Greek Beef Orzo Pasta (Giouvetsi)
This scrumptious Greek Beef Orzo Pasta (Giouvetsi) is a one pot, flavorful dish with melt in your mouth slow cooked beef, rich tomato sauce with notes of sweet spices and orzo pasta which is cooked to perfection!
Like most European countries, recipes vary from village to village. Some Giouvetsi recipes are more on the tomatoey side of things like mine, others are more beefy in flavor. Speaking of! Some people make this with chicken legs instead which is a great alternative! Either way you’re left with tender meat (which is cheap!), perfectly cooked orzo in a deliciously rich sauce that will leave people wanting seconds! Seriously, this is just packed full of flavor!
By the way, if you want more delicious Greek recipes, I have a couple great ones on the site! I’ll leave a longer list at the end of this post but you can’t go past my Slow Cooked Greek Lamb or my Chicken Gyros! Honorable mention to my tzatziki recipe too which is passed down generations in my family.
Table of Contents
Ingredients You Need To Make Giouvetsi
Note: the whole recipe, including the ingredient quantities, can be found at the bottom of this page – just scroll down to the bottom, or click the ‘Jump to Recipe’ button at the top of this post.
Beef – I used gravy beef but Chuck steak will also work. This is a slow cooking cut of beef and needs a long time to cook to be tender. Once slow cooked, you get a deep rich beef flavor and something that is soft.
- Prep: This cut of beef takes a bit of prep to make sure you get the best results. It has both sinew, also known as tendons and fat that needs to be cut off. To do this, use a very sharp knife to carefully cut away any sinew on the beef. Sinew is creamy white in color and feels very tough. Simply use your knife to cut this away from the beef.
- Chicken Alternative: Alternatively, you can use chicken thigh or chicken legs with skin on to make a chicken version of this.
- Salt – I used fine salt.
- Pepper – I used black pepper.
- Allspice – this helps give the dish an earthy and fruity flavor.
- Nutmeg – is a classic flavor used in many Greek recipes and ads a gentle sweet flavor, but not sugary, flavor to dishes like this.
- Olive oil – I used extra virgin olive oil.
- Red onion – helps give the dish a slight bit of sweetness.
- Garlic – finely chopped. Locally garlic is always best. I always make sure my garlic is grown in Australia for a fuller better flavor.
- Tomato paste – this helps give the dish a deep tomato flavor.
- Red wine – this helps deepened the flavor of the dish and tenderizes the meat, helping to make it softer. Flavor wise, the alcohol cooks away and you’re left with a slightly sweet.
- Tomatoes – I used crushed tomato to skip the extra step of crushing them myself.
- Beef stock – use good quality beef stock or chicken stock for the best flavor results!
- Bay leaves – fresh is best, but you can use dry ones.
- Orzo Pasta – is a small pasta that looks a lot like rice. You can essentially use any type of small pasta you like. Cook until al dente.
How to make Giouvetsi!
- Begin by cutting off the fat and sinew off the beef. Sinew is tough and off white in color, fat is a little easier to cut off.
- Dice the meat into even sized pieces
- Add to a bowl with spices and mix to coat.
- Pan fry on high heat with some oil in 3 batches as to not over crowd your pan.
- Add all the beef back into the pan along with your onion, garlic and tomato paste and stir for a couple minutes on high heat until tomato begins to caramelize.
- Add red wine, water, crushed tomatoes and bay leaves and stir.
- Bring to a boil.
- Cover and cook for 90 minutes on low heat
- Add orzo and additional water and cook for 20 minutes or until orzo is al dente.
- Sprinkle with parsley or kefalograviera cheese right before serving!
Tips and Tricks For Recipe Success!
- Make sure you cut off the sinew from your beef – it appears creamy white in color and is tough. See step-by-step images for a visual on what it looks like.
- Make sure you dice your beef into even sized pieces so they all cook at the same time
- Make sure you batch cook your beef to not overcrowd your pan which can cause your beef to stew and not brown.
- Red wine is optional but it helps the beef tenderize even more making it softer once slow cooked.
Frequently Asked Questions about Giouvetsi
What does it taste like?
This stew is rich in beef and tomato flavor with an assortment of sweet spices that give it a deep seasoning. The orzo is soft, the sauce is thick and the beef is melt in your mouth soft!
How do I store this?
This dish is a great make ahead meal which you can store in an airtight container (I would recommend glass) and store in the fridge, but it can be stored in a plastic container if freezing and can be frozen for up to 2 months. Simply thaw ahead of time and then reheat. Add a little water to thin out the sauce if you like.
Some of my favorite Greek recipes!
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @thescranline on Facebook and Instagram!
Greek Beef Orzo Pasta (Giouvetsi)
- 28 ounce (800 g) chuck beef cut into 3 cm cubes (see notes for more cut options!)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 red onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 3 tbsp tomato paste be generous!
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) red wine (optional)
- 300 g (300 g) crushed canned tomatoes can crush fresh ones
- 2 cups (500 ml) beef stock
- 4 cups (1 litre) boiling water divided
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 cups (400 g) orzo pasta
- Clean and pat dry your beef. Cut away excess fat and sinew and cut into 3cm cubes. Add to a bowl and season with salt, pepper, allspice, and nutmeg. Mix to coat.
- Heat up a large deep pot on high heat. Add the olive oil and cook your beef in 3 batches until browned on both sides. Once cooked add all back into the pot along with the onion and garlic. Cook for 1 minute and then add your tomato paste. Stir until the tomato paste starts caramelizing on the bottom.
- Add your red wine, beef stock and 2 cups (500ml) boiling water and the bay leaves. Mix to combine. Place your lid on top, bring to a simmer then lower the heat to low heat and allow to cook for 90 minutes. Once cooked, the beef should be tender and fall apart.
- Add 2 more cups of boiling water and the orzo pasta and stir. Cook for a further 20 minutes. Sprinkle with some grated kefalotyri cheese or some parsley and serve nice and hot!