Traditional Greek Beef Stifado Stew Recipe - Larder Love (2024)


This traditional Greek beef stifado stew recipe is the ultimate in comfort food. Richly aromatic this stifado is one of the most popular dishes in Greece. Go to any village taverna and this hearty beef stew will be bubbling away in the kitchen filling the air with fabulous scents that will have you begging for a bowl of this wonderful rich stew.

Traditional Greek Beef Stifado Stew Recipe - Larder Love (1)

Traditional Greek Beef Stifado Stew Recipe

Stifado has always been my favourite Greek recipe. It takes me back to when I first worked in Greece in my twenties all those years ago and worked in tavernas for a pittance but loved getting the free meals in the evening.

Stifado was always on the menu and I loved it. Roll on the years and whilst living in Crete it is always stifado I will choose when going out for a meal.

Wherever you go in the world there always seems to be a traditional stew that is the country/region’s signature comfort food.

Where India has aromatic curries heavy with spices, Italy it’s rich ragus and we in Britain have our stews, the Greeks have this beef stifado stew.

Traditional Greek Beef Stifado Stew Recipe - Larder Love (2)

Just the smell of stifado cooking makes my mouth water. Actually just thinking of it can transport me from a rainy day in Scotland to the sunshine of Greece.

I love stew at the best of times, actually, I have been known to eat it cold from the pot and this used to drive my Mum mad.

What’s in Stifado

This is a beef stifado but you can often find rabbit stifado on the menu in tavernas and octopus too. Stifado is just stew, but seriously good stew!

The best beef stifado uses little pearl onions. Lots of onions! Now I know these are a pain in the arse to peel, but they do have a terrific flavour (much better than a normal onion) and give the dish authenticity.

I promise you it is worth all the fiddling about peeling the little buggers. Having said that, if you can’t get hold of any just use sliced up normal onions instead.

This stifado is your basic beef, carrot and onion stew recipe. But oh with a difference. And it’s the blend of herbs and spices that lifts this humble stew to new levels of gastronomic delight.

Traditional Greek Beef Stifado Stew Recipe - Larder Love (3)

Aromatic herbs and spices

It’s the herbs and spices that bring stifado to life. My friend Georgos swears that stifado is all about Daphne.

No, that’s not his wife he’s talking about, Daphne is the Greek name for bay (laurel) and you must have bay leaves in stifado.

Add the sweetness of cinnamon, the punch of cloves and allspice and warmth of cumin and nutmeg.

That is a spice blend there that will have your taste buds tingling. Orange peel and thyme add a zesty herbal note to this richly aromatic stifado.

Slow cooking

Time is your major component in this traditional Greek stifado. The meat must be tender and succulent.

It cooks slowly in the spices and herbs.

The red wine tenderises the meat till it falls apart when you put your fork into it and melts in your mouth with an explosion of flavour.

Give your beef stifado lots of time to cook, it may seem like this recipe takes forever, but it is SO worth the wait.

Don’t rush things, when it goes into the oven just go off and do something else and let time do all the cooking for you.

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What to serve with stifado

I just serve this stifado with a simple Greek salad in the centre of the table for sharing. Lots of fresh crusty bread is a must. You will want to mop up all that gorgeously rich aromatic sauce from the stifado.

A baked potato is a good choice if you want to add some carbs, or mashed potatoes make this stifado into serious comfort food.

In Greece you are very often served chips with stifado. But then again in Greece you are often served chips with everything!

Traditional Greek Beef Stifado Stew Recipe - Larder Love (6)

Can you freeze stifado

Yes of course you can. Simply save any extra stew in a freezer-proof box (I prefer to use bags as they take up less room) and freeze for up to 3 months.

Defrost completely and cook till piping hot. Once you’ve tasted this traditional Greek beef stifado no stew will ever be the same I promise you.

Kalo Orexi!

Traditional Greek Beef Stifado Stew Recipe - Larder Love (7)

Looking for some more gorgeous Greek comfort food? Then check out these easy recipes;

Easy vegetarian moussaka

Traditional Greek Pastit*io

Spiced stuffed aubergine/eggplant

Quick and easy vegetarian Greek stuffed peppers

Finally, if you do try this recipe don’t forget to leave a comment/star rating below as I just love to hear from readers. Want more Larder Love? Then follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter and sign up for my newsletter too of course.

Photos And Tips AboveMost of my recipes have step by step photos and useful tips plus videos too, see above.

Traditional Greek Beef Stifado Stew Recipe - Larder Love (8)

Traditional Greek beef stifado stew

Karon Grieve

Beef stifado is a simple Greek stew packed with aromatic herbs and spices, a truly heartwarming dish.

4.34 from 3 votes

Print Recipe Comment Bookmark Pin Recipe

Prep Time 15 minutes mins

Cook Time 3 hours hrs 40 minutes mins

Total Time 3 hours hrs 55 minutes mins

Course Mains

Cuisine Greek

Servings 4 people

Calories 663 kcal


  • 1 kg steak stewing steak cubed
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 6 allspice berries
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 175 ml red wine
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree diluted with 1lt water
  • 600 g pearl onions peeled
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp orange peel dried orange peel
  • salt & pepper to taste to taste

MetricUS Customary


  • Preheat oven to 160C/325F

  • Sear the beef in a hot pan with oil on all sides for 1-3 mins till sealed

  • Add garlic, spices, herbs, carrots and orange peel and saute for 1 minute

  • Add the wine and vinegar and saute for further 5 minutes

  • Add diluted tomato puree and cover the pan

  • Cook in oven for 2 hours

  • Remove from oven and add the onions, honey and seasoning, put the lid back on and put in back in the oven for a further 1 hour.

  • Remove pan from oven and take off lid and cook on the hob for further 20 mins to reduce the liquid.

  • Serve with mashed potato, chips or a salad.


Stifado will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days and can be frozen too.


Calories: 663kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 53gFat: 36gSaturated Fat: 16gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 153mgSodium: 165mgPotassium: 1117mgFiber: 5gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 5207IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 96mgIron: 6mg

My Top Tips*Always read the full recipe first. *Assemble all your ingredients and everything you need before you start. *For baking check the size of tins I’m using as this makes a big difference to your cakes. * I use medium sized eggs unless otherwise stated. * I use extra virgin olive oil unless otherwise stated. * I use unsalted butter unless otherwise stated. * Check out My Preserving Kit!

Tried this recipe?Mention @LarderLove or tag #LarderLove

Traditional Greek Beef Stifado Stew Recipe - Larder Love (2024)


Traditional Greek Beef Stifado Stew Recipe - Larder Love? ›

The word stifado derives from the ancient Greek word tyfos (τύφος), which means steam. This is the root for the Latin word estufare, from which the Italian stufato (or Venetian stufado), the Italian word for stew, was born.

What does stifado mean in Greek? ›

The word stifado derives from the ancient Greek word tyfos (τύφος), which means steam. This is the root for the Latin word estufare, from which the Italian stufato (or Venetian stufado), the Italian word for stew, was born.

How to make stew more tasty? ›

Most casserole and stew dishes start off with the same base of onions, celery and carrot, sauteed gently to release the flavours. Sauteed means cooked gently and stirred often until the sugars wake up in the vegetables, allowing them to release their full flavour. You could add a little crushed garlic if you like that.

What is the history of beef stifado? ›

Greek Stifatho or Stifado is a go-to winter dish found in kitchens throughout Greece. The Venetians brought it across the sea in the 13th Century, along with other famous traditional dishes such as the Cretan Gamopilafo or Corfiot Pastit*ada.

How do you make beef stew meat tender? ›

The most important key to making stew meat tender is being sure to cook it for a long time. If you want super tender beef, you'll need to cook it on a low heat in a Dutch oven on the stove or a slow cooker for at least a few hours.

What is the Greek word for stew? ›

The word “stifado” (στιφάδο in Greek) come from the ancient greek word “τύφος” which means steam. While if you use google translate it will return the word “stew”.

What is the secret to good stew? ›

"Soups and stews really need to simmer for long periods to allow the ingredients to meld together. Taking that a step further, most soups and stews are better if you prepare them the day before serving. Allowing them to cool and then reheating them really helps bring out the flavors and textures."

What gives beef stew more flavor? ›

Add spices such as turmeric, coriander and cumin at the early stage of cooking, when you are frying onions and garlic, to enhance the taste of the beef stew. Fresh herbs like coriander and bay leaves also contribute a distinct flavour without making the dish too spicy for the younger members of the family.

What is the most tender beef for stew? ›

Next time you're shopping for stew beef, look at your options and see what cuts of meat will work best for your recipe. For example, chuck is a lean and tender cut of beef that works well in stew. However, if you would prefer a thicker and more flavorful stew, short ribs or oxtail may be better choices for you.

What is the traditional meat in Greece? ›

Meat in traditional Greek cuisine and cooking was mainly reserved for the Sunday meal and for festive occasions. The main animal proteins in the Greek diet are lamb and goat, pork (especially in rural communities), poultry and some game. Fish and seafood, of course, are a seminal part of the Greek diet.

What is stifado made of? ›

Stifado, pronounced stiff-ah-do, is a hearty Greek beef stew seasoned with warming spices, red wine, and loads of pearl onions. This stew, which is typically served as a Sunday family dinner on colder fall and winter days, is one of the many traditional Greek comfort food recipes.

Is stew high in calories? ›

Nutrition Facts

A typical serving of beef stew has anywhere from 200 to 1,000 calories depending on the portion size (restaurants usually go overboard) and the meat used (some cuts have more fat than others).

Is souvlaki high in calories? ›

A typical order of chicken souvlaki has just 260 calories and eight grams of fat. Lamb or pork skewers have 310 calories and 11 grams of fat.

What is the term for Greek appetizers? ›

Meze (also spelled mezze or mezé) (/ˈmɛzeɪ/, /ˈmɛzɛ/) is a selection of small dishes served as appetizers in Albanian, Bosnian, Armenian, Kurdish, Levantine, Turkish, Bulgarian, and Greek cuisines. It is similar to Spanish tapas and Italian antipasti.

What is Horta in Greek language? ›

Horta in Greek literally means “wild greens” and it has been a staple of the Greek Diet since the ancient times. There are even references to Horta in Pythagoras's ancient scripts.

What makes a dish Greek? ›

Greek cuisine uses some flavorings more often than other Mediterranean cuisines do, namely oregano, mint, garlic, onion, dill, cumin, and bay laurel leaves. Other common herbs and spices include basil, thyme and fennel seed. Parsley is also used as a garnish on some dishes.

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