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The perfect Greek beef stifado (Greek beef stew)!! Juicy and tender, melt-in-the-mouth beef stifado with a delicious, slightly sweet, intense tomato-based sauce…

How to make the perfect Greek beef stew (stifado)

Have you ever wondered how some stews have this melt in the mouth texture while others taste like chewing rubber? It’s all about choosing the right cut and cooking it the right way.

What kind of beef to choose for stifado?

For a Greek beef stifado (stew), you need to choose large cuts of good quality stewing beef or even better veal, which, when cooked for a long time, become fork tender.

The best option for this Greek beef stifado recipe would be chuck (chuck steak), which comes from the upper arm and shoulder of the cow. It contains a lot of collagen and becomes juicier and the longer you cook it.

Long cooking time and low temperate is the secret to achieve the melt in the mouth texture, that will make your beef stifado just perfect!

Preparing the onions for Greek beef stew (stifado)

The traditional Greek beef stifado recipe calls for “kokaria” onions, which are small white sweet onions. The best option is to use white pearl onions, which are sweet and mild and won’t overpower the other flavours of the dish.

Greek beef stifado is a very easy recipe to follow. The only thing that can be a bit time consuming is peeling all those onions. A little trick to save you a lot of time and effort is to blanch the onions in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Then pinch each onion at its stem end and the peel will come right of.

How to cook your Greek beef stifado (stew)

When cooking a Greek beef stifado,

  1. The meat is first browned and sealed to keep it nice and juicy.

  2. Then the onions are caramelised separately in the same pan to get all the flavours from the meat until softened.

  3. The beef and the onions are simmered in a tomato-based sauce along with cognac, red wine vinegar, aromatic spices and herbs.

Let your beef stifado simmer for a few hours to allow its flavours to mingle into something much much more!

How to serve your beef stifado the traditional Greek way

Traditionally Greek beef stifado is served with orzo pasta, rice, hilopittes (egg pasta) or fries. For the cold winter days, serve with creamy mashed potatoes for a warming and hearty meal that will take the chill out of any evening. Together with a traditional Greek Moussaka, this is arguably the most heartwarming dinner you can have!

And of course with some crusted bread aside to dig into all this delicious tomato sauce.

Description The perfect traditional Greek beef stew (stifado) recipe. Find out how to prepare beef stifado the traditional Greek way for that melt-in-the-mouth texture you’ve been looking for.


  • 1 kg good-quality stewing beef, cut into portions (35 ounces)

  • 1.5 kg pearl onions, peeled (60 ounces)

  • 1/4 of a cup olive oil

  • 3/4 of a cup red wine

  • 3 tbsps red wine vinegar

  • 1/3 of a cup cognac

  • 2 ripe tomatoes (without skins) roughly chopped or tinned (400g) chopped tomatoes (14 oz)

  • 1 tbsp tomato paste

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 3–4 allspice berries

  • a pinch nutmeg

  • salt and freshly ground pepper

  • A bit of water


  1. To prepare this delicious Greek beef stifado recipe, heat the oil in a saucepan, add the meat (in batches) and sauté, until browned on all sides. Do not add all the meat in the sauce pan, rather sauté in batches, so that the temperature of the oil remains high and the meat is sealed. When done, remove with a slotted spoon, place on a platter, cover and set aside.

  2. Peel and carve the baby shallot onions crosswise, add in the same oil used to browned the meat, turn down to medium heat and sauté until the onions have softened, but not browned (about 10 minutes).

  3. Pour in the cognac, the wine and red wine vinegar, cover and let it simmer for 3 minutes.

  4. Pour the meat along with its juices to the saucepan, add the tomato paste and sauté. Add the chopped tomatoes, bay leaf, allspice berries, nutmeg and a bit of water until the meat is covered. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer the beef stifado with a lid on for 1 1/2 hours or until the beef is tender and the sauce has thickened. While the beef stifado is simmering, check if it needs some water; you don’t want it to dry out. If it does, pour in half a cup of boiled water and stir. Towards the end of cooking time season well with salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Serve beef stifado with pasta and grated cheese, or boiled new potatoes.


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