Nikujaga (Meat and Potatoes)


If Japan had burly roughnecks and lumberjacks, Nikujaga (肉じゃが) would be their meal. It’s a real work horse of the Japanese home kitchen and quite literally translates to “meat and potatoes”. Being high in energy, low on prep time and very tasty, it’s no surprise why.

Nikujaga is one of those dishes that anyone could wing without a recipe once you know the gist of what it’s supposed to taste like. The beef can be anything from ground chuck to short ribs; just make sure you use a cut with enough fat, otherwise the meat will get dried out. As the name implies, you need to add potatoes, but I also like to add carrots and onions for color and flavor. Beyond that you can add pretty much whatever you want.

Meat, Potatoes, Carrots, Green Beans, Onions

I usually cook Nikujaga in dashi because it adds umami, but low-sodium beef stock, or even water would work fine. As for the seasonings it’s traditionally seasoned with soy sauce, sugar and mirin which gives it a savory sweet taste, but you could have some fun here and season it with ginger, garlic, tomatoes, and herbs.

Because there are plenty of potatoes in it, Nikujaga can be served by itself with a frosty beer, but it’s also great with rice. Like any stew, this is one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day, so make a big batch and enjoy the leftovers for a few days!

Equipment you'll need:

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    Votes: 7
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  • With beef and potatoes simmered in a sweet soy stock until meltingly tender, Nikujaga, or "meat potatoes" is Japanese comfort food at its best.
ServingsPrep TimeCook Time
4 people 10 minutes 45 minutes


  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 225 grams beef sliced thin (shortribs work great)
  • 1 onion thick slices
  • 4 yukon gold potatoes cut into large chunks
  • 1 carrot cut into large pieces
  • 4 fresh shiitake mushrooms stems removed and quartered
  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 2 cups dashi (low sodium beef stock also works)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar - granulated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 140 grams shirataki noodles drained and rinsed
  • 85 grams green beans trimmed
Servings: people


  1. Heat a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add the oil, then stir-fry the beef until cooked through. Transfer to a bowl, with tongs or a slotted spoon, leaving as much of the oil in the pot as possible.
  2. Add the onions and fry until translucent. Add the potatoes, carrots, and shiitake mushrooms and continue stir-frying for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the sake and bring to a boil until you stop smelling alcohol (1-2 minutes). Add the dashi, sugar, salt, soy sauce, and shirataki, and then return the beef to the pot. Simmer, partially covered for 30-40 minutes, or until the meat is tender and the carrots and potatoes are very soft.
  4. Add the green beans and cook uncovered until they are cooked through. Serve immediately, or refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to develop.
  • Harusami Is

    I’ll definitely try this! I’m lucky enough to have watched my mom make nikudaikon and write down all the ingredients (she never had recipes). It’s very similar, thinly sliced rib-eye, chunks of daikon & shirataki. The daikon becomes so sweet & tender cooking it this way. Thanks again for a great recipe!

  • Simon @

    I love comforting stew recipes like this one.  Thanks!

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  • Steven Clauson

    I just made this, albeit with somewhat different ratios of ingredients and the addition of porcini mushrooms, and it is without doubt the single most enjoyable thing I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. It’s so good that the first bite literally gave me chills. It’s absurd that anything this simple could taste this divine.

  • Anisa

    I don’t drink alcohol or use it in my cooking, so I was wondering if there were any non-alcoholic substitutes for the mirin/sake in this dish?

    • Marc Matsumoto

      It’s going to change the flavor, but you could use beef stock or water.

    • Guy

      I know this is wayy too late for you to care, but cooking with alcohol kills the actual alcohol content so if you don’t drink (not even wine or beer) like me for either religious or health reasons, you don’t have to worry. Heat (provided you have enough exposure through temperature and time) makes alcohol evaporate and leaves literally NO alcohol molecules left in your food/drink/etc.

  • Medina-Jaye

    Made nikujaga for the first time (id never even tried it before) using this recipe for the whole family & they all loved it! Thankyou very much!

  • Luke LeClair

    Is there a non alcoholic substitute I can use instead of sake? I am only 16 and I cannot purchase alcohol until I am 19.

    • Marc Matsumoto

      You can use water, or dashi as a substitute.

      • Luke LeClair

        Thanks, I made it for my family for dinner, it turned out wonderful even my picky 14 year old brother liked it. I really like your blog, it is really helpful and I will try more recipes and become a better cook.

  • SamZZZ

    Great recipe! I made it with low sodium beef stock, 3/4lb of spare ribs and an extra heavy load of shiitakes. Couldn’t find shirataki noodles so skipped those. Still turned out amazing!

  • RedSage18

    Do you have any tips on making it in a slow cooker? Is that even allowed?

    I would love to make this either late at night or early in the morning and then be able to come home to food after a long day of work and classes.

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Hi RedSage, thanks for the note, while you could certainly use a slow cooker, it’s a little overkill for this dish. Since it uses thinly sliced beef, it doesn’t require much cooking time to get the beef tender. If you cook it for too long, the beef will just disintegrate. If you do decide to use a slow cooker, you may want to cut the beef into larger chunks to avoid that problem. You’ll also want to brown the beef and onions over the stove before transferring to the slow cooker (make sure to deglaze the pan first to get all the fond off the bottom of the pan you did the browning in). I hope that helps.


I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!