Giouvetsi Recipe: Traditional Greek Beef Stew with Orzo

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Giouvetsi Recipe: Traditional Greek Beef Stew with Orzo

Recipe by GreekFood
Course: MainCuisine: GreekDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time






  • Beef chunks (about 1 kg or 2.2 lbs)

  • Orzo pasta (500g or about 1 lb)

  • Olive oil (4 tablespoons)

  • Onion, finely chopped (1 large)

  • Garlic cloves, minced (2-3)

  • Pureed tomatoes (400g can or fresh equivalent)

  • Red wine (1 cup)

  • Beef broth or water (4 cups)

  • Bay leaf (1)

  • Cinnamon stick (1)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Grated cheese (Parmesan or similar, optional for serving)


  • Brown the Meat: In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the beef chunks and brown them on all sides. Remove the beef and set aside.
  • Saute Vegetables: In the same pot, add the chopped onion and garlic. Saute until they are soft and translucent.
  • Deglaze with Wine: Pour in the red wine and stir to deglaze the pot, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom.
  • Add Tomatoes and Spices: Stir in the pureed tomatoes, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook the Beef: Return the beef to the pot. Add the beef broth or water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 1-1.5 hours or until the beef is tender.
  • Cook Orzo: In a separate pot, cook the orzo pasta according to the package instructions until it’s al dente.
  • Combine and Bake: Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Once the beef is tender, remove the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Combine the cooked orzo with the beef and sauce. Transfer to a baking dish.
  • Bake: Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the top gets a nice color and the sauce is bubbly.
  • Serve: Optionally, sprinkle grated cheese on top before serving. Enjoy hot!

Recipe Video



  • Meat Variations: While this recipe uses beef, you can also make Giouvetsi with lamb or chicken for different flavors. Adjust cooking times accordingly, especially if using chicken, as it cooks faster.
  • Herbs and Spices: Feel free to experiment with additional herbs like rosemary, thyme, or oregano for added flavor.
  • Cheese Options: Traditionally, the dish is often topped with a hard, grated cheese like kefalotyri or myzithra. If these aren’t available, Parmesan or even feta cheese can be good substitutes.
  • Vegetable Additions: For a more wholesome dish, consider adding carrots or bell peppers when sautéing the onions and garlic.
  • Making Ahead: Giouvetsi is a great make-ahead dish. You can prepare it up to the point of baking and then refrigerate it. When ready to eat, bake it until it’s hot and bubbly.
  • Serving: Giouvetsi is typically a complete meal in itself, but it can be served with a side of Greek salad or some crusty bread.
  • Wine Pairing: A robust red wine pairs beautifully with this dish, complementing the rich flavors of the meat and tomato sauce.

Storage and Reheating

  • Storing Leftovers: If you have any leftovers, they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Make sure it’s in an airtight container to maintain its freshness.
  • Freezing: Giouvetsi freezes well. Just place it in a freezer-safe container. It can be stored for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
  • Reheating: Reheat in the oven or microwave. If using the oven, cover the dish with aluminum foil to prevent it from drying out and bake at 175°C (350°F) until heated through.

Serving Suggestions

  • Accompaniments: While Giouvetsi is quite filling on its own, you might want to serve it with some simple sides. A light salad, like a classic Greek salad, complements it well. You could also serve some crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce.
  • Garnishing: A sprinkle of fresh parsley or dill can add a pop of color and a fresh flavor to the dish just before serving.

Nutritional Considerations

  • Healthier Variations: To make a lighter version of Giouvetsi, consider using lean cuts of beef or even replacing the beef with a leaner meat like chicken. Whole grain orzo can be used instead of regular for added fiber.
  • Allergies and Dietary Restrictions: For those with gluten sensitivities, gluten-free pasta can replace regular orzo. However, it’s important to note that cooking times may vary with gluten-free pasta.

What to serve with Giouvetsi?

Serving Giouvetsi, a rich and flavorful Greek dish, opens up a variety of possibilities for side dishes that complement its taste and texture. Here are some options to consider:

  1. Greek Salad: A classic Greek salad, with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, red onion, feta cheese, and a light dressing of olive oil and vinegar, offers a refreshing contrast to the hearty Giouvetsi.
  2. Roasted Vegetables: Roasted Mediterranean vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and red onions, seasoned with herbs like oregano and thyme, make a healthy and flavorful side.
  3. Tzatziki Sauce: A cool, creamy tzatziki sauce made from yogurt, cucumber, garlic, and dill can provide a refreshing complement to the rich flavors of Giouvetsi.
  4. Crusty Bread: A loaf of crusty bread, like a baguette or sourdough, is perfect for soaking up the delicious sauce of the Giouvetsi.
  5. Spanakopita: Spinach and feta pie (spanakopita) can be a delightful accompaniment, adding a savory pastry element to the meal.
  6. Feta and Olive Plate: A simple plate of feta cheese and Kalamata olives, perhaps with some pepperoncini peppers, can add a nice briny contrast to the dish.
  7. Grilled Asparagus or Green Beans: Lightly grilled or roasted asparagus or green beans, seasoned with lemon juice and olive oil, offer a simple and healthy side.
  8. Lemon Potatoes: Greek lemon potatoes, roasted with lemon juice, garlic, and herbs, complement the flavors in Giouvetsi well.
  9. Rice Pilaf: A simple rice pilaf, flavored with herbs and lemon, can be a nice alternative for those who might prefer rice over pasta.
  10. Dolmades: Grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs (dolmades) can be served as an appetizer or side, adding a traditional Greek touch to the meal.
  11. Greek Yogurt with Honey and Walnuts: For a light dessert, serve Greek yogurt topped with honey and walnuts.
  12. Wine Pairing: A bottle of Greek red wine like Agiorgitiko or a dry white wine like Assyrtiko can pair beautifully with the meal.

These sides not only complement the flavors of Giouvetsi but also round out the meal, adding different textures and tastes that enhance the overall dining experience.

Exploring Regional Variations

  • Regional Twists: Throughout Greece, you’ll find regional variations of Giouvetsi. For instance, in some areas, they add a touch of cinnamon or allspice for a unique flavor profile. Explore these variations to experience different aspects of Greek culinary traditions.
  • Seafood Version: In coastal regions, there’s often a seafood version of Giouvetsi, using shrimp or mixed seafood instead of meat. This lighter version is flavorful and offers a delightful change of pace.

Wine and Bread Pairings

  • Greek Wines: To stay authentic with the theme, pair your Giouvetsi with a Greek red wine, like Agiorgitiko or Xinomavro. These wines complement the rich flavors of the stew.
  • Bread Selection: A loaf of fresh, crusty bread is perfect for mopping up the flavorful sauce. You might also try some traditional Greek pita bread for a more authentic experience.

Celebrating with Giouvetsi

  • Festive Occasions: Giouvetsi is often served at celebrations and family gatherings in Greece. It’s a dish that brings people together and is perfect for sharing on special occasions like Easter, Christmas, or family reunions.

Embracing the Mediterranean Diet

  • Mediterranean Diet Friendly: Giouvetsi, with its combination of lean meat, whole grains (if you opt for whole grain orzo), and tomatoes, fits well into the Mediterranean diet, known for its health benefits.

Giouvetsi for Kids

  • Kid-Friendly Meal: The soft, tender meat and pasta make Giouvetsi a hit with children. It’s a great way to introduce kids to new flavors in a familiar format.

Creative Leftover Ideas

  • Giouvetsi Tacos or Wraps: Transform your leftovers into a Greek-inspired taco or wrap. Fill tortillas with the beef and orzo, add some feta cheese, a dollop of tzatziki, and some fresh veggies for a quick and delicious meal.
  • Stuffed Peppers or Tomatoes: Hollow out some bell peppers or large tomatoes and stuff them with the leftover Giouvetsi. Top with cheese and bake until the vegetables are tender.

Incorporating Local Ingredients

  • Using Local Produce: You can adapt Giouvetsi to reflect local produce and tastes. If you live in an area with a specific type of vegetable or herb that is popular, try incorporating it into the dish to create a unique fusion of flavors.

Cooking as a Cultural Experience

  • Learn and Share: Cooking Giouvetsi can be a wonderful opportunity to learn about Greek culture and cuisine. Share the experience with friends or family members, perhaps even hosting a Greek-themed dinner night.

Engaging with Community

  • Cooking Classes or Groups: If you enjoy making dishes like Giouvetsi, consider joining a cooking class or a community cooking group. This can be a great way to learn new recipes, share your own, and connect with others who have a passion for cooking.

Sustainability Considerations

  • Sustainable Meat Choices: When selecting beef for Giouvetsi, consider opting for meat from sustainable sources or local farms. This supports ethical farming practices and reduces the environmental impact.

Giouvetsi Across Cultures

  • International Adaptations: Giouvetsi, like many traditional dishes, can be adapted and appreciated in various cultures. See how incorporating spices or cooking methods from other cuisines can create a unique blend of flavors.

Final Thoughts

Giouvetsi is more than just a dish; it’s a celebration of Greek culinary traditions, bringing warmth and flavor to the table. Whether you stick to the classic recipe or experiment with your own variations, this dish is sure to become a favorite in your cooking repertoire. Enjoy the process of cooking and sharing this delightful meal with loved ones. Kali Orexi! (Bon Appétit in Greek) 🇬🇷🍲