Traditional British Beef Stew and Suet Dumplings

Traditional British Beef Stew and Dumplings on a striped napkin on a white countertop

The Spruce


  • Total: 2 hrs 40 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 2 hrs 20 mins
  • Yield: Serves 6
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
507 Calories
29g Fat
32g Carbs
27g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: Serves 6
Amount per serving
Calories 507
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 29g 37%
Saturated Fat 11g 53%
Cholesterol 72mg 24%
Sodium 829mg 36%
Total Carbohydrate 32g 11%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Protein 27g
Calcium 111mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

No dish has ever seemed so perfect for a winter's day than a hearty beef stew and dumplings. It has kept 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.


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  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound/450 grams thick cooking steak (cut into large chunks)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 cup/115 grams onion (roughly chopped)
  • 1 cup/100 grams leeks (cleaned and finely sliced)
  • 1 cup/170 grams carrots (roughly chopped)
  • 1 1/2 pints/750 milliliters dark beef stock
  • 4 ounces/115 grams self-rising flour
  • 2 ounces/55 grams suet (shredded)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons water (cold)

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this British beef stew, and suet dumplings dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for cooking.

British Beef Stew

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Traditional British Beef Stew and Suet Dumplings Ingredients
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  2. In a large bowl mix together the flour and the chunks of cooking steak. Make sure all the beef is covered in flour. 

    Flour covered beef cubes
    The Spruce
  3. 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.

    Browning beef cubes
    The Spruce
  4. 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.

    Pan drippings
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  5. 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.

    Beef stew
    The Spruce
  6. Place the frying pan back onto the heat; stir in a third of the stock and bring to a boil, scraping all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Once all the bits are released, pour the stock into the casserole.

    Frying pan with oil
    The Spruce
  7. Add the remaining stock, cover with a tight-fitting lid, then simmer gently on the stovetop or in a medium oven (350 F/175 C) 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.

    Beef stew
    The Spruce
  8. Move on to the next steps for the dumplings.

Suet 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.

    Flour dumpling in a bowl
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  2. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and shape into round balls with lightly floured hands. Leave to one side while you roll the remaining dumplings.

    Making suet dumplings
    The Spruce 
  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.

    Traditional British Beef Stew and Suet Dumplings
    The Spruce
  4. Remove the lid and you will see the dumplings well-risen; if not, cook for a few minutes more. 

    Traditional British Beef Stew and Suet Dumplings
    The Spruce
  5. Serve hot into warm bowls.

    Traditional British Beef Stew and Suet Dumplings
    The Spruce
  6. Enjoy!

Recipe Variations

  • 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.

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