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Traditional Camp Oven Beef and Guinness Stew

Traditional Camp Oven Beef and Guinness Stew

Bush Tucker Delight: Traditional Camp Oven Beef and Guinness Stew for a Hearty Outback Meal

Australia's vast and rugged landscape has a rich culinary history, with bush tucker playing a central role in this heritage. Among the hearty dishes that have become synonymous with outback cuisine is the traditional camp oven beef and Guinness stew. This meal not only offers a delightful culinary experience but also provides a glimpse into the cultural and historical roots of Australian bush cooking.

Historical Origins: The Fusion of Cultures

The beef and Guinness stew, while a dish with Irish origins, has found a beloved place in Australian outback cooking. - **Irish Influence:** The introduction of beef and Guinness stew in Australia can be traced back to Irish immigrants who settled in the country during the 19th century. They brought with them traditional recipes and cooking techniques, with beef and Guinness stew becoming a favourite due to its rich flavours and hearty ingredients. - **Bush Adaptations:** Early settlers and drovers adapted these recipes to suit the Australian bush environment. Using camp ovens, a staple in outdoor cooking, they were able to recreate this warming dish in the challenging conditions of the outback. The durability and versatility of camp ovens made them ideal for producing slow-cooked meals over an open fire.

The Camp Oven: A Versatile Cooking Essential

The camp oven has been a cornerstone of bush cooking, allowing for a range of cooking methods, from roasting to stewing. - **Design and Durability:** Made from cast iron, camp ovens are designed to withstand high temperatures and rough handling. Their excellent heat retention and distribution properties make them perfect for slow-cooking stews. - **Cooking Technique:** Preparing beef and Guinness stew in a camp oven typically involves placing the pot over hot coals and covering it with additional coals. This ensures even cooking and allows the flavours to meld together over an extended period. The result is tender beef infused with the distinct taste of Guinness, complemented by a rich, thick sauce.

A Hearty Meal for the Outback

The beef and Guinness stew has become a staple in outback cuisine for its robustness and ability to sustain energy levels during demanding activities. - **Nutritional Value:** This stew is packed with nutrients, providing essential proteins, vitamins, and minerals. The slow-cooking process helps in breaking down the beef fibres, making it tender and easy to digest, while the vegetables add an additional layer of nutrition. - **Flavour Profile:** The combination of Guinness stout and beef creates a unique depth of flavour. The bitterness of the Guinness is balanced by the sweetness of the vegetables and the savoury beef, resulting in a complex and satisfying taste that warms the soul.

Cultural Significance: Embracing Tradition

The preparation and enjoyment of beef and Guinness stew within the Australian outback hold cultural significance, reflecting a blend of traditions and the spirit of community. - **Communal Cooking:** Traditionally, preparing a camp oven stew is a communal activity. It involves gathering around the campfire, sharing stories, and participating in the cooking process. This communal aspect fosters camaraderie and strengthens social bonds. - **Modern Adaptations:** Though the essence of the dish remains unchanged, modern adaptations may include the use of local ingredients and variations in seasoning. However, the core principles of slow-cooking and the use of a camp oven continue to be respected and celebrated. The traditional camp oven beef and Guinness stew stands as a testament to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of early Australian settlers, blending cultural influences to create a dish that is both nutritious and flavourful. It embodies the essence of bush tucker, providing a hearty meal that continues to be cherished in Australia’s culinary landscape. By understanding the historical context and cultural significance of this dish, one can truly appreciate its place in outback cuisine and its role in bringing people together in the heart of nature.

Traditional Camp Oven Beef and Guinness Stew


  • 1.2 kg (2.6 lbs) beef chuck, cut into 4 cm (1.6 inches) cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 large carrots, cut into 2 cm (0.8 inches) pieces
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 3 cm (1.2 inches) pieces
  • 4 celery sticks, cut into 2 cm (0.8 inches) pieces
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz) Guinness stout
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz) beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)


  1. Preparation: Ensure that all your ingredients are measured and prepped before you start cooking.
  2. Heat the Camp Oven: Preheat your camp oven by placing it over hot coals until it reaches a moderate heat. Alternatively, you can use an oven preheated to 160°C (320°F).
  3. Brown the Beef: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the camp oven. Add the beef cubes in batches, searing each piece until brown on all sides. Remove beef from the oven and set aside.
  4. Sauté Vegetables: Add the remaining olive oil to the camp oven. Sauté onions, garlic, carrots, and celery until they begin to soften, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add Flour: Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable mixture and stir well to combine. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously to avoid burning the flour.
  6. Incorporate Liquids: Pour in the Guinness stout, stirring well to deglaze the bottom of the camp oven and release any browned bits. Add the beef stock and tomato paste, stirring to combine.
  7. Combine Ingredients: Return the seared beef to the camp oven. Add the potatoes, thyme, and bay leaves. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  8. Simmer: Bring the stew to a gentle boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the camp oven with its lid, and let it simmer for 2.5 to 3 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and ensure even cooking.
  9. Check for Doneness: After 2.5 to 3 hours, check the beef for tenderness. The meat should break apart easily with a fork. Adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper if necessary.
  10. Garnish: Remove the bay leaves before serving. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve the stew hot, accompanied by crusty bread or mashed potatoes to soak up the delicious sauce.
  • Pair it with a fresh green salad for a balanced meal.


  • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • To reheat, place the stew in a pot over low heat until warmed through, stirring occasionally.


  • For an extra depth of flavour, marinate the beef cubes in Guinness stout overnight before cooking.
  • Consider using a heat diffuser if your camp oven tends to have hot spots, ensuring even cooking.
  • If the stew appears too thick, add a little more beef stock or water to reach your desired consistency.
Enjoy your Traditional Camp Oven Beef and Guinness Stew, a hearty and comforting dish perfect for any camping adventure or cosy family meal.
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