Spiessbraten, Idar-Oberstein Style!

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When you are in Manhattan the choices for a 5-star meal exists around nearly every corner.  But when my Chief Travel Mate and I were reminiscing with friends, Catherine and Russ about Russ’s awesome 4-ingredient Spiessbraten … well, it didn’t make sense to go anywhere except to the market to buy a pork tenderloin!  Russ quickly agreed to make Sunday dinner.

Spiessbraten is a well-known dish from Idar-Oberstein, Germany that truly needs only 4 ingredients and a pork tenderloin!   When Russ was in the army and stationed in Baumholder, he would go to Idar-Oberstein to eat Spiessbraten.  Now these many years later,  his memory floods with the fragrance of the sweet onion and garlic combination and the juicy tenderness of this famous dish.

The first time Russ made this famous dish for us we were lounging on their beautiful deck in Brentwood, Tennessee.  Fast forward to another life and they are serving as Christian missionaries in NYC, we once again gather to enjoy this beautifully prepared meal and a God-given friendship.

Russ didn’t need to go searching for the recipe card.  He quickly assembled the dish as we talked and laughed about the meal to come.  Here is what you will need to get the same 5-star meal we did:    24 hours, pork loin, salt, pepper, onion, garlic. 

Chop onion and garlic chunky, then the pork loin is placed in a shallow dish, and covered with a good dosing of salt and pepper.  Then the chopped onion and garlic are tucked all around the pork tenderloin including on the bottom of the dish.

I was the “helper”.  My job was to make the coleslaw and cheer on Russ!  I love being the cook’s helper!

The meat was tightly wrapped in plastic and placed in the refrigerator for 24 to 30 hours.

Catherine and Russ McCulllum, Directors Hephzibah House, NYC

Even at the end of a busy day, this meal goes together fast and easy!

24 hours later the meat is removed from the marinade and the grill is heated to 350 degrees F.  The meat cooks pretty fast in 30 to 40 minutes depending on the thickness of the loin.  My job was simply to photo-bomb Russ’ fine grilling!

Under Russ’ watchful eye and direction, I did the slicing!

The problem with the internet is that you can’t smell or taste this incredibly moist and flavorful meat.  Ah!  But with 4 ingredients and a pork loin, you too can eat a 5-star Idar-Oberstein style Spiessbraten!  (It is also quite fun to say Spiessss-BRATEN!  I like to add a touch of Sgt. Schultz from my Hogan’s Heroes memories!)

We added coleslaw, oven roasted potatoes, and a green salad.  It was 5-Star all the way!  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Happy Cooking!

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A perfect adaption of the famous Spiessbraten from Idar-Oberstein, Germany. This is the dish you can make for family dinner or a special dinner party! Rave reviews are sure to follow!
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: German
Serves: 2-3 servings per pound
  • 1 lb pork tenderloin
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 pinches salt (or to taste)
  • 4 pinches black pepper (or to taste)
  1. Mix the 4 ingredient spices with your hands, squeezing the onions until they get juicy.
  2. Place some of the spice mixture in a dish, place the meat on top and cover with the rest of the mixture.
  3. Cover the dish and marinate for 24 hours or up to 30 hours.
  4. Fire up the grill and when it has its cooking temperature of 350 F, remove the marinade from the meat and grill to desired doneness, 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. Depending on the thickness of the pork tenderloin, make sure you don't overcook the meat. Take it off the grill when it is still flexible when you press on it with your finger. Place it in an oven dish, cover it and let it rest in the oven at about 200 degrees for 10 minutes. This gives the juices a chance to settle and the meat will be soooo tender.
  6. Slice and enjoy!
1 lb will feed 2 to 3 people. Normally you will make 3 to 4 lbs. at a time.



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12 thoughts on “Spiessbraten, Idar-Oberstein Style!”

  1. My family immigrated to America from Idar-Oberstein before WWII. The family recipe is simple. Filet open the tenderloin and coat heavily with salt and pepper. Place onions all over and re-salt and pepper. Roll the meat up and hold it together with butchers twine. Salt and pepper the outside. You will think it’s too much but trust me it isn’t. Place in aluminum foil and put it in the fridge overnight. Cook over indirect heat until about 150-155 degrees internal. Take off grill and let rest for 10 mins. Cut and enjoy the very best, moist pork you’ll ever have.

  2. I recall getting these incredible Spiessbraten off those swinging grates. They were often served at the frequent Volksmarches in the area!
    Baumholder 1975-1978

    • When I was stationed in Idar-Oberstein we regularly ate SpiessBratten at Sportgaststatte Im Haag. The owner gave me a lesson in roasting this dish and his recipe includes: salt, pepper, onion, garlic, and paprika. He said that roasting over beach wood is preferred but that oak is also acceptable. I have a pellet grill and found beach wood pellets at an on-line web site.

    • I was stationed in Baumholder with the 293rd Engineers, 1976-79. If I remember correctly there was a high rise building in Idar Oberstien, with a restaurant on the 17th floor. That was my introduction to incredibly delicious Speissbraten ! All these years later and my mouth waters at the mere mention of one of the best meals I have ever tasted.
      SSgt. Costa

  3. I lived in baumholder when my dad was stationed there in the early 80s. This dish was his favorite and he made it for many years after returning to the states. He always insisted on cooking it over a wood fire.

    • I too lived in Baumholder 83-86. Loved the spiessbraten. We would go to Idar obeirstwin down a little road to a small restaurant for their spiessbraten. Wish I would have written more things down so I would remember. Favorite restaurant was Zum Stadtkrug. Their ribs were so good.

    • Of course, wood! The barkless wood of birch or beech are excellent choices and crucial for the flavor. Of course, if you are from Idar-Oberstein, the grass the cows eat is part another crucial element for true original flavor. I don’t think they say the same for the pork spiessbraten…

  4. Thank you for this. The one meal I remember with my mouth watering when my husband was stationed in Baumholder so long ago. I will surely be making this soon. You wouldn’t have a recipe for oxenschvazasuppe would you?

  5. It is unfortunate that Waldschenke’s closed. Absolutely the best pork loin you could ever have. One of the best things we remember from our assignment to Baumholder.

    The only addition I would make is the meat was cooked over an oak fire on a swinging grate.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    • This is so exciting to read of others who had been stationed in Baumholder and gone to Idar-Oberstein for the spiessbraten. My husband was stationed there in the mid 60’s. He, our daughter and I went there in 2015. His biggest interest while there was to go to the little restaurant off a small road near the local airport. Even 50 years later, he managed to locate the restaurant, only to find it had closed for good. We did have a spiessbraten meal in Idar-Oberstein; however good it was, it seemed it didn’t measure up to his memory. It was quite tasty, regardless. However…we were told the fire under the twirling grate was made with birch logs. It would be mouth watering either way.


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