Beef Stew is one of those classic and easy-to-make recipes that satisfy the entire family! It typically contains many delicious and nutritious ingredients such as beef, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, spices, and herbs to enhance the flavor.
Everyone has their own way of making beef stew but if you don’t know much about seasoning or are not sure what to add to a beef stew for flavor, look no further as I have developed a list of some of the most favored herbs and spices that will get you a rich, deeply flavored stew.
How To Season Beef Stew With These 9 Popular Herbs, Spices, And Seasonings
Whether you cook it in a crockpot, oven, or on a stovetop, a perfect homemade beef stew should have succulent bites of meat, sweet and scrumptious vegetables, and a rich, perfectly balanced broth.
Try adding these following 9 seasonings to the recipe so your beef stew will never be bland again.
1. Kosher Salt
What is a beef stew without a hint of salt? Although it may go without saying that a dash or two will elevate your dish, consider using kosher salt instead of iodized salt if you don’t already.
Kosher salt has larger crystals, which makes a great difference to the flavor. Instead of making the dish just taste salty, kosher salt actually enhances the flavor of the wonderful ingredients in the stew.
Also, larger salt crystals help from over-salting the dish and allow the beef to stay more succulent without any metallic taste that often comes with regular iodized table salt.
Here are 10 Types of Salt You Should Use Instead of Regular Table Salt. – Recommended By Chefs!
2. Black Pepper
Black pepper is an excellent beef spice. Like salt, black pepper with its pungent taste is a traditional seasoning for many dishes; it has the potential to alter the flavor of your stew for the better by elevating the natural flavors of the dish.
Black peppercorns are the strongest of the peppercorns and add depth, bitter notes, earthy taste, as well as pungency.
Combined with the juiciness of the beef and the savory veggies, it will tie the whole meal together.
In addition, adding flavor to foods, black pepper contains Piperine, which is the compound that makes black pepper spicy. Piperine has been shown to have some great antioxidant properties. Piperine can also increase the bioavailability and absorption of other nutrients.
Just be careful not to use too much of it, as black pepper can easily overpower other herbs and spices.
3. Cayenne Pepper
Look no further for those who like a kick of spice, as cayenne pepper will add just the perfect amount of heat and also subtly enhances other flavors.
It is typically used in many Mexican, Asian, and Indian dishes, but it can also pack a punch of smoky flavor in your beef stew. It is great for sauces and meat, which is what makes up most of your beef stew anyway!
Add just a pinch of this red pepper for some slight smokiness, or add a bit more for those who enjoy a truly spicy dish.
Cayenne pepper is also a great salt substitute if you are trying to minimize salt in your diet and eat a bit healthier. Here Are 7 Surprising Signs You’re Eating Too Much Salt!
Like cayenne pepper, paprika has the potential to add an element of smokiness to your stew that can vary from mild, sweet to hot.
Store-bought paprika powder is typically made from a combination of a ground-up bell and chili peppers. The spice mix takes on some flavor from the chilis, and unlike cayenne, it adds a pop of color to the dish.
So, if you’re looking to give your beef stew a nice orangey-red color and a pop of heat that is not overpowering, try adding a dash of paprika.
Paprika is also a good taste enhancer and mixes well with kosher salt and black pepper. Just 3 of these combined can bring a ton of flavor to your stew.
5. Onion Powder
Onion powder is commonly used in meatloaves, casserole, soups, and stews and is often the reason that the delicious smell will linger in your kitchen for a while after cooking.
There is nothing like the amazing scent and flavors released when someone is cooking onions, and just adding a powder makes it so much easier to accomplish that.
Onion powder can be used as a substitute or in addition to fresh onions, as it disperses easily throughout the stew and divides that savory taste.
When substituting onions with onion powder, use the ratio of 1 tablespoon of onion powder for two medium-size onions. Both onion powders and onion are tasty in their own right and will give your stew a distinctive aroma with a hint of mellow sweetness.
Onion powder goes well with all the other spices and herbs on this list, and I always add a spoonful to my stew alongside fresh onions.
6. Celery Seed
Many people aren’t huge fans of celery itself, so you may not want to add the chopped vegetable into the beef stew. However, the slightly bitter, the warm, celery-like flavor often contributes to the juicy, savory flavors of soups, casseroles, and stews.
This is where celery seeds come in. Adding just a pinch of this seasoning will give your stew the strength and uniqueness that it may have been lacking without becoming too bitter.
It is best just to throw the seeds whole into the stew rather than grounding them up. Ground celery seeds release more bitterness, which you may find overwhelming.
These tiny aromatic seeds are super nutrient-dense and also provide many benefits to your body.
When seasoning a beef stew, oregano is probably one of many people’s first herbs to the mix.
It is commonly used in Mediterranean dishes for its ability to add an earthy, light, and slightly sweet taste to any dish.
It is most often used in its dried form, as fresh oregano can be too overwhelming.
Adding some of this popular herb into your beef stew will help balance out the salty and spicy tones from the meat and other seasonings to give your dish a natural flavor that is not too extreme.
If you are using dried oregano, added it to your stew at the beginning of the cooking so that it has time to infuse into the meat and other ingredients. However, you should add fresh oregano closer to the end of the cooking to help conserve more of its flavor.
Parsley is not just for garnish. Parsley is a hearty and robust all-rounder herb that pairs well with beef recipes.
Parsley, a slightly peppery taste, and it add an element of bitterness, similar to celery. However, the bitter flavor is more subtle and earthy and balances the flavors in a savory dish, such as a beef stew.
Adding some fresh or dried parsley to your stew will not overwhelm the already earthy, salty, and acidic flavors but instead will bring them all together. You really cannot go wrong with using this herb!
For the best result, finely chop the parsley with a sharp knife. Add it to the stew at the start of the cooking process, along with all the other ingredients.
Basil has a bright, aromatic, and robust flavor that goes really well with the deep flavors of beef recipes. It is delicious when cooked into a beef stew, with the subtle hints of pepper, mint, and anise.
You can use dried basil but using fresh herbs adds a natural lightness to the density of beef recipes.
For something like beef stew, which is made with thick cuts of meat and dense veggies, basil is almost essential to freshen up the predominately salty and warm tastes.
Sweet basil is the one that is most commonly used and found in the grocery store, though there are other kinds as well, such as lemon, clove, or cinnamon basil, all of which can be successfully used in your beef stew.
Add basil to your stew at the end of the cooking process, ideally right before serving the dish. Cooking basil for too long on high heat can eliminate some of the flavors and sometimes even turn it somewhat bitter.
Read Also: How Is Canned Corned Beef Made? (Unusual But Edible)
There are many variations of a classic beef stew recipe that are out there, and all of them have a unique combination of seasonings included in the ingredients.
Many people use other popular seasonings to put in a beef stew, like rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, bouillon cubes, dry red wine, brown sugar, or even some orange peels.
There are no hard and fast rules to tell you what spices and herbs are necessary for your stew, as it all depends on your preferences. Just try to aim for a balance between sweet and savory, and you can not go wrong.
Above is not a definitive list of all of the possible seasonings that could enhance and flavor your dish, but hopefully, they can help you get started.