Muffin-topped winter beef stew

Muffin-topped winter beef stew

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(130 ratings)

Prep: 20 mins Cook: 2 hrs, 30 mins


Serves 2 adults and 2-3 children
Muffin on stew? You’d better believe it – think of it as a lighter alternative to suet dumplings

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: per adult serving

  • kcal847
  • fat39g
  • saturates14g
  • carbs82g
  • sugars0g
  • fibre10g
  • protein46g
  • salt2.81g
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For the stew

  • 500g braising steak, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with pepper and a little salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 450g carrot, cut into chunks



    The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…

  • 2 large parsnip, cut into chunks



    The fact that the parsnip is a member of the carrot family comes as no surprise - it looks just…

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp sundried or regular tomato paste
  • 300ml red wine or extra stock
  • 450ml vegetable stock

For the topping

  • 225g plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder

    Baking powder

    bay-king pow-dah

    Baking powder is a raising agent that is commonly used in cake-making. It is made from an alkali…

  • 140g cheddar, coarsely grated



    Once cheddar was 'Cheddar', a large, hard-pressed barrel of cheese made by a particular…

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 150ml milk



    One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a complete food. While cow…


  1. Heat oven to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2. Toss the beef in seasoned flour. Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole. Fry the beef over a high heat until browned all over – it’s easiest to do this in batches. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

  2. Add 2 tbsp water and the onion to the pan, stir well over a medium heat, scraping up the crusty bits from the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat and fry gently for 10 mins, stirring occasionally until the onions have softened.

  3. Tip in the carrots, parsnips and bay leaf, then fry for 2 mins more. Return the beef to the pan, stir in the tomato paste, wine if using, and stock, then bring to the boil. Cover and cook in the oven for 1¾-2 hrs until the meat is tender. Can be made up to 2 days ahead or frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost thoroughly in the fridge before topping and baking. Take out of the oven and increase the temperature to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5.

  4. To make the topping, sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl and add half the cheese. Mix olive oil and milk, then stir into the flour to make a soft, slightly sticky dough. Add more milk, if necessary. Spoon the dough over the meat and vegetables, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake for about 15 mins until golden, risen and cooked through.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Comments (143)

Claire145's picture

Very tasty. I added garlic, halved the stock and used slow cooker then transferred to oven for the last part. I used the exact recipe for the muffin and it was perfect. No need to thicken the stew. Will definitely be making again.

bethaneyj's picture

Didn't really like it! Not enough topping, and a bit flavourless. Won't try again.

tirion's picture

My only changes to the recipe were 400g beef and I was out of bay leaves so used bouquet garni instead. I accidentally missed the bit of the recipe where you remove the beef and set aside, so cooked it longer along with the onions and veg. It don't think it did any damage. We really like the casserole and I don;t agree with some of the other comments - the sauce wasn't thick but not watery. With the beef left in I was constantly scraping the bottom of the pan to lift of the crispy bits so maybe that added body. Not sure, but if I made it again I wouldn't change the recipe. My only issue was the muffin top. I used a huge casserole dish and because it's so sticky, I couldn't flatten the dough enough to cover the stew. It was fine as an island in the middle but it grew a lot in the oven and was out of proportion to the casserole, and is really filling. I'd skimped on beef and used an 11 inch pot so I'm not blaming the recipe, just will have to be more thoughtful about ratios next time if I still don't own a smaller casserole dish.

cheekymissevans's picture

having read some comments I would have to disagree I made this pretty much to the recipe with addition of a handful of mushrooms. The sauce was lovely and not too thin and there was loads of topping when cookEd

charlie66sasha's picture

I made this recipe for the first time tonight..I cooked it for 2 hours and I took some comments on board as too much liquid so I added 400ml beef stock and 200ml red wine, looked great and just right amount of liquid and thickness, I made up the muffin and did not look enough to cover, so I took notice of another comment and made double! Well that was way too much! Had more muffin than stew and all my stew had dried out :(. Will make again as wqs very tasty, but add the liquid and muffin quanity as stated. Or make muffin seperate then place on top anyone done that?

alexis115's picture

I don't think this is the greatest stew recipe out there but it's ok. The muffin topping was horrible, not sure what I did wrong!

lseastwood's picture

Just made and eaten and whilst it was very tasty, the recipe requires some adjustment. As others have said, the consistency was far too thin, so I added 3 heaped tsp of corn flour, mixed to a paste with red wine, and stirred through before adding the muffin topping. The topping needed more milk. I also added thyme to the topping, but this was just out of choice - I'm sure it would have been fine without.

dwatson27's picture

Stew wonderful! I doubled the topping as per reader advice and it was far too much ! Way undercooked for a family of 4! Next time I will cook casserole/stew as per recipe and probably use a baked suet dumpling with cheese from my own recipe. Rate this 4stars plus 3stars for topping

sharon300's picture

Just finished serving this, it is absolutely gorgeous, did it to the word using feather blade steak. The meat just melted in the mouth and the muffin top was so scrumptious. I did this gluten free just changing the flour. Will deffinetly be making this again.

stoner14's picture

Really tasty recipe. Have made it several times now - I think the best topping amount is to increase the recipe stated amount by 50%. Much nicer than dumplings!

cshobbs's picture

Excellent! Easily made suitable for coeliacs by using gluten-free flour, stock and flour.

satutatu's picture

Fried some lardons in the casserole first, then fried the floured steak in the bacon fat, substituted some of the orange carrots for yellow/purple ones and a leek (didn't have parsnips), splashed the onions with red wine rather than water, 1tbsp sundried paste, 1tbsp tomato puree, 2 bay leaves, fresh rosemary & thyme in a bouquet and 45 mins into the oven time I tasted the sauce & added some balsamic vinegar and some tangy lingonberry sauce and a tbsp dark brown sugar. Divine! Made to freeze & will make the topping when this is on the menu. Can't wait! (Saving the 5th star for the topping!)

jhnaylor's picture

Made this loads of times now, and it's been great every time. It takes quite a while to prepare but it's worth it. I don't put the muffin top on as a 'top'; I shape spoonfuls of the mixture into rough dumpling shapes and drop them on top of stew then bake as per recipe. This is definitely one of our family favourites! I normally feed 2 adults and 2 children and freeze an extra portion (without the muffin/dumplings).

gnomestar's picture

This recipe is great, very warming and filling. I have made it a few times now and i do mine in my slow cooker and put the muffin top on half an hour before the end of cooking!! Yummy!! :)

hollyslb's picture

Bloody Lovely. The muffin top was to die for!! I agree it needs a longer cooking period and it did need thickening....but other than that it was perfect!

snowden91's picture

Delicious every time. I use beer instead of wine and add in a bit of fresh thyme and rosemary at the end of cooking and it's always great.

snowden91's picture

Delicious every time. I use beer instead of wine and add in a bit of fresh thyme and rosemary at the end of cooking and it's always great.

chatelaineldn's picture

Absolutely fantastic! So easy to make, including the topping, and looked really impressive. The whole family loved in and it didn't last long enough for the freezer! Will definitely be making this one again.

rachsgoodfood's picture

This was a lovely recipe unfortunately somebody had eaten half the cheese I had put aside to make the topping (grrrr!) so I put some thyme leaves in with the remaining cheese and it was really good did struggle a little putting the topping over the stew to make it spread evenly but as it cooks and rises it covers any little gaps I'd left.

sophie110's picture

Have made this several times and its a winner every time. Sooo tasty and easy to make, especially the topping.


Questions (2)

jess-booth's picture

Hi, this recipe sounds amazing! I'm going to make it for my husband this weekend. Question - I'm wondering what size casserole dish to use. The recipe says its for two adults - so is it a smaller sized dish? Thanks

satutatu's picture

I used 2 small casserole dishes (20cm diameter) and both were full to the max, so if you have one, go large-ish is my recommendation.

Tips (1)

sarahk's picture

This is a stew that can 'Stand Alone' without the topping.(ie accompanied with mash etc.) The Muffin top? Rather dense. My husband loves 'stodge' and this went down very well with him'. I enjoyed but would prefer a lighter topping. I found it difficult to spread thinly. Any ideas please as husband wants seconds!? How can I make this a lighter topping? any ideas ?

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