A year or so ago, my friend Liz told me about her favourite comfort dish from her youth: Lebanese Beef and Beans. A slowly cooked stew of beef, tomatoes, onions, and green beans fragrant with garlic and spices. Cinnamon, to be specific. Whoa.
In the intervening year, this has become the go-to comfort food on the coldest days for my hubby and me. It’s the kind of food that makes you clap in anticipation of it.
There’s something magical about the way cinnamon plays with beef. The perfumed sweetness of the cinnamon matches so perfectly with the meaty umami of the beef. They elevate each other in ways that are just plain inexplicable unless you taste them. The sweet acidity of the tomatoes and the sweet power of the onions make it two or three or four steps more wonderful. It’s hard to communicate the comfort this dish delivers.
Think of it as the dish you anticipate coming home to -simmering on the stove top- from whatever services or activities you attend each weekend. You open the door and the scent curls around your face. “Come in! Get cozy and warm yourself!”, it seems to say, “Put on your comfiest clothes and grab a bowl!” It’s one of those dishes.
- I know. I know people get cranky when told to brown beef before putting it in the slow cooker. I get it. People. The slow-cooker is not a magical, mystical bin capable of turning straw into gold. This means that in order to get the flavours you LOVE, you still have to obey the natural laws of cooking. Brown that meat. It’s not like it’s going to seal in the moisture- that’s just a silly old wives’ tale. But the taste of browned meat is no lie. It develops a flavour that just plain can’t happen without browning.
- I love making this on the stove-top when I have time to be home and watch it a bit. It doesn’t take tons of hands-on time, but you do have to stir it occasionally to keep it from sticking. If -however- you’re low on time, you can ABSOLUTELY slow-cook this. Either way is GRAND as long as you brown that beef.
- You have some options for serving this fabulous deliciousness. We love to serve it over rice, but noodles are also wondrous, and it’s also great as a stand-alone stew. Anyway you scoop it, it’ll make you happy, happy.
- Super Important Note: Leftovers are ridiculously amazing. I highly advise making a double batch. The flavours meld and marry and become even more impressive after a night or two in the chill chest. This makes it ideal as a reheating option for entertaining!
Lebanese Beef and BeansRate Recipe
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound top or bottom round beef cut into 1-inch cubes
- 6 cloves garlic peeled and sliced
- 2 large onions peeled, halved, and sliced into half moons
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 large cans petite diced tomatoes 32 ounces
- 2 pounds frozen whole green beans or mixed green and yellow beans
- pepper to taste
To Cook on the Stovetop:
- Add the olive oil to a large stockpot over medium high heat. Stir in the cubed beef and stir occasionally until browned on all sides. Add the garlic, onions, cinnamon, cumin, salt, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Drop the heat to low and lid the pan. Cook for 20 minutes. Stir in the green beans, recover the pan, and cook until the beef and beans are all tender. Serve over rice, noodles or alone.
To Cook in the Slow-Cooker:
- Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium high heat. Stir in the cubed beef and stir occasionally until browned on all sides. Scrape the beef and oil into a slow-cooker. Add the garlic, onions, cinnamon, cumin, salt, and tomatoes and cover. Add the remaining ingredients, cover, and cook until the beef and beans are all tender: 4 hours on high or 6 to 8 hours on low. Serve over rice, noodles or alone.
Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.
did you make this recipe?
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John Brolly says
With this recipe you can cook the green beans for 6 hours in the slow cooker without them turning to mush? Thanks.
Bob Drown says
Definitely a keeper!
Cinnamon Zone says
Just came across this comfort food recipe and it looks so colorful and wholesome. It will go so well with steamed rice on a cold day.
Raja Tries Cooking says
I was wondering how many people this recipe served? That would be of great help since I’m trying to make it for 4.
I would say that this serves 4 to 6 depending on the appetites of those you’re serving.
great recipe, however, I decided to go one small step further, when i browned the onions and garlic I added some chopped fresh cilantro to the mix. These 3 ingredients, when sauteed, are the miripoux of the middleast.
What a fabulous idea, Ziad! I’ll have to try that!
Oh my goodness! My mother used to make this all of the time when I was a kid! She used to tell me that her grandmother (an immigrant from Lebanon) made this for her when she was a child. I never knew how to make it, but I remember loving to eat it. Combine a childhood recipe with arguably the best cooking tool ever invented (the glorious Crock-Pot), and I am in heaven! I am making this on Saturday so we will have something warm and comforting to nosh on when we are decorating the Christmas tree. Thank you so much for the recipe!!
Amanda from Canada says
Also, is there an error in the crock pot version? After we add the onion, spices and tomatoes and then cover, should there be a bit of cooking time before adding in the green beans. I’m basing this hypothesis on the steps in the stove top version.
Amanda from Canada says
I’m just taking a stab that you might be looking at your comments right now. I’m in the midst of making this and wanted to clarify the amount of the tomatoes. Is it two large cans of toms totaling 32 ounces or is it each can should be 32 ounces?
Hi Amanada! It’s two cans of 32 ounces each… And to answer the other question, there is not an error in the crockpot version . It’s most traditional to cook it all together, but in the stovetop version, I prefer to add them at separate times.
This was dinner last night…so delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
Thank you for letting me know you liked it!
Hi! This looks so awesome, I’m making it for guests Tuesday night. Anyway, what do u think of serving this over polenta?
That sounds absolutely, positively wonderful!! I’d love it over polenta!
Hi Rebecca, I had a question about doubling the recipe and you must have missed it. Do you think you could use 2 lbs of meat and leave the rest of the ingredients at the same amounts or would that change the recipe?
I did miss it! Sorry about that, Carroll! I probably wouldn’t double the meat and leave the veg at that level because I personally like a higher ratio of beans to meat. My husband would probably like the higher meat ratio, though, so… 😀 I guess that’s a non-answer? If you try it, let me know!
Actually, you did answer the question. I have a 2lb piece of round steak and 2 twenty-something sons, so I will definitely try it that way. Do you think you can add more beans without adding more tomatoes?
I’m really fond of the ratios in this recipe, but I always stand behind experimenting with food! Do let me know if you try it!
Your blog is just the bees knees! i get so excited when I see you have a new post and my family definitely is thankful that I stumbled upon your site. This meal looks amazing and I added it to next week’s menu before I even typed this out. 😉
Aw, thanks, Virginia! I hope you guys love this as much as we do!
I made this today using fresh string beans (which is what I had in the fridge). It was easy and so delicious! I loved the flavors!
Carol at Wild Goose TEa says
How awesome to have such a unique (well to us in the USA) comfort food recipe. Delicious and fun when it’s from another country. Thank you for sharing.
This is a comfort dish that I grew up with. My mother was Lebanese. String beans and rice is what we grew up calling it. My mother served it with a rice pilaf of sorts. My sisters and I each have a repertoire of dishes we do well. So we get together, and everyone prepares their signature dishes making sure to have enough for each of us to take home for leftovers. My specialties are tabouli, hummus, and meat pies. Thank you for sharing such a delicious memory from my childhood.
Aimee @ ShugarySweets says
Seriously no joke. I was just on the phone with my mom this morning talking dinner ideas, and I was telling her about this recipe from Liz and how I want to try it this weekend. Then I pop on my bloglovin and here YOU are sharing it. It’s a sign that it NEEDS to happen. Love that it can be made both ways…I’ll probably choose the slow cooker route. I am so excited to try this now 🙂
It’s DEFINITELY a sign. Make eeeet!
Re doubling it. I have a 2 lb round steak in the freezer. Could you just double the meat and leave everything else as is? I’m planning to go the slow cooker route, but I only have a regular size crockpot (I think 4 qts). And of course I plan to brown the meat – best AHA moment when I learned this several years ago – it changed how I viewed the slow cooker.
not a big fan of frozen green beans.. can I go another route – fresh, store bought canned, or canned by me?
I wouldn’t go with canned… I don’t think they could hold up structurally to the braising. If you really don’t like frozen green beans, I’d substitute fresh ones.
My Mom always makes this with fresh…When I warmonger I’d help desk-stricken g and snip off the ends of the beans.
This is truly comfort on a plate! I am half Lebanese and grew up eating this delicious dish. I’m so glad your friend introduced you to it! It’s great without the meat, too, for a vegetarian option.
Chris B says
This sounds divine! Regarding the stove top version…once the 20 minutes are up and the beans are added, approximately how much longer does it cook covered on low?
It can be done in as little as 20 more minutes, but I’ve also let it go longer. It depends quite largely on the beef and how quickly it gets tender!