Grandma’s Ginger Beef Stew

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A savory ginger beef stew recipe inspired by my grandma’s home cooking. A great comfort food for the winter time made in a slow cooker or stovetop!

Grandma's Ginger Beef Stew

Do you have one particular nostalgic recipe made only by a talented family member that you love? You know, when you hear it’s going to be served for dinner at the next family gathering, you’re already drooling. For me, it’s hands down my Grandma’s deliciously comforting beef stew. It’s got all of the essential ingredients for a hearty and satisfying meal, tender meat and nutritious vegetables slowly simmering in one big pot.

Grandma’s ginger beef stew recipe is one of my favorite dishes. In fact, when I was 12 years old the day before I got my braces my dad asked what the last meal I wanted to eat was, and I requested this exact dish! I’ve adapted her recipe to make it even easier to prepare, in a slow cooker. Don’t worry I’ve got a stovetop version as well, so there is no excuse to make this soulful meal!

Searing pieces of meat in a pan

The ginger beef stew ingredients are simple; fresh beef marinated in soy sauce and garlic, seared, then simmered with generous slices of whole ginger, onions, carrots, and potatoes. I like to use waxy yellow potatoes because they hold up better during stewing.

As a kid after a long day at school and tennis practice, this was the perfect meal! Since I do not live in Northern California anymore and the current winter weather is starting to get a little chilly, I decided to recreate my Grandma’s ginger beef stew recipe, slow cooker style!

Cubes of beef and slices of vegetable Ingredients in a slow cooker

Stews utilize a combination of cooking methods. By first searing the meat in a small amount of oil, this adds a richer flavor caused by browning the meat, and a more attractive color of the finished dish. Water can never achieve temperatures hot enough to brown the sugars in the meat, so combining dry heat and moist heat methods provides flavor and infuse the flavors into the stew.

A slow cooker is perfect for braising tougher cuts of meats in a stew over a longer period. I used my 6-quart Crock-Pot to add all of the vegetables and beef, then simmered for about 3 hours on high until the potatoes and beef are fork-tender.

Beef stew simmering in a Crock Pot

There is something so serene by having all of these authentic ingredients simmered together. Delicious savory meat is flavored with soy and oyster sauce, mixed with a little ginger and garlic for enticing aromatics, combined with fork-tender carrots, potatoes, onions, soaking up all of the delicious sauce.

How to use a Cornstarch Slurry

To finish the stew, a cornstarch slurry is added to the liquid to a gentle boil to help thicken the stew. Slurries are frequently used in Chinese cooking to provide instant thickening power to many stir-fried dishes.

The starch from corn is extracted to provide tremendous thickening powers, often used to thicken sauces or soups at the end of cooking.

When using cornstarch as a slurry, ALWAYS use cold water to hydrate the starch, this allows the starch to separate easier and be soluble for thickening. If you add the cornstarch directly to hot liquid, the starch will clump and result in a thick sauce.

After adding the slurry, heat the liquid until it reaches just below its boiling point, then cook until thickened.

For this ginger beef stew recipe, it takes about 30 minutes on HIGH for the sauce to thicken. If you use a stovetop method, it should only take a few moments.

Close up photo of beef and vegetables in a bowl

The flavors of this ginger beef stew recipe balance each other very well. The soy and oyster sauce is not overpowering, they give excellent depth to the stew, and the ginger gives a hint of pungency and great aroma. Served over white rice and you are in instant comfort food bliss!

On special occasions, my Grandma Kam Kwei Yee (we call her Yin Yin) would use oxtail instead of beef, and it is a fantastic alternative. This recipe would work very well with other tougher cuts of red meat, just increase the cooking time until the meat is very tender.

More Chinese recipes you might like

How do starches thicken food?

Starches are polysaccharides composed of amylose and amylopectin fractions found in plant sources like corn, potato, rice, and wheat. When carbohydrates are combined with water then heated, a phenomenon called “starch gelatinization” occurs. The heated starch granules absorb the water and swell, the water forms hydrogen bonds with the starch fraction, and the starches become soluble. The is the reaction that is occurring as you see your sauces or soups are thickening.

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Grandma’s Ginger Beef Stew

A savory ginger beef stew recipe inspired by my grandma's home cooking. A great comfort food for the winter time!
Pin Print Review
3.68 from 28 votes
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 20 mins
Servings 4 servings
Course Soup
Cuisine Chinese

Ingredients

  • 1 pound beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 slices ginger, peeled, fresh
  • 1 pound yukon gold potatoes, or russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ yellow onion, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 3 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3 cups unsalted beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water

Instructions 

  • Add beef to a medium-sized bowl. Season beef with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and the minced garlic, stir to combine.
  • Heat large saute pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon sesame oil.
  • Once the oil is very hot, add beef mixture in one single layer. Sear meat on one side for 2 minutes, flip and cook another 2 minutes on other sides. Beef will not be fully cooked.
  • Add potatoes, onions, carrots and seared beef to a slow cooker.
  • Add beef stock, oyster sauce and ginger slices. Make sure the meat and vegetables are submerged in the stock. Cover and cook for 3 to 4 hours on High, or 7 to 8 hours on Low.
  • In a small bowl make the cornstarch slurry by combining ¼ cup of cornstarch and ¼ cup of cold water.
  • Add it to the slow cooker and stir. Set slow cooker on high and cook another 30 minutes, until sauce is thickened.

Notes

  • Stovetop directions:
    • Heat large pot over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Add beef mixture and ginger to the pot, sear meat on all sides. Reduce the heat to medium.
    • Add 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce to the pan and stir. Add onions to the pot, stir and cook for two minutes. Add the potatoes and carrots to the pot. Add 3 cups of beef stock, covering the meat and vegetables.
    • Bring a pot to boil then gently simmer until potatoes and carrots are fork tender, about 30 to 45 minutes.
    • In a small bowl make the cornstarch slurry by combining 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water. Increase the heat to medium, allowing the stew to boil gently. Gradually add the slurry, mix the stew and allow the stew to cook and thicken for a few minutes. For a thinner sauce, start by adding half of the slurry, then additional slurry until you reach your desired consistency.

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Nutrition Facts
Grandma’s Ginger Beef Stew
Amount Per Serving
Calories 472 Calories from Fat 243
% Daily Value*
Fat 27g42%
Saturated Fat 9g45%
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 11g
Cholesterol 100mg33%
Sodium 1341mg56%
Potassium 896mg26%
Carbohydrates 23g8%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 33g66%
Vitamin A 5400IU108%
Vitamin C 28.9mg35%
Calcium 20mg2%
Iron 3.8mg21%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Reader Interactions

16 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Carole says

    Hi there. Food on Friday: Ginger is open for entries. This looks like a good one! I do hope you link it in. This is the link . Please do pop back to check out some of the other links. Happy New Year!

  2. Carole says

    Jessica, thank you for linking this in to Food on Friday. We are now getting a great collection of dishes using ginger together. I hope you have stopped by some of the other links to check them out!

    Ps I have just signed up to follow your blog on Google Reader. A follow back to Carole’s Chatter would be wonderful – or have you already followed? Cheers

    Ps If you would like email reminders of future Food on Fridays, just pop by and comment and include your email – I won’t publish it – and the reminder will be by bcc so it will remain private

  3. Jessica says

    I tried this recipe tonight (though I didn’t have any oyster sauce on me) and it tasted AMAZING!!! Thank you so much for posting this! Best beef stew ever 🙂

  4. Mary M. Martinez says

    I love this! Thank you. 🙂 I’m a new wife and I’m also working so one pot meals are life savers for me and my husband. I always look forward to your recipes so please continue to post more!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you so much Mary! Congrats on your recent marriage, so exciting 🙂 Keep an eye more more easy and delicious meals, I can’t wait to share more with you!

  5. Amy says

    This is perfect comfort food at its best! I’d love to have a bowl on cold days like today. Thanks for sharing the stories and picture of your Grandma! Looking forward to more of your family dish! Have a great weekend Jessica

  6. california queen says

    this recipe looks delicious! gonna try it tomorrow. i’m one of those people who eats soup year-round, even in the dog days of summer, lol.

    my condolences on the loss of your beloved grandmother. thank you for sharing her recipe with us.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you so much! I can’t wait to hear what you think, and I like comfort food anytime as well. I’m so happy that I could share here recipe with you, I hope you like it as much as my family does!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Tracy- Yes! You can use the following thickening agent substitutes:
      1/4 cup cornstarch = 1/4 cup tapioca = 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons arrowroot = 2 tablespoons potato starch

  7. KT says

    Hi Jessica,

    I have tried a few recipes in the web and this is by far the best. My son thoroughly enjoys it. Thank you for sharing your grandma recipe.

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