There’s no greater comfort food than a hearty stew. And Irish Beef and Guinness Stew might be the king of them all! Guinness Beer gives the sauce an incredible rich, deep flavour, and the beef is fall-apart tender.
While it takes time to slow cook, this is very straight forward to make. Stove, oven, in your slow cooker or pressure cooker – directions provided for all. Mop your bowl clean with Irish Soda Bread!
Irish Beef and Guinness Stew
Irish Stew may well be the mother of all stews. I mean, you know that anything simmered for hours is going to be a good thing. But this…. this is the stew of your dreams. Arguably the most deeply flavourful sauce of all stews, with a rich dark brown flavour, this is the best of the best.
THIS is the stew I make for company when I want to impress!
With it’s deeply flavoured rich sauce, Guinness Beef Stew is THE stew you make when you want to impress!
What kind of beer goes in Guinness Stew?
The not-so-secret ingredient that goes into Guinness Stew that gives the sauce the deep flavour and colour is Guinness Beer.
Guinness Beer is so dark it is almost black and it’s why the gravy of the stew is such a beautiful deep brown colour. Guinness is also much richer than most beers, which you can see just by looking at the thick creamy head (the foam) that Guinness is famed for.
It’s pretty widely available these days – here in Australia, you’ll find it at most liquor stores.
Meat in Guinness Stew – beef OR lamb
Traditionally, Guinness Stew is made with lamb. But in many parts of the world including here in Australia and North America, Guinness Stew is more commonly made with beef.
I hope the Irish aren’t offended! 🙂 I’ve made it with lamb and to be honest, I do prefer it with beef.
Tip: Use big chunky hunks of beef. Don’t even think about using tiny cubes of beef. It needs to be chunky pieces so it can be cooked for a looooong time to get all that flavour into the sauce! If the pieces of beef are too small, they will cook too quickly and fall apart in the stew before it’s had enough time to develop the deep flavours.
Ingredients in Guinness Beef Stew
In addition to chuck beef and Guinness Beer, here are the other ingredients in Irish Stew.
- Garlic and onion – essentials
- Bacon – adds extra flavour! Can be skipped, or sub with pancetta or speck
- Carrot and celery – potatoes could also be added
- Flour and tomato paste – to thicken sauce and the tomato paste also adds some flavour;
- Guinness Beer and broth/liquid stock – the braising liquids. I prefer using chicken rather than beef broth because it allows the flavour from the Guinness beer to come through better. Don’t worry, it doesn’t taste like beer at all, it transforms into a deep savoury sauce! Also, all the alcohol is cooked out.
- Thyme and bay leaves – to add a hint of flavour the sauce.
How to make Irish Beef and Guinness Stew
Though this Irish Beef and Guinness Stew takes time to cook, it is very straightforward. The steps are no different to usual stews like classic Beef Stew:
- Brown the beef – brown them well, this is key to flavour. It’s not just the browned beef itself, also the brown bits left on the bottom of the pot (fond) adds extra flavour to the sauce;
- Sauté flavour base – onion, garlic, bacon (speck or pancetta), carrot and celery;
- Cook off flour and tomato paste;
- Add liquids – beer, broth and herbs;
- Simmer covered for 2 hours until the beef is pretty tender, then simmer for a further 30 minutes uncovered to let the sauce reduce a bit and for the beef to become “fall apart tender”.
Yes it takes hours but your patience is rewarded with beef so tender you can eat it with a spoon!
The one thing I do differently to most Guinness Beef Stew recipes, including very traditional Irish recipes, is to thicken the sauce slightly with flour. If you don’t do this step, the sauce is quite thin and watery, and while the flavour is still lovely, I really prefer the sauce to be more like a thin gravy.
What to serve with Irish Stew
I am so glad I have a tub of this in the freezer. I cooked most of the day but gave it all away. The minute I hit Publish on this post, I’m going to get cracking reheating some of this Irish Stew for dinner tonight! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Beef and Guinness Stew
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2.5 lb / 1.25 kg beef chuck , boneless short rib or any other slow cooking beef (no bone)
- 3/4 tsp each salt and black pepper
- 3 garlic cloves , minced
- 2 onions , chopped (brown, white or yellow)
- 6 oz / 180g bacon , speck or pancetta, diced
- 3 tbsp flour (all purpose/plain, Note 3 for GF)
- 440ml / 14.9 oz Guinness Beer (Note 1)
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 cups (750 ml) chicken stock/broth (or beef broth - Note 4)
- 3 carrots , peeled and cut into 1.25 cm / 1/2" thick pieces
- 2 large celery stalks , cut into 2cm / 1" pieces
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs thyme (or sub with 1 tsp dried thyme leaves)
- Cut the beef into 5cm/2" chunks. Pat dry then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Heat oil in a heavy based pot over high heat. Add beef in batches and brown well all over. Remove onto plate. Repeat with remaining beef.
- Lower heat to medium. If the pot is looking dry, add oil.
- Cook garlic and onion for 3 minutes until softening, then add bacon.
- Cook until bacon is browned, then stir through carrot and celery.
- Add flour, and stir for 1 minute to cook off the flour.
- Add Guinness, chicken broth/stock and tomato paste. Mix well (to ensure flour dissolves well), add bay leaves and thyme.
- Return beef into the pot (including any juices). Liquid level should just cover - see video or photos.
- Cover, lower heat so it is bubbling gently. Cook for 2 hours - the beef should be pretty tender by now. Remove lid then simmer for a further 30 - 45 minutes or until the beef falls apart at a touch, the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.
- Skim off fat on surface, if desired. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaves and thyme.
- Serve with creamy mashed potatoes!!
- SLOW COOKER: Reduce chicken broth by 1 cup. After you add the Guinness and broth/stock into the pot, bring to simmer and ensure you scrape the bottom of the pot well. Transfer everything into slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients per recipe. Cook on low for 8 hours. If sauce needs more thickening, simmer with slow cooker lid off (if you have that function), to ladle some of the sauce into a separate saucepan and reduce on stove.
- PRESSURE COOKER: Follow slow cooker instructions, cook on HIGH for 40 minutes (this might seem longer than most but we're using chuck here which needs to be cooked for a long time until tender and also the pieces are large). 3. FLOUR: I prefer my stew sauce a bit thick, not watery, so I always add flour to slightly thicken the sauce. Some recipes say to dust beef with flour before browning - I prefer not to use this method because the flour burns then this permeates throughout the whole stew. GLUTEN FREE OPTION - skip the flour in the recipe. Cook per recipe then right at the end, when the beef is tender and the liquid has reduced down, mix together 2 1/2 tbsp of cornflour/cornstarch with a splash of water. Add to stew, and watch as it thickens! 4. Beef vs Chicken Broth - I use chicken broth because the flavour is slightly more mild which lets the guinness flavour come through more. But beef broth works just as well and you can definitely still taste the Guinness!! 5. Nutrition per serving, excluding mashed potato. This nutrition is overstated because it does not take into account the fat that is skimmed off the surface.
Originally published July 2016, updated with new video and step photos. No change to recipe.
More slow cooked fall-apart beef recipes
- Beef Stew with Potatoes & Carrots
- Pot Roast
- Fall-apart Beef Ribs in Red Wine Sauce
- Beef and Mushroom Pie
- Shredded Beef Ragu
- Slow Cooked Beef Stroganoff
- Slow Cooked Chicken Stew and Faster Chicken Stew – when you need a rich stew on the table in under an hour!
- Browse Winter Warmer recipes and see more Stews!
Life of Dozer
Sulking because he didn’t score any Irish Stew.
Let’s not feel badly for him though. He lives a very cushy life!