Carbonnade Flamande

This cozy beef stew is made with dark Belgian beer, which tenderizes the meat while adding a depth of flavor that is truly comforting. My recipe follows the traditional method, using bread as the main thickener. Many other recipes seem to omit the bread, perhaps because it was originally a way to stretch the ingredients, but I think it adds satisfying body to the gravy and is a big part of the alchemy of this dish: it makes this recipe unique and turns the stew into something more than just beef with onions and beer. As with all stews, it tastes even better the next day!

Carbonnade Flamande

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print
Look for a dark Belgian Trappist ale (or Belgian-style dark beer) with a complex flavor – I have had success with Chimay, Unibroue, and Ommegang but try your favorite. For the bread, use day old rye, sourdough, or any other crusty loaf for delicious results!


  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter*
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 pounds beef, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 750 mL bottle of dark Belgian beer
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2-3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 slices bread, enough to cover the top of the stew


Preheat the oven to 350º F.

In a large Dutch oven, brown the bacon and remove from pot, setting aside. Brown the onions in the bacon fat and butter until they are starting to caramelize, 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute before removing onions and garlic from the pot. Set aside with the bacon.

Cube beef into bite sized pieces and toss in flour to coat. Brown beef in batches.

Pour the beer into the pot, reserving a couple of tablespoons, and deglaze, scraping all the browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Stir in sherry vinegar and sugar until dissolved. Add the bacon, onion, garlic, and beef back into the pot along with the bay leaves and the thyme. Stir to evenly distribute.

Heavily smear mustard on one side of each slice of bread. Place the slices of bread on top of the stew with the mustard side down, press down so that the bread is fully in contact with the stew. Pour the reserved beer evenly over top of the bread.

Cover and transfer the Dutch oven to the preheated oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the bread has broken down and the beef is tender. Serve over egg noodles, o traditional sides are frites in Belgium and red cabbage or butter-braised chicory in Northern France.

* On butter – I am lactose intolerant but can eat butter, as is fairly common. If you can’t, replace the butter with your favorite non-dairy option, but do try to find one without palm oil!

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