Zesty Braised Beef

Please don’t look at the cook time of this recipe and close out of this post. Yes, that’s my opening sentence here because it’s time we have a discussion about cook times and why you shouldn’t freak out about long cook times and automatically think the recipe is too hard or intense for you to handle. Take a seat and stay a while!

Here’s my main point. LONG COOK TIMES *SOMETIMES* TAKE LESS WORK THAN THEIR SHORTER COOK TIME COUNTERPARTS. This recipe is one of those short effort, but long cook time recipes. I promise I’m not just saying this so you’ll make this zesty beef, even though you really should. I’m saying this so you don’t automatically shut yourself off to recipes with long cook times, and in turn, shut yourself off to some of the easiest, most flavorful dishes ever. When I first started cooking and looking for recipes to try, I avoided any and all recipes that said “6-8 hours” at all costs. In my eyes, that time frame sounded like a sh*t ton of work, and well, if I’m not being paid….why would I dedicate 8 hours? Ah, how naive I was!!!! Well, now I’m here. I am here to tell you that you should start making one pot meals that stew in their natural flavors and juices for 2 reasons. 1) The flavor of a dish that sits for hours is complex, intense and delicious 2) the majority of work for the recipe happens in the beginning and end…maybe, like in this case, there are a few checkups on the dish during the 6-8 hours, but that’s really it. This zesty braised beef says 6 hours in the cook time, but it really isn’t much work. Start it in the morning and you’ll have the most decadent, exciting taco night of your life.

I’m a huge beef chuck fan because it’s cheap, but because it’s cheap, it’s also an extremely tough cut of meat. That means it takes time for the beef chuck to drink up liquid and absorb flavor. Speaking of flavor, this braised beef dish is very different than those intense red wine or beef stock braised beef recipes you’ll find on the internet. Instead, this is citrusy, zesty, bright, creamy and rich. It’s the perfect braised beef for spring and summer. Serve it over rice, serve it on a tortilla, or just eat it with a spoon when you’re drunk (or sober) — it’s here for you for every occasion.

Zesty Braised Beef

A bright, tangy and citrusy braised beef that is slow cooked in its juices. Rich, tender and juicy and best served on a charred tortilla with some cilantro.
Total Time 6 hrs 30 mins
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 4


  • dutch oven or slow cooker


  • 2 lb beef chuck roast can sub for round roast or stew meat (if pre-cut, make sure it's cut into larger pieces
  • 1 tbsp whole coriander seeds toasted and crushed
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 white onion sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves smashed and sliced
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Juice of 1 lime
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Olive oil for pan can sub another oil
  • 1 cup water

Toppings (optional)

  • 1 bell pepper sliced
  • 2 tomatillos sliced
  • Salt for seasoning veggies
  • Lime slices to taste (optional)
  • Orange slices to taste (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  • In a skillet, toast the coriander seeds until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Then, remove them from the heat and crush them in a food processor or mortar and pestle.
  • In a mixing bowl, whisk together all of the dry rub ingredients: cacao powder, salt, cumin, paprika, chili powder and crushed coriander seeds. Make sure they are all combined.
  • Pat the meat dry with a paper towel. Whether the meat is already cut into chunks or if it's one big roast, coat the meat thoroughly in the dry rub mixture. If you have any of the dry rub leftover, reserve it for later.
  • Season a dutch oven with oil and heat on medium high, until shimmering. Whether you're using a roast or pre-cut meat, sear the meat on all sides until crisp, about 1-2 minutes. Once all sides are crisp, remove the meat from the dutch oven, but keep the oil in the pot.
  • Adjust the heat to medium, then add the onion to the pot and sauté until slightly caramelized and soft, 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and and sauté for 2 minutes, until fragrant.
  • Adjust the heat to low, then add all of the liquid and citrus zest into the dutch oven. Mix the liquids to fully combine and mix them with the onions and garlic.
  • Re-coat the meat with any leftover dry rub, then place it on top of the onion and garlic mixture.
  • Put the lid onto the dutch oven and place it into the oven for 1-2 hours.
  • After 1-2 hours, cut the meat into pieces and put it back in. Check on it again in another 2 hours.
  • The cut pieces of meat should be more tender. Use a fork and knife to shred the meat, going with the grain The grain is the line going through the meat. You want to cut with it, allowing for the meat to tear much more easily than if you were tearing against it. Your meat won't tear if you go against the grain, instead, you'll have to slice through it.
  • Put the shred meat back into the dutch oven, then pour 1 cup of water in and mix it all together. Let the meat cook for 1-2 more hours, until done.
  • 15-20 minutes before the meat is done, season a sauté pan with oil over medium high heat. Add the sliced peppers and tomatillos and sauté until charred, a little crunchy but also tender. Remove them from the heat.
  • Flat cut side down, place the citrus slices onto the hot skillet over medium heat. Let them char for 2-3 minutes, until you can see the caramelization on the surface when you flip it. Once the citrus is charred, remove from the heat.
  • If desired (or if you're low maintenance like me,) serve the beef in the dutch oven and top with the bell peppers, tomatillos and charred citrus. Serve the beef with rice, on tortillas, and topped with some cilantro for a bright flavor boost. Serve immediately, or eat in an hour. It tastes even better at room temp. If storing, seal in an air tight container and put it in the fridge.
Keyword beef chuck recipe, braised beef, citrus braised beef, dutch oven recipe, slow cooker beef, zesty braised beef

18 thoughts on “Zesty Braised Beef”

  1. 5 stars
    Hi! This recipe looks amazing – can I also use brisket meat as well? Are there are adjustments I would need to make?

    1. Hi!! you could use brisket meat, but I would be careful so that all of the acid doesn’t make the fatty brisket too tough!

  2. 5 stars
    AMAZING. Made this recipe now that I have time at home to actually slow cook something and it’s worth-the-wait.
    It turned out exactly as described, zesty and flavorful. Perfect for taco night, no need to do anything just be patient and give it some love every once in a while.
    I ended up taking the lid off on the last 1/2 hour so the liquids would evaporate a bit.

  3. i LOVE this recipe – it’s so easy! just like it says at the top, all the “work” happens at the beginning and then you basically let the meat cook over the hours and your kitchen smells delicious. i had a slightly smaller cut of beef chuck roast (1.5 lb) and cut an hour of cooking time and it came out just as tender and delicious as the recipe says it will. i unfortunately do not have a dutch oven or slow cooker so i did this in a deep stockpot and it worked perfectly well. also, don’t skimp on the citrus zest and juice because it gives the braised beef lots of freshness since chuck roast can otherwise be slightly rich.

  4. Quick question, if I am using a slow cooker, would I do step 5,6 on a skillet or pan? Or should I do the searing of the meat inside the same pot pre-heated?

    1. Hi!! Yes you can use another pot or pan! Or you can skip searing. Just make sure you check on the beef and begin to cut and tear the same way I describe in the recipe! That’s the most important part, since beef chuck is a tough cut. Let me know if you have any other questions!

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