This Whole30 Beef Stew is made with Vietnamese ingredients like lemongrass, fish sauce, star anise, and five spice powder. A hearty and satisfying bowl of comfort on your Whole30 journey.
If you’re looking for Whole30 beef recipes, this stew is a winner! I created this recipe specifically for the Whole30 program, with no added sugar, but still delivering all the delicious flavors of a rich and authentic Vietnamese beef stew (bo kho). It’s so tasty and satisfying, I’ll be adding it to my meal rotation for the whole family.
Follow my notes below on how to make this delicious pot of Whole30 beef stew!
Ingredients and notes
Boneless chuck roast – Get a well-marbled piece of meat for maximum flavor.
Fish sauce – A Whole 30 compliant brand is Red Boat.
Coconut aminos – I use Big Tree brand, but per Whole30 program rules, all coconut aminos are acceptable.
Five spice powder – A popular Asian spice, it’s a combination of cinnamon, fennel seeds, star anise, Sichuan peppercorn and cloves. You can also get this at an Asian market or local grocery store.
Chicken broth – make sure to read the label closely for Whole30 compliance. Most chicken broths on the market contain cane sugar. The ingredients in this Imagine brand chicken broth are filtered water, organic chicken, organic onions, organic celery, organic carrots, sea salt, natural chicken flavor and organic spices.
Star anise – This spice is a star-shaped pod, with flavors similar to licorice and cinnamon. You can find star anise at your local Asian market or even farmer’s market stores like Sprouts.
Lemongrass stalks – You can find this at your local Asian stores.
Prep the beef
Cut the meat into 1 inch cubes. Trim off excess fat. Season the meat with five spice powder, salt, pepper, fish sauce, coconut aminos, garlic and ginger.
Sear the meat
In a dutch oven or stock pot, add oil and heat on high. When the pot is hot, add the meat in a single layer, do not overcrowd it. You’re going to smell some delicious flavors at this point! Cook in two batches to ensure a brown sear on each side, about 4-5 minutes per side. Take the meat out and set aside on a plate.
Saute onion, lemongrass, star anise and tomato paste
Add the sliced onions and sauté until soft, about 4-5 minutes. Then add lemongrass and star anise, sauté until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste.
Deglaze the pot
You want all the delicious flavors of the seared beef in the stew. Add a cup of the chicken broth and use a wooden spoon to scrape the brown meat bits from the bottom of the pot.
Stew the beef
Add the beef back into the pot along with the bay leaf, star anise, water, and remaining chicken broth. Bring it to a boil on high heat. Then cover the pot with a lid and reduce heat to a low simmer. Stew the meat for 1 hour. Remove the lid and skim the scum and fat off the top of the stew with a ladle. Add cut carrots into the pot and stew until soft, about 30 minutes with the lid on.
Reduce the broth
Remove the carrots from the stew and turn the fire up to medium high. Reduce the stew for 30 minutes with the lid off. Keep a careful watch to make sure the liquid does not evaporate, causing the stew to burn. When done, skim any additional gunk off the top of the broth.
How to serve Whole30 beef stew
Discard the lemongrass, star anise and bay leaf. Optional (but recommended) garnish with cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Usually, with Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bo Kho) you would eat it with a side of french baguette dipped in a bit of salt and pepper, but with Whole 30, bread is not permitted. Some healthy options to pair with this Whole30 beef stew is cauliflower rice, or with a side of roasted sweet potato slices!
After reducing the stew, the reduced broth packs a punch of flavor. If needed, add additional coconut aminos for a bit more sweetness or fish sauce for more saltiness. Adjust to your taste!
Whole30 Vietnamese Beef Stew
- Stock pot or dutch oven
- 2 pounds boneless chuck roast, cut into 1 inch cubes well marbled
- 2 tablespoons minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce Red Boat brand is whole30 compliant
- 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
- 1 teaspoon 5 spice powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
Beef stew broth
- 4 cups Whole30 approved low sodium chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces
- ½ onion, sliced
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 star anise pods
- 2 stalks lemongrass, cut into thirds and smashed
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- cilantro leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cut beef into 1 inch cubes. Trim excess fat. Season with garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, coconut amino and fish sauce.
- Peel and discard outer dry layers of the lemongrass. Trim the end of the lemongrass with a sharp knife. Then cut into thirds. Use a meat tenderizer or rolling pin and smash the lemongrass to bruise it. Set aside.
- Add oil to a stock pot or dutch oven and heat on high. When hot, add the meat in a single layer, do not crowd. Cook in two batches to ensure a brown sear on each side, about 3-4 minutes per side. Take the meat out and set aside.
- Add more oil as needed. Add onion and saute for 4-5 minutes on medium high heat until soft. Then add lemongrass, star anise and saute until fragrant about 3-4 minutes. Stir in tomato paste.
- Add 1 cup chicken broth to the pot. Scrape off bits of the brown meat bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
- Add remaining 3 cups chicken broth, 2 cups filtered water, star anise and bay leaf. Take to a boil on high heat.
- Cover with a lid and simmer on low heat for 1 hour.
- Remove lid and skim the fat and scum from top of the stew with a ladle.
- Add the cut carrots and simmer on low heat with the lid on until carrots are tender, about 30 minutes.
- Remove lid and skim any fat and scum from the top of the stew. Spoon the carrots out and increase heat to medium high. Take the stew to a rolling boil to reduce it, about 30 minutes.
- When done, remove the lid and skim any scum off the top of the stew.
- Discard pieces of lemongrass, star anise and bay leaf.
- Optional garnish with cilantro, pinch of salt and pepper and a squeeze of lime.
- For Whole30, serve over cauliflower rice or with pieces of roasted sweet potatoes.