Classic Greek Beef Stifado Recipe

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Stifado, a hearty and flavorful Greek stew, is a must-try for anyone who enjoys comfort food with a unique twist. This dish typically features melt-in-your-mouth beef or lamb simmered in a rich tomato sauce with caramelized onions, whispers of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a hint of tangy vinegar.

The beauty of stifado lies in its simplicity. With a handful of pantry staples and some TLC, you can recreate this restaurant-worthy dish in your own kitchen. So, grab your favorite cooking pot and get ready to embark on a delicious journey to Greece!

Beef Stifado recipe (Greek beef stew)
Beef Stifado recipe (Greek beef stew)


(Serves 4-6 people)

1 kg (2.2 lbs) stewing beef or lamb, cut into bite-sized pieces

  • 500g (1.1 lbs) shallots or small onions, peeled
  • 1/2 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (400g) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick (broken in half)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Directions:

    1. Marinate the Meat: In a large bowl, toss the beef or lamb pieces with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes, or preferably overnight, for the flavors to develop.
    2. Sauté the Shallots: Heat the remaining olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and softened, about 15-20 minutes. Patience is key here! The caramelized shallots add a beautiful depth of flavor to the stifado.
    3. Brown the Meat: Once the shallots are golden, increase the heat to medium-high and add the marinated beef or lamb. Brown the meat on all sides, working in batches if necessary, to avoid overcrowding the pot.
    4. Flavor Builders: Add the chopped onion, garlic, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, red wine, water, red wine vinegar, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, oregano, and sugar to the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    5. Simmer and Thicken: Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
    6. Serve and Enjoy: Once the stifado is thickened and the meat is cooked through, remove the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Serve hot with your favorite sides like crusty bread, rice, mashed potatoes, or Greek pasta (orkzo). Garnish with fresh parsley for a pop of color, if desired.

    Nutrition Facts:

    (Per serving, based on a 6-serving recipe)

    Calories: 450-500 (depending on fat content of meat)

  • Fat: 25-30g
  • Saturated Fat: 10-12g
  • Cholesterol: 80mg
  • Sodium: 500mg (depending on added salt)
  • Carbohydrates: 30-35g
  • Sugar: 10g
  • Protein: 35-40g

  • Conclusion:

    Stifado is not just a dish; it’s a warm hug in a bowl. The combination of tender meat, caramelized onions, and the unique interplay of sweet, savory, and slightly tart flavors is sure to tantalize your taste buds. It’s a fantastic dish for a cozy night in or a casual dinner party.

    Whether you’re a seasoned cook or just starting your culinary journey, stifado is a recipe worth adding to your repertoire. With its simple yet satisfying flavors, it’s bound to become a family favorite.


    1. Can I use a different type of meat in stifado?

    Absolutely! While beef and lamb are traditional choices, you can also use chicken, rabbit, or even pork for a delicious variation. Just adjust the cooking time slightly depending on the meat you choose.

    2. I don’t have red wine. Can I substitute it with something else?