The beef stew of our childhood was made of beef but also contained potatoes, carrots, celery and onions (maybe wine but never beer). Neither Ed nor I prefer our beef stew that way so when I found this recipe many years ago it became the standard in our house. Largely because it’s just beef and onions, oh and with some really good Belgian beer and bacon. Not exactly a bad combination, right? Skip the carrots and celery and serve the potatoes mashed or boiled and on the side to soak up all the good stew sauce. The combination of the beef and the onions just about melts in your mouth.

Make the effort to find some Belgian beer – it’s worth splurging on a big bottle of Chimay (any color will do) plus you’ll have a bit extra to drink while you’re cooking. You may want to buy a few bottles more to serve with the stew although hearty red wine also pairs well.

This is a great dish to make for a dinner party because you can make it ahead of time (up to three days) and reheat it on top of the stove or covered in the oven when your guests arrive. Just about everyone I’ve made it for has asked for the recipe (who doesn’t love that when hosting a party?). I recommend making more than you think you’ll need as you don’t want anyone to be disappointed if they go back for seconds. Worst case – you have leftovers (which can also be frozen).

Gluten-Free/Wheat-Free Options: This is another recipe that I have adapted for my wheat-free world. I use a gluten-free flour (Cup4Cup) instead of all-purpose white flour for dredging and it works out perfectly. You’ll also need to use a gluten-free beer (many beers are already wheat-free so if you’re just giving up wheat, you may be okay with some more traditional Belgian beers).  Check out Green’s Gluten Free Beers that have been craft brewed in Belgium since 2004.

Belgian Beef Stew


Belgian Beef Stew
5.0 from 2 reviews
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: Serves 6
  • 2-1/2 pounds large onions
  • 3 pounds boneless beef chuck
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour
  • 4 thick bacon slices
  • 4 tablespoons canola or olive oil
  • ½ cup water
  • 12 ounces Trappist ale (or other full bodied Belgian ale)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Thinly slice onions – I like to use my food processor with the slicing disk.
  3. Cut beef into 1-1/2-inch cubes and pat dry.
  4. Place flour in a shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Chop bacon into small pieces.
  6. In a large Dutch oven (5 to 7 quarts) cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden.
  7. While bacon is cooking, dredge beef in seasoned flour, shaking off excess.
  8. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.
  9. Add 1 tablespoon oil to fat remaining in Dutch oven (if needed) and heat over medium heat until hot but not smoking.
  10. Without crowding, brown beef in batches on all sides, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons more oil as needed and transferring beef as browned to the plate with the bacon.
  11. Add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet and cook onions over moderate heat, stirring occasionally and adding water a few tablespoons at time as onions begin to stick, until golden brown and soft, about 15 to 20 minutes (don't rush this step).
  12. Add ale and broth and bring to a boil, scraping up brown bits.
  13. Stir in brown sugar, vinegar, bay leaf, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Add beef and bacon mixture back into the Dutch oven.
  15. Bring beef mixture to a boil and cover pot.
  16. Transfer pot to oven and braise beef until very tender, about 2-1/2 hours.
  17. Discard bay leaf before serving.
* To make it gluten-free, I recommend using Cup4Cup gluten-free flour in place of all-purpose flour and a gluten-free beer. If you're just avoiding wheat than many beers are already wheat-free so you may be okay with some more traditional Belgian beers.
* Stew may be made 3 days ahead. Cool stew, uncovered, before chilling, covered.
* Reheat on top of the stove (about 20 minutes) or in the oven (covered) at 325°F for about 30 minutes.
* Stew can be frozen. Cool stew, uncovered, before freezing, covered.
* Recipe can be doubled. Depending on the size pots/pans you have you may need to use two on top of the stove and oven.



Share on Facebook3Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest7Share on Yummly0Email this to someone


  1. Christina Verrelli March 5, 2015 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    looks delicious!! I totally agree – mash the potatoes on the side!!
    Take care!!

    • Nicole March 6, 2015 at 6:42 am - Reply

      Tina – Love that we like our beef stew the same way!

  2. David March 8, 2015 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    This does sound amazing, Nicole! I have never had a beer-based stew. I love your idea of serving it on mashed potatoes!

    • Nicole March 10, 2015 at 8:22 pm - Reply

      David – I think you’ll enjoy this one. Save it for your next cold Tucson night!

  3. Susie McCawley March 12, 2015 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    This is decedent…definitely a meat-lover’s delight. I was a bit skeptical about the amount of onions, but they cook down beautifully into an amazing sauce. I would definitely use a food processor to slice them super thin. And this needs a starch on the side. I made mashed potatoes and peas, but I think rice would also be lovely and less heavy. I’ll be doing that with the leftovers. Yum!

    • Nicole March 14, 2015 at 12:39 pm - Reply

      Susie – So glad you liked it! It is super yummy. You are right that it’s made for meat-lovers!

Leave A Comment

Rate this recipe: