I used a large tin of chopped tomatoes as the majority of the liquid (plus water) to make a beef stew. It doesn't taste right! I used lots of fresh spices; thyme, rosemary and sage. It really needs help. Can anybody suggest something, please?

  • Did you add other vegetables?
    – paparazzo
    Nov 25, 2017 at 10:12
  • What type of stock did you use? Nov 25, 2017 at 10:16
  • Just tell people it's a pot roast, not a stew then they won't have a preconceived notion that it should taste like 'stew'. (And I prefer pot roast anyway)
    – Joe
    Nov 25, 2017 at 15:08

2 Answers 2


The thing to avoid with stews is boiling them as this tends to make the meat tough and drives off the more subtle aromatic flavours, cooking too hard can also make tomatoes taste a bit metallic.

If it tastes a bit too sharp there are a few this you can do to help it.

  • seasoning : just basic salt and pepper flavours will help as well as plain salt anchovies and fish sauce can work well with beef, if used moderately these don't give the dish any sort of fishy taste. These also tend to enhance the savoury flavour of the beef but you do need to be a bit careful not to over-salt stews as this is difficult to fix.
  • sweetening : a bit of sweetener can counteract harsh flavours and enhance aromats. Something like honey or caramelised onions is generally better than refined white sugar, black treacle also works well with beef as it has a bit of bitterness to balance the sweetness.
  • Spice : even if you don't like hot food, paprika or black pepper can add extra depth to a stew without making it too hot as can fresh peppers. Aniseed flavours like tarragon, star anise and fennel seed also work well with beef.

Smokey flavours can also work well and can be a good emergency fix for a stew which has gone a bit wrong eg smoked paprika or smoked oysters.

The key thing is to add seasonings gradually and taste as you go along, taking careful note of how they change the flavour often it sis not so much a case of tasting the seasoning itself as how it changes the whole balance.

Also stews get better with slow gentle cooking (not boiling) it's normal for a meat stew to taste bit weird after 30 minutes or so but after 45 minutes to an hour of gentle simmering is should start to come together so it's important not to season too much too early.

  • 1
    How do you prepare a stew without boiling it? They are normally not only boiled, but left on a soft boil for at least 2-3 hours to be good. If your meat gets tough in that time, you used the wrong meat.
    – rumtscho
    Nov 26, 2017 at 14:23
  • 1
    As counterintuitive as it sounds - check if your dish needs another source of acidity (eg wine or vinegar) in addition to the tomatoes. Tomatoes have their way of making a dish taste properly SOUR without giving it enough actual acidity. Consider balancing with sweetness. Also: Add sources of umami and meaty flavor (like soy sauce, doenjang/miso, strong broth, mushrooms). Also: Is your texture alright, or might it simply be too soupy (consider tomato concentrate or roux)? Nov 28, 2017 at 15:49

try some worchestershire and a bay leaf and continue to cook and break the tomatoes down.

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