German Rabbit Stew (Hasenpfeffer) Recipe

Follow this recipe for a traditional Hasenpfeffer dish, otherwise known as German Rabbit Stew, for an unbelievable slow-cooked meal

German Rabbit Stew (Hasenpfeffer) Recipe
Gentle vinegar and a mouthwatering marinade make this German Rabbit Stew (Hasenpfeffer) Recipe a must-try. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

The German rabbit dish called “hasenpfeffer” is made by marinating rabbit in a highly spiced (not spicy) and vinegary concoction for 2 or 3 days, and then slow-cooking the rabbit in the same liquid after.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 48 hours
Cook time: 2-3 hours

Ingredients:

  • 2 cottontails or 1 jackrabbit or 1 domestic rabbit
  • 2 tablespoons oil, separated
  • 1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf

Marinade:


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves, whole
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon juniper berries, crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Directions:


  1. In a saucepan, combine marinade ingredients and bring to a boil. Set aside and allow to cool completely. Quarter rabbit(s) into smaller pieces and place them inside a zip-top bag. When marinade is cool, pour it over the rabbit and seal. Refrigerate for 48 hours, flipping the bag occasionally.

  2. German Rabbit Stew (Hasenpfeffer) Recipe
    Marinating the rabbit for 48 hours tests patience, but has a delicious payoff. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

  3. When you’re ready to cook, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove rabbit from the marinade. Strain the marinade, discarding solids only, and then set the liquid aside.

  4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat (or other heavy ovenproof pot with a lid).

  5. German Rabbit Stew (Hasenpfeffer) Recipe
    Coating the meat in flour helps with the browning of the rabbit. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

    Coat rabbit with the flour, shaking off excess, and brown on both sides. Do not overcrowd the pan; add more oil if necessary. Remove browned rabbit and set aside.


    German Rabbit Stew (Hasenpfeffer) Recipe
    Add the oil, onion, and marinade to the pot before returning browned rabbit meat to the pot. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

  6. Lower heat to medium. Add the remaining oil to the pot and sweat chopped onion until translucent. Then add the reserved liquid from the marinade and 1 tablespoon of sugar, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen up the brown bits.

    Return browned rabbit to the pot and add 2 sprigs each of rosemary and thyme and 1 bay leaf. Bring to a boil then take off heat.

  7. German Rabbit Stew (Hasenpfeffer) Recipe
    All the delicious ingredients come together in the pot as the mixture comes to a boil. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

  8. Cover the pot with aluminum foil, then set the lid on top of the foil – this slows down evaporation. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 1-2 hours, or until rabbit meat can be easily pulled from the bone. (I suggest checking after an hour and then go from there – my rabbit was done after an hour.)

  9. Serve hasenpfeffer over mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes or German dumplings.

  10. German Rabbit Stew (Hasenpfeffer) Recipe
    Serving over mashed potatoes compliments the bit of apple cider vinegar in this hasenpfeffer recipe. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

About this German Rabbit Stew (Hasenpfeffer) Recipe

My friend Gerry Steinauer is a botanist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and when Gerry and I get together, the topic of conversation often turns to cooking and wild game. On recent visits, hasenpfeffer has become his latest obsession.

As a kid, Gerry couldn’t stand to be home when the house filled with the acrid, pungent smell of boiling vinegar, which his devoted mother could also barely tolerate yet still unenthusiastically prepared hasenpfeffer for his father. But as an adult, Gerry’s tastes have changed, and he now has a newfound appreciation for this longtime German family favorite. And I bet the availability of more gentle vinegars does help a lot. I do not suggest using white vinegar with this dish – the flavor and smell is too harsh. If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, choose red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar instead.


This rabbit stew recipe turned out to be delicious, and also unique. Fortunately, the vinegar did not overpower the rabbit – as I had feared. Rather, the acidity provided a pleasant foil to the richly buttered mashed potatoes I served with the hasenpfeffer.

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