Jamaican Beef Stew

Depending on where you are in the world, you can find a wide variety of beef stew. This recipe highlights Jamaican characteristics with a base of onions, scallions, garlic, thyme, spicy peppers, and ginger, as well as the classic Jamaican spice, pimento (also known as allspice).

Many beef stews include carrots and potatoes, and this one is no exception. The potatoes not only contribute heartiness to the dish, but their starch also helps to thicken it.

Use this recipe as a guide, adjusting the heat and spice to your preference. Enjoy!

Burnt Sugar for the Win

Another distinguishing feature of Jamaican beef stew is its deep, rich color. Browning sauce can help achieve this. This bottled sauce is essentially burnt sugar and is used to color and taste a wide range of Caribbean stews, gravies, and desserts.

You can also obtain this hue by burning the sugar while preparing the stew, as shown in this recipe. The beef marinade contains sugar, so when it is seared in the pan, the savory parts on the bottom turn particularly black. This will result in the desired hue and depth of flavor.

Spicy Beef Stew in a dutch oven.

Swaps and Subs

This recipe calls for chuck beef stew meat, but you could substitute round roast. The trick is to use a cut with a lot of connective tissue, which will break down and result in incredibly tender meat following our low and slow cooking method.

Scotch bonnets are a popular Jamaican hot pepper, but they are not usually readily available in the United States. Habanero peppers are a good alternative. Speaking of heat, this dish calls for hot sauce. You can use any vinegar-based hot sauce, or try Scotch Bonnet hot sauce.

If you don’t have any hot sauce or don’t enjoy spicy foods, skip it!

Jamaican Beef Stew in a Slow Cooker

To make this dish in the slow cooker, follow steps 1-3 below, except for adding the browned meat directly to the slow cooker.

Bring the stock, soy sauce, and ketchup to a boil in the pan with the onions before pouring them into the slow cooker. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours. Garnish with sliced scallions.


You’ll want to cut the carrots and potatoes into larger chunks so that they don’t become too soft in the slow cooker.

One bowl of Jamaican Beef Stew.

What to Serve With Jamaican Beef Stew

This stew pairs well with rice, but any starchy vegetable can be used as an addition. Consider adding more potatoes, dumplings (also known as spinners), or even quinoa. You might also balance the richness with something fresh, such as a salad or steamed veggies.

A Tip for Freezing and Reheating

This stew freezes quite well. If you’re freezing leftovers from the completed stew, bear in mind that the potatoes will soften as they freeze and defrost. If you want to freeze the stew right away, do so before adding the carrots and potatoes. When you’re ready to eat the soup, defrost it and resume cooking at step 5.

Jamaican Stewed Beef in two bowls and served with rice.

Jamaican Beef Stew

PREP TIME25 mins
TOTAL TIME3 hrs 25 mins
SERVINGS4 to 6 servings

For the most flavor, don’t skip the marinade time and note that this stew is even better the next day. When using store bought stock, I prefer to use chicken stock in this stew. If you make your own beef stock then feel free to use that instead.


For the marinade:

  • 2 1/2 pounds well-marbled chuck beef stew meat, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 medium scallions, chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 large whole thyme sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced scotch bonnet or habanero peppers
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

To prepare the stew:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 to 1 inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced onion


  1. Season the beef:

    In a large bowl, add the cubed beef, onion, scallion, garlic cloves, thyme, ginger, scotch bonnet pepper, hot sauce, Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, allspice and sugar. Combine with your hands to thoroughly coat the meat in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate one hour and up to overnight.

    A mixing bowl with ingredients to make Jamaican Beef Stew.
    Mixing beef and ingredients in a bowl to make Jamaican Stewed Beef.
  2. Remove beef from marinade:

    Set a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the oil. Use a slotted spoon or your hands remove the meat from the beef marinade leaving any large pieces of onion, scallion, garlic, ginger or thyme in the bowl. Reserve the marinade. You will use it later.

  3. Brown the beef in batches:

    Sear the beef in batches on all sides, 4-5 minutes per side, setting the browned pieces aside in a clean bowl or on a plate as you go. You want to do this in batches so you can get a good sear. If you overcrowd the pan the beef won’t brown properly.

    The sugar from the seasoning will make the brown bits on the bottom of the pan very dark brown, almost burning — don’t worry! This is the color we want. As long as you don’t have an unappetizing burnt smell, you’re still in good shape.

    If it looks like it’s turning almost black, reduce your heat. You can even deglaze the pan between batches with a bit of the chicken stock and remove that liquid to the bowl with the seared meat before searing the remaining pieces.

    Beef in the bottom of the dutch oven to make a Jamaican Stewed Beef Recipe.
    Seared beef in a dutch oven to make Spicy Beef Stew.
  4. Sauté the beef marinade:

    Once all of the beef has browned, add the marinade to the pot and turn off the heat. Use a wooden spoon, and the residual heat, to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot.

    Sauce and aromatics sauteed in the bottom of a dutch oven to make Jamaican Stewed Beef.
    Sauteed ingredients for Jamaican Beef Stew.
  5. Add the seared beef, stock, ketchup, soy sauce, bay:

    Once all of the bits have been scraped from the bottom, add the beef back to the pot along with the stock, ketchup, soy sauce, and bay leaves. If you had trouble removing all of the bits, the stock will help you scrape up any last pieces.

    Broth added to the beef to make a Jamaican Stewed Beef Recipe.
  6. Bring to a simmer:

    Turn the burner on to medium heat and bring the stew to a simmer. Cover the pot, reduce heat to low or medium low and simmer gently until beef is tender, about 1 hour and the beef is tender.

    Spicy Beef Stew cooking in a dutch oven.
  7. Add carrots and potatoes and continue to simmer:

    Once the beef is tender, remove bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Add the carrots and potatoes, stir well. Cover the pot. Simmer on low to medium low until the vegetables can be easily pierced with a fork, about 30 minutes.

    Vegetables added to Jamaican Stewed Beef cooking in a dutch oven.
    A wooden spoon holding softened vegetables cooked in Spicy Beef Stew.
  8. Add remaining vegetables:

    Add the remaining scallion, red pepper, and onion and cook uncovered for 5-10 minutes or until tender.

    Fresh ingredients sliced on a cutting board for a Jamaican Stewed Beef Recipe.
    Sliced vegetables added to the pot for Jamaican Stewed Beef.
    Jamaican Beef Stew cooking in a dutch oven.
  9. Thicken the stew:

    To thicken the stew, you can remove the lid and reduce the cooking liquid until you reach your desired consistency or take a few of the tender potatoes and use a fork to smash against the side of the pot. This will give the stew body.

  10. Adjust seasoning and serve:

    Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper. Garnish with additional chopped scallions and serve alone or over rice. This stew tastes even better the next day!


What makes Jamaican Beef Stew unique?

Jamaican Beef Stew is distinctive due to its blend of Caribbean spices and flavors. It often features ingredients like Scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, allspice, and coconut milk, which give it a rich and aromatic taste profile. Additionally, the method of slow cooking allows the flavors to meld together, creating a hearty and satisfying dish.

What cut of beef is best for Jamaican Beef Stew?

The ideal cut of beef for Jamaican Beef Stew is one that becomes tender and flavorful when cooked slowly. Chuck roast or stewing beef are commonly used cuts due to their marbling and connective tissue, which break down during cooking, resulting in a tender and succulent stew. Cubes of beef are typically used to ensure even cooking and maximum flavor absorption.

Can I make Jamaican Beef Stew ahead of time?

Yes, Jamaican Beef Stew is a great dish to make ahead of time. In fact, the flavors often improve when the stew is allowed to sit for a while, as it gives the spices and seasonings time to develop. You can make it a day or two in advance and store it in the refrigerator. Just reheat it gently on the stove or in the microwave before serving.

What are some traditional accompaniments to Jamaican Beef Stew?

Jamaican Beef Stew pairs well with a variety of side dishes that complement its rich flavors. Common accompaniments include rice and peas (rice cooked with kidney beans and coconut milk), boiled green bananas, fried plantains, or Jamaican-style dumplings (also known as “festivals”). These sides provide a balance to the stew’s bold and spicy flavors.

How spicy is Jamaican Beef Stew?

The level of spiciness in Jamaican Beef Stew can vary depending on personal preference and the amount of Scotch bonnet peppers used. Scotch bonnets are known for their heat, so if you prefer a milder stew, you can reduce the number of peppers or remove the seeds and membranes, which contain most of the heat. Alternatively, if you enjoy a spicier dish, you can add more peppers or even include a dash of hot sauce to intensify the heat. Adjust the spiciness to suit your taste.

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