Spices & Seasonings/Beef Flavor Additive


Hi Brett,

I have a lot of good recipes for Beef stew, Beef Vegetable Soup, etc. The problem is, they never seem to have a real 'beefy' taste.

I follow the recipes, and even add a little more broth and reduce it down, but it never seems to have the rich, strong flavor of beef, like some canned foods do. Mine tastes more like beef gravy.

What can I add to get this taste, is there a sprinkle-on product like pepper to enrich the beef flavor, or what?

Thank you for taking my question, Regards, Ken.

Hi Ken,

Thanks for the question. I have a few ideas that might help amp up the beefy flavor you are looking for. Before I mention a couple additives below - I hope you don't mind if I share a little technique that might help. I like starting all beef stews and soups by using a cut of beef that breaks down nicely over several hours, my personal favorite being beef short ribs. Other roasts work as well, but short ribs have a little extra fat and deep rich meaty flavor. Start by cubing your meat into whatever size chunks you like (I prefer about 1" x 1.5" in size so I can pull them apart slightly with a fork when eating/serving. Season your meat with salt and pepper and dredge with flour until flour coats all surfaces. Let the meat rest for at least 20 minutes, long enough to allow the flour to adhere to the meat - it will no longer have the dusted appearance. Next, add enough fat #ex. canola oil, olive oil, butter, bacon grease - if you want a little smoky flavor - or a combination of any of those# to the bottom of a dutch oven or other heavy pan. Sear the meat over medium high heat until nicely browned. Consider browning the meat in two batches if you have a large portion that is more than what covers the bottom of the pan in a single layer. Depending on your recipe - you may want to add your other vegetables or ingredients here #carrot, celery, onion, seasoning, tomato paste, etc.# or add veggies towards the end if you want them more firm. Saute together for a few minutes and then deglaze your pan by adding about a cup of wine or stock and scraping up all the delicious brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Let it cook for a few minutes to reduce, add your main stock and simmer away. Typically that technique will help bring out the best flavor from all of your ingredients by building the flavor in layers. Also, for your main liquid, be sure to use a high quality boxed stock like Pacific Organic, Wolfgang Puck, Back to Basics, etc. and skip the canned beef broth if you happen to use it. That in itself will substantially help the flavor.

In terms of additives, I would consider two products - a high quality beef broth concentrate #like "Better than Bouillon" - available at supermarkets near the stock# or Demi Glace #I like Demi-Glace Gold available online or in gourmet grocers which may also sell it fresh made - just ask#. If you haven't used it, Demi Glace is a super-reduced seasoned veal and beef stock with incredible flavor. Play with the quantities and add to taste #usually a 2-3 teaspoons for the concentrate and up to a 1/4 cup of demi glace# allowing at least another 15-20 minutes of simmer time to bring it all together. Do be careful because the concentrated beef broth in particular has quite a bit of salt and will be too much if you generously seasoned the dish already. If you anticipate adding one of the above ingredients - salt lightly earlier in the process until you know your recipe/preference.

Lastly, some restaurants like using a product called Kitchen Bouquet - basically a vegetable extract with caramel color when browning the meat or simply adding it while simmering. I don't love it and think it tastes a bit burnt - but it will deepen the color and in small quantities might bring out some more flavor.

I hope this information helps! Let me know if you have any additional questions.

Best, Brett  

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I can answer most questions about ingredient usage, recipes, food trends, food preparation, food science, cooking techniques, and possibly anything else that excites you about the restaurant world or food of all types! If I don't know, I love doing the research to find out. While not currently certified, I was certified in food safety while in the business, I can answer most general questions about safe food handling practices.


I was once accused of being obsessed with food - I plead guilty your honor. I managed restaurants, front (servers, bar, host, etc.) and back (kitchen, dish, etc.) for about 7 years. Prior to that I worked just about every position in the restaurant and have throughout my life had a passion for great food. Whether it be a perfect burger or sea urchin roe, persian or cambodian, raw, cooked, or cured; I find great pleasure in cooking, eating, and talking about food. With my 2nd kiddo on the way and lonely wife at home, I decided to end my brief career in restaurants a few years ago and join the more sane, but infinitely less exciting 8-5 job world. While I miss it, I have had more time to enjoy food as a hobby, entertain, research, write, learn and experiment.

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