1. Hi Robert, I really appreciate your comment and feedback, and agree that certain recipes have the ability to transport us to a different time and place. I’m so happy you’re enjoying the recipes and thank you!

  8. I’m making this for a family dinner tomorrow for my husbands birthday. I want to make the sauce today & refrigerate it as we have a play off soccer game in the morning. Can I prep the braciole today and cook them tomorrow? Or would I prep & sear them today & then put them in the sauce tomorrow & simmer them? Thanks for your thoughts on this.

    1. Hi Debbie, you can definitely prep them today and cook tomorrow. I don’t think it will make much difference if you sear them today vs. tomorrow. Good luck with the soccer game and hope you enjoy the braciole and your husband’s birthday!

  9. 5 stars
    Thank you. I use to live in a apartment in Brooklyn. Every Sunday my Aunt would get a plate of Beef Braciole. That was about 50 years ago. I found your recipe and it took me right back to Brooklyn. It is the BEST. My family got to taste one of my memories.