Beef stew is a classic wintertime dish. The combination of vegetables and many thick chunks of meat make for a meal that “sticks to your bones” as they say. But while it’s a great dish for cold weather, it of course can be eaten any time of the year. And there are many types of beef stew around the world. You can find some sort of beef stew on pretty much any continent, from the Americas to East Asia.
Beef stew is super tasty, comforting, and satisfying on its own. But, if you want a bit more to eat, you may be thinking about what to serve with beef stew.
You can include any number of dishes with it like polenta, noodles, garlic bread, or even fried plantains. In this article, you’ll learn exactly what to serve with beef stew for a delicious, complete meal!
What Goes Well with Beef Stew?
While beef stew is a great dish to eat on its own, you can easily transform the humble dish into something a bit more complex (and filling as well!) by serving it with something else.
There are a few different types of foods that you can accompany with beef stew.
In addition to its deep, savory taste, beef stew is also quite flexible when it comes to the types of foods that go well with it. The main two categories though are something fresh or something starchy. You can even further describe the foods by how you serve them: on top of the stew, as a side dish, or something you dip into the stew.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the factors you should consider when looking for foods to pair with your hearty beef stew:
While there are a few ways you can categorize the various accompaniments to beef stew, ultimately, some of the best flavors to combine with beef stew are those that are somewhat mild. This is because you don’t want to have too many conflicting flavors fighting it out.
For example, rice is a great accompaniment. But, it should be only mildly seasoned, if at all.
It shouldn’t have too much flavor like Spanish rice, for example. While it may go nicely, you risk overpowering the flavor of the beef stew. But, you can use your own discretion as to what works best.
Another thing to consider is the texture of the food that you want to serve with your beef stew recipe.
Many starchy foods like mashed potatoes, rice, baguettes, polenta, egg noodles, or classic dinner rolls are great to add a bit of texture to the dish.
They’re also great at acting as a sponge to absorb all of the delicious flavors of the beef stew.
These starchy foods are the best if you plan on dipping something into the stew or serving the stew on top of the dish.
If you’re thinking of something to eat on the side, rather than dipping into the stew, vegetables are some of the best options. They can be something extra fresh like a green salad or spinach salad, but they could also be another vegetable dish like roasted vegetables or pureed cauliflower.
Ultimately, whatever you decide to serve with your beef stew recipe will depend on what you put into it.
Impact of Ingredients in the Beef Stew Recipe
There’s no shortage of vegetable combos that you can use when making beef stew. I personally am more fond of the classics like carrot, celery, potato, onion, turnip, and of course beef.
You can also include many other ingredients like butternut squash, rutabaga, parsnips, eggplant, or even beans like black beans and kidney beans for example. I argue that carrot and celery are some of the most important ingredients, though.
But, if you have a lot of potatoes in the stew, maybe you decide against serving it with mashed potatoes for example, and instead, decide to serve it with a salad or egg noodles.
What Sides Should You Serve with Beef Stew?
Don’t get me wrong, beef stew even on its own is amazing.
However, this classic comfort food can be taken to the next level with the right side dish.
By adding a side dish to beef stew, you can add some interesting and tasty diversity to the classic dish. Since it’s so versatile, beef stew can be served with many different things, but here are some of my favorite sides to serve with beef stew.
Garlic Crescent Rolls
Who doesn’t love garlic, right? And it goes with almost everything too, beef stew included.
Garlic crescent rolls are great because they’re super convenient and you use regular store-bought crescent rolls and add a buttery, herby, & garlicy twist.
They not only are a nice compliment to the beef stew, but you can use the rolls to mop up any of the savory goodness you couldn’t get with a spoon.
To make it, simply lay out the dough, and before you roll the dough into the crescent shape, brush it with garlic butter, and sprinkle Italian seasoning and pieces of diced garlic. Then, roll them up and bake normally.
French bread is soft and absorbent, so it’s perfect for soaking up sauces. This crusty bread is not too hard or crunchy, making it the perfect accompaniment. It’s best served with soft butter or even plain if you plan to dip it into the stew.
This side dish is good if you’re short on time. You can pick up a freshly baked baguette from the bakery and simply just put it in the oven for a couple of minutes to warm it up just before you serve the meal.
This is a simple classic.
Mashed potato, like beef stew, can go with so many different foods. So, it’s not much of a surprise that they go swimmingly together. Mashed potatoes specifically are great for beef stew because they can also act as a bit of a spongy starchy side to absorb the flavors.
You can make the mashed potatoes in a variety of ways that match the taste or texture that you desire. You can leave the potato skins on, you can make the roughly mashed so they’re chunkier, or use an electric mixer to make them creamier. And, you can boost the flavor as much or as little as you like by adding or omitting extras like salt, milk, sour cream, butter, or cream cheese.
If you’re feeling a bit naughty and want to go all out on the mashed taters then I recommend this recipe.
Oven-roasted vegetables are a more subdued side dish, but they can add a variety of flavors and textures to beef stew as well.
Having oven-roasted vegetables as a side dish can be a great option if your beef stew is light on the vegetables, which allows a diversity of flavors and textures while also making it a more complete dish.
Rice pilaf as a side dish for beef stew is a great option because it makes the dish even heartier but adds a bit more excitement than something like plain white or brown rice. It’s also pretty convenient because rice is something that most people will have lying around as well.
While I usually like to use Rice-A-Roni because it’s just so convenient, if I decide to go homemade, this is a great rice pilaf recipe to accompany beef stew.
What are the Best Appetizers to Serve with Beef Stew?
You may also be wondering what’s best to serve as an appetizer before you eat beef stew.
Again, there are many possibilities depending on the direction you may want to go.
If you’re serving an extra hearty main dish like beef stew with mashed potatoes, then you may choose to go with a lighter appetizer. Or conversely, you may want to have a slightly heavier appetizer. Below you’ll find both options that I like.
Growing up, a green salad was an extremely common appetizer to have with dinner in my family. This is because a green salad, like beef stew, is a classic dish.
A green salad is a quick and easy way to balance out the heartiness of beef stew as well as provide a boost of color to the meal as well. Plus, having some fresh vegetables is a nice healthy bonus too, right?
Like a green salad, spinach salad is a quick and easy option that can balance out the dense, heartiness of beef stew, particularly if you’re serving it with another hearty side dish like rice pilar or mashed potatoes. Spinach can provide a different taste and texture than green salad though.
Stuffed Bell Pepper
Bell peppers are a great vessel because they can go with a wide variety of flavors.
You can make stuffed pepper nearly any way you like from Italian stuffed peppers, Mexican stuffed peppers, or anything in between.
They can be a bit of a heartier appetizer, which can make up for not having a side dish. And since they can be stuffed with any number of ingredients, they fit pretty much any taste you like.
What are the Best Desserts to Serve with Beef Stew?
I applaud you if you can somehow manage to save room for dessert. I am one of those that likes the idea of dessert more than the dessert itself because I can rarely ever fit anything else into my stomach after eating too much of the main course.
Since beef stew can be so heavy, it can be particularly difficult to be able to eat any dessert afterward. However, below are some desserts that are simple and light and go well after stuffing yourself with beef stew.
You can use pudding, like rice, vanilla, chocolate, tapioca, to provide a different texture and taste. It’s a traditional dessert, which can be topped with whipped topping, fruit, or chocolate chips.
Fruits and Cream
Combine fruit such as strawberries, blueberries, or apples with whipped cream for added flavor and texture. This keeps the dessert light while adding a little bit of sugar to sweeten the fruit.
You can also add a bit of shortcake if you’d like something even a bit sweeter.
You can make or purchase homemade vanilla ice cream and serve it with chocolate or caramel sauce. You can serve it in ice cream cups or pudding bowls. Put some colored sprinkles or a dollop of whipped topping on top.