26 In Beef/ Main Dish/ Vegetable/ Video

Nikujaga (meat and potato stew) Recipe

Nikujaga is literally meat (niku) and potatoes (jagaimo) in Japanese.  It is a stewed dish seasoned with mainly soy sauce and sugar.  It is very much mom’s cooking everyone loves.

Potatoes used in Nikujaga are anything you like.  If you like soft and fluffy, use Russet potatoes.  Or if you like smooth and creamy, use Yukon.  Russet potatoes, because they are soft, tend to dissolve in the broth, but that makes this dish taste good, too.

Meat in Nikujaga has to be beef (at least I believe that).  Where I’m from (Osaka), niku is beef.  If someone serves me Nikujaga and I don’t see beef in it, that someone is in trouble.  Some parts of Japan use pork for Nikujaga, I hear.  When beef was more precious back then, people may have used pork instead.  Well, we are OK now, so let’s use beef 🙂

We use thinly sliced beef for a lot of different dishes in Japan.  If you go to Japanese grocery stores, you find a lot of meat are cut paper thin. Here as well, thin beef is used for Nikujaga too.  We call it ‘stew’, but it only takes 30 minutes of cooking.  So thinner meat is more suitable for the dish to get tender in a short cooking time.  If there is not a Japanese market near you, you could ask your local butcher to cut meat thin, or you can try to cut a half frozen beef block as thin as you could.

You could get Nikujaga at some restaurant or deli at Japanese supermarkets, but the best, of course, is the home made one.  So cook it and show how good a mom (or dad, or person) you are!

Nikujaga (meat and potato stew) Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 70 minutes

Serving Size: 4-6

Nikujaga (meat and potato stew) Recipe


  • 10 snow peas, cooked
  • 4-5 potatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 lb beef, thinly sliced
  • 1c water
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Sake
  • 2 Tbsp Mirin


  1. Cook snow peas in boiling water for a minute. Let them cool and cut diagonally into 2-3 pieces.
  2. Peel and cut a potato into about 4-8 pieces depending on size of a potato, a onion into 8 pieces, and a carrot into small wedges.
  3. Cut thin beef into 2" width pieces.
  4. In a large pot, heat oil at medium high temperature and cook beef until the color changes.
  5. Add potatoes, onions, and carrot and cook for a minute.
  6. Add water, cover, and cook it at medium heat about 20 minutes or until potatoes get tender.
  7. Season with sugar, soy sauce, Mirin, Sake, and salt. Cook 15 minutes longer.
  8. Remove from heat and let it sit for 30 minutes. Then add snow peas.
  9. Serve as is or reheat.

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  • Stephanie
    November 4, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    I made this dish for my family, and we all really enjoyed it. Nikujaga will now be part of our regular dinner rotation. Thank you!!! 🙂

    • Yuko
      November 5, 2012 at 12:39 am

      Thank you! I’m glad to hear that you and your family enjoyed it. Nikujaga is one of the most popular dinner items among Japanese families too.

  • Anastasie
    November 12, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Your nikujaga looks fantastic. How interesting that the Japanese only add a small amount of meat for this and use it as a flavouring rather than the main component of the dish. Thanks for teaching me

    • Laurence
      October 11, 2013 at 7:43 am

      Meat is very expensive so one does not see a large amount of it in Japan.

      • Noriko
        October 11, 2013 at 7:00 pm

        that used to be true… they eat more meat today.

  • Laurence
    October 7, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    SOOOOO good!!

    • Noriko
      October 7, 2013 at 9:23 pm


  • Keith
    January 22, 2014 at 1:05 am

    As a foreign student in Japan I did lots of my own cooking, and used a crock pot a lot — and a recipe for NikuJaga came with it. Really easy with a crock pot! I seem to remember that recipe called for about 3 tablespoons of butter as well (maybe not as healthy, but very tasty!).
    Don’t have my recipe anymore, thanks for posting yours!

    • Noriko
      February 1, 2014 at 11:37 am

      sounds rich with butter!

  • Dhan
    March 2, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Im not from Japan so I dont really know where to find Mirin and Sake…
    What do you think is a good substitute for them???

    • Noriko
      March 2, 2014 at 11:26 pm

      there are not good substitutes for Mirin and Sake unfortunately… they are pretty much key ingredients in J cooking. Try Asian section of local markets, liquore shops, but you can definitely buy them online.

  • lynn
    April 28, 2014 at 11:37 am

    I made this and since has become a favorite at our table. Just wondering what other ways it could be paired with other dishes?

    • Noriko
      April 28, 2014 at 9:52 pm

      we have a dinner menu suggestion on our web site and youtube site.

  • Barbara Youders
    June 28, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    This is one of my go to Japanese recipes that uses easy to get ingredients. I am making it with pork tonight as that is what my Japanese friend told me he uses.

    • Noriko
      September 13, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      we actually have Nikujaga with pork and even Tuna-jaga recipes!

  • Jerry
    July 5, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Very nice recipes…ilove it

    • Noriko
      September 13, 2014 at 10:04 pm

      glad you liked our Nikujaga recipe! We also have Tuna-jaga recipe.

  • David
    August 29, 2014 at 10:37 am

    As a person who loves to cook, and has a very strong interest in Asian cooking, Japanese in particular, and the Japanese culture. This dish is amazing, thank you so much for the guide! Definitely gonna become one of the dishes I will cook regularly! 🙂

    • Noriko
      September 8, 2014 at 8:56 pm

      thanks and there are a lot more recipes to try!

  • Ms. Jody
    October 10, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    I made this tonight and it was very yummy. It was a little sweet for my taste at first, but I just added a little more soy sauce and it was perfect. The Asian grocery didn’t have sake (probably because of Colorado’s weird liquor laws), nor did they have anything labeled as cooking saki. I even looked for it as ryorishu, which you’d mentioned in a different post. What I did find was several brands of “rice cooking wine” which I bought and used instead. Don’t know if that had an effect on the sweetness or not. I also used tamari soy sauce, but I don’t think that would have made my dish sweeter than your recipe. I will definitely make this again 🙂

    • Noriko
      October 11, 2014 at 5:44 pm

      Hi Ms. Jody,
      You will often want to adjust the seasoning for your taste. I’m not sure what kind of wine you used, so it’s hard to say if that changed the flavor, but it sounds like it was a type of cooking sake. Tamari soy sauce probably wouldn’t make it sweeter, like you said. Glad to hear you found a good flavor!

      • Ms. Jody
        October 12, 2014 at 2:50 pm

        Thanks for the feedback 🙂

        The leftovers tasted fantastic the next day. I heated them up and served it over rice. I think next time I just may leave the whole batch in the fridge overnight.

        • Noriko
          October 24, 2014 at 5:37 pm

          that’s what I do with the left over Nikujaga too!

  • Jenny
    January 21, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    The way my family eats has completely changed since discovering your videos! I used to think that Japanese cooking was very intimidating, but now I’m quite comfortable making Japanese dishes and my family loves them. My family even says that the miso soup I now make using your recipe is FAR better than the miso soup we’ve had at any restaurant. I do, however, have one question: when a recipe calls for thinly sliced beef, what cut do you recommend? The butcher would be happy to slice it for me, but I don’t know what cuts of beef are best to use.

  • Mary M. Martinez
    March 28, 2016 at 7:01 am

    This looks delicious.

  • Martin L Ramsell
    October 25, 2016 at 5:02 am

    Would it be possible to replace the sugar with something like honey? Or at least add part sugar, part honey?