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Best beef dishes in the world

What is the most popular beef dish? Well, it depends on where you go, but any of these tasty and traditional beef dishes are contenders for the title…

The best beef dishes are:

  • Beef bourguignon
  • Beef Wellington
  • Cottage pie
  • Pot-au-feu
  • Beef chilli
  • Beef stroganoff
  • Goulash
  • Meatloaf
  • Picadillo
  • Beef chow mein

Now let’s find out more about them...

Beef bourguignon

What is beef bourguignon?

Also known as bœuf bourguignon, beef Burgundy and bœuf à la Bourguignonne, beef bourguignon is a type of French beef stew. The dish is known for being rich and flavourful, an effect achieved by braising beef in red wine (commonly the Burgundy of the name) and stock, as well as other ingredients such garlic, bacon, mushrooms and herbs like bouquet garni. Though considered a traditional French staple, the dish can only be tracked back to 1867, when it was first documented. Beef bourguignon also often includes carrots and onions, and is normally served with potatoes - boiled or mashed.

Beef bourguignon ingredients

The main ingredient in beef bourguignon is, naturally, beef, with braising steak or stewing steak being the preferred cuts. Red wine, such as the Burgundy of the name, is another key ingredient and additional flavour comes from onions, garlic, pearl onions, beef stock, mushrooms, bacon and herbs such as thyme, bay leaves and bouquet garni.

Beef bourguignon top tip

For an extra rich beef bourguignon, use more wine instead of beef stock.

Allergy alert

Red wine can contain Sulphur Dioxide or Sulphites, though cooking the wine reduces this somewhat.

Beef Wellington

What is beef Wellington?

Beef Wellington is a famous English dish, made by coating a tenderloin or fillet of beef with some sort of pâté and wrapping in puff pastry before baking in the oven. The Wellington is usually served whole on a platter and then sliced into individual portions to eat, but sometimes is sliced up before baking. Other variations of the dish see the meat and pâté being wrapped in dry cured ham before the pastry is put on.

The recipe for Beef Wellington goes back to the early 19th century, with the general consensus being that it was created to celebrate the victory of the British and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington at Waterloo in June 1815.

Beef Wellington ingredients

The main ingredient for Beef Wellington is beef - a very high quality cut of beef such as fillet steak, beef tenderloin, or filet mignon. It is important that the beef is tender and juicy. Sometimes the meat is brushed with dijon mustard. Foie gras is usually the most common ingredient in the paté used for Beef Wellington, and there is usually the addition of chopped mushrooms or duxelles - a combination of minced mushrooms, onions and herbs that have been sautéed in butter.

Puff pastry is the pastry used for Beef Wellington, and it is brushed with egg before roasting.

Beef Wellington top tip

You should always sear the beef in a very hot pan before coating it in paté or duxelles. If the meat is not seared its juices will leak out whilst it is in the oven, making the pastry soggy and prompting the finished Beef Wellington to fall apart.

After the meat has been seared you should use the same pan to sautée the duxelle ingredients and give it an extra depth of flavour.

Allergy alert

Puff pastry is a main ingredient in Beef Wellington, and is made with wheat flour and butter, respectively the major allergens Cereals containing Gluten and Milk. Duxelles are also typically cooked in butter, though oil can be used instead. Sometimes the beef in Beef Wellington is brushed with Mustard, and the whole thing brushed with Egg - 2 further major food allergens.

Cottage or Shepherd's Pie

What are cottage and shepherd’s pie?

Cottage and shepherd’s pie are not traditional types of pie, but a popular British dish made by layering mashed potatoes over minced meat, vegetables and gravy. Though often used interchangeably, cottage pie refers to a version of the dish made with beef, and shepherd’s pie with lamb.

Whilst the origins of cottage pie aren’t confirmed, a 1791 diary entry by one Parson Woodforde mentions a “Cottage’-Pye”, though he says the meat used was veal. In 1806, a recipe more in line with modern cottage pie was published. There is a similar French dish called hachis Parmentier.

Cottage and shepherd’s pie ingredients

There are no official or universal ingredients for shepherds or cottage pie, though the former is made with lamb and the latter with beef. The meat is minced, and cooked with ingredients such as chopped onions, carrots, celery, garlic and herbs, along with stock - sometimes with the addition of red wine, tomato puree and flour, to add flavour and thicken. This creates a type of thick gravy. The topping is made with mashed potatoes, usually with the addition of butter and sometimes cheese.

Cottage and shepherd’s pie top tip

To prevent the mashed potato sinking into the meat and gravy - ruining the pie’s layers and creating a mush, allow the meat and gravy to cool down before topping with potatoes.

Allergy alert

Celery, though not always among a cottage pie’s ingredients, is one of the 14 major food allergens, as are Cereals containing Gluten - if the gravy is thickened with flour. When making the mashed potatoes, be aware that butter and cheese are both derived from Milk, another major allergen.


What is pot-au-feu?

Translating into English as “pot-on-the-fire”, pot-au-feu is generally considered to be one of France’s national dishes. It is made by slowly boiling meat and vegetables in a pot. It’s thought pot-au-feu has been consumed and prepared in the same way since the Middle Ages, and whilst there is no single recipe and many variations relating to regions and families, the meat used is usually beef.

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It is a rich but not overpowering dish, best cooked over a long period of time, and often served as 2 courses - with the meat juices being served as a broth, followed by the meat and vegetables.

Pot-au-Feu ingredients

Meat - generally beef - is the main ingredient in pot-au-feu, a cut such as beef shin, beef rump or silverside and sometimes even more than one type.

The meat is put on top of the vegetables to cook - different recipes call for different vegetables but onions, leeks, celery and carrots are popular choices. Other ingredients include fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, bay leaves, bouquet garni), stock and marrow bones.

Pot-au-Feu top tip

The key to a good pot-au-feu is an extended cooking time - at least 2 hours and preferably closer to 4, at a low temperature to stop the meat shrinking and becoming tough. .

Allergy alert

Sometimes pot-au-feu is made with Celery, one of the 14 major food allergens.

Beef chilli

What is beef chilli?

Also referred to as “chilli con carne” (chilli with meat) takes its name from the chilli powder used to make it. Chilli powder is one of several ingredients added to a stew of chopped or ground beef, onions, beans and other vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers.

Chilli is usually associated with “Tex-Mex” cuisine and the towns on the American-Mexican border, such as San Antonio, which in the 1880s was famed for its “chilli queen” food vendors. However, chilli-seasoned stews were eaten in Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City, as far back as the mid sixteenth century.

Beef chilli ingredients

The main ingredients in beef chilli are chopped beef (such as beef shin or braising steak) or minced beef, hot chilli powder, chopped tomatoes, black beans or red kidney beans and onions. Recipes vary but other commonly used ingredients in beef chilli are paprika, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, crushed garlic, chopped chillis, brown sugar and tomato puree. Chilli is usually served with rice and sour cream.

Beef chilli top tip

Once assembled and before slow-cooking, top up your chilli with a cupful of beef stock or red wine. It will add a depth of flavour.

Allergy alert

Occasionally a chilli recipe will call for a sprinkling of plain flour to absorb the meat juices - wheat flour is a Cereal containing Gluten, one of the 14 major food allergens.

Beef stroganoff

What is beef Stroganoff?

A famous Russian dish, beef Stroganoff is made by adding sautéed pieces, slices or chunks of beef to a sauce made with mustard and sour cream.

Sometimes mushrooms are also among the ingredients. It is named after the Stroganov family, whose chefs are thought to have invented it, and dates back to Tsarist Russia, in the mid 1800s - the recipe first recorded as Govjadina po-strogonovski, s gorchitseju in 1871.

Beef Stroganoff gained global popularity in the mid 20th century when US Manufacturers turned it into a freeze-dried convenience food for consumers to mix with fresh ingredients at home.

Beef stroganoff ingredients

Beef stroganoff does not have a universal recipe - there are many regional variations. Beef is essential, usually stewing steak, but other cuts are also suitable. The meat is sometimes marinated or rubbed with ingredients such as herbs, salt, black pepper, sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Stroganoff sauce is made with sour cream or crème fraîche, English mustard, garlic, butter, beef stock and plain flour. Many recipes also include mushrooms.

Beef stroganoff top tip

To stop the sour cream from splitting sauce, add a very small amount hot oil from the pan to the sour cream before transferring it to the pan. Then turn down the heat and allow the pan to cool a little before transferring the cream into it.

Allergy alert

Sour cream is the main ingredient in the sauce for beef Stroganoff, and is a Milk product. Mustard and wheat flour (a Cereal containing Gluten) are also major allergens.


What is goulash?

Goulash is a famous Hungarian stew, though variations of it are also linked to and popular in other Central European countries. It consists of meat (usually beef) and vegetables in stock, seasoned with spices - predominantly paprika. The name comes from “gulya”, which translates to English “herd of cattle”, and the dish was thought to originate in the 10th century, eaten by Hungarian shepherds.

Goulash is different to typical Western European stews in that it is not thickened with flour, and consequently has a runnier consistency. The dish is usually served with potatoes or noodles.

Goulash ingredients

The main ingredients in goulash are beef (usually stewing steak), onions, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and most importantly paprikás (paprika). Other ingredients that might be added are caraway seeds, tomato puree, white wine, stock, and carrots. The dish is served with potatoes or csipetke, a type of homemade noodle.

Goulash top tip

Make sure your paprika is not out of date - this spice can lose its kick quicker than others, so it's important to make sure its still fresh. Smoked paprika will give the dish an extra flavour.

Allergy alert

None of the traditional ingredients for goulash are among the 14 major food allergens, but be careful to ensure typical stew ingredients such as flour (Cereals containing Gluten), Mustard and Celery have not been added.


What is meatloaf?

Meatloaf is a dish native to the European territories of Germany, Scandinavia and Belgium, but more commonly associated with North American cuisine, having become one of the USA’s most popular dinner staples during the Great Depression (due to its economic use of meat).

The name “meatloaf” refers to its shape - after the meat (most commonly ground or minced beef) has been combined with the other ingredients, it is formed into a loaf shape - either by hand or by packing into a loaf pan, and then baked in the oven. After it's been cooked it should be easily sliced into individual portions.

Meatloaf can be adapted into a vegetarian dish by replacing the beef with tofu or seitan.

Meatloaf ingredients

The main ingredient in meatloaf is minced or ground beef, though other types of meat such as pork can also be used. The other ingredients vary from recipe to recipe, but usually include onions, garlic or garlic salt, salt and pepper, ketchup, breadcrumbs, Egg and sometimes Milk.

Top tip

Meatloaf is prone to becoming dry, even with the inclusion of “wet” ingredients such as Eggs. To avoid dry, mealy or grainy meatloaf you should always use beef (or other meat) mince that has at least 15 percent fat, as this will distribute throughout the dish and keep it moist.

Allergy alert

Most meatloaf contains Egg, one of the 14 major food allergens. Some recipes also include MIlk, and Cereals containing Gluten (via breadcrumbs).


What is picadillo?

Translating into English from Spanish as “all chopped up” (and originating from the Spanish word “Picar”, which means to mince), picadillo is a traditional part of Latin American and Filipino cuisine - with each country and even region having its own variation of the dish.

The one constant ingredient in picadillo is ground or minced meat, usually beef but sometimes others such as pork or veal, and during cooking it can be mixed with everything from raisins (in Cuba) to potatoes (Mexico). Essentially it is fried or boiled mince mixed with other ingredients and can be served alone or as a filling in tacos or pastries, or alongside rice and other side dishes. Picadillo is thought to date back at least to the 19th century.

Picadillo ingredients

Picadillo’s main ingredient is ground or minced beef, and often tomatoes or tomato sauce. Other ingredients vary depending on the country or region and might include raisins, olives, capers, jalapeño peppers, carrots, chilli powder, onion, garlic and potatoes.

Picadillo top tip

Most variations of picadillo are made in a pot with a lid - this can lead to the dish being less meaty and more watery, which also reduces the impact of the ingredients’ flavours. To prevent this, take the pot lid off for the last 10 minutes of recommended cooking time, and only serve when the liquid has sufficiently reduced.

Allergy alert

None of the 14 major food allergens are typically among picadillo ingredients, but it’s possible that some recipes may include things like Celery.

Beef chow mein

What is beef chow mein?

Beef chow mein is a type of stir-fry originating from China, its name being the English derivative “chau meing”, which in Taishan Chinese means stir-fried noodles.

An easy and versatile dish, preparation for beef chow mein involves marinating strips of beef, and then frying them in a wok alongside chopped up vegetables - anything from carrots to cabbage and serving over or combined with fried egg noodles or soba noodles.

Beef chow mein ingredients

For beef chow mein the beef is cut into strips and marinated in ingredients such as soy sauce, oyster sauce, beef stock, sesame oil, corn flour and soft brown sugar, before being fried with vegetables (a great many vegetables can be used for this dish, such as carrots, celery, onions, mangetout, bean sprouts and spring onions) and other flavourful ingredients such as ginger, garlic and eve Eggs. Fried noodles are also a key component of beef chow mein.

Beef chow mein top tip

Try coating the beef strips in egg before frying alongside the vegetables and noodles - it will encourage the beef to stick to the noodles and give them flavour.

Allergy alert

Eggs are a common ingredient in beef chow mein, either in the noodles or the wider dish. Additionally, sometimes Celery is among the vegetables used, and traditionally soy sauce and oyster sauce are used for the beef marinade - they contain Soya and Molluscs respectively, and Sesame oil - made with Sesame. All of these are major allergens.

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