Traditional British Beef Stew and Dumplings Recipe

David Marsden - Getty Images
  • 2 hrs 40 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 2 hrs 20 mins
  • Yield: Serves 6
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No dish has ever seemed so perfect for a winter's day than a hearty Beef Stew and Dumplings. It has kept the Britain and Ireland on its feet during hard times and through winter storms. It always brings a smile to any family when served for dinner.


Dumplings are made with suet and for this dish, there is really no alternative. So if you can't find suet (easy in the UK) then check out the alternatives you can use or simply just omit them.


What You'll Need

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose (plain flour)
  • 1 lb (450g) thick cooking steak, cut into large chunks
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 cup onion (115g) roughly chopped
  • 1 cup (100g) leeks, cleaned and finely sliced
  • 1 cup (170g ) carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1½ pints (750 ml) dark beef stock
  • 4 oz (115g) self-rising flour
  • 2 oz  (55g) shredded suet

How to Make It

  1. In a large bowl mix together the flour and the chunks of cooking steak. Make sure all the beef is covered in flour. 
  2. In a large frying pan heat half the oil to hot but not smoking. Add half the floured steak pieces and brown all over. Remove the steak and place into a Dutch oven or casserole dish. Add the remaining oil to the frying pan, heat again then add the remaining steak and brown all over. Again, add the steak to the dish.
  1. Turn the heat up high and add the brandy to the frying pan, stir well, scraping up all the meat juices on the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook this mixture taking care not to burn it until it becomes a sticky glaze.
  2. Add the onion, the leeks and the carrots to the frying pan, stir them well to coat all the vegetables with the glaze then tip them all into the dish.
  3. Place the frying pan back onto the heat, stir in a third of the stock and bring to the boil, scraping all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Once all the bits are released, pour the stock into the casserole.
  4. Add the remaining stock, cover with a tight-fitting lid, then simmer gently on the stove top or in a medium oven (350F/175C)  for 2 hours. Check from time to time to make sure the stock isn't reducing too much. If it is, add a little boiling water. The meat and vegetables should always be covered by liquid. You can also make this recipe in a slow cooker if you have one.

Make the dumplings.

  1. In a roomy bowl mix the flour with the suet and a pinch of salt. Add 3 tablespoons cold water and stir. If the dough is dry add more water until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough.
  2. Divide the dough into 8 and shape into round balls with lightly floured hands. Leave to one side while you roll the remaining dumplings.
  3. After the beef stew has cooked for 2 hours, remove the lid, check the seasoning and add salt or pepper to taste. Add the dumplings to the stew laying them on the surface at even distances apart, pop one in the middle as well if you have enough. Cover the dish again with the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes.
  1. Remove the lid and you will see the dumpligs well risen, if not, cook for a few minutes more. 
  2. Serve hot into warm bowls. Enjoy!


In this Beef Stew and Dumplings recipe we use leeks, carrots and onion, but feel free to add any other winter root vegetables you may have to hand.

For herb-flavored dumplings add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary, and sage work well) to the flour and suet before mixing the dumplings. Or, stir a teaspoon of Marmite into the wet dough before rolling the dumplings.