A treasured family recipe…
My Hawaiian Grandpa Clarence was easily one of the most influential & special people in my life. Throughout my childhood we only got to spend time with him for a few weeks every couple of years since he lived in Hawaii (where my mom was born & raised) & we lived in Wisconsin. Every other summer we’d stay at Grandpa’s house in Honolulu; he’d come to visit us in Wisconsin every Fall in between. Though our visits were far & few between, time with Grandpa Clarence was always so special.
Grandpa Clarence was an absolutely amazing cook & baker with the most generous heart. It’s one of the reasons he’s so dear to me – Grandpa was truly an embodiment of the spirit of aloha.
Many of the food memories from my childhood center around him: warming up Grandpa’s famous banana bread muffins for a quick breakfast (then packing up extras to share with the mailman or bank tellers or anyone we might run into throughout the day), dunking his prized cornbread into a warm bowl of chili, & absolutely begging Grandpa to make his famous Hawaiian beef stew for dinner.
To this day, there’s nothing more comforting to me than a cozy bowl of Grandpa Clarence’s beef stew served island style, over a pile of rice. It’s what comfort food is all about, & I’m so excited to share this special recipe with you. ♡ Read on to learn more about this Hawaiian-Style Beef Stew, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!
Wait, what is Hawaiian Beef Stew?
Let’s back up for a quick sec, since I think it may be a little surprising to learn that Hawaiian beef stew is a thing. After all, it’s beef stew. Nothing about it feels especially islandy or tropical, right?!
The truth is that even though Hawaii is home to so many amazing fresh ingredients & flavors, comfort food is a huge part of Hawaiian food culture. Hawaii is a melting pot of many different Pacific & East Asian cultures, all bringing their own versions comfort food into the Hawaiian food scene: noodles, dumplings, fried chicken(!), gravy-smothered plates of rice & eggs, & yes…Hawaiian-style beef stew.
Hawaiian beef stew is just as rich, hearty, & comforting as the beef stew you already know & love. Unlike the classic beef stew you find here on the mainland (or at least here in the Midwest), Hawaiian beef stew also has unique umami & tang, which come from a couple of staple island ingredients – shoyu (i.e. Japanese soy sauce) & Worcestershire. And, like many authentic local-style Hawaiian meals, Hawaiian beef stew is often served over rice.
Grandpa Clarence’s is my absolute favorite Hawaiian-style beef stew. I make a batch whenever I’m in need of a little comfort. This Hawaiian beef stew recipe was first published here on PWWB in 2019 as an Instant Pot recipe. We’re revisiting it today with a focus on stovetop preparation, which is how Grandpa always made it. However, you’ll still find Instant Pot, slow cooker & oven-braised instructions in the Recipe Notes, below. They all result in a wonderfully rich & comforting Hawaiian-style beef stew, so it’s really a matter of personal preference & how much time you have to prep your beef stew.
Key Ingredients in Hawaiian-Style Beef Stew:
Like any classic beef stew recipe, this Hawaiian beef stew recipe is made with humble, straight-forward ingredients. They’re simple staples that you likely already have on hand at any given point in time.
You will need…
- Beef – A good ol’ beef chuck roast is perfect for Hawaiian beef stew. If it’s more convenient for you to buy pre-cut stew meat, go ahead & do that.
- Celery, carrots, onion, & potatoes – As a lifelong celery-hater, I always go light on celery & heavy on carrot, though you can do whatever you prefer. I like using Yukon gold potatoes for their buttery flavor & texture. You can use whatever potatoes you like best.
- Tomato sauce & tomato paste – Give Hawaiian-style beef stew its velvety body & rich, tangy flavor.
- Shoyu (Japanese soy sauce) – A staple ingredient in Hawaiian kitchens. You can find shoyu at any well-stocked Asian food store, or you can easily order it online. Aloha Shoyu is one of my trusted go-to brands. If you can’t find shoyu, feel free to swap it out with your favorite soy sauce or tamari.
- Worcestershire sauce – An addition that adds loads of richness & depth of flavor.
- Beef stock – Use low-sodium stock or broth in this recipe since the shoyu & Worcestershire add plenty of saltiness.
- All-purpose flour – Just a bit, to dredge the beef & thicken the stew.
Budget-friendly beef stew tip: While beef chuck roast isn’t too expensive, it’s not especially cheap either! During soup & stew season, I like to pick up a nice chuck roast whenever it’s on sale. I bring it home, trim it, cube it, & keep it on hand in my freezer for whenever a Hawaiian beef stew craving strikes.
How to make Hawaiian Beef Stew
This Hawaiian beef stew is really simple to throw together. It’s a one-pot operation & it simmers for 2-3 hours, yielding beef stew with beautifully fall-apart tender beef & incredible rich flavor.
Here’s what you’ll do…
- Brown the beef – Season the beef with salt & black pepper, give it a quick dusting of flour, & cook until the surface is deeply browned. Why? ⇢ This is, hands down, the most important step in this Hawaiian beef stew recipe! It serves 2 important purposes. First, it creates a beautiful crust on the beef, which locks the juices inside the meat, preventing them from seeping out as the beef stew slowly cooks. This means the beef stays nice & juicy, & doesn’t dry out as it cooks. Second, as the meat browns, it leaves browned bits on the bottom of the pan (fond being the technical French term), which is what creates the rich base flavor of the stew.
- Build & simmer – Once all of the beef is browned, add all of the other beef stew ingredients into the pot, & let it do its thing for 2-3 hours. Why? ⇢ A low & slow cook allows the flavors of the Hawaiian beef stew to really build & develop. The beef gets perfectly fall-apart tender & your kitchen will smell like heeeeaven.
- Thicken with a slurry – Once the stew is ready, thicken it with slurry. Whip up a quick slurry using beef stock & flour, then stir it into the stew. Almost instantly, the stew will thicken into the most beautiful gravy.
Your house will smell amazing, & you’ll be ready to dive into the most cozy bowl of classic Hawaiian comfort food.
Local-Style Beef Stew FAQs:
- What’s shoyu? Shoyu is Japanese soy sauce & it’s a staple ingredient in Hawaiian kitchens. You can find shoyu at any well-stocked Asian food store, or you can easily order it online. Aloha Shoyu is one of my trusted go-to brands.
- Gluten-free Hawaiian beef stew – A couple of tweaks make this beef stew recipe completely gluten-free. Swap shoyu for tamari, & swap the all-purpose flour with cornstarch or your favorite gluten-free cup-for-cup flour substitute.
- How to make Slow Cooker or Crockpot Hawaiian Beef Stew? – This recipe is incredibly slow cooker-friendly! I suggest browning the beef on the stovetop to develop those rich flavors, then you can transfer to a Crockpot or slow cooker. Full slow cooker directions are included in the Recipe Notes, below.
- How to make Instant Pot Hawaiian Beef Stew? – This recipe is also incredibly Instant Pot-friendly. In fact, it’s my go-to method for busy weeknights. Full Instant Pot directions are also in the Recipe Notes, below.
- How to serve Hawaiian-style beef stew like a local? – Easy! Whip up a pot of rice, spoon the beef stew over top & dive in.
Grandpa Clarence will be so proud of you! I cannot wait for you to try this Hawaiian Beef Stew! It’s a treasured family recipe, & I know you’ll love it too. If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! Happy cooking! ♡
Craving More Hawaiian Flavors? 🤙🏼🌺
Try These Local Favorites:
- Best-Ever Kālua Pig (Hawaiian-Style Pulled Pork!)
- hapa fried rice with grilled pineapple, portuguese sausage & salsa verde
- Best-Ever Spam Musubi
- Grilled Huli Huli Chicken
- Mom’s Homemade Teriyaki Marinade
- Mom’s Hawaiian Mac Salad (Local-Style Macaroni Salad)
- Ahi Tuna Poke Bowls
- Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken
- Easy Baked Manapua (Hawaiian-Style Char Siu Bao)
- Hawaiian-Style Kalbi (Grilled Korean Beef Short Ribs)
Grandpa Clarence’s Hawaiian Beef Stew
- Prep Time: 10 Minutes
- Cook Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes (includes inactive time)
- Yield: Serves 6-8 1x
- Category: Soup, Stew & Chili Recipes
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Hawaiian
My Hawaiian Grandpa’s famous Hawaiian Beef Stew. A tangy & rich tomato gravy simmers with onions, carrots, potatoes, & beef until perfectly fall-apart tender. Serve it Hawaiian-style, over rice, for the best comfort food dinner! Slow cooker & Instant Pot directions provided in the Recipe Notes, below.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, divided
- 2 pounds beef chuck, trimmed & cubed into 1-inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 2 stalks celery, finely sliced
- 4 medium carrots, peeled as desired & cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 medium yellow onions, peeled & cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled & cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 (one) 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup shoyu (or low-sodium soy sauce)
- 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 4 cups low-sodium beef stock, divided
- for serving, as desired: rice
- Season the beef: Place ¼ cup of the flour in a medium bowl. Using paper towels, pat the stew meat as dry as possible, then season generously with the salt and ground black pepper. Dredge the seasoned stew meat in the flour, coating the meat well but shaking off any excess flour. Set aside.
- Brown the beef: Add the olive oil to a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat (I use a 5-quart Dutch oven). Once the oil & hot and shimmering, add in the beef, shaking off any excess flour before adding it into the pot. Brown 2-3 minutes per side, working in batches as necessary to avoid overcrowding the pot.
- Build the Hawaiian beef stew: Once the beef is browned, add the remaining ingredients into the pot: celery, carrots, onions, potatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, shoyu, Worcestershire, & 3 ½ cups of the beef stock. Stir to combine.
- Cook the Hawaiian beef stew: Increase the heat to high to bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to low to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover & simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the beef is fall-apart tender. Add the remaining ½ cup beef stock & ¼ cup all-purpose flour to a bowl or jar, whisking or shaking vigorously to combine until a slurry forms. While stirring, gradually pour the slurry into the beef stew. The stew should thicken almost immediately. Simmer 1-2 minutes longer to cook off the flour.
- Serve the Hawaiian beef stew island-style, over a bed of rice. Enjoy!
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- Make-Ahead, Storage & Freezing:
- Storage Instructions: Hawaiian beef stew stores incredibly well – it’s the type of recipe that gets even more flavorful as it sits! Transfer cooled Hawaiian beef stew to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Easily reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed through.
- Freezing Instructions: Hawaiian beef stew is also incredibly freezer-friendly. To freeze, transfer cooled Hawaiian beef stew to a freezer container or divide it up between multiple freezer containers for smaller portions – These are my absolute favorite! Freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, place the frozen Hawaiian beef stew the refrigerator overnight or submerge the freezer container in room temperature water for a quicker thaw. Easily reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed through.
- 10-Minute Meal Prep: While there’s lots of stove time involved in making this Hawaiian beef stew, you can eliminate all of the active work involved by chopping up the beef & veggies in advance. To meal prep, complete the following tasks, & at dinnertime, all you have to do is get cooking – easy!
- Trim & cube 2 pounds beef chuck. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Finely slice 2 stalks of celery, & chop 3 medium carrots & 3 medium yellow onions into 1-inch pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Alternate cooking methods:
- OVEN-BRAISED HAWAIIAN-STYLE BEEF STEW: Prep the recipe according to Steps 1-4, above. Rather than cooking on the stovetop, transfer the covered pot to a 325 degree F oven. Braise in the oven for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, until the beef is fall-apart tender. Complete the recipe according to Step 4, above, & serve.
- SLOW COOKER HAWAIIAN BEEF STEW: Prep the recipe according to Steps 1-2, above. Transfer the browned beef to the slow cooker, along with remaining ingredients, as described in Step 3. Slow cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 7-8 hours until the beef is fall-apart tender. Finish as directed in Step 4. If your slow cooker has a searing/browning feature, you can use it to cook this entire Hawaiian beef stew recipe (Steps 1-4) in the slow cooker.
- INSTANT POT HAWAIIAN BEEF STEW: Use the Instant Pot’s “Sauté” setting to cook the recipe according to Steps 1-3, above. Cover & seal the Instant Pot. Cook on manual high pressure for 35 minutes. Carefully quick release by flicking the valve to its “venting” position. Switch the Instant Pot back to its “Sauté” setting, & finish the beef stew as directed in Step 4.
Keywords: Hawaiian beef stew, beef stew recipe, Hawaiian recipes, slow cooker, Instant Pot, gluten-free, dairy-free, comfort food recipes
Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Eat Love Eat
If you love this Hawaiian-style Beef Stew, here are a few other amazing soup, stew & chili recipes you have to try!
- The BEST: Best-Ever Hearty Minestrone Soup
- Classic & comforting: Slow-Roasted Whole Chicken Soup
- Plant-based coziness: Damn Good Vegan Lentil Soup
- A favorite, lightened up: Healthy Italian Wedding Soup with Chicken Meatballs & Pesto
- Comfort food perfection: Italian Chicken & Gnocchi Dumplings
- ALL PWWB Soup, Stew & Chili Recipes
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This tasted amazing! And it was really simple to make too. A very easy recipe to follow.
Thanks Debbie! So glad you loved it! 🙂
Great instructions and excellent stew. I will definitely be making this again!
Hi Laura! Thanks so much, we are SO glad you loved it as much as we do!
If you ever have daikon available (Japanese white radish), add it to the beef stew while cooking the vegetables. Most times I reduce the amount of potatoes that I use when I add daikon. Game changer with an added texture. As you know, daikon takes on the flavors of anything it’s cooked in. This is how my grandma made her beef stew. ~Aloha
Hey Toni! It’s always so fun to hear about other’s family recipes – we’ll have to give this a try sometime, sounds like a delicious swap!
This recipe is DELICIOUS! My family and neighbors (born and raised in Hawaii) absolutely loved it. I replaced the celeri (I don’t like this vegetable) by one sweet potatoe, and I added more flour at the end.
So glad to hear everyone loved it, Pauline! Thanks so much for sharing a review! 🙂
Awesome is an understatement!
I made my stew in the Instant Pot and it came out perfect! I can taste the aloha spirit and feel the ocean breeze 🙂 Grandpa Clarence knows what he’s doing. Great depth of flavor.
I will make the stew again very soon but will serve it over polenta instead of rice. You can’t go wrong either way.
This is comfort food at its best!
Mahalo Jess and your beloved Grandpa Clarence!
Hi Patty! Thank you so much for dropping a comment, we are SO SO glad you loved the recipe! 💜
Delicious and easy! I like the print options so it comes out just 2 pages.
So glad to hear that you loved it Lynn! Thank you for sharing!
The link for the Shoyu is not working could you send me the right link for the one you use? I found a few on Amazon that say Shoyu in the title but the picture of the bottle only says soy sauce. I just want to get the right one for the beef stew I want to true experience and true flavor not the wrong one. Thank you very much for your help
Hey Melia – Sorry about that, & thank you for letting me know! This is the shoyu I use. It is labelled as soy sauce, but ‘soy sauce’ & ‘shoyu’ are used pretty interchangeably in Hawaii. Hope you give it a try, this recipe is so special to us! xx
Thank you so much. This was by far the most delicious beef stew I ever made. So glad I came upon your content.
Thanks so much for trying & sharing this comment! We are thrilled to hear that you enjoyed the stew! 🙂
This is such a cozy meal and a refreshing twist on a classic beef stew. I love the flavor profile and while I never thought to put beef stew over rice before, it’s so good this way! Thanks, Grandpa Clarence!
This recipe is a real keeper! Amazing flavors. I followed the recipe exactly and made it in my large Le Creuset pot. Served over sticky rice as suggested. Just defrosted a portion and was equally good the second time around! Thank you so much #playswellwithbutter! 😋
Hi Maggie! Thank you for your comments & so glad to hear that you enjoyed & that the leftovers were equally as good – this is such a meal prep-friendly recipe!
This is the third or fourth time I’ve made this recipe! The flavor is great! It’s my new favorite. I was trying to recreate my late mother-in-law’s stew recipe.. this comes close. I think the shoyu and Worcestershire sauce is the difference. She used to use shoyu in her recipe. Thank you for sharing this recipe with others! Oh and I used Aloha Shoyu.
Hi Joy! So glad to hear that you enjoyed this recipe & that it could remind you of your Mother-In-Law’s stew. Thank you so much for sharing!💜
Made this last night and it was incredible. Did it on the stove top in dutch oven. The meat was so tender and buy the rice that is mentioned in recipe! Perfect cozy meal on a cold night.. Will be making this on repeat
This completely stuck to the bottom of the insta pot before I could even get past browning the meat. Any tips or tricks to help with this?
Hi Magee! Oh no – to help with this you can try adding a little bit of olive oil (about 3 Tbsp.) to the Instant Pot & letting the oil heat up before adding your Instant Pot’s “Sauté” setting to cook the recipe according to Steps 1-3, provided. This will help brown the stew meat but should also prevent sticking. We hope you’ll try it again!
This recipe is fantastic! I don’t have an instant pot so I followed the stove top instructions. It was super easy to prep and made the house smell so cozy as it simmered! I made a mistake and thought the recipe called for tomato paste, not puree. I ended up using a 6oz can of tomato paste and diluting it with about 2 oz of water. Worked like a charm!
I made this unreal beef stew again last night. My wife loved it. She said it was like restuarant food.
Keep your recipe comingg Jess! I’ve yet to make your Easter citrus ham. But it will be m next project.
The shoyu adds so much umami flavor. This stew is like no other. Such a richness in color and taste.
Aloha shoyu is always the top choice here in Hawai’i.. use this if possible ? Mahalo for sharing your papas recipe!
thanks for stopping in! we love aloha! it’s difficult to find here in the midwest, but when we see it we always grab it. =)
This looks amazing!! Do you make your own sticky rice? I read once that it’s incredibly hard….
not hard at all! it’s all about buying the right rice. my family uses a short-grain japanese rice most often (kokuho is the brand my mom swears by, calrose is good too). be sure to rinse it ’til the water is clear to get rid of the extra starch (this will prevent it from getting gummy), then cook with your typical 1:2 rice to water ratio!
I know I will. love. this. Since Grandpa’s corn bread is soooo amazing + my fav. can’t. wait. to. make. it!!!!
this makes me SO happy, kate!!! please let me know how you like it. it’s one of my absolute favorite family recipes! xoxo