Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks

The last time I slow cooked some portion of beef (shins I recall) for dinner guests, they rang about five minutes before their expected arrival to meekly offer apologies for not being able to come. Personal issues. I remained calm (in spite of literally spending all day in the kitchen) but hubby was livid. Personal issues! They should have just pretended to like each other for three hours and eat the damned meal as far as he was concerned.

Beef cheeks

I remembered that particular no-show as I started preparing a pot of beef cheeks for a different set of dinner guests. I started the night before after coming home from an evening out; lovingly searing the cheeks before nestling them amongst vegetables in a warm bath of stock and red wine. While we slept, my trusty slow cooker turned the beef cheeks into food worthy of tears. I let the cheeks rest in the fridge once cooled while I worked on a creamy celeriac puree and zesty braised red cabbage. Then the phone call. Illness. I remained calm. I had four serves of beef cheek and gorgeous accompaniments. How could I get mad? :)

So my hubby and I sat down to a rather splendid winter feast. It was my first go at cooking beef cheeks but I was suitably pleased with my effort. I was aiming for the richer than rich sauce served at Harvest and while not quite there, I think I know where I need to tinker for the next time I tackle cheeks. Celeriac is pretty much a no-brainer accompaniment for beef cheek and little wonder. It helped cut down the richness of both the almost gelatinous meat and its sauce. My sweet and sour cabbage also played the perfect third wheel, giving a nice zing to what is otherwise a pretty hard going meal.

Beef cheeks

I’ll probably come back to this dish again over winter and post my final recipe then. For now, the ingredients used in the sauce: carrots, onion, garlic, celery, red wine, veal stock, tomato paste, pinch of five spice, salt & pepper, and tablespoon of cocoa. I’ll include recipes for the celeriac puree and braised cabbage then too :)

Beef Cheeks (also good for Osso Bucco)

4 beef cheeks
one onion
one clove of garlic
one carrot
one stalk of celery
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup beef stock
1 400g tin of crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 tbsp Pedro Ximenez sherry
1 bay leaf
salt & pepper for seasoning

To make: Dice up onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Flour and season pieces of beef cheeks or osso bucco and heat up pan with olive oil. Seal the pieces of meat and transfer to slow cooker pot or other pot if slow cooking in oven. Add a little more oil and sautee the diced vegetables until heated through. Add red wine and stock (beef, veal or vegetable). Empty content of fry pan into slow cooker pot and turn slow cooker on to ‘Low’. Add crushed tomato, tomato paste, cocoa and Pedro Ximenez fortified sherry. Season further with a bay leaf, salt and pepper. Allow to slow cook for at least six hours and adjust flavour accordingly at this point. Give it another hour before serving.



  1. gerry guthmiller March 1, 2011 Reply

    I would greatly appreciate your recipe for the beef cheeks.

    • Monica March 2, 2011 Reply

      Hello. Thanks for visiting. I forgot that I hadn’t posted a recipe here… I’m hoping to do beef cheeks again this winter but I’ll try and find the recipe I based mine on and post here if it helps. Please visit again in a week or so :)

  2. maddy May 26, 2011 Reply

    Yammmmmm… (wondering if my local butcher sells cheeks… Coles sure dont!)

    • Monica May 26, 2011 Reply

      Beef cheeks are awesome! Most good butchers should be able to order some in but often there’s a minimum amount. Good to stock in freezer tho :)

    • Linda January 29, 2012 Reply

      Woollies does :-)

      • Monica February 2, 2012 Reply

        I’ll have to take a look!

  3. gourmetgetaway August 20, 2013 Reply

    I have been wanting a good beef checks recipe for ages!!
    I will be pinning this… oh and if you cook it for me I promise not to cancel :)

    • Author
      Moni August 23, 2013 Reply

      He he – thanks :) I’m running out of cold months so might have to go and get some cheeks to do some up again. I’ve since learned to only invite foodies to dinner! We all know not to miss out on tasty things :D

  4. Emilly October 8, 2013 Reply

    I’ve never seared meat before putting it in the crock pot. What is the benefit of this? Thanks!!

    • Author
      Moni October 16, 2013 Reply

      Hi Emilly. It’s not important to sear the meat if you’re using a slow cooker/crock pot since so much moisture is retained in this cooking method but nonetheless, I like to brown my meat to enhance the flavour. If you don’t have time or want to make a fry pan dirty, it doesn’t matter particularly with beef cheeks.

  5. Dana March 13, 2014 Reply

    Emily, you sear meat before putting it in the crockpot to carmelize the exterior. First, it seals in the juices. Second, it adds great flavor to the overall dish. Third, it gives your meat a better appearance, rather than the drab grey of meat simmered in stock.

  6. william April 24, 2014 Reply

    Have been in croc pot for 9 hours, all the prep, wine too, getting ready for mushrooms reduction for sauce over polentra

    • Author
      Moni May 6, 2014 Reply

      Fantastic! Hope it was a great dinner :D

  7. treasach July 12, 2014 Reply

    woolies do the beef cheek in vac packs and theyre dirt cheap!!! I’ve always wanted to try them as I am a huge fan of oxtail too … both are wonderful cuts worthy of high praise… its ironic though that if you go to a high end eatery and there is beef cheek on the menu … it costs an absolute bomb!!! thank you for the recipe… I’d love the celeriac mash and cabbage receipes too ????

  8. Wayne Cleary July 18, 2014 Reply

    Why the cocoa? I cook beef cheeks a lot and would like to try cocoa if I know what benefit it has.
    next time your guests bail out pick me, pick me.

  9. Etta Stephenson August 18, 2014 Reply

    What if you don’t have, and/or won’t use, wine or any other alcohol based liquid? What would be the best flavor to use?