Bring the flavors of Mexico into your home with this carne guisada recipe. It’s so simple, yet the results are perfectly spiced, fragrant, and delightfully rich. This hearty dish will redefine your definition of comfort food!
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What is carne guisada?
Carne guisada is a Latin American dish featuring stewed beef chunks simmered in an aromatic brown gravy with various veggies. What begins as tough cuts of beef are simmered, low and slow, until perfectly tender and juicy.
Similarly to our pollo guisado or carne picada, guisada is a fragrant and savory take on Mexican comfort food. The biggest difference comes down to the balance of veggies and spices used. Guisada also has a thicker gravy, making for a more traditional stew-like texture.
Why this recipe works
This carne guisada recipe is great if you want something homemade and authentic but quite effortless. A few minutes of hands-on time is needed to get everything going, but most of the time is spent letting the stew simmer away.
- It’s a one pot dish. Like our oxtail stew, everything gets assembled in one pot. This makes cleanup a breeze!
- The meat is tender and juicy. Similar to arrachera, the hearty cuts of beef simmer until they are melt-in-your-mouth tender.
- It’s healthy. Protein-packed beef and tons of tender veggies make this a nutritious weeknight dinner.
No special ingredients or equipment are needed to make this recipe since the balance of spices and the cooking method that makes this guisada so easy.
- Oil. Just enough to sauté the veggies and beef. Any neutral cooking oil will do.
- Beef. Look for either “stew beef,” or chuck steak cut into bite-sized pieces. This is the best cut of beef that will cook for hours without becoming tough.
- Onion. Chopped.
- Bell pepper. Preferably green bell pepper though other colors will do. Chop into equal-sized pieces as the onion.
- Garlic. Fresh garlic, minced.
- Tomato. Diced and preferably fresh.
- Salt. Can be adjusted to taste.
- Spices. Black pepper, cumin, and chili powder.
- Tomato paste. For added richness.
- Beef broth. To make the gravy, it can be swapped for vegetable broth if needed.
- Flour. To thicken the gravy.
- Cilantro. Freshly chopped for garnish.
How to make carne guisada
Making this dish is largely hands-off since lengthy simmering is needed to make the beef tender and to concentrate the gravy.
Step 1- Cook the beef
First, heat the oil in a pot and add the onion. Cook until the onion becomes translucent. Next, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. After a few minutes, add the meat and cook until nicely browned on all sides. Season with pepper and cook for several more minutes until the meat softens.
Step 2- Build the sauce
Next, add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute while frequently stirring to prevent burning. Then add the tomatoes and cook for several minutes while stirring frequently. Follow this by adding the flour and cooking until it heats up, then pour in the beef broth.
Step 3- Simmer the stew
Season the stew with a dash of salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder, then bring the stew to a boil. Once it begins boiling, lower the temperature and cover the stew. Let it simmer for 2 hours until the meat is very fork-tender.
Step 4- Serve
Add water, if necessary, to ensure you have a thick but still fluid gravy. Stir occasionally until the meat is fully cooked, then serve the carne guisada warm with a garnish of fresh cilantro.
Slow cooker and instant pot instructions
Yes! It’s easy to make slow cooker carne guisada or instant pot carne guisada with just a few minor tweaks!
- Slow cooker. Follow the steps for cooking the onion, garlic, beef, and tomatoes in a skillet. Then, transfer them along with the rest of your ingredients to a slow cooker. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 2-3 hours.
- Instant pot. Add the oil to the instant pot. Using the sauté function, cook the onion and garlic, add the beef, and cook until browned. Season the beef and sauté the tomatoes. Then, add the remaining ingredients, close the lid, and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. Let the stew sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Carne de res guisada tips
- Add extra veggies. You can use carrots, potatoes, squash, or sweet potatoes in this recipe for added richness.
- Serve with toppings. Serve your stew with sour cream, sliced avocado, fresh chopped tomatoes, or hot sauce.
- Bring the meat to room temperature. Let the beef sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before cooking, as this will help speed up the cooking process.
- Brown the meat. To add depth of flavor to your carne de res guisada, sear the meat in a hot pan until it’s browned on all sides. This will also help to lock in the juices and keep the meat tender.
- Adjust the seasoning. Taste your stew as it cooks and adjust the seasoning as needed. You may like to add a hit of cayenne pepper, more salt, or even some cumin.
What to serve with this dish
To store: Let the stew cool, then transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to one week.
To reheat: Transfer leftovers to a pot and cook on medium heat. Stir frequently until it reaches your desired temperature. You can also microwave leftovers in 20-second intervals until fully reheated.
To freeze: Place cooled stew in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
More Mexican recipes to try
Frequently asked questions
The brown gravy in carne guisada can be thickened either by adding flour to the broth as it’s simmering or by making a cornstarch slurry. To make a slurry, combine one tablespoon of cornstarch with ¼ cup of cold water. Mix until thickened, then add to the broth.
Carne guisada is a stewed beef dish, while carne asada is a thinly sliced steak that is cooked by grilling. Carne guisada translates to “stew meat,” while carne asada translates to “grilled meat.”
The level of spiciness in this recipe can vary depending on the amount of chili powder used. You can adjust it to suit your preferences.
- Begin by heating oil in a pot over medium heat. Once hot, add onions and cook until they become translucent. Add garlic and continue cooking until fragrant.
- Add the meat to the pot and cook until browned on all sides. Then, add peppers and cook for a couple of minutes until they soften.
- Stir in the tomato paste and cook for an additional minute. Next, add tomatoes to the pot and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add flour to the pot and cook until heated through. Pour in the soup and season with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low.
- Cover the pot and let the stew simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add water as needed to keep the mixture from getting too thick.
- Once the meat is tender, serve the carne guisada warm and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro for extra flavor.
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