gingersnap beef stew

Beef Stew with Gingersnaps


gingersnap beef stew

Beef Stew with Gingersnaps

Inspired by Baltimore's own Sour Beef & Dumplings and Northern France's Carbonade Flamande aux Spéculoos, this beef stew uses gingersnap cookies for both flavor and body. 
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 7 hours
marinating time 12 hours
Total Time 19 hours 8 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American


Group one:

  • 2 1/4 lb cubed sirloin
  • 3/4-1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 large onion, sliced into half-moons
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Group two

  • 1 1/4 lb Russet potatoes, cubed
  • 10 gingersnaps, broken into pieces



  • Place all of the ingredients of GROUP ONE in a non-reactive container (or large ziplock bag) and marinate overnight. Now is a good time to make the gingersnaps if you are using homemade.


  • Add the potatoes to a 4-quart slow cooker. Add the marinated meat mixture. Top with gingersnaps. Cook on low 7 hours. Remove the bay leaves. Stir once during the day (if possible) and prior to serving.


If not making homemade gingersnaps, I find that Stauffer’s Ginger Snaps make a good substitution.
Keyword slow cooker

I keep buying stew meat when I make my very rare trips to the supermarket. It always is in a vacuum-sealed package so the expiration dates are always excellent. It’s consistently good and well-priced. All good reasons to purchase. Then, however, I am forced to come up with ways to use said stew meat and, if I’m being 100% honest, I’m often just freezing it for another day. I’ve made chili a couple of times but stew just seems off in the summer even though we are eating other hot meals.

I really felt like sour beef and dumplings. We would go to the German festival to pick up quarts of it to take home when I was a child and I guess I am feeling nostalgic. It’s Baltimore’s regional dish that is a legacy of the huge amount of German immigrants that came to Baltimore. It’s very similar to sauerbraten but with an American twist–it uses gingersnaps in the gravy–and is served with large potato dumplings. Sour beef is mostly found at the yearly festival and a few very old school grocery stores and restaurants in the city. There is also a marinade that is sold in some supermarkets but it’s pretty easy to make it yourself. I’ve created both a slow cooker and an Instant Pot version that free you up to make those homemade potato dumplings.

That said, sometimes someone doesn’t want to make potato dumplings. They aren’t difficult but they do take a bit of effort and personally, I don’t think they hold up well for leftovers and I know I wasn’t going to have a chance to share them with anyone.  It doesn’t seem right to make sour beef without them so I just put my craving on hold.

Then the other night I was trying to fall asleep and I had the idea to turn it into a stew. Why not? I made Carbonade Flamande aux Spéculoos (Flemish Beef Stew with Speculoos) last year which also uses cookies to flavor and thicken the stew and it was very good! Why not stew indeed. It required a small amount of tweaking but I came up with this recipe.

It’s rich, aromatic stew with a spicy, slightly sweet, lightly pickled flavor that very distinctive and very delicious. So much more fun and complex than your typical beef stew but just as simple.


  1. 5 stars
    I made this last night and it turned out great!
    I have also been making your Baltimore sour beef since you posted it years ago. Also very delicious.
    Regarding gingersnaps in meat dishes… I grew up with a dish my family called “sauerbraten hamburgers“. Basically the classic German style meat patty with the addition of the gingersnap flavored gravy. I don’t know where the recipe came from, but I know my parents had been making it since the 50s!