This beef rendang recipe is a popular Indonesian dish from Padang, West Sumatra, with flavorful chunks of beef slowly stewed in coconut milk and a wonderful blend of spices.
We’re traveling to grand Indonesia today, my friends, for an enormously popular beef stew dish that is sure to entice any spicy food lover. It is called Beef Rendang, and it is destined to become one of your favorite new recipes.
Beef Rendang is a rich and spicy coconut beef stew that incorporates thick chunks of beef in a sauce of coconut milk seasoned with lots of herbs and spices, all simmered until melt-in-your-mouth tender. The beef cooks low and slow as the coconut milk darkens to a caramel brown, resulting in a curry-like stew that offers an explosion of flavor in every bite.
There are some variations of ingredients, but the keys are the combination of rendang paste with spicy chilies, generous garlic and more, and the thick coconut milk that marry for huge flavor.
Try this once and you’ll be making it over and over again.
Let’s talk about how we make beef rendang, shall we?
Beef Rendang Ingredients
- FOR THE RENDANG PASTE
- Shallots, chopped
- Thai peppers, chopped (or use spicy red chilies, or milder peppers for less heat)
- Garlic, chopped
- Fresh chopped ginger (or use dried)
- Fresh chopped galangal (or use dried)
- Ffresh chopped turmeric (or use dried)
- Black peppercorns, crushed
- FOR THE BEEF RENDANG
- Oil as needed
- Boneless beef chuck
- Thick coconut milk
- Kaffir lime leaves (use bay leaves as an alternative)
- Lemongrass, bottom half only, smashed with a spoon
- Palm sugar (or use brown sugar)
- Salt to taste
- FOR GARNISH
- Fresh sliced lime leaves or chopped herbs, spicy chili flakes, crispy fried shallots
How to Make Beef Rendang – the Recipe Method
Make the Rendang Paste. Add the shallots, peppers, garlic, ginger, galangal, turmeric, peppercorns and cloves to a food processor. Process to form a thick paste.
Cook the Curry Paste. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the Rendang paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring a bit. Cooking the chili pastes helps to develop much of the initial flavor.
Lightly Brown the Beef. Slice the beef into 2 inch chunks and add the beef to the pot. Stir and cook for a minute, coating the meat with the paste.
Add the Coconut Milk and Seasonings. Add the coconut milk, Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, cinnamon stick, palm sugar and salt to taste. Stir to incorporate. At this point, notice the light color of the coconut milk mixture.
The First Simmer. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour, and cook, stirring frequently to prevent burning. The consistency will thicken. Notice how the color has darkened to a lighter brown, more of a caramel color. It will continue to darken as the stew simmers and the oil separates from the coconut milk.
The Second Simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer until the sauce darkens to a rich brown color and reduces, coating the beef, for 1-2 hours, or until the beef is tender and breaks apart with a fork. Be sure to stir to prevent scorching. Stirring constantly is very helpful.
Remove From Heat. Remove from heat and remove large spices, like the cinnamon stick.
Garnish and serve!
Boom! Done! I like to serve my beef rendang over steamed rice with extra spicy red pepper flakes and some chopped hot peppers. You can serve it right away, but the dish gets even better if you let it sit for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator to develop more flavor. Just reheat it to serve.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- The Rendang Paste. The chili paste for this recipe is essentially a curry paste and you can use it to make many dishes and curry recipes. You can buy curry paste from the grocery store, but homemade is so much better. Use fresh ingredients if you can, but dried ingredients and powders are outstanding as well.
- Other Possible Ingredients. Other possible ingredients you can include to your preference include turmeric leaves, salam leaves, candlenuts, macadamia nuts, nutmeg (whole or ground), star anise, fresh coconut or shredded coconut for serving, sambal oelek for flavor and more. Shrimp paste is a very popular addition when making the paste. Recipes can vary from cook to cook and available local ingredients.
- Other Meats. Beef chuck is the best cut of beef for this recipe, though you can make it with other stew beef. It is ideal with the tougher cuts of meat because the long, slow simmer will break down those cuts, making them wonderfully tender.
- Cooking Times. Your cooking times can vary depending on the cut of beef being used. Some cuts of beef need to stew longer in order to break down. It is not uncommon for this dish to be done in 1-1.5 hours, or in as much as 3 hours or even longer. If you need to simmer longer, add in a bit of chicken broth or water if the mixture gets too thick or reduced.
- Chicken Rendang. You can also make this recipe with boneless chicken breast or thighs for a chicken rendang version. You’ll need to greatly reduce your cooking time.
That’s it, my friends. I hope you enjoy your new beef rendang recipe. Let me know if you make it. I’d love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy!
Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes
- Rujak (Indonesian Fruit Salad)
- Sambal Matah (Indonesian Raw Sambal)
- Nasi Goreng (Indonesian Fried Rice)
- Mie Goreng (Indonesian Stir Fry Noodles)
- Phall Curry (Extra Hot Curry)
- Red Curry
- Masoor Dal (Red Lentil Curry)
- Green Curry
Try Some of My Other Popular Stew Recipes
If you’d like to learn more about Indonesian cooking, I recommend 2 books that I have found very helpful and informative. These are affiliate links to Amazon, my friends. Enjoy!
- Indonesian Cooking: Satays, Sambals and More: Homestyle Recipes with the True Taste of Indonesia, by Dina Yuen (affiliate link, my friends!)
- The Food of Indonesia: Delicious Recipes from Bali, Java and the Spice Islands, by Heinz von Holzen & Lother Arsana (affiliate link, my friends!)
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Beef Rendang Recipe (Indonesian Spicy Beef in Coconut)
FOR THE RENDANG PASTE
- 8 shallots chopped
- 5-6 Thai peppers chopped (or use spicy red chilies, or milder peppers for less heat)
- 8 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped ginger or use 1.5 teaspoons dried
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped galangal or use 1.5 teaspoons dried
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped turmeric or use 1.5 teaspoons dried
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns crushed
- 3 cloves
FOR THE BEEF RENDANG
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 pounds boneless beef chuck
- 3 cups thick coconut milk
- 4 Kaffir lime leaves use bay leaves as an alternative
- 2 stalks lemongrass bottom half only, smashed with a spoon
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon palm sugar or use brown sugar
- Salt to taste
- Fresh sliced lime leaves or chopped herbs spicy chili flakes, crispy fried shallots
- Add the shallots, peppers, garlic, ginger, galangal, turmeric, peppercorns and cloves to a food processor. Process to form a thick paste.
- Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the Rendang paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring a bit.
- Slice the beef into 2 inch chunks and add to the pot. Stir and cook for a minute, coating the meat with the paste.
- Add the coconut milk, Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, cinnamon stick, palm sugar and salt to taste. Stir to incorporate.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour, stirring from time to time to prevent burning. The consistency will thicken.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer until the sauce darkens to a brown color and reduces, coating the beef, about 2 hours,or until the beef is tender and breaks apart with a fork. Be sure to stir to prevent scorching.
- Remove from heat and remove large spices, like the cinnamon stick.
- Garnish and serve!