This Turkish casserole is a classic beef stew recipe that is perfect for cold days. It is easy to make despite taking some time. But the slow cooking process allows the meat to become incredibly tender and juicy.
If you have never used clay pots, we have prepared a guide about cooking with clay pots. You might find it helpful. And if you like comforting stews like this, you might want to see our meatball stew recipe too.
This Turkish beef stew is traditionally cooked in a clay pot or guvec as we say in Turkish. But you can cook it in your regular pot as well. If you love meat dishes, you might want to see our kebab recipes, Turkish karniyarik and Turkish white bean stew.
What is güveç?
Güveç (or guvec) is the name of earthenware clay pots that are often used in Turkish cuisine. Many traditional Turkish casserole or stew dishes are cooked in these clay pots. These dishes are also called with the same name like beef güveç (beef stew), lamb güveç (lamb stew), or chicken güveç (chicken stew). Today, the Turkish word güveç means stew in English. So even if the dish is not cooked in a clay pot, it is called güveç.
Clay pots are heat-proof, so you can use them (like cast iron) to cook on the stovetop or inside of an oven. They help retain oil and moisture to ensure your food comes out deliciously juicy. The dish has a unique authentic flavor when cooked in a clay pot. Aso, they require a slow cooking process, which helps the flavors in the dish blend well.
Why should you make this recipe?
- It is an easy beef stew that doesn’t require a lot of work. Although it takes some time to make, it doesn’t require a lot of labor. You can check in every 30 minutes.
- This Turkish casserole with beef is packed with flavor. The natural meaty juices, vegetables, and combinations of spices we use for this recipe are well-balanced and extremely flavorful.
- The meat is incredibly soft. This is all thanks to the slow cooking technique we are using.
- This recipe is freezer friendly. You can make this beef casserole in advance and simply freeze it for later use.
Ingredients and Substitutions
This recipe is a Turkish casserole made with beef and vegetables. These are the two main categories of ingredients to focus on when looking at options.
Beef: When choosing a beef stew meat, we recommend not using any lean meats. Make sure it is marbled (contains fat) because this will enrich the stew and make it soft and juicy too.
You can easily substitute the beef with lamb, turkey or chicken as well, but keep in mind that the cooking times will be much shorter.
Vegetables: We only add some onions (brown onion and pearl onions), garlic, potatoes, and carrots. We chop the brown onion and leave the pearl onions whole. You can either use one type of onion or use both as we do. All of these ingredients are incredibly flavorful once cooked, but won’t overwhelm the flavors of the meat and spices.
If you’d like, you can add a wider variety of vegetables including green beans, celery, eggplant, red or green pepper and zucchini.
There are quite a few massive variations you can make in this Turkish beef casserole recipe.
Ground beef: You can use ground beef instead of beef cubes. This will reduce the cooking time a lot, giving you a delicious stew in about an hour.
Vegetarian: You can leave the meat out and make the dish with a variety of vegetables instead. Then, skip the stove-top cooking step and cook the dish in the oven until the vegetables are tender. Alternatively, you can substitute the meat with green or brown lentils. They will also add a meaty flavor and create a nice thick casserole.
Cheese Topping: Traditionally, Turkish casserole with beef is not topped with cheese. However, you can see a cheese topping when it is made with ground beef or chicken. It is definitely a matter of preference. You can add some grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese in the last 5 minutes of baking. This will create a delicious cheese topping that is crispy and adds some creaminess too.
How to Make
This Turkish beef stew recipe is made in a clay pot to create a delicious authentic casserole dish. While it does take a while to cook, it doesn’t require a lot of labor and you will be left with a juicy beef stew.
- Heat some olive oil in a clay or cast iron pot or any other pot that you are using). Then, add the onions and sauté them until translucent. Add the beef pieces and stir the mixture.
- Cook the meat covered over medium-low heat until the meat starts releasing its juices.
- While the meat is cooking, combine the tomato paste, salt, pepper, paprika, and 1 cup of hot water. Add this tomato sauce mixture to the cooked meat.
- Simmer the mixture for at least 1 hour over low heat. After 30 minutes, check how much water is left and add some more if needed. This will help prevent the ingredients from burning.
- After 1 hour of cooking, add the potatoes, carrots, and another cup of hot water. Cover the top of the pot with foil and bake the stew in a preheated oven (350F/180C) for 45-50 minutes.
- Once finished, serve the Turkish casserole immediately with some freshly chopped parsley.
- Traditionally, this Turkish stew is made in clay pots called güveç. These pots can be used on the stove-top and inside the oven. However, you can also use oven-proof cookware like cast iron pans and Dutch ovens.
- You can use any beef cut that works well for casseroles and stews. Usually, the label will also give you an indication of the best way to cook the meat. We prefer using beef chuck and cutting it into smaller pieces. It becomes nice and tender after prolonged slow cooking.
- You have to check the amount of liquid left after 30 minutes of cooking. If the water has been completely cooked out, your food will start burning. If you have almost no water left, you can add another quarter cup at a time and complete the 1-hour stovetop cooking. You can also stir every now and then to ensure your food isn't burning.
- If you are not working with an oven-proof pot when cooking the dish on the stove-top, transfer the cooked stew into a baking pan and cover the pan with foil before baking it in the oven. We prefer using ceramic or glass baking dishes as they are easier to clean.
- To store: Let the stew cool completely and then keep this casserole for 3-4 days in the fridge or for 1-2 months in the freezer. Make sure you transfer it from the clay pot into a baking pan or an airtight container. Clay pots are not recommended for storing food.
- To reheat: It is best to reheat this casserole in the oven or on the stovetop with a splash of water. Thawing overnight is better if it is frozen.
This Turkish casserole is incredibly versatile when it comes to accompaniments you can serve with it.
Side Dishes: You can always have a look at some of our other popular side dishes such as rice with orzo, Middle Eastern rice, or bulgur pilaf. All of these sides will add a traditional feel to the table, especially if you serve this beef stew in a clay pot.
Most beef stew recipes tell you to brown the diced meat first. The flavor of browned meat enriches the whole stew. However, in this Turkish beef stew casserole recipe, you don’t need that extra step. Just let the beef pieces release water and then absorb it back. You will have a super flavorful dish.
Tomato paste gives a nice color and deep tomato taste to the stew. Also, it helps thicken the dish.
Yes you can use a stainless steel pot but make sure to transfer the dish into an oven-proof baking pan after completing the stovetop cooking process.
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As always: If you make this recipe, let us know what you think by rating it and leaving a comment below. And post a pic on Instagram too—tag @give_recipe so we can see!
Turkish Beef Stew
Beef stew with onion, garlic, potatoes and carrots. It is flavored with a tomato paste sauce and cooked in a clay pot first on the stove top then in the oven. A perfect comfort food.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
- Yield: 4
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Cooking
- Cuisine: Turkish
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
A handful of pearl onions, peeled but not chopped (optional)
500g (1.1 pound) diced beef (not lean) (or beef chuck cut into 1-inch pieces)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
2 cups hot water, divided
2 medium potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
6 cloves garlic
Parsley for garnish
- Heat olive oil in a clay pot or in a cast iron pot (or whatever pot you have).
Sauté onions until translucent.
Add in the beef pieces and give it a stir. Cook it covered over medium low heat until the meat releases juice and then it absorbs almost all of it.
In a small bowl, mix together tomato paste, salt, black pepper, paprika and 1 cup of hot water. Pour it over the beef in the pot and cook it covered over low heat for 1 hour. Check it after 30 minute or so and if there is too little water left, add some extra water (¼ cup) to prevent it from burning.
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C in the last 15 minutes of cooking.
When the 1-hour cooking duration is over, remove it from the heat. Add potatoes and carrots into the pot. Pour the remaining 1 cup hot water.
Cover the top of the pot with foil. If the pot you are using is not oven-proof, pour the dish into a baking pan and cover it with foil.
Bake for 45-50 minutes.
Garnish with chopped parsley when serving.
- Traditionally, this beef stew is made in clay pots but you can use oven-proof cookware like a cast iron pan too.
Use beef chuck and cut it into pieces or read the label of the meat you buy. If it says it is good for casseroles and stews, it is ok.
Check the meat during the first cooking in the pot over stove top after about 30 minutes. If there is almost no water left, add some hot water and keep cooking and complete the 1-hour cooking time. Stir as needed.
If your pot is oven-proof, you can cover its top with foil and directly put it in the oven. If it is not, pour the dish into a baking pan, cover it with foil and then put it in the oven.
To store: Let the stew cool completely. You can keep this casserole for 3-4 days in the fridge or for 1-2 months in the freezer. Make sure you transfer it from the clay pot into a baking pan or an airtight container. Clay pots are not recommended for storing food.
To reheat: It is best to reheat this casserole in the oven or on the stovetop with a splash of water. Thawing overnight is better if it is frozen.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 413
- Sugar: 6.5 g
- Sodium: 720.1 mg
- Fat: 20.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 30 g
- Protein: 28.5 g
- Cholesterol: 73.8 mg
Keywords: beef stew, Turkish casserole, Turkish stew