How to Make Beef Carbonnade in the Instant Pot

Easy Recipe for Beef Carbonnade in the Instant Pot // Instant Pot Beef Carbonnade Recipe

A hearty Belgian beef carbonnade recipe is the third recipe I’ve made in the Instant Pot, and it may be my favorite of the French Instant Pot recipes I’ve developed so far (though all have been good). It’s also very easy.


Instant Pot Recipe for Beef Carbonnade. Photo credit.

Beef Carbonnade is a classic Flemish recipe of beef braised in dark beer, with bacon and caramelized onions. I first discovered this recipe in the classic Silver Palate Cookbook–the book just about everyone was cooking from in the 80s. Linda, a friend from college, made it for me when I visited her in Washington D.C. (I was living in New York City at the time). Coincidentally, Linda happened to be at my table the other night when I made this recipe. In fact, she’s the friend who lent me the Instant Pot for testing all these recipes.

Linda has absolutely no recollection of making the beef carbonnade for me, but I remember it clearly: It just tasted so hearty and good and warming and rich and bold on a cold winter night. It was such a gratifying meal to enjoy when—because we were very early on in our careers and living in big, overpriced East Coast cities—we couldn’t afford to go out to eat.

In adapting this beef carbonnade recipe for the Instant Pot, I had to change a few things: First, while the original calls for dredging the meat in the flour before cooking it, that is definitely not advised for an Instant Pot: In fact, from what I’ve read about the pot, thickeners (like flour) should not be added before pressure cooking; rather, the thickening agents should be added only after the pressure cooking is finished. Here’s the word from the Instant Pot Website on this issue:

“Do not try to thicken the sauce before cooking. Cornstarch, flour, or arrow-root may deposit on the bottom of the inner pot and block heat dissipation. As a result, the pressure cooker may overheat.”

Yikes. So, we’ll thicken the stew after it’s all done pressure-cooking, right?

The second change I made is to use boneless beef chuck ribs (aka beef country-style ribs). The original Silver Palate recipe calls for beef stew meat. I’ve made this recipe (in my braiser) with the boneless beef chuck ribs, and that’s the way to go: The meat becomes so soft and tender and boldly flavored–irresistible. And finally, I added a little tomato paste to the recipe for a touch of brightness to the otherwise deep flavors.

Enjoy this recipe: P.S.: If you don’t have an Instant Pot, here’s my Belgian Beef Carbonnade Recipe for the Braising Pan.

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How to Make Beef Carbonnade in the Instant Pot
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
Refrain from using a stout (like Guinness), which will make this stew too bitter. I suggest an amber beer—which brings a caramely depth without going overboard.
  • 2 thick strips bacon, coarsely diced
  • 1 very large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Olive oil, if needed
  • 1½ teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons dried thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 pounds boneless beef country style ribs, also know as boneless chuck ribs
  • 2 cups dark beer (not stout). Dark amber or dark pilsner is good.
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Parsleyed noodles, boiled potatoes, or baked rice, for serving
  1. Set the inner pan into the six-quart Instant Pot Plus. Press the "sauté," feature and press it again to set it on "more." When the word "hot" displays, brown the bacon. Remove with a slotted spoon; set aside. Reduce the saute heat to "normal."
  2. Add the onions to the inner pot; cook and stir until they soften somewhat, about 3 minutes. Add a little olive oil if the pot seems dry. Continue to cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until very soft and starting to brown in places, about 20 minutes. Add the sugar; cook and stir until the onions range in color from golden brown to brown. Add the thyme and salt and pepper to taste; cook and stir briefly. Transfer the onion mixture to a large bowl.
  3. Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper. Add additional olive oil to the pan if it seems dry. Increase the saute heat to "more." Add the meat and cook, turning as needed, until well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes (you may need to do this in batches). Transfer the beef to the bowl with the onion mixture.
  4. Add the beer to the inner pot (careful--it may spatter). Bring to boiling, stirring up browned bits. Return the beef, bacon, and onions to the inner pot. Bring to boiling. Press "cancel" to turn off saute function.
  5. Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to "Sealing." Press "Meat-Stew" (on the Duo Plus Instant Pot). Use the - or + button to set the time to 45 minutes
  6. When the cooking cycle ends, press "Cancel." Allow the appliance to cool and release pressure naturally. This will take about 20 minutes. (The little metal float valve on the lid should sink back into the lid, and the lid will unlock).
  7. Once the pressure has released, uncover the pot and transfer the beef and onions to a clean bowl.
  8. For the sauce, skim the fat from the cooking liquid (I use a fat skimmer—see link in Amazon affiliate ad below this recipe). Return the cooking liquid to the inner pot. Press the "saute" function and set it on "more." Whisk in the 2 tablespoons tomato paste. As the liquids come to a simmer, work the 2 tablespoons butter and the flour together to form a paste. Drop into cooking stock, half a time, cooking and stirring with a wire whisk after each addition until well integrated. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly; continue cooking until a sauce-like consistency.
  9. Return all the beef and onions to the cooker. Cook and stir gently until heated through. Serve in wide, shallow bowls with parsley buttered noodles, steamed potatoes, or baked rice.

So, did you enjoy this recipe? Do you want me to develop more recipes from the Instant Pot? If so, let me know in the comments section, below. And…please consider buying something from Amazon by clicking through via one of my affiliate links, below. When you do this, I receive a small commission on anything you buy (even if it’s not exactly what I’m promoting). It won’t add to your costs whatsoever, and it could help me buy an instant pot to test more recipes. (My friend Linda wants hers back!)

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