Our best stew recipes include comforting recipes for everything from a traditional Russian beef stew and authentic beef Stroganoff to a rich French cassoulet Toulousain, classic Cape Town tomato bredie with spicy lamb and potatoes, and a Moroccan lamb tagine with prunes and almonds.
If you’re in the mood for comfort food, browse this collection of our best stew recipes. Few dishes beat a hearty French cassoulet Toulousain or traditional beef stew, or even a braise such as an authentic Russian beef Stroganoff, if you need a hug or warming up, particularly if you’re in the northern hemisphere, where it’s winter.
Although we’re using unexpected cool weather here in Siem Reap as an excuse for dipping into our best stew recipes and cooking up some comforting stews, warming braises and nourishing winter soups, it doesn’t matter what the weather’s like, our best stew recipes will take good care of you.
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Published 27 July 2021, updated 13 January 2022
Best Stew Recipes – These Hearty Stews and Braises are the Best Winter Warmers
Some of our best stew recipes were first published during our 2010 yearlong grand tour of the world, when we got to spend a good chunk of the year in cold climates. That meant we got to cook a fair few hearty stews, which included some slow cooking classics from around the world, for my series The Dish (you can find these all under recipes now) on the quintessential dishes of places.
All over the world these kinds of slow cooked meat based dishes keep popping up and they all have a couple of things in common. They use ‘lesser’ cuts of meat, such as ox tail in the rabo de toro recipe, below, cooked for a very long time, using spices that are common throughout their region.
The reason we were attracted to these traditional stews is that they’re generally quite old recipes that become classics in their places of origin. As well as being relatively easy to make (although they can take a long time to cook), they fill the place with aromas that make an apartment rental or holiday house feel like a home and they’re also great for casual meals with new friend you might make on the road. Remember those days?
Best Stew Recipes – These Hearty Stews and Braises are the Best Winter Warmers
French Cassoulet A Stew of Beans, Pork, Sausages and Duck Confit
Of the times we’ve thrown dinner parties while on the road, making a French cassoulet and a cassoulet Toulousain at that for a native of Toulouse – Toulouse in France being one of the dish’s spiritual homes – was one of the most brazen cooking ideas I’ve had. Luckily, my hearty cassoulet went down well with our guest and his partner. Named after the cassole, the earthenware pot the cassoulet is traditional cooked in, this rich French stew of sausages, pork, haricot beans, and duck confit is probably the most complex dishes of our best stew recipes to make, but it’s so very rewarding on a chilly winter’s night.
Traditional Russian Beef Stew Recipe for Solyanka
Our traditional Russian beef stew recipe makes solyanka, a quintessential beef stew or heavy beef soup with potatoes and carrots that’s a little sour, a little sweet, and was a whole lot saltier back in its day. First mentioned in print in the 15th century, solyanka is a medieval dish made for modern times: invented to use leftovers, it’s a one-pot dish that is filling and comforting. Lara created this recipe based on her memories of her Russian grandmother’s stew and it’s just the way she remembers it. One of our best stew recipes, we recommending serving it with a Russian garden salad, slices of black rye bread or sourdough, and don’t even think about washing it down with anything but vodka.
Authentic Russian Beef Stroganoff Recipe
This Russian beef Stroganoff recipe is another of our best stew recipes. It’s a quick stew recipe or what some might call a beef braise, as the meat is sautéed first to brown and then left to simmer. Another of Lara’s Russian family recipes, it makes a deliciously rich and creamy rendition of the mushroom and beef stew recipe invented in Stroganov Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Lara’s family would eat this as part of a Russian feast that might include borscht, pelmeni and potato vareniki, all warming winter dishes. When served as a main, it was traditionally eaten with shoestring fries or creamy mashed potatoes, gherkins, and a green salad.
Chicken Stroganoff Recipe for an Old Shanghai Style of Stroganoff
Our Russian chicken Stroganoff recipe makes the best chicken Stroganoff. Inspired by the old Shanghai-style of Stroganoff, it’s incredibly rich, redolent of spices, and slightly tangy due to the addition of Worcestershire sauce, which was added to beef Stroganoff in the Russian restaurants in Shanghai and Harbin in China in the early 20th century. If you loved our authentic beef Stoganoff recipe, above, and our mushroom Stroganoff recipe, both based on Lara’s Russian family recipes, then I guarantee you that you’re going to love this chicken Stroganoff recipe, perhaps even more. It’s just as creamy and it’s even spicier – and by that, we mean richly spiced, not spicy-hot.
Moroccan Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds Recipe
After our côte de bœuf (cote de boeuf) recipe, and alongside our tomato bredie recipe below, this Moroccan lamb tagine with prunes and almonds recipe is one of the most-read recipes on our site and another of our best stew recipes. And for good reason. It’s damn delicious. While we love chicken tagine, there is something about lamb tagine on a cold autumn or winter’s night. Essentially a slow cooked lamb stew, it’s one we prepare in the late afternoon so it’s ready around 10pm – you need plenty of time to get that meat to the fall-apart tenderness stage.
Classic Moroccan Chicken Tagine Recipe with Preserved Lemons and Olives
This Moroccan chicken tagine recipe with preserved lemons and olives makes one of Morocco’s most quintessential tagines, alongside the lamb tagine with prunes and almonds, above. Infused with intense citrus notes, thanks to umami-rich preserved lemons, the comforting Moroccan stew is traditionally eaten with crusty round bread called khobz. It’s also delicious with couscous, just don’t tell your Moroccan friends! While tagine and couscous seem like the perfect pairing to some of us (like rice and curry), in Morocco they are considered separate dishes. While the dishes might appear on the table together during a feast or large family meal, traditionally they are not actually eaten together in Morocco. But if you’re not in Morocco…
Tomato Bredie Recipe for a Cape Town Stew of Spicy Lamb and Potatoes
Not only one of our best stew recipes, and another lamb stew, this tomato bredie recipe is one of our most popular posts on the site. A classic Cape Town dish with Indonesian roots, it is typical of Cape Malay cuisine in that it has a great array of spices that really elevate the dish. Add cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, thyme, marjoram, and a good dash of chilli to any stew and you have a winner. This one gets even more earthy by letting the flavours meld in the refrigerator overnight, and then adding some potatoes to finish it off.
Rabo de Toro Recipe for An Oxtail Stew from Southern Spain
Nothing exemplifies the use of cheaper cuts of meat than this hearty oxtail stew called rabo de toro in Spanish. In some ways it’s related to Bœuf Bourguignon, but it’s even tastier because the marrow from the ox tail adds depth to the gravy. Like the bredie above, it’s a two stage dish and a Spanish cook wouldn’t dream of serving rabo de toro on the same night that the first stage is completed. Locals disagreed with me about using a medium-bodied Spanish red in the sauce instead of Oloroso sherry, but I’ve made it both ways and prefer the red wine. It’s another of our best stew recipes and one of the most read recipes on the site.
Pörkölt Recipe for the Hungarian Stew Often Confused with Goulash
There is a lot of confusion about what goulash is, so here’s the truth: goulash or gulyás is actually a hearty soup and pörkölt is what most people think of as goulash, but without the soup and with plenty more meat. With that out of the way, I have to say that both are perfect winter warmers. What sets this stew apart from the others is the beautiful, fragrant Hungarian paprika. The only problem is getting some quality paprika outside of Hungary to make this with, as, without it, it’s just a stew – albeit a great one and one of our best stew recipes.
Braised Pork Belly Recipe with Ginger, Black Pepper, Palm Sugar, and Peanuts
This braised pork belly recipe with ginger, black pepper, palm sugar, and peanuts makes a comforting Cambodian slow-cooked pork belly dish that Cambodians would simply call a pork stew or khor sach chrouk – also spelt kaw sach chrouk. The palm sugar caramelises the pork and combined with ginger gives it a sweet fragrance, while the peanuts add crunch. Back in the day, this would have been cooked in a clay pot on a traditional hearth inside the home, in a lean-to kitchen on a traditional clay brazier or outside over an open fire. The way that many Cambodians cook in rural areas today isn’t so different.
Cambodian Slow-Cooked Pork Stew Recipe With Star Anise and Ginger for Khor Cheung Chrouk
This slow-cooked pork stew recipe makes Cambodia’s khor cheung chrouk or pork leg stew and it’s a deliciously aromatic dish that you’ll have a greater chance of eating in a private home in Cambodia than in a restaurant or local eatery – which is all the more reason to make it at home. It takes some patience to make but it will fill your kitchen with the amazing aromas of pork, star anise and ginger. Serve it with steamed rice and stir-fried Asian greens or morning glory or it could form the centrepiece of a Southeast Asian feast.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make any of our best stew recipes as we’d love to know how they turn out for you.