Beef braciole is a hearty Italian dish of stuffed flank steak filled with a cheesy savory filling simmered in marinara sauce.
There’s something so cozy and comforting about rustic Italian food like this simple beef recipe. It makes the house smell fantastic as it cooks and you just know the result is going to be mouth wateringly delicious.
I’m all about braised meats like chicken cacciatore or our Instant Pot braised short ribs. The meat cooks in a rich, delicious sauce and soaks up all of those amazing flavors and when it’s done it just melts in your mouth.
That’s exactly what we love about this recipe for braciole. You’ve got a delicious pieces of flank steak wrapped around a blend of breadcrumbs, cheese, and herbs, then slowly simmered in sauce until it is perfectly tender.
It’s a meal you can serve anytime of the year that’s perfect for big Sunday dinners. This dish is also special enough to be a nice alternative to traditional ham or turkey if you want to put an Italian spin on the holidays.
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What is a Braciole?
Braciole is a popular Sicilian dish. It is beef, stuffed with cheese and bread crumbs, lightly browned, and then braised in a marinara sauce. It is as mouth watering and tender as it sounds. It is one of the best ways to enjoy a slow cooked beef dinner. And it only takes a few minutes of preparation to get ready for the oven.
What You’ll Need
Here’s what you’ll need for this savory recipe:
- Aromatics – Onion (white or yellow) and garlic provide tons of flavor and a tantalizing smell as it cooks.
- Olive oil– The olive oil is the perfect oil to lightly sear the outside of the meat in.
- Panko bread crumbs – In a pinch, you could use regular breadcrumbs, we find Panko has the best flavor and texture. NOTE: If you want to make this a keto recipe you can skip the breadcrumbs and supplement with additional grated cheese. It is delicious!
- Grated cheeses – Use authentic Pecorino Romano and Parmesan if you can find them. If not any decent quality romano or parmesan should work just fine.
- Fresh Italian parsley– Parsley adds a little freshness and color to this dish.
- Kosher Salt and pepper– A sprinkle of salt and pepper brings out the flavor of the dish.
- Flank steak – We use flank steak to make a large roll but you can make it in individual portions. If you are making a smaller portion, you can use a thin cut of sirloin. Just ask your butcher to cut it into very thin slices for you and then roll each one up around the stuffing.
- White wine – A dry white works best for this dish. Choose a wine you would drink.
- Marinara sauce – Use a high quality sauce or your own homemade sauce
There are several steps, but don’t let that intimidate you! This is a really easy recipe, here’s how to make it.
1. Saute the onions. In a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the diced onions and cook for 5 minutes. Next, add the garlic and continue cooking for about 2 minutes, or until the onions are softened and lightly caramelized.
2. Make the stuffing. Mix the cooked onion and garlic, bread crumbs, pecorino cheese, parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, kosher salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. For best results, we usually let the onions cool just a bit. This helps prevent the cheese from melting on contact and sticking too much together. Next, add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss until it is well combined.
3. Prep the steak for binding. Prepare the flank steak by laying it on a prepared surface such as a large cutting block or an area of your counter covered with plastic wrap. The second option helps keep down on mess and possible contamination. Use a meat mallet to pound the meat so it is an even 1/2 inch thickness throughout.
Next, spread the breadcrumb mixtures evenly over the steak. Leave about an inch bare around all the edges.
4. Tie the steak. For detailed instructions, see “How to tie up braciole” below.
Start at one of the short ends and roll the steak up. Use a high quality butcher’s twine to tie up the roll. Once rolled, sprinkle the outside with salt and pepper.
5. Sear the beef. When you are ready to sear the beef, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large, heavy dutch oven or large oven-safe skillet with a lid, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, use tongs to carefully place the braciole in the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes. Use tongs to flip the beef and brown each side. When all the sides have a brown crust, remove the beef and set aside.
Pour the white wine into the dutch oven and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. This will deglaze the pan and add some extra flavor.
6. Add the steak and sauce and bake. After deglazing, add the marinara sauce and the beef roll and place the lid on the pot.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes per pound. Halfway through cooking, open the lid and turn the beef braciole over in the sauce. Then leave the lid off and continue baking for the remaining time.
7. Prepare and serve. When fully cooked, remove the braciole from the sauce and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before cutting the twine with scissors. Remove all the twine and discard. Use a carving knife to cut the braciole into 1/2 inch thick slices and serve with the sauce poured on top or on the side.
Tips for removing excess fat from sauce: There will be a layer of fat on the surface of the sauce. You have two options for removing it. 1) Once the braciole has been removed from the pan you can use a spoon to gently skim off the top layer of fat. 2) If you are making it ahead of time you can remove the meat from the sauce and then let the sauce cool in the refrigerator. This makes it really simple to just peel the fat layer off of the top.
How to Tie Up Flank Steak
Before you bake the braciole, you need to tie it together first. We use the same method we use for our Provolone and Prosciutto Stuffed Pork Loin and we’ve even added a video this time to help you visualize the process.
- Measure a piece of string that is 3 to 4 times as long as your rolled beef.
- Start at one end and make a loop around the end of the braciole tying it off with a knot on top.
- Lay the string across the top of the beef making a straight line pointing towards the other short end that is about 1 inch long.
- Use your index finger to hold the string in place and then pass the string under the beef and around. Pass the string under your finger so that it goes under the piece of string laying on top of the beef.
- Pull the string forward, tightening the loop and stretching it another 1 inch before repeating the process. Do this all the way to the other end of the rolled beef, making tight rings of string from one end to the other.
- Finish by looping the last string around and then tying it into a tight knot. Cut and throw away any excess string.
This is definitely one of those things you need to see so make sure to check out this great video on how to tie up your stuffed flank steak. She starts off a little differently than I do because she makes a little loop at the beginning and I just tie mine around the end of the meat to start but the rest is the same!
Like most things there isn’t just one way to tie up beef so feel free to use any way you are comfortable with. Don’t sweat the details. In the end you just want it to be tied up so the roll doesn’t open up as it cooks. I’ve even used toothpicks to hold mine closed when I didn’t have string available.
About the Sauce
The beef braciole is braised in a marinara sauce. We like using shortcuts where we can, and as long as the flavor isn’t compromised, we use a jar of marinara sauce for this recipe. Our personal favorite is Rao’s Marinara, which has no added sugars.
Just because we use a shortcut doesn’t mean we don’t look for quality. A low end sauce is often loaded with sugar and just not as flavorful. We always look for sauces that are higher quality, don’t have a lot of sugar, but that have a lot of flavor.
If you have a favorite sauce, use that. You can also make your own and use that for the braciole.
Can You Make It the Day Before?
Braciole is the perfect make ahead holiday dinner. It is part of what I love about it, the other part being how amazing it tastes. It is great for large or small holiday gatherings and it is also perfect as a make ahead weeknight dinner when life is really hectic.
To store, fully cook and then let it cool completely. Next, remove the twine but do not slice it at this time! Place the whole thing, juices included, into a sealed container in the refrigerator. When you are ready to serve, place it back in your baking dish along with the sauce. Heat in the oven at 300 degrees F for 30 minutes or until warmed through.
You can store the meal for up to 3 days in the refrigerator if needed.
Looking for More Italian Comfort Food?
- Turkey with Marsala Sauce
- Panzanella Salad
- Baked Turkey Meatballs
- Instant Pot Spaghetti Sauce
- Keto Chicken Piccata
- Chicken Alfredo Lasagna Roll Ups
- Lasagna Roll Ups
- Chicken Parmesan Bake
- One Pot Chicken Cacciatore
- Shrimp Alfredo Pasta
- Slow Cooker Sausage and Ravioli
- Lasagna French Bread Pizza
- One Pot Three Cheese and Sausage Ziti
- Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the diced onions and cook for 5 minutes then add the garlic and continue cooking for 2 minutes, or until the onions are softened and lightly caramelized.
- In a medium bowl combine the cooked onion and garlic, bread crumbs, pecorino cheese, parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, kosher salt, and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss until well mixed.
- Prepare your flank steak by laying it on a prepared flat surface (I cover my counter with enough plastic wrap to cover the area the meat will touch with an extra few inches on each side. Then use a meat mallet to pound the meat to an even ½ inch thick.
- Spread the bread crumb mixture evenly over the steak leaving about an inch bare around the edges.
- Starting at 1 short end, roll up the steak.
- Use butcher’s twine to tie up the roll. (See instructions in the post above)
- Sprinkle the braciole with kosher salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat in a heavy large dutch oven, or a large ovenproof skillet with a lid. Add the braciole and brown on all sides, approximately 2 minutes per side, to get a nice brown crust. Then remove the beef and set aside.
- Deglaze the pan by pouring in the white wine and using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
- Add the marinara sauce and the beef roll and place the lid on the pot.
- Bake for approximately 30 minutes per pound, halfway through open the lid and turn the beef braciole over in the sauce. Then leave the lid off and continue baking for the remaining time.
- Once cooked remove the braciole from the sauce and let rest for 15 minutes before using scissors to cut the twine, removing all of it.
- While the beef is out of the sauce use a spoon to skim the top layer of fat on top of the sauce. If you are making it ahead of time you can let the sauce cool in the refrigerator and then remove the solidified fat from the surface.
- Then cut the braciole into ½ inch thick slices and serve with sauce.