Traditional Beef Bourguignon

As with pasta al ragù, I first met with the Beef Bourguignon at my school cafeteria.

It wasn’t perfect, as you can guess, but it was as beef bourguignon is supposed to be served : with a big ladle and no fuss. Any cook armed with patience and love for food can make it work. I’ve never had one that wasn’t satisfying, because this dish is, by itself, comforting and lovely ; and because the French are too proud of it to mess it up !

I crafted a recipe for this iconic dish, trying to research the subject as much as possible to make it authentic and tasty. I did not want to make a personal interpretation ; I wanted to bake THE beef bourguignon. What any person familiar with it pictures, in its ideal version, thinking about it. A meaty, flavourful and bold wine sauce, thickened but still liquidy ; some pull-apart, deliciously soft and moist beef ; a few vegetables, not mushy ones, bringing texture as well as taste.

My companion said -and he doesn’t say it without meaning it- that it was the best he had ever eaten. This is the biggest win for me.

If you ever feel like making a wonderful Sunday meal, a true crowd pleaser, do consider my Beef Bourguignon ! It will warm you up inside and out. It may be long, but as with most Sunday dishes, you essentially assemble everything, then let it cook for a few hours. The real active time for this recipe, except for checking occasionnally on your dish, is no more than 1 hour.

I chose to serve this Traditional Beef Bourguignon with coquillettes, which are tiny pasta. I find that it pairs wonderfully with this dish, and it’s also significantly simpler to boil pasta than to make a purée -which pairs very well with Beef Bourguignon, too, and is more traditional. You could also boil some potatoes, if you wish, or even use rice.

Traditional Beef Bourguignon – Recipe

Ingredients – Advice & key points

  • Beef :
    • I usually use a mix of beef chuck (on the fattier side) and Silverside/topside beef (on the leaner side), but you can also use beef cheek or any kind of stewing beef ; ask your butcher for a meat that will tenderize after a few hours of cooking on low temp. Ideally, ask for a mix of two meats, as leaner meats will bring a nice texture, and fattier cuts add depths of flavour.Here, you want to use some cuts that are collagen-rich. Gentle, long cooking transforms collagen fibers into melting gelatin ; this is how you get a pull-apart meat after a few hours.
    • In order to get the right richness for the sauce, it is important to add, besides your beef, the fattier lard.
  • Wine options :
    • Ideally, you’d want a Burgundy wine, but you also need a full-bodied, quite tannic wine, because it needs to hold the temperature and cooking length of your stew ; a rich Burgundy wine like this means you’d have to buy an expensive bottle ! Try to go instead for southern wines like Syrah wines,  from the Rhône Valley, which are aromatic, warm and slightly peppery. This will enhance the flavors and persistence of your sauce.
  • The classic recipe you’d be served in nice French restaurants uses pearl onions and will require you to cook them separately in a pan, as for your carrots and mushrooms. But personally, I’ve never seen a French cook his Bourguignon this way ! I tried it though, because I thought the taste would be worth the effort, and if anything I found it less tasty than the mix-it-all together version.
      • I simply recommend you to cut you onions and carrots in big chunks so that they don’t turn to mush ;
      • However, the mushrooms’ delicate texture requires you to add them towards the end. You could skip the browing and add them straight to the pot if you’re feeling lazy, they will turn quite soft with the sauce anyway.
  • Veal stock : I use store-bought here, since the large amount of meat already brings in lots of flavour. Feel free to use homemade if you can !

Cooking your Beef Bourguignon – Pieces of advice

  • Do not compromise on the cooking time ! Your stew won’t be tasty if you don’t cook it for a minimum of 2,5 hours, ideally 3 at least, possibly 4 or 5 if you want -or if your meat is not tender enough.
  • You can skip the roasting flour step though, as I didn’t find it to make a big difference in texture -it is supposed to cover you meat with a thin crust. However, do add the flour for the sauce’s texture ! Just wait for it dissolve right on the stovetop.

Let’s Bourguignon !

Traditional Beef Bourguignon

Difficulty: Intermediate Prep Time 30 min Cook Time 200 min Total Time 3 hrs 50 mins
Servings: 7
Best Season: Suitable throughout the year


One of the best stews there is out there. Cheap cuts of beef that have rested a full day in a wine-based, aromatic marinade ; they are then cooked for a few hours until pull-apart tender.   



To serve


  1. The day before

    Cut the meat into large chunks, if not already asked from your butcher.

    Peel and chop your carrots and onion into large chunks too. Peel and lightly smash your garlic cloves.

    Place the meat and aromatic garnish (carrots, onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme) plus 2/3 of your total salt amount in the red wine, and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

  2. Onto the stove

    The next day, drain the pieces of meat.

    Pat each piece of beef dry with paper towels. This will ensure it browns properly once in the pan.

    Heat the oven to 240°C.

    Heat your dutch oven progressively until it reaches medium-high heat. Once it does, brown the lard in a drizzle of oil. Remove the lard, leaving the lard fat in the pot.

    Add some additional oil to the lard fat and brown the meat on each side (it should last at least 10mn). If your pot is not wide enough, do it in batches ; you must not overfill it. Remove your meat and set aside.   

    Put your pot back on the stovetop. Add the drained onion and carrots. Add 1/3 of your total salt amount. Let them cook for a few minutes. 

    Add back your meat and bacon to your pot. 

    Optional step : Pour your flour over your meat and veggies ; mix, then put in the oven for 4 minutes. Remove the pot, mix, and put it back in the oven for another 4 minutes. Remove and put back on the stovetop. Lower the oven temperature to 140°C.

    Add your wine marinade, your veal stock, your tied parsley stalks.

    Bring the mixture to a soft boil.

    Once simmering, put it back in the oven for 3 hours. 

    At the 1,5 hour mark, stir and make sure it does not burn.

    You mustn't overfill your pot when browning your meat because the pot/pan needs to be hot for the meat to caramelize ; with too much cold meat, it will lower the pot temp, resulting in poorly browned meat.
  3. Nearing the end, brace yourselves !

    Brush and slice your mushrooms.

    Heat up a pan (cast iron ideally) with some butter and oil and sauté the mushrooms for around 10 minutes over medium heat, until nicely browned. Remove from heat. 

    Add the mushrooms to your dutch oven around 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Put it back to the oven.

    Eat immediately, or better still, set aside at room temperature and refrigerate when cold enough. The next day, reheat over medium heat. Serve with coquillettes for a quick and delicious side.  

    Et voilà !! You're done ! 


  • This dish freezes well. I definitely advise you to make a large amount, since the cooking time is quite long, then freeze it in batches (I pour individual portions in plastic bags). You will be so glad to find one on a lazy winter night. 
  • Try to serve your Bourguignon the next day, the flavours will be even bolder ! 
Keywords: home made, bourguignon, beef bourguignon, stewed meat, stew, beef, comforting, coquillettes

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