Spicy beef stew

Spicy beef stew

1 h
With our easy spicy beef stew recipe, you can turn a tougher cut of meat like beef shoulder into a tender, flavourful stew in just a few short hours. Spiced with the Indonesian favourite, sambal oelek, the dish has a spicy, earthy, and umami-packed flavour profile that is delicious enough to make your mouth water. Served with brown rice and a crunchy pointed cabbage salad with a simple, homemade vinaigrette, this makes for a savoury, scrumptious, hearty spicy beef stew.


Spicy beef stew:
  • Let half of the butter melt and turn golden in a stewpan.
  • Sear the beef shoulder for about 2 minutes and take it out of the pan.
  • Let the rest of the butter melt and become golden and sauté the pieces of onion and pepper for around 2 minutes – take half of it out of the pan.
  • Transfer the seared beef to the stewpan and add beef broth, white wine vinegar, sambal oelek, and salt.
  • Bring the stew to a boil and let it simmer at low heat with the lid on for about 2 hours – or until the beef is tender.
  • Add cream and the rest of the sautéed vegetables and warm the stew thoroughly.
  • Season the stew to taste.
Pointed cabbage salad:
  • Mix the pointed cabbage well with salt and pepper in a bowl.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and season to taste.
  • Serve the pointed cabbage salad as a side to the spicy beef stew with rice. 
  • Garnish the dish with the garden parsley.

If you would like to thicken it more, you can go about it in a few different ways. You can, for instance, add either flour or cornflour. After doing so, make sure to mix it in well and allow the dish to simmer for a few minutes so the thickener can do its work.


You can also make a French beurre manié by kneading together 2 tablespoons of room-temperature butter and 2 tablespoons of flour. Add this ball of butter to the stew and stir to incorporate it. Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes as it thickens.


The secret to a good spicy beef stew is to let it cook slowly and not rush it. This will make the meat tenderer and the flavours stronger and deeper. Spend, at least, the two hours stated in this recipe, but you can also leave it longer – it will only get better with time.

Questions about beef stew

With our spicy beef stew recipe in hand, you can plate up a wonderfully creamy and spicy dish with a selection of lovely sides. To learn more and get the best result and an irresistible meal, read our answers to the most frequently asked questions about spicy beef stew below.

How to make beef stew?
Though it takes a while to cook, a homemade stew may just be the perfect hearty meal. To get started with our recipe for spicy beef stew, sear the meat and sauté onions and red bell pepper. Save half of the onions and red bell pepper to add later for a bit of crispiness. Add broth, white wine vinegar, and sambal oelek and cook until the meat is tender. Finally, add the cream and remaining vegetables. Serve the stew with a fresh pointed cabbage salad, brown rice and garnish with garden parsley.
What cut of meat to use for beef stew?
The best cuts of meat for spicy beef stew are tough ones like beef shoulder. Well-used, strong muscles such as the shoulder have a lot of collagen-rich connective tissue that melts into the meat as it cooks and gives a delectable richness. As such, using this cut of meat in a stew that is allowed to cook for hours will result in a rich and tasty stew with plenty of umami flavour.
What spice to put in beef stew?
This recipe gives you the perfect excuse to get out flavourful sambal oelek paste. Other great spices for a spicy beef stew include cayenne pepper and paprika for smoky flavours and turmeric, ginger, and cumin for warming qualities, depth, and earthy flavours. This type of red meat also tastes wonderful with dried herbs like oregano, basil, and rosemary. Brightening the heavy flavours of a spicy beef stew with a bit of white wine vinegar is also a wonderful idea.
How long will beef stew last?
Spicy beef stew keeps for 4-5 days in the fridge. After allowing the dish to cool, transfer it to one large airtight container or several portion-sized ones and place the container(s) in the fridge. The leftover spicy beef stew may be reheated either in the microwave or in a saucepan. The best way to preserve its flavour is to reheat it on low heat on the stovetop.
Can you freeze beef stew?
Yes! Spicy beef stew will last for up to 3 months in the freezer. If you plan on freezing the entire batch, leaving out the cream and adding it as you reheat the frozen stew is a good idea as this will minimise the chances of it splitting as it thaws. Otherwise, if you already added cream, just be mindful of heating it slowly so the cream does not split. After it has cooled, transfer it to an airtight container and leave room for it to expand as it freezes. When you are ready to enjoy the leftover stew, let it thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating it in a saucepan or the microwave.


Spicy beef stew:
25 g
Beef shoulders, in cubes (approx. 2 x 2 cm)
600 g
Large yellow onions (approx. 200 g), sliced
Red pepper (approx. 150 g), in strips
Coarse salt
1 tsp
Beef broth
300 dl
White wine vinegar
1 tbsp
Sambal oelek
1 tbsp
Double cream
150 ml
Pointed cabbage salat:
Pointed cabbages, finely chopped
300 g
Coarse salt
1 tsp
Freshly churned pepper
Rapeseed oil
2 tbsp
White wine vinegar
1 tbsp
Garden fresh parsley, finely chopped
½ dl
Garden fresh parsley, finely chopped
Served with:
Parboiled brown rice (approx. 3 dl), boiled
240 g

Creamy spicy beef stew with cream

The seared beef shoulder with its lightly caramelised surface is the main ingredient of this spicy beef stew. It gives the dish its deep and rich umami flavour which is beautifully complemented by the sautéed onion and pepper and spicy seasonings. To thicken it, we have chosen to add cream. It gives the flavourful stock a creamy consistency and a rich mouthfeel that perfectly rounds it all out and gives you that comfort food feeling you are looking for in this spicy meal.

To get inspired on how to make other decadent and delicious dishes with beef, check out our recipes for chateaubriand with roasted garlic and peppercorn sauce as well as beef Wellington served with potatoes and a mushroom and apple stew.

Spiced with sambal oelek and white wine vinegar

The main source of heat in this spiced beef stew is the sambal oelek. This Indonesian chilli paste is usually made with a selection of spicy peppers and flavourful ingredients like sharp garlic, salty prawn sauce, zesty lime juice, zingy ginger, and a bit of palm sugar for sweetness and to tie the flavours together. Popular across many Southeast Asian cuisines, it is also a great spice to use in stews.

The white wine vinegar in the recipe has a mild and slightly fruity taste that complements the flavour-packed sambal oelek well. It also introduces tangy notes and brightness into the dish that balance the heat and umami of the spicy beef stew. In addition, it helps tenderise the beef shoulder, bringing down the cooking time.

In case you are interested in more beef recipes, we suggest having a look at our shredded beef tacos and chilli con carne too.

Served with rice and fresh pointed cabbage salad

The nutty, slightly earthy, taste of brown rice lends itself well to a spicy beef stew. Due to its chewy texture, the rice may be mixed with the creamy sauce without losing its texture and becoming mushy. This makes them ideal for our spicy beef stew to soak up the delicious sauce and flavour.

For additional contrast in texture, we have chosen to pair our sambal oelek spiced beef stew with a crispy salad made with pointed cabbage. The crispy, yet tender, cabbage has a mild and fresh flavour that is not overpowered by the simple vinaigrette made with tangy white wine vinegar and rich rapeseed oil. The mildly bitter parsley adds lovely peppery notes that round out the side salad beautifully.

Make it your own

Some ideas for how to spice up this already spicy beef stew include using more than a tablespoon of sambal oelek paste, adding chilli flakes, or introducing additional dried spices into the dish to turn up the heat. Just make sure to do it a little at a time so it does not get too spicy.

Smoked paprika is a good spice for beef stew as it will add depth, heat, and smokiness. So too will cayenne pepper. Other ideas for aromatic spices include earthy and slightly bitter turmeric, zingy ginger, and pungent cumin. You can try adding only one or opting for a homemade spice mix.