6 Beef Stew Recipes That Will Instantly Warm You Up

When you think of beef stew, you may think of the familiar pot of meat, potatoes, and carrots in a rich, thick broth. But what's considered "traditional" in middle America is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to beef stew possibilities. In different cultures and settings, beef stew is really any form of beef served in a thick, soup-like liquid. So while you may not think of the beet-based borscht as "beef stew," when it comes cooked with beef short ribs, you should really be asking yourself, why not? 

The possibilities for warming up your winter dinner table become wildly expanded when you're willing to think beyond the beef stew your grandma used to make so you can serve up something special for your family and friends. Plus, you may just discover a new love for Brooklyn burgoo or sailor's stew that you never before knew existed.

Sailor's beef stew

"Beef stew" is right there in the name of this sailor's beef stew recipe, but it certainly doesn't look like the classic preparation you might recall from your childhood. That said, all the expected ingredients are there — beef, potatoes, onions, and beef stock. What's different, though, is the addition of beer — the recipe calls for two, 12-ounce bottles of pilsner. The result is a lighter-colored broth, and a slightly bitter flavor that's balanced by the tang of the pickled vegetables that are suggested for serving. It's a combination of flavors that may be semi-unexpected, but the recipe is Nordic, rather than American, so just go with the flow and see how you like it. 

Boeuf Bourguignon

If the name itself, "boeuf bourguignon," already seems too fancy and has you worried you're out of your league, just know that the translation is literally "burgundy beef," and it's basically the definition of a beef stew ... that just happens to be French and is cooked with red wine. Like most beef stew recipes, this one takes a few hours to cook, and includes what you'd expect — beef, onions, garlic, beef stock, carrots, and various fresh herbs and spices. What might be viewed as the more "unexpected" ingredients are the cognac, dry red wine, bacon, and cremini mushroom additions. But really, the whole thing is very French and very delicious. As long as you have the booze on hand, you can definitely pull this recipe off. 

Beef chili

Okay, so chili seems like it's in its own special "not soup/not stew" category of hearty winter meals, but when it's made with ground beef, it's hard to really define it as anything other than a beef stew. The beauty of beef chili, though, is in all the versatile ways you can serve it. You can eat it alone, piled high with toppings, or you can serve it on top of chips, hot dogs, or even pasta. This recipe has all the standard chili ingredients, like ground beef, chili beans, onions, tomatoes, and spices galore, but it's made even more interesting with the addition of dark beer and dark unsweetened chocolate (yes, chocolate!), both of which end up adding bitter and bold flavors to your chili pot. 

Short rib borscht

If you've never tried borscht, a somewhat sweet-tasting beet-based stew, you're missing out. The rich, red color may seem unusual, but the flavors of beets, onions, carrots, and potatoes served in a thick broth are tantalizing, especially when topped with rich sour cream. And when you add hearty beef short ribs to the pot? You end up with a meal that's going to warm you up and hit the spot. This recipe not only walks you through how to make your beef borscht, it also kicks things up a notch by suggesting you serve it with dark, dense bread and spicy mustard. The overall flavors surely ring more Russian than midwestern, but you'll be glad you mixed things up. 

Pho bo beef noodle soup

For an Asian take on beef stew, look no further than this recipe for pho bo beef noodle soup. Sure, it's not as thick as most beef stews, but the hearty flavors of homemade beef stock (which calls for oxtail, as well as beef neck, shank, and marrow bones), the meat itself (it uses beef brisket and beef top round), and noodles will have you filling your bowl up with seconds (and maybe thirds). The fish sauce, ginger, scallions, and cilantro also offer a more complex flavor profile, and if you choose to garnish the soup with the suggested jalapenos and sriracha, you end up with a spicy dish that will warm you up from the inside, out.

Brooklyn burgoo

To be clear, Brooklyn burgoo isn't a recipe you can just "whip up" on a Tuesday night when you're looking for an easy meal to serve your family. In fact, this recipe for meat stew takes nine hours to make. But if you're a meat-lover, and especially a stew-lover, you're going to want to carve out the time it takes to make this dish. The thing is, Brooklyn burgoo does, in fact, include beef, but that's not the only meat it features. Rather, it's made with pork ribs, veal shank, beef shank, lamb shank, and a whole chicken. 

Then on top of all of that meat, it also includes potatoes, onions, carrots, peppers, cabbage, corn, okra, celery, chilies, and tomato puree. In other words, it's one of those "everything but the kitchen sink" dishes that could be considered the king of all beef stews.