Alcohol free beef bourguignon…daring cooks May 2012

Our May 2012 Daring Cooks’ hostess was Fabi of fabsfood. Fabi challenged us to make Boeuf Bourguignon, a classic French stew originating from the Burgundy region of France.

I think I am one of many who the mere mention of beef bourguignon brings back images from Julie and Julia

But when  I first saw that beef bourguignon was this month’s challenge my first idea was to sit this one out. Being a muslim I don’t drink alcohol or cook with it and beef bourguignon is a dish based on red wine.I mean wine is not just an ingredient in the dish, it is basically what the dish revolves around. Then as I was reading other people’s comments on the challenge in the forum I came across quite a few asking if there was a way to make this dish alcohol free, be it for religious reasons , being pregnant or recovering alcoholics. Realizing I was not the only one seeking an alcohol free version,I decided to at least research if it was possible.

I came across many recipes that used a combination of broth, grape juice and grape vinegar to replace the wine with differing proportions. There was also a variety of additions ranging from tomato paste to soya sauce. Many said it was not the same, others said it was even better. I decided to give it a go, there was really nothing to lose and I am after all a daring cook.What follows is the recipe that I used, based on tasting and tweaking along the way.

To tell you the truth I was really nervous about this one, I was worried the whole pot would end up down the drain. As the beef cooked and the aromas filled the house, my daughter came into the kitchen and announced that this will be a success, she can tell how good a recipe is by the smell of it cooking and this was going to be a great one.

She was right.

The dish was a big hit, the flavors blended in so well, it was not overly sweet nor acidic. The meat was cooked to the point of melting in your mouth and the mushrooms onions and carrots added just the right texture

Now to spare myself the  lectures about this being a beef stew not beef bourguignon, I have to tell you that I have never tried the real beef bourguignon and don’t know how well my recipe compares to the original but all I know is it was fun to try and experiment and that we all loved it so much that I will be making it again for sure. If you have ever made Julia Child’s beef bourguignon,I would love it if you would give my recipe a try and then let me know how close or how far you think I got it. Anyone up for the challenge? In the name of science?


Ingredients for 4 people:


1  pound stewing beef cut into 2 inches (5 cm) cubes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups red grape juice (100% juice no sugar added)

1/2 cup red grape vinegar

2 carrot, sliced

1 onion, sliced in julienne

3 cups  beef stock (preferably home made, remember you want something rich with flavor to enhance the flavor)

1 tablespoon tomato paste or tomato puree

2 cloves mashed garlic

½ teaspoon thyme leaves

1 bay leave

12 small onions, brown-braised in stock

250 grams mushrooms sautéed in butter


1.Dry the meat cubes carefully with paper towels.

2.In a casserole/pan, sauté the beef until it’s golden brown. Remove it to a side dish and set aside.
3.Still in the same casserole/pan, sauté the carrot and the onion.

4.Return the beef to the casserole. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper, then add the flour and toss.

5. Stir in the juice,vinegar, stock, tomato paste, mashed garlic cloves, thyme, bay .

6.Bring it to simmering point on the stove.

7.Cover the pot and place it on very low heat and simmer for 3 hours.

8.While the stew is cooking, prepare onions and mushrooms. For the onions: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a frying pan and sauté the peeled onions until golden brown. Add beef stock until they’re almost covered and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until almost all the liquid disappears and they’re tender but keep their shape. Set aside.
9.Prepare the mushrooms as well: quarter and sauté them in 2 tablespoons butter. Keep on stirring until they’re nicely brown. Set aside.
10.When meat is tender,  Put onions and mushrooms over the meat.

11.Skim the fat off. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Skim additional fat if it rises. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon. If not, boil it until it thickens. If it’s too thick, stir in some stock or bouillon to make it lighter.

12.Serve  and enjoy :) Some goods sides are potatoes, noodles or rice.

Freezing/Storage Instructions/Tips: You can keep leftovers in the fridge for 2-3 days. If you want to freeze it, it lasts up to 3 months.

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  1. Magnificant Presentation…………..Excellent Photos

  2. How great that you were able to make this recipe suitable for you!! it looks fantastic!!!

  3. Thanks for another awesome recipe my friends – this dish sounds and looks too classy :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  4. It sounds like a very tasty adaptation of the classic dish … which I’ve never tasted either as I don’t have/cook with red wine normally.

  5. It sounds to me like you came up with a perfectly ingenious combination, and one that would be delicious even to a wine lover. It’s so close to the combination of the original, really, just using a different aspect of fermentation or maturation of the grape juice, that I can’t imagine anyone even necessarily detecting the difference if they weren’t told of it.

  6. How clever to use grape juice instead of the wine! I make a vegetarian version with mushrooms and chestnuts, but it does have wine in it. I like how you took this on and made it your own :)

  7. Great job! I bet alcohol was not to miss at all. Great job, congratulations!

  8. i think if you have a good cut of beef and a hearty base there is no reason why this can’t be made without the wine. Of course if it boils the alcohol is gone anyway, so creating a good broth would work just the same. I bet it tasted great! This looks fabulous in its little pot. c

  9. I am so glad I dropped out of Daring Cooks because I wouldn’t have wanted to cook Beef Bourguignon. We stopped eating most beef when we started thinking about the food supply here in the U.S. But your stew looks lovely — probably the only thing my mother misses from the old days is a good beef stew, whereas I like an occasional steak or burger when I am out.

    • Hello Sharyn, there was a vegetarian ulternative provided with tofu and those who made it say you don’t even miss the meat and the taste is spot on. Maybe you can check it out and make your mum the stew she misses with tofu

      • Mom will eat tofu in Asian dishes, Sawsan, but neither of us like faux cuisine — foods that pretend to be other foods.

      • I totally respect that Sharyn. When I was in 5 th grade, our french teacher read us a poem about the seagulls. It talked about how seagulls are loyal creatures, they believe a lie is a lie be it big or small and treason is treason be it in the simplest acts or the biggest ones. I respect the fact that you like your food honest without pretence or lies :)

  10. I wanted to try this recipe before but passed on it when I saw the ingredient list and was sad to see the red wine! So happy you found an alcohol free version! Looks amazing!

  11. That’s great that you were able to make the dish work for you, and yours looks just as rich and full-flavoured as the traditional version. Absolutely beautiful! I’d love to give it a go some time and let you know how I get on. :)

  12. It definitely looks exactly how it should! And if I were nearby I’d have a taste and let you know:) Well done, it is always difficult to modify a recipe with a specific “goal” in mind!

  13. What a great idea. People always ask, when I cook with alcohol, what they can replace things with and I don’t always have an answer. You’re a genius! Looks great.

    • Thank you Greg. That was actually what made me try, the fact that so many people on the forum asked the same question, can it be done without the alcohol

  14. I really like that you took on the challenge to make an alcohol free version – it is good to know there are options.
    I absolutely think of Julie and Julia everytime I make this dish :-)
    Beautiful pictures!

  15. vanessalillian

     /  May 14, 2012

    That sounds like a really good alternative! I’m a big fan of grape juice.

    I don’t have any non-alcohol needs myself so please forgive me if this is an ignorant question, but was wondering for future reference whether – because you’re cooking with it and it evaporates off – just having the flavour of it there means it is still considered to be alcohol, and therefore unsuitable for certain religions; or whether, once the alcohol has evaporated, it is considered an essence? My mum is a recovering alcoholic and when I poured the bottle of wine in she nearly threw up from the smell of the ethanol boiling off, but once it had evaporated she was more than happy to eat it. Several portions, in fact :) So in some instances it seems to be okay…

  16. flavorsofthesun

     /  May 14, 2012

    I absolutely love the way you reinterpreted this dish to fit your own dietary requirements. Very clever use of ingredients! Sounds wonderful in its own right.

  17. I love how you took this challenge and made it your own Sawsan! That’s my idea of a daring cook. :) This looks delicious and it was so creative. I love your serving dish too!

  18. I LOVE this! I am so happy you chose to go for it! I can tell from your beautiful pictures that your dish looks exactly like what I made with wine… and grape juices and vinegar sound very similar in taste to wine to me. :-)))) Have a great day and well done again Sawsan!

  19. Sounds absolutely delicious! I always use red wine but I can see how the grape juice would do it.

  20. Another stunner Sawsan – you always rise to these challenges so creatively! And I love how you worked out how to cook this dish without using alcohol…very clever indeed and your daughter is probably going to follow in your cooking footsteps if she already has such a well developed sense of smell :)

    • You are always too kind Tanya. My daughter “Jana” loves helping and playing around in the kitchen and she thinks (and most of the time is) a great food critic who needs only to smell or take a tiny bite to tell you what if a recipe works or how to fix it if it doesn’t :)

  21. Deeps @ Naughty Curry

     /  May 14, 2012

    a novel idea idea, there are so many who dont consume alcohol im sure this post would really be appreciated! love the clicks

  22. This is one of my favorite comfort foods (and movies) ever! Thank you for sharing your recipe and beautiful photos, Sawsan.

  23. Congratulations on successfully adapting the recipe. That’s what being a Daring Cook is all about!

  24. JT made his famous bœuff bourguignon on the weekend too! Except that ours had the wine. You version looks like the real thing, and I bet it was similarly layered with wonderful flavours as the ‘real’ one. And so beautifully presented too!

  25. I love that you participated, and found a way to make this recipe work for you. Your interpretation of boeuf bourguignon looks amazingly delicious. Wonderful, wonderful work.

  26. Lovely, Sawsan! I think your version sounds just as good as the original to me. I so admire your risk-taking!

  27. you hit the jackpot with this one my friend! Beyond amazing, rich, delicious, beautiful! i Love that it can be done without alcohol!

  28. Good for you Sawsan, for going forward with the challenge. Your recipe sounds like it would be really good. I know that a lot of people will be happy to have your alcohol free version.

  29. mjskit

     /  May 15, 2012

    What a way to meet a difficult challenge for you! This looks like a beef bourguignon to me and I would imagine that the combination of grape juice and vinegar would give you very close to the same results. Afterall, wine is fermented grapes. Wonderful recipes and gorgeous results!

    • Thank you so much MJ, the idea was to work with flavors that should be similar to what wine would give when the alcohol was cooked off. I enjoyed playing around with this one and I am glad you liked the results

  30. This looks like a huge succes. Beeing a muslim my self I avoid recipes with alcohol, I have often thought of trying with applejuice but grape juice makes more sence. So thankyou for daring this challange :) Misbah/Cupcakeluvs

  31. My grandma used to make a brodet (our Adriatic dish – slow cook fish with saueed onions, herbs in juicy sauce with tomato paste) with red wine vinegar instead of wine.I don’t know why she did it but it was delicious. She used wine for other dishes but not for this one. So, I know how delicious your version of BB is. Great photos as always.

    • Thank you so much Zoka for sharing the story about your grandmother. I think the recipes work because you use the same flavors and just leave out the alcohol

  32. Great job Sawsan, what a neat way to replace wine- grape juice/vinegar. And as always, most beautiful pics and wonderful presentation.

  33. This looks really tasty Sawsan! Good to know it can be made without the wine.

  34. Looks amazing! I am so hungry right now.

  35. Nami | Just One Cookbook

     /  May 16, 2012

    Sawsan, you just did an amazing job inspiring a lot of people who doesn’t want to include alcohol in their food! It was indeed a great idea that you continue to challenge this recipe. I’m sure a lot of people can’t wait to hear your opinion about the food, and if you say yes then this must be simply delicious one (as we all trust your recipe). Great post!

    • Thank you so much Nami for your kind words. That was really the motive, to help people who for one reason or the other need to cook without the alcohol. I deeply appreciate the vote of confidence

  36. Actually Sawsan.. if you don’t have a rooted objection to buying the wine in the first place, the alcohol *can* be burned off. If you are especially fastidious about this, you could heat it first in a small saucepan and the ‘flame’ off the vapours with a lighter. Your substitution is certainly ingenious but using wine has little to do with the alcohol than it does the complex flavour compounds that are a happy accident of fermentation. Your recipe is great but it is a shame to miss out on the richness of the original preparation…

    By the way, your photography is truly superb. I wish I was half as good :(

    • I am well aware that wine is more than just grape juice and vinegar and alcohol, I was just trying to approximate the flavors. As I mentioned in a couple of replies to other comments, alcohol does not completely cook off no matter how you cook it. Being a muslim I don’t drink alcohol, cook with it, buy it or use it in any form. With alcohol being out of the question I tried to work with flavors that would get as close as possible to the original.
      Thank you for your kind comment about my photography, I deeply appreciate it

  37. GORGEOUS gorgeous gorgeous….want want want! This sounds amazing, Sawsan. Love that movie, too. :)

  38. It looks delicious! I might try this alcohol-free boeuf bourguignon one of these days, great job!!

  39. Oh Sawsan, you are so amazing! I read your positive quotes onPinterest daily and can tell you really practice what you “preach”. You did not give up on this dish and turned it into greatness! Looks absolutely stunning! I bet it wasn’t missing a thing.

  40. Awesome job! I am glad that you took the time and effort and found a way to prepare this without the wine. It looks beautiful!

  41. I’m extremely inspired together with your writing talents and also with the structure to your blog. Is this a paid topic or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent high quality writing, it is uncommon to look a nice blog like this one today..

  42. asma787

     /  September 17, 2012

    This is fabulous!!! I’m also muslim and have been searching for a wine-less Boeuf Bourguignon recipe!!!

  43. Hi, Sawson! I came across your site googling for this recipe using no alcohol. I have an Aunt in Australia who uses grape juice as well for this dish and her sister has been raving about it. I’m wondering if sparkling grape juice can be used too, do you think? Another thing, how do you make your homemade beef stock? Looking at your pic makes me salivate :)

  44. The Beef Guy

     /  April 15, 2013

    When you say Red Grape Vinegar is that the same as Red Wine Vinegar?

  45. Chichi

     /  February 12, 2014

    Love this recipe! Made it the other day when I had family members with young children visiting. Don’t want to serve children anything with alcohol.

  46. Thanks for experimenting for me. I don’t want to use wine because I don’t like the taste. I’m going to try this tonight…….. :)

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