Vaca Atolada Recipe

This vaca atolada recipe is a rich and flavorful Brazilian beef stew made with beef short ribs, cassava flour, and a variety of vegetables and seasonings. Slow-cooked to perfection, this comforting and delicious dish is perfect for a hearty meal. Try making this classic Brazilian recipe at home and impress your family and friends with your culinary skills.

Vaca Atolada

    Vaca Atolada

  • Cuisine: Brazilian
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Servings: 6
  • Calories: 452 calories

What’s this?

Vaca atolada is a traditional Brazilian beef stew that is typically made with beef short ribs, cassava flour, onions, garlic, tomatoes, bell peppers, and jalapeño peppers.

It is a hearty and filling stew that is perfect for colder weather or for anyone looking for a comforting meal.

The name “vaca atolada” literally translates to “stuck cow” in Portuguese, which refers to the cassava flour used in the recipe that thickens the stew and gives it a slightly sticky consistency.

Cassava flour, also known as tapioca flour, is made from the root of the cassava plant and is a common ingredient in Brazilian cuisine.

To make vaca atolada, the beef short ribs are first browned in a pot with onions and garlic.

Then, the vegetables, water, and seasonings are added and the stew is allowed to simmer for several hours until the meat is tender and the flavors have melded together.

Finally, the cassava flour is added to thicken the stew, and it is simmered a bit longer until the flour is fully cooked and the stew reaches the desired consistency.

Vaca atolada is a delicious and hearty stew that is enjoyed by many in Brazil and around the world.


Make this classic Brazilian beef stew, vaca atolada, at home! Tender beef short ribs, cassava flour, and savory seasonings create a hearty and flavorful meal.


  • 2 pounds of beef short ribs, cut into chunks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 cup of cassava flour
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish

Method Instructions

  1. In a large pot, sauté the onion and garlic in a little bit of oil until translucent.
  2. Add the beef short ribs and brown on all sides.
  3. Add the tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeño pepper, water, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 2-3 hours, or until the meat is tender.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the cassava flour with enough water to make a smooth paste.
  5. Add the cassava paste to the stew, stirring constantly to avoid clumps.
  6. Let the stew simmer for another 20-30 minutes, or until the cassava is fully cooked and the stew has thickened.
  7. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
  8. Serve hot, garnished with chopped cilantro.
  9. Enjoy your delicious and hearty vaca atolada!

Rated: 5.0 of 5.0 from 17 reviews.

Recipe Tags: Vaca Atolada, Vaca Atolada Recipe, Recipe


  1. Rice: Vaca atolada goes well with plain white rice, which can help balance out the richness of the stew.
  2. Farofa: Farofa is a toasted cassava flour mixture that is often served as a side dish in Brazil. It can be used to add texture and flavor to the stew.
  3. Salad: A simple green salad with lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers can be a refreshing contrast to the richness of the stew.
  4. Bread: Crusty bread can be used to soak up the flavorful broth.
  5. Hot Sauce: Many people in Brazil like to add hot sauce to their vaca atolada for an extra kick of flavor and spice.

When serving vaca atolada, be sure to garnish it with some chopped cilantro, which can add a pop of color and freshness to the dish. Enjoy!


  1. Use high-quality beef: Since the beef is the star ingredient in this stew, it’s important to use high-quality beef that is well-marbled and has plenty of flavor. Beef short ribs are a popular choice for this recipe, but you could also use other cuts of beef that are good for slow cooking.
  2. Brown the meat well: To develop rich flavor in the stew, it’s important to brown the meat well before adding the other ingredients. This will create a nice sear on the beef and help to develop the savory flavors that will infuse the stew.
  3. Simmer the stew low and slow: This is a slow-cooked stew that requires a long cooking time to develop the flavors and make the beef tender. You want to keep the heat low and simmer the stew gently so that it cooks evenly and doesn’t boil over.
  4. Add the cassava flour slowly: When adding the cassava flour to the stew, it’s important to do it slowly and stir constantly to avoid clumps. The flour will thicken the stew and give it a slightly sticky consistency, but you don’t want it to be too thick.
  5. Adjust seasoning as needed: The seasoning in this recipe is flexible and can be adjusted to your liking. Taste the stew periodically as it cooks and add more salt or pepper as needed. You can also adjust the amount of jalapeño pepper to make it more or less spicy.
  6. Let it rest before serving: Once the stew is done cooking, it’s a good idea to let it rest for a little while before serving. This will allow the flavors to meld together and make the stew even more delicious.

Ingredient Substitutes

  1. Beef short ribs: You can use other cuts of beef that are good for slow cooking, such as chuck roast, beef shank, or beef brisket. You could also use pork ribs or chicken thighs if you prefer.
  2. Cassava flour: If you can’t find cassava flour or tapioca flour, you could use all-purpose flour, cornstarch, or arrowroot powder as a thickener instead. However, keep in mind that the flavor and texture of the stew may be different.
  3. Jalapeño peppers: If you can’t find jalapeño peppers, you could use other types of fresh or dried chili peppers, such as serrano, poblano, or ancho. You could also use red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to add some spice.
  4. Bell peppers: If you don’t have bell peppers, you could use other types of sweet peppers, such as banana peppers or cubanelle peppers. You could also use roasted red peppers from a jar.
  5. Tomatoes: If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, you could use canned diced tomatoes or tomato sauce instead. You could also use sun-dried tomatoes for a richer flavor.
  6. Seasonings: You can adjust the seasonings to your liking or use different spices and herbs. For example, you could add bay leaves, thyme, oregano, or smoked paprika for extra flavor.


In conclusion, vaca atolada is a rich and flavorful beef stew that is popular in Brazilian cuisine. This slow-cooked dish is made with beef short ribs, cassava flour, and a variety of vegetables and seasonings.

While the recipe may take some time and effort, the end result is a comforting and delicious stew that is perfect for a hearty meal. Whether you follow the traditional recipe or experiment with your own variations and substitutes, vaca atolada is sure to satisfy your taste buds.

So why not try making this classic Brazilian dish at home and impress your family and friends with your culinary skills?

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