How to Fry Beef Stew Meat to Perfection – A Simple Guide for Tender, Juicy Results

Stew meat often gets a bad rap for being tough and chewy. But with the right technique you can transform affordable cuts of stew meat into tender juicy, and flavorful beef. The secret? Frying the stew meat properly after cooking it low and slow.

When stew meat is cooked slowly in liquid, it begins to break down and become more tender. But to take it to the next level, frying it is key. Frying draws out moisture, crisps the exterior, and gives you beef that tastes like it came from a pricey steak.

Follow this simple guide to learn how to fry beef stew meat perfectly every time. You’ll end up with beef that’s crispy on the outside, moist and succulent on the inside, and an absolute joy to eat in tacos, on salads, over rice, and more.

Why Fry Beef Stew Meat?

Frying is the magic step that takes braised stew meat from tough to tender and transforms the texture entirely Here’s why it works so well

  • Crispy exterior: Frying allows moisture to evaporate, which helps develop a crispy, browned crust on the exterior of the meat. This adds tons of flavor and satisfying texture.

  • Melts collagen: Lengthy frying continues to melt collagen that was broken down during the initial braise or simmer. This makes the meat fall-apart tender.

  • Boosts flavor: Maillard reactions occur during frying which deepen and enhance the meaty flavor of the beef. It brings out the beefiness you expect from a good cut of steak.

  • Convenient prep: Frying pre-cooked stew meat makes for easy meal prep. You can braise a big batch of meat ahead of time then fry it just before serving.

Tips for Frying Beef Stew Meat

Follow these tips to achieve perfect results when frying beef stew meat:

  • Pat meat dry first: Make sure braised meat is dried thoroughly with paper towels before frying. Excess moisture will cause splattering and make it hard to achieve a crispy crust.

  • Use rendered fat: Beef or lamb fat trimmings lend the best flavor. Alternatively, use oils with high smoke points like avocado or grapeseed.

  • Fry over low heat: Keep the heat low, around medium-low to low. High heat causes stew meat to toughen up again. Be patient – low and slow is key.

  • Don’t move pieces: Allow meat pieces to fry undisturbed before flipping. Moving them too soon prevents browning. Wait until a crispy crust forms.

  • Flip carefully: Use a thin spatula to gently flip meat pieces once the first side is browned. Stew meat is delicate; handle with care.

  • Fry in batches: Avoid overcrowding the pan which steams instead of fries. Fry in batches for even cooking.

  • Check doneness: Fry meats until crispy and browned on both sides. Cut into a piece to check it’s heated through.

  • Let rest briefly: After frying, let meat rest for 2-3 minutes before serving. This allows juices to redistribute.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Follow these simple step-by-step instructions for perfect crispy beef stew meat every time.


  • 2-3 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Beef fat trimmings or oil for frying
  • Kosher salt and pepper


  1. Cook the stew meat: Simmer chunks of beef stew meat in broth or water in a Dutch oven or Instant Pot until very tender, 1-3 hours.

  2. Drain and pat dry: Drain meat in a colander and pat very dry with paper towels. Drying is essential for optimal browning.

  3. Heat fat in skillet: Add just enough beef fat or oil to coat the bottom of a heavy skillet. Heat over medium low.

  4. Fry meat in batches: When fat is hot but not smoking, add meat in a single layer. Let fry untouched until browned, 5-7 minutes. Gentle flip and fry second side. Fry in batches to avoid crowding.

  5. Flip carefully: Use a thin spatula to gently flip meat pieces when browned. Handle gently to keep meat intact.

  6. Season meat: Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper as it fries. Go easy on salt if meat was seasoned before braising.

  7. Check for doneness: Fry meat pieces until crispy and browned on both sides, 10-15 minutes per batch. Cut to check if heated through.

  8. Drain on paper towels: Drain fried meat on paper towel lined plates. Blot to remove excess grease.

  9. Let rest and serve: Let meat rest for 2-3 minutes before serving to allow juices to redistribute. Enjoy!

How to Serve Crispy Beef Stew Meat

Crispy beef stew meat is incredibly versatile. From tacos to rice bowls, salads to sandwiches, here are some tasty ways to serve it:

  • In tacos, burritos, enchiladas, or quesadillas
  • Over rice with teriyaki or yakiniku sauce
  • In bibimbap or beef rice bowls
  • Chopped on top of salads
  • Stuffed into sandwiches or wraps
  • Scrambled with eggs for breakfast
  • Side of beef stroganoff or beef bourguignon
  • Mixed into hash with potatoes and peppers
  • Topping nachos or tater tots
  • As the star of steak fajitas or fajita bowls

The possibilities are endless! Crispy beef stew meat also stores well for meal prepping. Simply reheat individual portions in a skillet to recrisp the exterior before digging in.

Tips for Cooking Beef Stew Meat

To achieve the most tender, pull-apart texture from stew meat, it’s important to start by cooking it properly before frying:

  • Choose the right cut: Look for chuck, round, or shoulder cuts which have more connective tissue. Avoid loin cuts which are leaner.

  • Cut into 1-inch pieces: Keep pieces on the larger side. Small pieces overcook and dry out.

  • Cook low and slow: Braise, simmer, or pressure cook pieces low and slow in broth until very tender.

  • Allow to chill in liquid: Chilling fully cooked meat in braising liquid keeps it moist until ready to fry.

  • Skim fat for frying: After chilled, scrape off the hardened fat from the top of the braising liquid. Use this rendered fat for frying.


Get answers to some common questions about frying beef stew meat:

What is the best beef cut for stew meat?

Choose chuck, shoulder, or round cuts like chuck shoulder, bottom round, and eye of round. They have the right amount of fat and connective tissue.

How long does it take to fry stew meat?

Fry stew meat over medium low heat for around 10-15 minutes per batch, turning halfway through. Fry just until browned and crispy on the exterior.

What oil is best for frying stew meat?

Beef fat or tallow provides the most flavor. Oils like avocado, grapeseed, and olive oil also work well. Avoid polyunsaturated vegetable oils.

Why does my stew meat get tough when I fry it?

Cooking over high heat causes braised meat to seize up and toughen. Be sure to fry slowly over medium low or low heat instead.

Can I freeze fried beef stew meat?

Yes, freeze fried stew meat in a single layer on a sheet pan, then transfer to bags. Reheat gently in a skillet to recrisp the crust before serving.

The Takeaway

With the right techniques, inexpensive stew meat can be transformed into tender, succulent, and flavorful beef the whole family will love. Cook it low and slow in broth, then be sure to take it to

How to Stew with Ease – Beginner Cooking Tips – Circulon

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