South Texas Carne Guisada Recipe

You've probably heard of the grilled and marinated steak dish that is carne asada — a widely popular Mexican meal. What you may not be familiar with is the braised and stewed, carne guisada, you'd be hard-pressed to find north of San Antonio, Texas. Frequently served on taco shells, carne guisada is a deliciously tender Tex-Mex creation loaded with peppers and chiles, and served in a flavorful stew gravy. Techniques and ingredients differ from family to family, but the idea remains the same: tender beef, thick gravy, and abundant spices.

Developer Michelle McGlinn shares this recipe for a vegetable-heavy, carne guisada con papas, or stewed beef with potatoes. This is best served with rice and beans, but you can customize the amount of veggies used for a more taco-friendly filling. The long cooking time creates a tender beef, and a thick, flavorful, spicy gravy that will warm you up on chilly winter evenings. 

Gather your carne guisada ingredients

First and foremost, you will need stew beef cut into small pieces for tacos, or larger chunks for a traditional stew. For the vegetables, you will need onion, garlic, bell pepper, tomatoes, jalapeño, and carrots. For a mild spice, de-seed the jalapeño, or omit it entirely. Next, you'll need all-purpose flour, half a bottle of a Mexican lager like Modelo, and beef broth to start the gravy. You'll also need potatoes; we love using gold potatoes, which are creamy while still holding their shape, but you can also use peeled russets here, too. 

This dish is rich with lots of spice and chilis, such as bay leaves, dried chiles de árbol, dried guajillo chiles, crushed cumin seeds, Sazón seasoning, salt, pepper, and oil for cooking. You can swap the dried chiles for Thai bird chili peppers, or a ½ tablespoon of chipotle powder. Use coriander and ground annatto with the Sazón optionally, or swap it for garlic powder, coriander, and extra cumin. Finally, you will need fresh cilantro, and shaved corn kernels, canned corn, or frozen corn to garnish. 

Braise the beef

Preheat the oven to 300 F. Heat the oil in a heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high. To develop a deep, rich flavor, start the stew by searing the cubed beef on all sides until deeply-browned. You'll notice some browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pot. Once the beef is well seared, but not cooked all the way through, remove it from the pot, and set aside. Turn the heat down to medium. 

Cook the aromatic vegetables

Cook the diced bell pepper, chopped onion, smashed garlic, and diced jalapeño until soft. You shouldn't need more oil here because the fat left behind from the beef will be enough to cook the vegetables in. To make a roux, sprinkle the flour over the veggies, and stir until the flour is dissolved. Add the Modelo to the roux, and cook until thickened, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. 

Add the potatoes and seasonings

Add 1 cup of broth to the pot, along with the peeled and diced potatoes, chopped carrots, chopped tomatoes, browned beef, bay leaves, deseeded chiles, crushed cumin seeds, Sazón seasoning, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook in the preheated oven for 3 hours. You can't really overcook this stew, but make sure to check it every 30 minutes to make sure the gravy isn't drying out. If it looks dry, add a splash of beef broth as needed.

Add the corn and cilantro

After 3 hours, add the chopped cilantro and shucked corn to the stew, and return to the oven for 1 hour. To slice the corn kernels off of a cob, simply hold the cob vertically on a cutting board, and slice downwards at the base of the kernels. The kernels will come off in sheets.When adding the corn and cilantro, evaluate your stew. If the gravy looks dry, add the remaining 1 cup of broth and cook the stew covered. If the broth looks too soupy, cook uncovered to thicken the gravy. 

Serve and enjoy

When finished, remove the bay leaves and dried chilis from the stew, and serve. There are many ways to enjoy this carne guisada, whether on a plate as a stew, or inside a taco shell. Regardless, serve the guisada with Mexican rice and refried pinto beans, or with an ice-cold margarita or ranch water. Leftovers store easily in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week and can be reheated gently, while covered, in the microwave. Sprinkle extra cilantro on top of your finished stew, if desired, and enjoy warm.

South Texas Carne Guisada Recipe
5 from 42 ratings
Tex-Mex dishes are delicious anytime of week, but this South Texas carne guisada recipe is sure to be a new favorite.
Prep Time
Cook Time
carne guisada inside taco
Total time: 4 hours, 20 minutes
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 pound beef stew meat, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • ½ jalapeño, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup Mexican lager
  • 2 cups beef stock, divided
  • 3 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 dried chiles de árbol, stems and seeds removed
  • 1 dried guajillo chile, stem and seeds removed
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seed, crushed
  • 1 packet Sazón seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 corn on the cob, shucked, or 1 cup frozen corn
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 F. Heat the oil in a deep pot or Dutch oven over medium high. Add the beef and sear until browned, then remove from the heat, and set aside. Turn the heat down to medium.
  2. Cook the bell pepper, onion, garlic, and jalapeño to the pot, until soft. Sprinkle in the flour, and stir until dissolved. Once flour has dissolved, stir in the Mexican lager, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Allow the liquid to thicken into a gravy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add 1 cup of beef stock, potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes, and stir to combine. Return the browned beef to the pan, and add the bay leaves, chiles, cumin seeds, Sazón seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  4. Bring to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven for 3 hours, checking the liquid level every 30 minutes. Add stock as needed.
  5. After 3 hours, slice the corn kernels off of the cob, and add it to the stew with the cilantro. Add the remaining 1 cup of beef stock, cover, and cook for 1 hour. When ready to serve, remove the chiles and bay leaves from the mixture. Serve on a plate, or in taco shells.
Rate this recipe