Italian Braciole Recipe with Tender Strips of Steak & Sauce

  • by Nonna Box June 30, 2018
  • |
  • Last Updated on June 23, 2020
Braciole Recipe

What is Braciole?

Thinly sliced, tender strips of steak rolled together with cheese and bread crumbs then fried and slow cooked in a rich tomato sauce…now that sounds like a fantastic dinner!

If this also makes your mouth water, then you have come to the right place. It’s time to learn all about the Italian favorite, braciole.

History of Braciole

Before there was braciole, there was involtini which in Italian means ‘little bundles”. Involtini is a thinly sliced meat, usually chicken, beef or pork, which is rolled together with cheese and bread crumb mix.

If this sounds like braciole to you, then you are correct! Involtini and braciole are essentially the same dish with different names.

So how did braciole get its name?

Well, braciole comes from the cooking technique called alla brace which means grilling the meat over charcoal and also from a cut of meat with bone.

Braciole became the more common term to refer to involtini in the Italian American community and has stuck with the dish.

Braciole in Northern and Southern Italy are two very different things. Northern Italian braciole is simply thinly cut pork or veal that is pan fried.

Southern style braciole is what is most recognizable today and more closely resembles the involtini described earlier.

Sicily, Calabria and Naples all make braciole with cuts of pork and beef, rolled with cheese and breadcrumbs, ties with string and then stewed in a tomato sauce.

Slow cooking the rolled meats in sauce is really what braciole is all about.

The Meats

The most common meats used in braciole are veal, pork and beef top round.

However, as the term braciole mainly refers to the dish construction (rolled, stuffed meat cooked in sauce), chefs took many liberties with the dish, making braciole with almost any kind of meat.

Pork braciole, beef braciole…it is all delicious!

To perfect the meat for braciole, the already skinny slices are pounded to be as thin and tender as possible and since the meat gets tender in such a manner, it is fine to use cuts that are cheaper.

As the braciole slow cooks in sauce for some time, the meat will also begin to soften.  In fact, braciole were a low-cost dish for many years, primarily for lower income families.

No need to pay for the fanciest slices of meat to make this Italian classic!

Braciole Fillings

The filling for authentic Italian braciole is typically very straight forward- breadcrumbs, cheese and possibly some herbs.

Some recipes incorporate eggs into the filling to make it thicker and more hearty while others get creative with cheese combinations using provolone, parmesan and mozzarella together.

While it goes against the traditional Italian style braciole, caramelized onions or toasted garlic are also fantastic to roll inside. So many things to try!

Neapolitan Braciole

Different regions of Italy have developed their own versions of braciole but the Neapolitan braciole is worth noting for its difference to the classic dish.

While most braciole has a filling of just cheeses, breadcrumbs, and herbs, the Neapolitan braciole contains pine nuts and raisins for a sweet and savory combination.

It is also common to find slices of prosciutto within the layers of Neapolitan braciole. Still cooked in an Italian Sunday  sauce, this version is much different from the typical involtini of other Italian regions.
Braciole in sauce

How to Cook Braciole

We are going to focus on a traditional style braciole but keep in mind the many variations mentioned that you can try.

Once you have the basic method of authentic Italian braciole down, you can do so much to make the dish your own!

Lay the thin slices of steak on the counter and pound them as flat as possible, then season the meat with salt and pepper to encourage the juices to come to the surface.

While the steak is tenderizing, you can work on the filling which is a fairly quick process.

The herbs, breadcrumbs and cheeses are simply mixed together in a bowl to make the braciole filling – how easy is that!

The filling is then sprinkled across the thin meat slices.

It is best to keep the filling about 1/8 of an inch away from the edge of the meat to prevent it from falling out later on.

Begin to roll the meat by starting at the skinniest end and rolling it upward like a jelly roll.

The braciole rolls are then tied together with butchers twine or skewered with toothpicks to hold the filling.

Pan sear the braciole in olive oil over high heat briefly, just enough to brown the outside of the roll. You may skip this step, but it definitely adds flavor to the dish.

Then, into the sauce the meat goes! This is the part that takes a good amount of time but it is worth the wait.

Slow cooking the meat in the sauce will add flavor which truly makes braciole a special dish.

Nothing beats braciole in sauce! Authentic Italian Braciole is best when served on its own however you can also serve it on top of pasta.

Traditional Italian Beef Braciole Recipe

This Authentic Italian Braciole Recipe is an amazing version of beef braciole and is great when cooked in a homemade Italian Sunday sauce.

Get ready to have your mouth water as this recipe will taste like your Italian grandma made it from scratch!

Braciole in sauce

Authentic Italian Braciole Recipe

In Italy Braciole are called involtini, you can probably found a version of this recipe for each region but the most traditional braciole recipe hails from Campania. Try this out and let us know what you think!
4.35 from 132 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Secondi
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: braciole, steak
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 385kcal
Author: Nonna Box

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds flank steak thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup grated provolone
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 5 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups Tomato Sauce (or your grandmas Italian 'Sunday' Sauce!)

Instructions

  • In a medium sized bowl, mix together the garlic powder, cheeses, breadcrumbs, and dried basil. Set the mix aside
  • Lay the flank steak on a clean surface and pound flat with a meat tenderizer. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
  • Evenly distribute the breadcrumb filling among the flank steaks and roll, beginning on the short end, all the way up like a jelly roll. Tie the rolls closed with butchers twine to secure the braciole. 
  • Pour the olive oil into a large pot and heat over medium high heat. Sear the braciole rolls for about 30 second on each side, just to brown the meat quickly. 
  • Add the tomato sauce to the pot and lower the heat to low. Cover and cook the braciole for an hour, basting the rolls occasionally to ensure they do not dry out.
  • Serve hot along with the sauce! 

Video

Notes


Nutrition

Calories: 385kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 85mg | Sodium: 1287mg | Potassium: 753mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 760IU | Vitamin C: 8.7mg | Calcium: 243mg | Iron: 3.8mg
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Interested in an another Italian American classic recipe? Check out the authentic chicken parmigiana recipe and history.

Italian Braciole Recipe with Tender Strips of Steak & Sauce
  • Mary says:

    Early in the description of Braciole you mentioned something about grilling over charcoal. Is that a possible way to cook?

    • Nonna Box says:

      I never tried it, but I can see it could be a delicious way to cook it. It will add some smoky flavor for sure!

      • Lisa Morano says:

        At NYC annual Feast of San Gennaro there was a stand that featured grilled braciole. This wonderful little old guy was the grill master; he skewered several rolls on to skewers and cooked them about 6-8 inches above the coals, turning frequently. To serve they were tucked into the perfect little Italian roll – perfect street food!

    • John says:

      I love braciole and my filling includes pepperoni, salami, fresh garlic, with mozzerella, romano cheese. Gives a nice tang to an otherwise bland dish. Try it.

  • Crissy says:

    This was amazing! I used a beef top round that was perfectly thin! The filling tasted great and stayed inside the rolls! Cant wait to make again!

  • Tina D says:

    Can’t wait to try this version! I grew up with this in South New Jersey, we used to buy it frozen at the Acme made by a Philly company named Maggio. But I don’t know if it’s a regional thing or because we’re not Italian, we always cooked ours in brown gravy with some dried minced onion in the gravy. Served it over white rice with green peas on the side, although I loved to cut off the string(it was tied) cut the braciole up and add some extra gravy and mix everything together, so goooooood!!

  • Madlyn Cole says:

    We do the pignoli and raisins. We also use garlic, cheese and parsley. We brown them in the oven and add them to the sauce with all of their juices.

  • Linda says:

    Could I put rolls and sauce into a crockpot on low for 4 hrs? I would like to make ahead and have for dinner later.

    • Nonna Box says:

      Hi Linda, I personally never tried to cook it in the crockpot but I think it will work. 4 hours are enough time for the sauce to cook and combine with the juices of the meat. I think I am going to try it too!

  • Frank Campese says:

    I’m going to try this, but I’m cooking for two so I’m thinking of getting a couple of boneless, center cut pork chops, slicing them in half “lengthwise” , pounding them thin then proceeding with the recipe! What do you think Nonna! Ps. I just found this site and I love it already!

  • Christel Santo says:

    I put a strip of bacon against the pounded steak, ricotta and the add the bread crumbs, Parmesan & herbs, fry and throw it into the sauce. It’s amazing!

  • Rosemary says:

    My mom would add ham slices along with the provolone and but no bread crumbs. added parsley with salt and pepper and garlic. Also use pig skins for braciole.

  • John Alesi says:

    My great aunt would add scallions, salami and hard boiled egg to hers. My wife has made them by roll cutting a pork loin and then pounding it thin. Amazing!

  • Cj Shull says:

    Love to make Braciole! I like to add spinach to my breadcrumbs, Ramono cheese , and Italian herbs! I also added some minced sauté mushrooms on top of bread mixture before adding provolone cheese rolling them up ! I also like to brown stuffed rolls before adding them to sauce! My sons love when I make them! My mommas are still the BEST! Enjoyed them with your sauce over polenta !

  • Lisa says:

    My braciole filling is a little lard, cubes of salami, and chopped garlic. Smear some lard on the thin sliced steak, top with some chopped garlic, and cubes of salami. Roll it up, wrap it with string , and cook it in the gravy all day. I learned from my grandma who was from Calabria. It’s amazing the reaction I get from people who never had it before.

  • Rita says:

    The region in Italy where my parents come from we know these as involtini, in the dialect of the region “braciole” is actually meatballs But I guess it doesn’t matter what the dish is called it still looks and tastes fabulous.
    Thank you for a lovely recipe.

  • Debbe' Baker says:

    SIMPLY AWESOME‼️❌❤️❌

  • Cheryl says:

    Do these freeze well.

  • Chris says:

    Absolutely delicious…..ooooh was it because I added spinach to the stuffing?lol….fabulous recipe, thank you, Nonna Box xxxx

  • Sharon L Rowe says:

    Fantastic recipe. And a huge thanks for telling the short story about braciola.

  • Joe canale says:

    I always put fresh spinach in mine.

  • Velma J Young says:

    I’m having a dinner party soon and am trying to do as much as possible ahead. Lasagna made and in the freezer. I want to make braciole ahead if I want to freeze it. Can I cook it first, put in sauce and freeze

  • Olivia says:

    Delicious!

  • Annette says:

    I like to put Hi boy legs raisins garlic grated Parmesan cheese and some parsley roll at brown around it in olive oil add to the sauce

  • Bonnie says:

    My Italian Grandmom taught us all to make braciole and she used meatball mixture to fill it before rolling and tying it. Everything else is the same. Must be a regional thing.

  • Mary Ferlaino says:

    This is an excellent, delicious recipe! Will definitely make it again and again. Thanks for sharing.

  • Tolaman k thomas says:

    Hai iam Tolaman , braciole is a nice authentic Italian dish.Iam really addicts on braciole dishes

  • Kathleen says:

    This recipe made me smile and brought happy tears to my eyes. My mother in law taught me how to make this dish when I was first married, she was from Scilly. Absolutely love it and we put sliced hard boiled eggs in our roll. Wonderful memories and a delicious dish. Thank you

  • Barbara Chirichella says:

    Mama always used chopped hard boiled eggs parsley and garlic to your recipe.

  • David says:

    My family did it a little differently..they rolled the thin sliced meats into narrow “pinwheels”, with the seasonings, etc. Then laid them close together in a casserole dish to be covered and baked..Then served with a gravy or sauce.

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