German Rabbit Stew
September 10, 2012 | Updated July 11, 2022
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This is an unusual German rabbit stew with the memorable name of eingemachtes kaninchen, according to Mimi Sheraton in her excellent book The German Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Mastering Authentic German Cooking. It’s a light, bright counterpoint to the more famous hasenpfeffer, which is made with hare.
This particular rabbit stew is a Swabian recipe, from Southern Germany. For those of us in the United States, when we read the recipe and we don’t immediately think of Germany, but rather of that country’s former financial nemesis: Greece. Lemon, capers and bay leaves play a prominent role in this stew.
But instead of oregano and olive oil and yogurt, the Germans use parsley and butter and sour cream. It is brothy, meaty and tart, with just a whiff of creaminess. Think avgolemono with more fiscal discipline. (If you want to go full Greek, I have a recipe for Greek rabbit stew.)
You may be wondering if this rabbit stew is some sort of variant on the most famous German rabbit recipe, hasenpfeffer. It is most definitely not.
For starters, hasenpfeffer requires a hase, a hare. And a hare is not a rabbit. Rabbits are light, mild white meat. Hares are heavy, strongly flavored red meat, and hasenpfeffer is a heavy, strongly flavored stew. In America, hasenpfeffer should be made with jackrabbit.
If you want some variation, try this stew with chicken, pheasant, quail, grouse or turkey. I bet it would be good with a firm fish like halibut, too. It is very good with boiled or mashed potatoes, or rice or just some crusty bread.
This recipe, however, is a perfect stew for cool nights, yet still light enough to enjoy with a chilled white wine outside on the porch as you watch the sunset, thinking about the next time you’ll get a chance to chase Mr. Cottontail.
Chances are if you’re a hunter, you know how to joint a rabbit. But for those of you buying your bunny, they all come whole, so you will need to part it out yourself. I’ve written a tutorial on how to cut up a rabbit here.
Be sure to read the recipe’s headnotes, because while the base of this rabbit stew will keep for a few days, once you add the cream, you’re committed. So my advice would be to make the base and only add the cream and white wine right before you serve the stew.
German Rabbit Stew
- 2 cottontail rabbits, or 1 domestic rabbit, cut into serving pieces
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 to 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 onion, sliced root to tip
- Zest of a lemon white pith removed, cut into wide strips
- 2 to 3 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- White wine to taste, at least 2 tablespoons
- Black pepper
- Parsley for garnish
- Salt the rabbit pieces well and set aside for 10 minutes or so. Set a Dutch oven or other heavy, lidded pot over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of butter. Pat the rabbit pieces dry and brown well on all sides. You may need to do this in batches, so don't crowd the pot and don't rush things. Remove the rabbit pieces once they're browned. This may take 15 minutes or so.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of butter, then the sliced onion and cook until the edges just begin to brown, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and stir well. Cook, stirring often, until the flour turns golden, about 5 minutes.
- Return the rabbit to the pot and add enough chicken stock to cover. Use a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the lemon zest, bay leaves and lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook gently until the rabbit wants to fall off the bone, which will take anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours, depending on how old your rabbit was.
- This is an optional step, but I prefer it: Turn off the heat, fish out the rabbit pieces and let the cool on a baking sheet. Pull all the meat off the bones and return the meat to the stew. I don't like fiddly stews with bones in them, so I do this. You can leave everything on the bone if you want.
- You can now store the stew for several days. Or you can serve it at once. Turn the heat to low just to make sure the stew is nice and hot. Do not let it simmer. Add the sour cream, capers and as much white wine as you want -- you want the stew to be a bit zingy. Stir in a healthy amount of black pepper and garnish with parsley.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
I’ve made this with rabbit and squirrel. It’s great with either.
Tried this recipe for the first time and was good. My question is when removing the rabbit to cool and take off the bone should you strain out the onion slices or are you leaving them in ?
Steve: you leave them in.
I used my crockpot from step 3 on and it worked great. Served it with smashed potatoes but will try egg noodles for the leftovers. The lemon and capers really made it!!
I made this a couple days ago and it was absolutely fantastic! We raised quite a few rabbits and will be making this a lot more. Thank you so much. I loved the lemon and capers. I’m thinking next time I’d serve over egg noodles or German dumplings. This is definitely a company meal! Thank you. Will follow you as we just moved to a river and look forward to lots of fish this summer
Do you think rehydrated porcini would work in this recipe or would that overpower the rabbit?
Kyle: Go for it. Just use maybe a handful to start.
Fantastic! I added garlic and Rosemary. I might add mushrooms next time. Thanks for sharing!!
I cook quite a bit of rabbit, both wild and domestic. I finally tried this recipe last month, and it’s a new favorite! The citrus tang and cream sauce makes a wonderfully rich juxtaposition, reminiscent of Tom Kha. A smash hit!
Another win from Hank Shaw! Made this for my son’s 30th birthday dinner and it was a hit. Only change I made was to make rabbit broth (Italian White Rabbit recipe) and use it instead of chicken broth. Used neck/ribs/pelvis and there was plenty of flavor. EASY one pot meal after that. The lemon really is wonderful.
Thank you for this amazing recipe. I’ve been vegetarian for 16 years and due to my own as well as my 8 year old son’s health concerns, had to give it up recently. I started doing the blood type diet for my family. My son and I are the same type and my husband is type A (the vegetarian type). I was afraid my disabled son, who is also an animal lover, would absolutely refuse to eat meat, let alone a rabbit, but he devoured your soup with gusto much to my relief and surprise. So your recipe has made it possible for us to follow the blood type diets and for us to be healthier and happier as a family than we’d otherwise be. Thank you.
My son raises meat rabbits for a hobby business so every so often I will cook one for ourselves but have yet to find that home run recipe until now.
The meat was so tender and the sauce so flavorful. I served this with garlic smashed roasted potatoes.
Even my daughter, who will not eat rabbit, loved it ! Guess we’ll be butchering for ourselves more often now.
Thank you for sharing !
You’re a blessing. Thanks for this recipe. Seemed a bit too lemony, but it really mellowed out (or grew on me) when I had a bowl of leftovers so I’m not sure I’d change anything for next time. Cheers!
Would this recipe work canned? Am new to rabbits and canning but have loved your recipes so far!
Victoria: Sorta. It is OK to pressure can, for how long I am not sure, but you might want to look up a similar stew for details. Also, it is very important to not pressure can dairy. Make the stew up to the point where it gets cream, then can it. Add cream when serving.
Love new canning ideas. This will be one.
Would you ever think about putting a little prepared horseradish in this or would that be out of line?
Taylor: No, actually that’s a great idea! Put it in at the very end.
When do you add the sour cream?
Mike: At the very end, right before you serve.
Ive made this twice, and both times it was a big hit. The second time I added a few chopped garlic gloves as it cooked, nice gravy. Thank you for sharing all these recipes, my son is the hunter and I try and make what he brings home delicious. Reading your articles has helped me a lot! Now I am off to figure out how to cook the swan breasts in my freezer. I am going to use your recipe.
I’m gonna try this soon. I love rabbit stew. I’ve made something close to this before using squirrel and it was delicious. Can’t wait but I have to get me a rabbit now. Good excuse to go hunting.
OMG, I just made this, and it’s AWESOME! I wound up using one rabbit, just under 2 lbs with bones. Before adding the rabbit back to the pot, I added just a little bit of stock and scraped the pot so there would be less stuff sploshing around. And because of the diameter of the 8-qt stock pot I used (limited cookware here, and I figured a 4-qt wasn’t going to cut it), I did wind up using a whole 32 oz of stock, but the consistency is quite wonderful. Looking forward to leftovers (stopped after step 4), which I’m sure will be amazing. Thanks for a great recipe!
This sounds amazing, and I can’t wait to try it! How many pounds of rabbit should I get? I’m not sure if my grocer has wild or domestic. And does the weight include bones or just the meat? Thanks for your help!
Liz: I think you’ll be fine with one rabbit. Two would make quite a lot of stew.
When do u add the sour cream?
Sharon: Right at the end.