Chinese Beef Stew with Potatoes (土豆炖牛肉)

4.86 from 7 votes
Email Facebook LinkedIn Mix Pinterest Reddit Twitter
This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy.

The beef is braised in a rich savory broth with potatoes and carrots until super tender and flavorful. This Chinese beef stew is an easy make-ahead recipe that requires little prep and you’ll have delicious dinners for the next couple of days. Freezer and meal-prep friendly. {Gluten-Free adaptable}

Chinese beef stew

I often receive emails from readers about how challenging it is to make several Chinese dishes at the same time and serve a full meal. As you might already know, Chinese recipes tend to have long ingredient lists. Plus the recipes might require more hands-on time than many Western dishes. To tell you the truth, even my mom, who has been cooking Chinese food for the family for over 30 years, still faces the same challenge.

Her solution? Avoid cooking multiple things at a time.

It’s a piece of wisdom she’s repeated again and again since the first time I left home to study in Japan. She kept reminding me to make some braised meat on the weekend and freeze it in single portions, so I have a main dish to last me a week. So every day I just needed to make a vegetable dish. It’s so much easier than trying to whip up a new meat dish every day.

That was nearly 15 years ago when the concept of meal prep was not yet a thing. But it’s the same idea that I’ve been using all these years.

Chinese beef stew served on rice

Cooking notes

1. Cut of beef

Beef chuck roast is my favorite cut to use in beef stew. The cut is usually very affordable and it yields a tender texture. Compared to the traditional Chinese beef stew, chuck roast has a much lower fat percentage. But over the years I’ve found that lots of my American friends prefer leaner meats. Plus it makes for a lighter, healthier stew. I’ve been using this cut since moving here.

Back in China, fattier stews are more popular. My mom usually uses a very fatty cut of beef brisket without trimming the fat from it. What happens is, the fat protects the lean part from overheating yet melts away during the cooking. So you get buttery melt-in-your-mouth meat in the end. If you want a fattier beef stew, try to find a very marbled cut of brisket or short ribs. In this case, you also need to braise the beef longer to get the beef tender.

2. No browning required

My mom never browns the meat before braising it. The only thing she does is boil the meat once and discard the boiling water with all the brown bits. The reason she discards the broth is to get rid of the unpleasant smell of the meat. Back in China, meat is stored and sold at room temperature at the market. Sometimes it might not be in the freshest condition when you buy it.

I found that meat in the US is much fresher. That’s why I used the same approach in this recipe. But instead of discarding the boiling water, I skimmed and discarded the brown bits and saved the broth.

3. Heat control is important

One thing I learned from culinary school is, the only thing you really need to boil is pasta. You should never actually “boil” anything else, but use lower temperatures to cook them in water.

When it comes to braising meat, it’s important to control the heat and not bring the broth to a full boil, which tightens the meat and makes it tougher. During the beginning stage, you do need to bring the broth to a gentle boil so it clots the blood from the meat and you can get rid of the brown bits. Once that’s done, you should always keep the broth at a low simmer. This means that tiny bubbles rise to the surface of the broth here and there. The simmer will keep the beef tender. It also prevents the fat from emulsifying into the broth, which produces a clear sauce in the end.

Chinese beef stew close up

4. Sauce reduction

There are a few different approaches when it comes to sauce reduction.

  • Add russet potatoes and cook them until they fall apart. The starch from the potatoes will melt into the broth and thicken it slightly.
  • Use 1 tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water to create a slurry. Drizzle it into the broth slowly and stir, until the sauce thickens. This is a quick way to create a brown gravy. I would use this method if I’m hosting a dinner party and want a nicer presentation. Note, the starch will lose its potency when reheated, so the sauce will become thin again if you heat up the leftovers.
  • Bring the broth to a boil after adding the veggies. It reduces the sauce by evaporating it, plus it emulsifies some fat into the broth to thicken the sauce. This is the traditional Chinese approach. It creates a fattier and richer sauce.

You can use whichever way you prefer. For me, I simply enjoy the thin sauce generated from the recipe because I often use the leftover sauce to make braised veggies.

5. Leftover sauce

The leftover sauce has a delicious flavor of concentrated beef and seasonings, which makes a great base for cooking veggies. What I often do is:

(1) Reheat the meat and sauce in a small pan. Add more veggies (such as frozen green beans etc) and cook them together. It’s just my way of adding veggies to my meals. Believe it or not, sometimes I enjoy the flavorful veggies more than the beef.

(2) Add a spoonful of leftover sauce when making a veggie stir-fry. It’s a quick way to cook and season the veggies.

Chinese beef stew cooking steps

Chinese beef stew with potato and carrot served on rice

More meal-prep friendly recipes

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

Want to Know More?Receive our 5-Day Chinese Cooking Crash Course & Recipe Updates! Subscribe
Chinese beef stew close up

Chinese Beef Stew with Potatoes (土豆炖牛肉)

4.86 from 7 votes
The beef is braised in a rich savory broth with potatoes and carrots until super tender and flavorful. An easy make-ahead recipe that requires little prep and you’ll have delicious dinners for the next couple of days. Freezer and meal-prep friendly. {Gluten-Free adaptable} To make this dish gluten-free, use dry sherry instead of Shaoxing wine. And replace the soy sauce with coconut aminos or tamari.
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Meal prep
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 8 servings


  • 1 (3 lbs / 1.3 kg) beef chuck roast , cut into 1.5” (3 cm) chunks
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 6 dried chili peppers
  • 1 thumb ginger , sliced
  • 3 green onions , halved crosswise
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce (or soy sauce) (*Footnote 1)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 carrots , cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium waxy potatoes (or 1 large russet potato, quartered) (*Footnote 2)


  • Place the beef in a 4-quart (3.78-liter) dutch oven and add 4 cups of cold tap water so the water just covers the beef. Heat the pot over medium-high heat until it reaches a gentle boil. Stir occasionally to prevent the beef from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Turn to medium heat. Let it boil gently for 10 to 15 minutes. While boiling, skim the foam from the top of the broth and discard it until the broth is clear.
  • Add the Shaoxing wine, chili peppers, ginger, green onion, bay leaves, star anise, cinnamon stick, sugar, and ground black pepper. Turn to medium-low heat. Let simmer, covered, for 40 minutes.
  • Add the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, and salt. Stir to mix well. Continue simmering uncovered for 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes, until the beef turns tender but not to the point of falling apart.
  • Add the carrots and potatoes. Simmer uncovered for another 30 minutes or so, until the veggies get tender.
  • Serve hot as a main over steamed rice or boiled noodles.


  1. Dark soy sauce adds beautiful brown color to the sauce. You can use soy sauce to replace it. The color of the dish will look lighter but it doesn't affect the taste.
  2. If you prefer to let the potato melt into the broth, use russet potato instead.


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 468kcal, Carbohydrates: 12.8g, Protein: 31.3g, Fat: 31.6g, Cholesterol: 117mg, Sodium: 541mg, Fiber: 1.9g, Sugar: 3.4g
Did You Make This Recipe?Don't forget the last step! Tag me @OmnivoresCookbook and #OmnivoresCookbook on Instagram!
Chinese beef stew with potatoes - The beef is braised in a rich savory broth with potatoes and carrots until super tender and flavorful. An easy make-ahead recipe that requires little prep and you’ll have delicious dinners for the next couple of days. Freezer and meal-prep friendly. {Gluten-Free adaptable}

Receive our FREE 5-Day Chinese Cooking Crash Course & Recipe Updates!


Leave a Review!

I love hearing from you! Submit your question or review below. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*.

Rate This Recipe!

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Chng Eng Wan says:

    When do you add the cinnamon stick and star anise?

    • Maggie says:

      They are added at step 2. Just updated the recipe. Happy cooking!

  2. Sashi Sehgal says:

    Hi Maggie, Do you think this could be done in a slow cooker at all following your stages? Would you have an6 reservations on this? Thanks again for your posts…

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Sashi, I’m pretty sure you can! Let me know how it goes 🙂

  3. Lauren says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is awesome, thank you Maggie! I used 1tsp Chinese 5 Spice Powder instead of star anise as I didn’t have any on hand, and my family loved the results.

    What do you think of adding bok choy in to the liquid with the carrots and potatoes? I want to add some extra veggies one-pot style and feel like that would go well.

    Can’t wait to try some of your other recipes! 🙂

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Lauren, I’m glad to hear you like the recipe! You can definitely add bok choy in the liquid. I would add them at the end of the cooking, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until they turn tender. If there’s not enough liquid to submerge the bok choy, simply cover the pot and let them steam for a while until they are cooked through.

  4. Wendy says:

    5 stars
    Hi Maggie – This recipe was amazing! I made it last night and my husband and I both LOVED it. It reminded me of the stew that my parents made growing up. Thank you so much for this website – it’s such an amazing resource for a Chinese American like me, who grew up loving these foods but who never quite learned how to cook them (or even find ingredients due to my limited Chinese). Keep doing what you do!

  5. Dawna says:

    When do you add the salt?

    • Maggie says:

      Hi Dawna, sorry for the confusion! You should add the salt during the step of adding the soy sauce. I just updated the recipe so now it’s correct.

  6. Fanny says:

    5 stars
    Thank you for posting this. This recipe felt closest to my mom’s recipe, and I was happy with the results. I did some things differently: substituted daikon for potatoes and rock sugar for sugar, decreased dried chili peppers (to 4), added 3 cloves, and parboiled the beef (used flank) and discarded the liquid for a cleaner broth. Having said that, I liked the kick the dried chili peppers gave, but even at 4 peppers felt that this was too spicy for me and in some ways overpowered some of the other spices. I would try to use a spice bag next time as fishing out the cinnamon, star anise, and bay leaves were a bit of a pain. I would also brown the beef and spices the next time I make this, as I think that would help develop the flavors a bit more. Even still, this was a hit. I look forward to trying it in the Instant Pot to decrease cooking time.

  7. Peter says:

    1. I want to use my stovetop pressure cooker (tomorrow 21st April 2020).;
    2. At Step 3 cook on high.;
    3. Fast depressurize.;
    4. Add carrots and potatoes;
    5. Pressure cook on high for 4 minutes;.
    6. Fast depressurize;
    7. Shouldn’t take more than 36 minutes all told.
    Will serve over rice noodles.
    What do you think?

    • Maggie says:

      Sounds pretty good to me!

      • Peter says:

        5 stars
        Well, I did it!
        I’ve stewed beef before but never have I boiled the beef as described. However, I did as instructed but had problems with the skimming. Finally, I removed the beef from the pot and used the filter from the coffee pot and got great broth. Unbelievable.
        I then put everything in my trusty stovetop pressure cooker; cooked on high pressure for 20 minules; cooled the pot under the kitchen faucet; added the vegetables and cooked for a further 4 minutes on high.
        I was really doubtful as the cooking proceeded, but when I tasted at the 20 minute point I was really pleased.
        The beef and vegetables were transferred to a serving dish and the sauce simmered with a tablespoon of corn starch for two minutes.
        I was supposed to serve the stew with rice noodles but forgot completely about them. I had some freshly cooked dasheen and green fig (for tomorrow) on hand and that topped off a Chinese/Creole lunch.
        Caribbean Pot has met a worthy challenger!!!
        I forgot the photograph too. Sorry!

  8. Colleen says:

    5 stars
    This is a wonderful beef stew with many of our favourite Chinese flavours. Added one extra star anise and mushrooms. Will definitely make again. Thanks.

  9. Paul Hardie says:

    Made exactly as per your recipe.
    Outstanding. Complex. The heat was just right. Chuck/ blade roast perfect for this. Perfect amount of fat.
    On top of jasmine rice. Absolutely outstanding.

  10. Kerstin Borau says:

    5 stars
    This is so amazing! True taste of China! My husband just loves it 😌

  11. Lena McKee says:

    I make this for
    My Chinese husband but add a little Chankiang vinegar too

  12. Chy says:

    4 stars
    Hi i tried the recipe but i feel that the xiaoxing wine over powered the recipe tnx is it normal ? First tyn cooking

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      It’s an ingredient I like to use a lot (usually pour a bit more when deglazing the pan etc). But if you think the taste is too strong, you can reduce it to 2 tablespoons next time.

Omnivore's Cookbook: Make Chinese Cooking Easy
BuzzFeedGood HousekeepingHuffington PostLucky ChowMSNReader's DigestSaveurYahoo! News

FREE 5-Day Chinese Cooking Crash Course

Cooking delicous Chinese food is easier than you think!





Follow us on Facebook