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Carne Guisada

This smokey carne guisada in spicy tomatoey salsa is the perfect weeknight dinner when you’re craving a hearty beef stew. Its sweet onions and tender bell peppers help it hit the spot every time.

Bowl of carne guisada with cilantro on top.

The Best Carne Guisada Recipe

If you’re craving a comforting stew and Mexican food to beat the chilly weather, this easy carne guisada with sweet bell peppers and onions is for you. It’s packed with tender, pull-apart beef in a tomatoey sauce. Don’t forget cumin for smokiness! Simmered until perfectly thick, this hearty stew served over fluffy rice is way better than your favorite Mexican restaurant.

Why You’ll Love This Mexican Beef Recipe

You’ll be skipping trips to your favorite Mexican restaurant once you see how easy this tomatoey carne guisada is.

  • Authentic. This recipe is only made with traditional Mexican spices and ingredients like cumin, garlic, and tomatoes.
  • Hearty. Full of tender beef and veggies, this stew is an extra hearty dinner when served over rice.
  • Prep-friendly. Chop the ingredients and even brown the meat a day before for a head-start.
  • Tomatoey. Tomato paste and canned tomatoes give this stew a “homemade salsa” feel.

What is Carne de Guisada?

Carne guisada is a traditional Mexican beef stew. It’s simmered in a tomato-based sauce until tender. The sauce can be spicy, but it doesn’t have to be. Veggies like peas, carrots, onions, and potatoes are common additions too to make the meal heartier. As far as spices go, cumin, paprika, oregano, and chili powder can’t miss the party. They add smokiness, earthiness, herbiness, and heat. Once ready, it’s served hot over rice or enjoyed with corn tortillas.

Ingredients for carne guisada.

Recipe Ingredients

Don’t skip the tomato paste because it adds lots of umami and natural sweetness to the stew’s sauce. Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact measurements.

  • Olive oil – I prefer extra virgin olive oil, which is also referred to as “EVOO”.
  • Stew meat – Most grocery stores carry “stew meat”, but you can also buy boneless chuck.
  • Yellow onion – White onion works too. Avoid red onion.
  • Green bell pepper – Feel free to use any color of bell pepper.
  • Garlic – Fresh garlic is best, but garlic powder is okay as well.
  • Canned diced fire roasted tomatoes – They don’t need to be fire-roasted if you can’t get a hold of them.
  • Kosher salt – Himalayan salt is a great swap.
  • Black pepper – Freshly cracked pepper is best.
  • Ground cumin – It can be left out if you’re not a fan of its smoky flavor.
  • Chili powder – Red pepper flakes work too.
  • Tomato paste – This is sold in toothpaste-looking tubes or cans and needs to be refrigerated once open.
  • Beef base – It’s sold in small tubs or containers. It’s basically a concentrated beef bouillon in paste form.
  • Gluten free flour – All-purpose flour and corn starch are great swaps.
  • Water – It needs to be warm so that it doesn’t clump with the flour.
  • Fresh cilantro – It’s an optional garnish.

How to Make Carne Guisada

The make-or-break step for this saucy carne guisada is properly cooking the floured veggies to avoid a raw after-taste. Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post for more detailed instructions.

  • Sear the meat. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook it for 5-7 minutes or until browned on all sides. Remove it from the heat and set it aside.
  • Cook the veggies. Add the onions and bell peppers to the pan, cooking them until the onion softens. Add more oil if needed. Stir in the garlic and cook it for another minute until fragrant.
  • Season it. Pour in the tomatoes, stir, and cook for another minute. Sprinkle in the salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder. Stir until well combined. Then, add the tomato paste and beef base. Mix well and use a spatula to gently scrape the bottom of the pan.
  • Thicken the sauce. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies. Stir well and cook everything for another 1-2 minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste. Pour in the water and stir continuously until thickened.
  • Simmer it. Return the beef to the pan. Add 2 more cups of water and stir. Cover the pan and let it simmer over low heat for 1.5 hours.
  • Adjust the seasoning. Do a taste test and adjust the flavor with more salt and pepper if needed.
  • Serve. Remove it from the heat. Garnish with cilantro, serve immediately, and enjoy.

Tips for Success

Taco seasoning and leftover tomato salsas will save you when making this carne guisada recipe in a pinch.

  • Cook in batches. Don’t over-crowd the pan when browning the beef, otherwise it’ll sweat and “steam” instead of seal in all the flavors. If you don’t have a large enough pan to spaciously cook the meat in, do it in batches.
  • Check the beef. Before removing the stew from the heat, test the meat’s tenderness with a fork. Let it cook for another 10-15 minutes if it’s still tough.
  • Use one seasoning. If you’re always in a rush or don’t want to buy individual spices, swap the chili powder and ground cumin for taco seasoning.
  • Go for leftovers. Swap half (or 100%) of the canned tomatoes for all the tomato-based salsa leftovers you have in the fridge. Make sure they’re not too spicy!
  • Add more veggies. Stir in 1 cup corn, peas, chopped zucchini, diced carrots, or halved baby potatoes during the last 40 minutes of cooking to make the stew even heartier.
  • Make it spicy. Add finely chopped jalapeños, serranos, or canned green chilis to taste for a kick of heat. You can also just increase the amount of chili powder in the recipe.
Bowl of Mexican beef stew with white rice.

Serving Suggestions

Carne guisada is a hearty dinner that’s best served over rice. It can be red Mexican rice, brown rice, or any steamed white rice. For a bowl-style dinner, serve it using my Chipotle Pork Burrito Bowls or Chicken Burrito Bowls for inspiration. Guacamole with tortilla chips or refried beans are great side options to complete the meal.

How to Store & Reheat Leftovers

Leftovers always need to be fully cooled before being placed in the fridge or freezer.

  • Fridge: Place it in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • Freezer: Transfer it to freezer-friendly bags or containers in serving-size portions. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw it overnight in the fridge.
  • To reheat it: Microwave it for 30 seconds, stir, and microwave for another 30 seconds or until warm. You can also reheat it in a pan over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes.

More Mexican-Inspired Recipes

Landscape photo of carne guisada.

Carne Guisada

This tomatoey carne guisada recipe with tender peppers and sweet onions is the perfect way to pack a hearty beef stew into your weeknights
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 35 minutes
Total Time2 hours
Servings: 6 People


  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 pounds stew meat cut into small bite size pieces, 1-inch cubes
  • 1 large yellow onion chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1- 14.5 ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3-4 tablespoons of beef base
  • 3 tablespoons 1 to 1 gluten free flour or more for thicker gravy
  • 4 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro chopped


  • Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
  • Add the stew meat and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the beef to a plate and set aside. You might have to do this in batches, you don’t want to overcrowd the meat in the pan.
  • Do not clean the pan, but add olive oil, then add diced onion, and bell peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 3-4 minutes or until the onion becomes translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute until aromatic, but not browning. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for another minute.
  • Season with salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder. Stir well. Add the tomato paste, beef base, using your spoon scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and stir well while cooking for another 1 to 2 minutes to remove the raw flour taste. Add a cup of warm water and stir everything together. The mixture should start to thicken from the flour.
  • Add the beef back to the skillet then another 2 cups of warm water, stir until combined. Cover and cook for 1 and a half hours or more until the meat falls apart, over low heat, stirring occasionally. Add more hot water if the gravy is too thick.
  • Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with cilantro and serve alongside with rice and tortillas.
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Stew
Cuisine: Mexican


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