Stifado (Spicy Beef Stew)

This is not a typical beef stew. Spicy, meaty, and full of pearl onions! Family and friends will rave about this delicious concoction!

This stew is perfect for cold wintery days!

Susan Tweeton


  • 2 pounds lean stewing beef
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1–2 pounds pearl onions, peeled
  • 2–4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1½–2 cups water or beef broth
  • ½ cup red wine (optional) 
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper


  1. Heat olive oil in heavy Dutch oven.
  2. Add beef in batches and brown well on all sides; set aside.
  3. Add onion to pot and sauté until golden; set aside.
  4. Drain off any excess fat.
  5. Return beef to pot and add garlic, bay leaves, tomato paste, wine, wine vinegar, spices, and water or broth.
  6. Bring to simmer and cook for 60 minutes until meat is just tender.
  7. Add more water if necessary.
  8. Add onions and cook approximately 30 additional minutes until meat and onions are completely tender.
  9. Adjust seasonings.

Serving suggestions

Serve Stifado with rice, noodles, or potatoes.

*Variation:  Use 1–2 tablespoons pickling spice instead of bay leaves and ground spices. Place pickling spices in cheesecloth square, tie, and simmer along with stew. Remove before serving.