What is Beef Braciole? A Guide to This Classic Italian-American Dish

Beef braciole is a delicious Italian-American comfort food that has been passed down through generations. This stuffed and rolled beef dish is full of flavor and makes for a hearty, satisfying meal. But what exactly is braciole?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about making and enjoying classic beef braciole. From its origins to how to prepare it at home, read on for a complete overview of this iconic dish!

What is Braciole?

Braciole (pronounced “brah-ZHO-leh”) is an Italian stuffed beef dish made from thin slices of beef filled with a savory breadcrumb mixture, then rolled, tied, browned, and braised in tomato sauce. The end result is melt-in-your-mouth tender beef infused with delicious flavors.

Other names for braciole include involtini, beef roulade, or braciola. While braciole is popular in Italian-American cooking, similar stuffed meat dishes can be found across various cuisines around the world.

Braciole Origins and History

Braciole has its roots in Italian cuisine, though its exact origins are unclear. The dish likely originated from peasant cooking in southern Italy, where cheaper cuts of meat were made delicious by stretching them with flavorful fillings. The name comes from the Italian word “braciola” meaning slice of meat or chop.

Traditionally, braciole was made by pounding thin slices of beef, stuffing them with herbs, cheeses, cured meats or vegetables, then rolling the beef, tying it with string to hold the shape, and braising in tomato sauce.

When waves of Italian immigrants came to America in the early 20th century, they brought treasured recipes like braciole with them. The dish gained popularity in Italian-American home cooking and remains a staple comfort food today.

How to Make Braciole

While recipes can vary, the basic technique for making braciole involves:

Slicing and pounding the beef – Flank steak, skirt steak, or top round are often used. The meat is sliced thinly against the grain and pounded to a 1⁄4 inch thickness. This helps it cook quicker and absorb the filling.

Making the filling – A combination of toasted breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley, garlic, and sometimes pine nuts or raisins make up the classic braciole filling. The filling provides seasoning and flavor.

Rolling and tying the braciole – The filling is spread on the pounded beef which is then tightly rolled up from one end to the other. Kitchen string or toothpicks are used to tie and hold the braciole in a cylinder shape during cooking.

Browning the meat – The rolled braciole is browned on all sides to develop color and flavor.

Simmering in tomato sauce – For tenderness, the seared braciole is braised for 1-3 hours in a simple tomato sauce until fork tender.

Serving – Sliced braciole is plated with some of the tomato sauce spooned over the top. Enjoy this beefy dish with pasta, rice or crusty bread!

Tips for Making Perfect Braciole

  • Use high quality beef for the best texture and flavor. Look for well-marbled cuts.

  • Pound the beef thinner than you think – about 1⁄4 inch thick so it cooks quickly.

  • Don’t overfill the braciole or it will fall apart. Leave about 1 inch clear on all sides.

  • Tie braciole tightly so the filling stays enclosed during cooking.

  • Braise low and slow – a longer simmer results in more tender beef.

  • Slice braciole against the grain for the most tender bites.

  • Add braciole drippings to the sauce for extra flavor.

  • Garnish with parsley, Parm, or more sauce for added richness.

Different Types of Braciole

While beef braciole is the most common, the dish can also be made with:

  • Veal or pork braciole – Use veal or pork cutlets pounded thin instead of beef. Adjust cooking time slightly.

  • Chicken or turkey braciole – Substitute chicken breasts or turkey cutlets for the beef.

  • Vegetable braciole – Make meatless braciole with thin slices of eggplant, zucchini or peppers instead of beef.

  • Seafood braciole – Stuff and roll thin fish fillets like tilapia, sole or cod into braciole packets.

Feel free to get creative and make braciole with ingredients you have on hand! Just maintain the basic preparation method.

Best Braciole Filling Ingredients

While family recipes vary, some key ingredients often used in braciole stuffing include:

  • Breadcrumbs – Soak up juices and add texture. Use plain dry breadcrumbs or panko.

  • Cheese – Parmesan, pecorino, mozzarella, or provolone add bold flavor.

  • Herbs – Chopped parsley, oregano, basil, or thyme season the filling.

  • Garlic – Minced or crushed garlic provides aromatic flavor.

  • Cured meats – Prosciutto, salami, or pancetta enhance umami flavor.

  • Nuts – Toasted pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds add crunch.

  • Raisins or currants – Dried fruit provides subtle sweetness.

Get creative with your own braciole filling ingredients too. Spinach, mushrooms, roasted peppers or olives also work nicely.

How to Cook Braciole in the Oven

For easy oven-baked braciole:

  • Bring tomato sauce to a simmer on the stovetop in a braiser or dutch oven.

  • Nestle seared braciole into the sauce, evenly spaced.

  • Cover pot and transfer to a 300 ̊F oven.

  • Cook for 1 1⁄2 – 2 1⁄2 hours until very tender.

  • Remove lid last 15 minutes if you want sauce to reduce more.

The gentle heat of the oven thoroughly cooks the braciole without drying it out.

How to Cook Braciole on the Stovetop

To braise braciole on the stovetop:

  • Use a heavy bottomed braiser or dutch oven pan. Bring sauce to a simmer.

  • Add seared braciole and any drippings for flavor.

  • Keep heat low, cover and gently simmer for 1 1⁄2 – 3 hours.

  • Turn braciole every 30 minutes for even cooking.

  • Remove lid toward the end if you want the sauce thicker.

Monitor heat closely and add liquid if needed to prevent scorching.

How to Serve and Enjoy Braciole

There are many tasty ways to serve braciole:

  • On a bed of pasta, risotto, polenta, or creamy mashed potatoes so the sauce coats each bite.

  • Plated with sautéed vegetables like green beans, broccoli, or roasted peppers.

  • Added to subs, hoagies, meatball sandwiches with tomato sauce for a beefy sandwich filling.

  • Over rice or alongside Mediterranean dishes like hummus, baba ganoush and tabbouleh.

  • As the protein for chicken parm or eggplant Parm by topping with mozzarella and broiling until melted and browned.

Leftover braciole also reheats wonderfully the next day for easy meals. Simply reheat gently in the tomato sauce.

Braciole vs. Beef Roulade Comparison

Braciole and beef roulade are very similar Italian stuffed beef dishes, but with a few differences:

  • Breadcrumb filling – Braciole features a seasoned breadcrumb mixture while roulades typically have spinach and cheese fillings.

  • Tying method – Braciole uses string or toothpicks. Roulades are often rolled and tied with bacon strips.

  • Cooking method – Braciole is braised in tomato sauce. Roulades are sometimes seared only.

  • Service style – Braciole is cut into rounds. Roulades are often left whole in logs.

While preparation varies slightly, both make for elegant stuffed beef entrées.

Common Questions About Braciole

Is braciole Italian or Italian-American?

Braciole originated in Italy but became popular in Italian-American cooking. The American version often has a more elaborate filling than the original Old World recipes.

What is the difference between braciole and involtini?

Involtini and braciole can be used interchangeably. Involtini means “small bundles” or “small rolls” in Italian which refers to rolled stuffed beef or other meats.

Can you make braciole ahead of time?

Yes, braciole can be made 1-2 days in advance. Cool braciole completely then refrigerate in sauce until ready to reheat and serve.

Can you freeze braciole?

Braciole freezes well for 2-3 months. Cool completely before freezing braciole in sauce in an airtight container. Thaw in fridge before reheating.

What kind of tomato sauce is best for braciole?

A basic marinara or tomato basil sauce works well. Cook the sauce low and slow before braising the braciole for maximum flavor.

Enjoy This Italian-American Classic!

Braciole is a timeless, hearty Italian-American dish that brings loved ones together at the dinner table. With its thin slices of seasoned beef wrapped around a savory filling and simmered in rich tomato sauce, this comfort food is one to savor. Made well, braciole melts in your mouth and fills the kitchen with tempting aromas. For a memorable meal, serve braciole over your favorite pasta or mashed potatoes. Mangia!

how to make Beef BRACIOLE BETTER Than Your GRANDMA


What is beef braciole made of?

To make the braciole, you’ll need flank steak that has been butterflied and pounded until it is 1/4-inch thick for the base of the braciole. First, layer the steak with prosciutto, then top it with the toasted panko (toasting the breadcrumbs first means they will absorb the flavor of the roll and sauce).

What does braciole mean in Italian?

Etymology. Italian, literally, slice of meat roasted over coals, from brace live coals, probably of Germanic origin; akin to Swedish brasa fire.

Is braciole tough?

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.

Is braciole Italian or Italian American?

While it has deep roots in Italian cuisine, the Braciole most familiar to American palates is largely an Italian-American invention, molded by the hands of immigrants adapting to a new land while longing for their native flavors. In Italy, “braciole” often refers to simple grilled slices of meat, usually pork.

Leave a Comment