A labor-intensive traditional French dish made easy
This Pressure Cooker Beef Bourguignon is the perfect dish to make on cold nights when warm and hearty comfort food is deemed an essential remedy to the dropping temperatures, dinner demands to be eaten from wide deep bowls while curled up on the couch, and a large bottle of red wine is within arms reach.
For those who are unfamiliar, Beef Bourguignon (or Bouef à la Bourguignon if you’re extra fancy) is a traditional French beef stew braised in red wine and beef stock, most often complimented with carrots, pearl onions, mushrooms, bacon, garlic, and herbs.
One of the most well-known variations of this classic dish can be found in Julia Child’s staple cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Julia’s version is, simply put, phenomenal. It also happens to be extremely labor-intensive, clocking in around 5 hours from start to finish. Because of the lengthy process, her recipe is suitable for relaxed weekends or very special occasions, but certainly not for the average weeknight.
My variation of a classic Beef Bourguignon takes a modern shortcut, with the bulk of the tenderizing taking place in an electric pressure cooker and a small amount of the residual cooking requiring the use of a sauté pan. My adaptation makes this dish decidedly more friendly for weeknights but stays true to the gorgeous flavors and textures of the original dish.
Why you should sear and sauté first
I know you’ll be tempted to throw all of the ingredients in the pressure cooker set it to cook and walk away, and technically, you could do that. However, I highly suggest you don’t because you’ll be heavily dulling all of the lovely layers of texture and flavor that this dish offers. I like to quickly sear the beef stew meat before adding it to the pressure cooker and sauté the pork belly, mushrooms, and onions separately from the pressure-cooked stew in order to maximize the ideal texture and flavor for these ingredients. This can all be done using the same large sauté pan in turn so you can minimize the cleanup later.
Beef Stew Meat – Quickly searing the beef stew meat maximizes both the final texture and flavor of the dish by offering a nice caramelized flavor in the crust before it tenderizes in the pressure cooker. I prefer to salt my meat in advance if I have time. About one-hour before cooking (or up to the night before if you’re really prepped), salt the beef stew meat liberally on all sides. When cooking red meat in my pressure cooker, I use roughly 3/4 tsp of sea salt per pound of meat.
I prefer to use this coarse sea salt from Jacobsen or this Diamond Kosher Salt. I always like to steer clear of traditional table salt because it often contains additional additives to prevent caking and I just don’t think it tastes as good. *If you do, ultimately, choose to use table salt (for some unknown reason), you’ll want to decrease the amount of salt used per pound by nearly half as the salt crystals are generally much smaller than their Kosher or sea salt counterparts, and thus each measured amount has much stronger salting power.
Pork Belly – While the seared beef stew meat tenderizes in the pressure cooker, I like to move on to cooking the pork belly so that I can take advantage of the rendered fat to cook the mushrooms and onions in afterward. Simply sauté sliced pork belly over medium-high heat until cooked through, golden, and crispy. Reserve the pork belly to the side, retaining a tablespoon of the rendered fat in the pan to cook the mushrooms in. The rest of the fat can be utilized later for the onions if you wish, or discarded.
Mushrooms – I like to cook the mushrooms next, by themselves. When cooking the mushrooms, remember that they are basically little sponges so you want to limit the amount of water they come into contact with before hitting the pan. Many sources will tell you not to wash your mushrooms under running water, and instead use a damp paper towel to brush the dirt off, but sometimes the mushrooms are just too dirty to play that game and a quick rinse is ok. Make sure that the mushrooms are as dry as possible before cooking otherwise you’ll risk a rubbery texture.
Another thing to keep in mind with mushrooms is they need their space. Do not crowd the pan with mushrooms or they will not brown. Cook in one even layer over medium-high heat (with the tbsp of rendered pork belly fat) undisturbed until brown on one side, about 3-5 minutes. Stir and cook another 3-5 minutes until evenly browned. Mushrooms release alot of moisture so I suggest keeping the cooking fat/oil to a minimum. As the mushrooms disgorge liquid they will begin to look glossy. You’ll want to cook until all liquid has left the pan and they are nice and golden, then salt at the end and reserve to the side with the pork belly.
Pearl Onions – Once the onions are peeled (see an easy way to do this below), add them to the pan along with a tbsp of the rendered pork belly fat or avocado oil. Sauté, stirring occasionally until the edges begin to blister and turn golden. Reserve to the side with the pork belly and mushrooms.
The trick to peeling pearl onions fast
Peeling pearl onions can be a tedious task to do by hand. Thankfully, there’s a really easy way to prep these quickly:
- Trim the root end off of each onion
- Set a small pot of water to boil
- Add the onions to the boiling water to blanch for 1-2 minutes, depending on size (many say only 30 seconds is needed, but I like to leave mine in slightly longer)
- Drain the water and transfer the onions to a bowl of ice water – This will not only help the outer peel separate from the bulb, but also make the onions cool enough to handle
- Pinch the ends of each onion and slide the outer layer of skin off
If you’d like to see a video of this in action, you can find a quick tutorial here.
What should I serve Pressure Cooker Beef Bourguignon with?
Although this Pressure Cooker Beef Bourguignon is delicious served on its own, I prefer to serve it on top of or alongside a neutral base so I can take advantage of all the lovely sauce. These are some of my favorite pairing options to suit your particular dietary preferences:
- Mashed potatoes; both traditional white potatoes and sweet potatoes are lovely
- Roasted smashed potatoes
- Mashed cauliflower
- Spiralized vegetables such as zoodles or sweet potatoes
- Egg noodles or pasta
Which pressure cooker do I use?
I use the term “pressure cooker” rather than “Instant Pot” very intentionally because I want it to be flexible for those who may use other brands. I personally use an Instant Pot Ultra 6qt, but this Pressure Cooker Beef Bourguignon can easily be made in other electric pressure cookers as well.
The reason I mention this is because there is often small variations in machines. With my prior Cuisinart machine, I found that my dishes cooked much more intensely, so I likely would have lowered the amount of time that I cooked this stew in that machine. For the Instant Pot model I have, I find that the Beef Bourguignon cooks perfectly in about 40 minutes.
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What tools do I need to make this recipe?
- An electric pressure cooker
- A large sauté pan
- A small pot (to easily prep the onions for peeling)
- A cutting board
- A chefs knife
- Measuring cups and measuring spoons
- A wooden spoon or spatula
- A small prep bowl and a fork (for creating a thickening slurry at the end)
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Storage and freezing
When stored properly in airtight containers in the refrigerator, this Pressure Cooker Beef Bourguignon should keep for up to 4 days.
This recipe also freezes well for up to three months in airtight freezer-safe containers. To reheat, simply allow to thaw in the refrigerator overnight then reheat in a pot on the stove or in a microwave-safe container in the microwave.
A note for special diets
This Pressure Cooker Beef Bourguignon is grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and friendly for low-carb, Keto, and Paleo diets.
If you would like to make this dish friendly for Whole30 diets, you’ll want to omit the red wine in place of additional beef broth.
If you would like to make this recipe friendly for Low-FODMAP diets, you’ll want to swap the High-FODMAP Crimini mushrooms for Low-FODMAP Oyster mushrooms, utilize garlic-infused olive oil rather than fresh garlic, and omit the pearl onions.Print
This Pressure Cooker Beef Bourguignon includes a few time-saving changes to the traditional French recipe, making it easy for weeknight dining. This recipe is friendly for Paleo and Keto diets and adaptable for Whole30 and Low-FODMAP diets.
- 2 1/2 lbs beef stew meat (chuck or shoulder work well)
- 2 tsp sea salt, divided
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp olive oil + 2 cloves minced garlic – OR – 1 tbsp garlic-infused olive oil (for Low-FODMAP)
- 1 cup dry red wine (Burgundy, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, or Merlot) – OR – 1 additional cup beef broth (for Whole30)
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 cup sliced carrots
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/3 lb pork belly
- 1/2 lb Crimini mushrooms, quartered – OR – 1/2 lb Oyster mushrooms (for Low-FODMAP)
- 10 oz pearl onions, trimmed and peeled (omit for Low-FODMAP)
- 1 tbsp arrowroot flour
- 3 tbsp cold water
- Optional: Fresh flat leaf parsley to top
- Season the beef stew meat with 1 3/4 tsp sea salt and the cracked black pepper. I recommend doing this around an hour before you cook this dish if you wish to maximize the tenderness (or up to the night before), but may be done right before cooking if you’re working in a shorter window of time. As the meat absorbs the salt, it will begin to disgorge moisture. Simply blot this away with a paper towel before cooking so that the meat is as dry as possible for best browning results.
- Set a large sauté pan over high heat with the avocado oil. Once the pan is properly hot, sear meat in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pan so that the meat browns properly. Allow the meat to cook for around 2 minutes on each side before turning. You’re looking for a nice brown sear on the outside of the meat, but the inside should still be mostly raw. Reserve seared meat to the side in the bowl of your cold pressure cooker as you work through the batches.
- Lower the heat of your sauté pan slightly, to medium-high. Add the tomato paste and garlic-infused olive oil (or olive oil + minced garlic) to the pan and stir together for 30-60 seconds. You just want to get a bit of direct heat on the tomato paste so it begins to darken.
- Add the red wine and deglaze the pan, scraping all of the browned bits that may be lingering from the meat and tomato mixture 1-2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add the wine and tomato mixture to the bowl of the electric pressure cooker along with the browned beef. Then add beef broth, carrots, dried thyme, and bay leaf. Give the mixture a good stir before locking the lid and sealing the vent. Set to pressure cook on high for 40 minutes.
- While the beef is cooking, set the sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once properly hot, add the pork belly to the pan. Cook until evenly golden and crisp on the edges, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure that it cooks evenly on all sides and is cooked through. Reserve the pork belly to the side, retaining a tablespoon of the rendered fat in the pan to cook the mushrooms in. The rest of the fat can be utilized later for the onions if you wish, or discarded.
- Cook the mushrooms next in the rendered 1 tbsp pork belly fat remaining in the pan. Make sure you start with very dry mushrooms in one even layer for best browning results. Cook undisturbed until brown on one side, about 3-5 minutes. Stir and cook another 3-5 minutes until evenly browned. As the mushrooms cook, they will disgorge liquid and begin to look glossy. You’ll want to cook until all liquid has left the pan and they are nice and golden, then add 1/4 tsp sea salt at the very end and reserve to the side with the pork belly.
- Add the pearl onions to the pan along with a tbsp of the rendered pork belly fat or avocado oil. Sauté, stirring occasionally until the edges begin to blister and turn nice and golden. Reserve to the side with the pork belly and mushrooms.
- Once the pressure cooker has finished its 40-minute cook, quick-release the pressure. Add the reserved pork belly, mushrooms, and onions to the pressure cooker with the stew and carefully fish out the bay leaf.
- Taste for salt and adjust if needed.
- In a small prep bowl, prepare a slurry with the arrowroot flour and cold water (don’t worry, it’s such a small amount of cold water it shouldn’t bring the temperature of your stew temp down too much). Once evenly blended, add this to the stew and stir it in. Within about a minute or less, the stew should begin to thicken slightly and turn glossy as you stir. If you would like to thicken the stew even more this can be repeated again, but remember that a little arrowroot goes a long way and a cold water slurry must be used before adding it to the stew, otherwise it will clump up.
- Serve the Pressure Cooker Beef Bourguignon warm over your choice of side with optional parsley on top. Mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower are my personal favorite, but I’ve included some other great ideas in the text above.
Nutritional information on Whip & Wander is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site.
- Serving Size: 1 portion
- Calories: 612
- Sugar: 4 g
- Sodium: 1135 mg
- Fat: 32 g
- Saturated Fat: 19 g
- Carbohydrates: 9 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 64 g
- Cholesterol: 151 mg