Warm and cozy gluten-free beef stew with a twist on the classic flavors. This one-pot beef stew has incredible flavor with tender beef in orange juice and balsamic vinegar broth. Top it off with a fresh orange gremolata for the perfect balance of flavors. It’s a hearty meal the whole family will love.
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Traditionally, beef stew relies on a mirepoix - a blend of diced onion, celery, and carrots that forms the base of dishes such as stews, soups, braised meats, and more. A classic beef stew recipe typically incorporates red wine and tomato paste to enhance its flavor.
However, in this variation of Dutch oven beef stew, I introduce a unique twist by using balsamic vinegar and orange juice to create a rich and flavorful broth. This unconventional choice adds a distinct depth of taste to the stew. Additionally, I opt for fall and winter vegetables with a sweeter profile, like butternut squash and Japanese yams.
Why you’ll love this recipe
✔️ It’s naturally gluten-free. I don’t use flour to thicken this recipe, as it is unnecessary. If you must, you can thicken the stew with gluten-free flour, arrowroot, or tapioca flour.
✔️ Unique and different flavors. This is a twist on traditional beef stew flavored with oranges and balsamic. Yet all the ingredients are simple and easy to find.
✔️ Cozy weekend meal. This hearty gluten-free beef stew is perfect for making on weekends or on a cold day.
✔️ It’s even better the next day after the flavors have time to meld together.
✔️ This hearty beef stew is a one pot meal, which means less mess and fewer dishes.
✔️ Whole 30, Paleo, Gluten-Free, and can be made Dairy-Free with one easy swap.
What makes this beef stew recipe gluten-free?
Most beef stews use all-purpose flour or cornstarch to coat the meat before browning; some recipes call for adding flour or another thickener to thicken the stew. I find this step unnecessary; beef stew does not need to be thick and doesn't add more flavor to the final dish. I actually prefer a thinner stew consistency. Chunky vegetables like butternut squash and potatoes naturally add thickness to the stew with their starch.
So, I omit flour or thickeners altogether, making this a naturally gluten-free beef stew. I should note that if you use a store-bought stock instead of water as your liquid, ensure it is also gluten-free. And if you insist on thickening the stew, use gluten-free, arrowroot, or tapioca flour.
Why use a Dutch oven to make stew?
There are various methods to braise meat. Pressure cookers, Instant Pot, and slow cookers are popular choices. However, my preferred method is to braise beef stew in a Dutch oven, and here is why.
Dutch ovens are ideal in size and typically crafted from cast iron, making them the perfect vessels for braising and cooking meat. The cast iron ensures even heat distribution, resulting in a beautifully cooked dish.
Secondly, a Dutch oven allows for the gradual layering of flavor as you cook, unlike the Instant Pot or the crock pot, where ingredients are often just tossed in. You can season in multiple steps, enhancing the depth of flavor and incorporating ingredients such as veggies that require less cooking time.
Additionally, when the Dutch oven lid is closed, it functions like an oven. Simply close the lid, lower the heat, and let it work its magic on the stovetop or in the oven.
Lastly, using a Dutch oven results in a convenient one-pot meal. Adding hearty root vegetables such as tender potatoes, chunky carrots, butternut squash, or sweet potatoes gives you a complete meal.
- Use the proper cut of meat. Opt for beef chuck roast, which comes from the neck and shoulder. This cut is somewhat tough but very flavorful, with a good deal of connective tissue. Braising works wonders with chuck roast. The slow braising process of browning the meat and then cooking it in liquid for hours on low heat makes it tender and juicy.
- Cut beef and vegetables into evenly sized pieces so each ingredient will cook evenly.
- A good Dutch oven doesn't have to be expensive! I do love my Le Creuset dutch oven, but for a more affordable price tag, Lodge makes a good enameled cast iron dutch oven for a fraction of the price.
- Don’t skip browning! Browning the meat adds a depth of flavor, and the browned bits form the base of the sauce. Make sure the pot is fully heated before adding the beef, or it won’t sear properly. Brown in batches to avoid overcrowding the pot. This will help the meat sear and not steam.
- To add flavor to beef stew - add ingredients in layers and season each layer as you cook. Have patience when browning and building up the sauce or braising liquid, and let the magic unfold in the oven.
- To remove the extra fat from the beef stew, the easiest way is to place the Dutch oven with the braised beef stew in the refrigerator. The fat will rise to the top and solidify, making it easier to skim it off. Then reheat and serve.
Boneless beef chuck roast - Chuck roast is one of the best cuts of beef for making beef stew. It has enough fat to hold up to long and slow cooking and becomes more tender and juicy with cooking. I prefer using grass-fed or pasture-raised beef when possible and available. Grass-fed beef is usually leaner.
Oranges - This gluten-free beef stew recipe has a unique flavor by using fresh orange juice in the braising liquid and orange zest to enhance the flavors. I also use orange zest to make a gremolata to serve as garnish for the finished dish.
Balsamic Vinegar - Adds great flavor and a hint of sweetness and acts as a substitute for wine.
Root vegetables and winter squash - I make this recipe with butternut squash, carrots, and Japanese yams. You can swap out for your favorite vegetables. Honeynut squash or butterkin squash (a hybrid between butternut squash and pumpkin) can be used. Sweet potatoes or regular potatoes will also work. If using potatoes, go for Yukon gold potatoes, as russet potatoes are better for baking, mashing, and fries.
Fresh herbs - Use fresh thyme for the stew and fresh parsley in the gremolata.
Seasonings - Black pepper, smoked paprika, and bay leaf. Smoked paprika is optional but adds a deep smoky flavor to the beef.
How To Make Gluten Free Beef Stew
Step 1. Trim the chuck roast of excess fat and cut it into equal 1 ½ inch pieces. Pat dry and season with salt and pepper.
Step 2. In a hot Dutch oven, add oil and butter.
Step 3. Add meat to the pan. It should sizzle and stick to the bottom like glue. Sear on all sides.
Step 4. Sear beef on all sides until nicely browned. Don't overcrowd the pan, and work in batches. Remove to a bowl.
Step 5. Add onion and garlic cloves to the pot to sauté. Scrape up any browned bits from the pot.
Step 6. Add orange zest peels, thyme, bay leaves, balsamic vinegar, and orange juice and stir.
Step 7. Add the beef with all the juices accumulated in the bowl, and add water or stock. Let it come to a boil, season with salt, close the lid, and put in a preheated oven to braise for almost 2 hours.
Step 8. Remove from the oven, add butternut squash, carrots, and Japanese yams. Close the lid and continue cooking in the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour.
Step 9. Stew is done when beef and vegetables are tender.
Step 10. In this additional step, for an elevated touch, prepare an orange gremolata to use as a garnish for the meat stew. To make the gremolata, simply blend garlic, orange zest, and parsley.
- To save some time, use pre-cut or frozen butternut squash.
- Zest and peel the orange first before juicing for minimal waste.
- Sear the meat using a combination of oil and butter for the best flavor, but you can stick to oil only if you prefer dairy-free.
- Use a good size pot. For this recipe, I use my 6.75 qt oval Le Creuset Dutch oven.
- Store leftover beef stew in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or just keep it in a Dutch oven for easy reheating.
Beef chuck roast is the best cut for making beef stew. Look for a piece that is well-marbled. Cook it low and slow, meaning on low heat for a few hours, will yield the best oven-braised beef stew results. I prefer to get a full chuck roast piece and cut it into 1.5-inch cubes. For convenience or ease, you can purchase pre-cut beef stew meat at the store.
To skim the fat easily, refrigerate the stew and let the fat rise to the top and harden. Then, scoop it out with a spoon.
Gremolata is a condiment, garnish, or green sauce typically made from finely chopped parsley, garlic, and lemon zest. It goes well with rich braised meats like osso bucco, short ribs, and beef stew.
What to Serve With Dutch Oven Beef Stew
This stew pairs well with:
- Mashed potatoes
- Buckwheat groats
- A refreshing fennel and cucumber salad or broccoli and apple slaw
More Braised Dishes to Try
Lastly, if you try this recipe, I would love to hear about it! Be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! And if you snapped some photos, tag and share them with me on Instagram.
Gluten-Free Beef Stew Recipe
- 3 lbs boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 ½ inch cubes/chunks/pieces
- 2 teaspoon salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika, optional
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
- ½ tablespoon butter, optional, leave out for dairy free
- 1 small onion, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 2-3 oranges, peeled, zested and juiced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 3 cups water, or beef stock
- 2 cups butternut or honeynut squash , peeled, cleaned and cubed
- 2 large carrots, cut into 1 inch rounds
- 1-2 Japanese yam, sweet potato or potatoes, optional, cubed
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 garlic clove, grated or finely chopped
- 1 small bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Trim chuck roast of excess fat, cut into equal 1 ½ inch pieces. Pat dry with a paper towel. Season with half the salt (1 tsp) and fresh pepper.
- Heat a large Dutch oven (I used a 6.75qt) over medium-high heat. Once the pot is hot, add oil and then butter (if using), tilt the pot so the oil coats the bottom.
- Add meat to the pan, it should make a sizzling sound and stick to the pan like glue. Sear the meat for about 3 minutes on each side or until nicely browned. Don't overcrowd the pan, so the meat can sear and not steam. Also, work in batches. Remove to a bowl, and repeat with the next batch. 3 lbs of meat will take about 3 batches.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and make sure the rack is set in the middle.
- Lower the heat to medium. Add onion and garlic to the pot, use a spatula to combine, and pick up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes or until onion is softened.
- Add orange zest peels (about 5-6 pieces), thyme, bay leaves, balsamic vinegar, and orange juice. Combine with a spatula.
- Add back the meat plus all the juices that accumulated in the bowl. Add water or stock, enough to just cover the meat. Partially cover the pot with a lid, once the liquid starts to bubble, season with half of the remaining salt (½ tsp), close the lid, turn off the heat, and place the closed Dutch oven into the oven on the middle rack. Cook for about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
- Using heat-safe gloves, remove the Dutch oven from the oven, and remove the lid. Be careful not to get burned, the entire pot is very hot. Add butternut squash, carrots, and Japanese yams. Season with the remainder of the salt, and combine with a spatula. Close the lid. Using the gloves, put the dutch oven back into the oven to cook for about 45 minutes to an hour.
- In this optional step, if you want to elevate the dish, make orange gremolata to serve as garnish/condiment over the meat stew. To make gremolata - combine garlic, orange zest and parsley.
- Spoon into bowls, garnish with gremolata and serve.
- Cut beef and vegetables in equal sized pieces for even cooking.
- Dairy free - omit butter. Use more oil if necessary.
- Remove the zest from the orange before juicing it.
- For ease- use precut or frozen squash