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Giouvetsi - Beef and Orzo Pasta Casserole

This beef and orzo pasta casserole or giouvetsi is a delicious, hearty and filling dish that everyone is going to love. Full of goodness and flavor from the combination of vegetables, with a tender, slowly cooked beef meat and delicious little orzo pasta, the whole family is going to love this Greek casserole dish. Enjoy!
Giouvetsi - Beef and Orzo Pasta Casserole.

Giouvetsi or Youvetsi is a traditional Greek casserole dish made lamb or beef meat and orzo pasta (‘kritharaki’ or ‘manestra’). We usually have this on a Sunday, something equivalent to an english Sunday roast. It’s a hearty, rich dish that the whole family really loves and a big hit when having friends over.

The meat is slow-cooked in an aromatic tomato sauce until it’s tender before adding the vegetables and the orzo pasta. Then it’s time for the oven to take over and cook the orzo pasta until all the juices are absorbed. A beef casserole dish that yes, takes time to cook but it’s so delicious that it’s worth it.

If you love Greek cuisine and you are looking for other traditional Greek recipes for a Sunday meal or to impress your friends then you should try soutzoukakia, aromatic meatballs cooked in a rich tomato sauce. Another family favorite!

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Why you should try my recipe

  • Delicious casserole with a great balance of meat, carbs and veggies.
  • Easy to follow steps on how to prepare and cook it.
  • Enough to feed a big family or for the next day.
  • Store any leftovers in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Great for babies and little ones.

Ingredients & How-to

To make this beef and orzo pasta casserole, you are going to need some beef, orzo pasta, carrot, leek, onion, chopped tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms, bay leaves, whole allspice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Orzo pasta is very popular in mediterranean and middle eastern cuisines. It’s shape is a little bit bigger than rice and it can be used in casseroles, stews, soups or even salads. It doesn’t need much time to cook, since it’s pasta, so I add it towards the end of the giouvetsi, just after my beef and veggies are cooked. So let’s get started!

Ingredients for Greek giouvetsi casserole dish.

01. I start with preparing the meat. You can get pre-cut beef into cubes or a whole piece of beef and cut it yourself into 2cm/0.8” cubes. I almost always go with the second choice, as it gives me the option to select my beef cut and it’s usually cheaper. If you prefer to buy a whole piece of beef, then I recommend getting a beef brisket or shoulder cut as they are perfect for casseroles and stews and get very tender when slow cooked.

How to cut the beef for the casserole.

02. Moving to the pot, I start by sautéing the chopped onion and then I add the meat to the pot and brown it for a couple of minutes. When the meat has a nice brown color on all sides, I add the tomatoes, spices and water to the pot. You will need to simmer the meat with the tomato sauce for at least an hour until it’s tender and easy to prick with a fork. Depending on your stove, you might need to add a little bit more water, so do check every now and then just in case.

03. When the meat is tender but not melting and falling apart, it’s time to add the chopped veggies to the pot. I like my giouvetsi with vegetables on top of the orzo pasta as they give the casserole a bit more body and it’s also a great way for everyone to eat more veggies! Carrots, leek and mushrooms are usually the ones I always add, but if you have some celery sitting in your fridge that would go well too. I leave them to cook for 30 more minutes before moving to the next step.

Adding the beef pieces to the pot for giouvetsi. Adding chopped vegetables to the pot along with the meat.

04. When the veggies are tender, it’s time to add the orzo pasta. I add one more pint (500ml) of water in and then stir a little bit to get it all mixed well. I transfer the food to a casserole dish or a pyrex tray and cover it with some kitchen foil or a lid. The pasta will double its size, so make sure that your oven dish has some space and it’s not filled up completely to the top.

05. I place the casserole dish in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, enough time for the orzo to absorb the water and cook. Then I remove the kitchen foil and leave it for 5 more minutes in the oven to get a nice color. That’s it, it’s ready!

Beef and veggies with uncooked orzo. Cooked beef casserole with orzo.

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  • Adding bay leaves and whole allspice to your giouvetsi make the tomato sauce more rich and full of aromas. Don’t forget to remove them before serving.
  • If you don’t have time for the oven, then you could finish of cooking the orzo pasta in the pot. Just stay on top and stir as the orzo tends to stick easily to the bottom of the pot.


  • Instead of whole allspice, you could add a teaspoon of ground allspice or ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and ¼ of nutmeg.
  • You could use fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes (crushed or passata).

Serving suggestions

We love having our giouvetsi with some grated cheese on top like parmesan, graviera or cheddar but it’s totally optional and if you are dairy-free or you want to save on calories, you could leave it out. This beef and orzo casserole is also best served whilst it’s still warm, perhaps with a slice of bread to soak up the juices.

If you are looking into salads to pair it with, here are some that I highly recommend to try


Since we are making a big tray of this giouvetsi casserole, it’s very common to have some leftovers especially if you are not a big family. You could store it in the fridge and have it on the next day, warmed up in the oven or the microwave until piping hot.

This beef casserole with orzo is also freezable. Store it in freezer friendly containers in the freezer for up to 3 months and thaw overnight.


  • What type of beef cut can I use for beef casserole? For beef casserole, you should get a slow roasted beef cut like beef brisket, shoulder, skirt or shin cut.

  • What type of spices to use for greek youvetsi? For the greek youvetsi casserole, I like to use some allspice kernels and bay leaves on top of salt and pepper. They really add to the flavor.

  • Is the beef and orzo pasta casserole suitable for a baby? Yes, it is suitable for babies from 6 months old if you don’t add any salt whilst it’s being cooked. The casserole is ideal for little ones as it has loads of protein, iron and vitamins from the vegetables.

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Giouvetsi - Beef and Orzo Pasta Casserole

This Greek giouvetsi casserole dish is what I consider a rich and hearty comfort food. It has everything! A combination of healthy vegetables with tender beef meat and small orzo pasta, all cooked together in a rich tomato sauce. A dish that the whole family will enjoy. Great for adults and for little children who are usually more difficult with eating veggies. Enjoy!
Category: Pasta Difficulty: Medium

5-6 servings

Prep time

10 minutes

Cooking time


  • 1.8lb / 800gr beef cut into cubes
  • 1 ½ cup / 250gr orzo pasta
  • 1 onion
  • 1 leek
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes or passata
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4-5 allspice kernels
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper



  • Heat around ½ cup of olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  • Cut the beef meat into cubes and add it to the pot. Brown the meat on all sides for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, allspice, salt, pepper and 1 pint/500ml of water.
  • Simmer for an hour. Check every now and then in case the water has evaporated and you need to add a little bit more.
  • In the meantime, prepare the vegetables. Cut the leek lengthwise in half and then coarsely cut each half into slices. Cut the mushrooms in half and then slices. Cut the carrots in slices or cubes.
  • After about an hour, when the meat is soft and tender, add the leek, carrot, mushrooms and garlic slices in. Add 1 cup of water and simmer for 30 more minutes.
  • Preheat your oven to 180°C / 350°F. Add the orzo pasta to the pot, stir a bit and transfer into an oven proof dish. Add 1 pint/500ml of water to the dish.
  • Cover the dish with kitchen foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the kitchen foil and bake for 5 more minutes or until the water has been absorbed.


- You could use precut beef or get a beef cut like brisket or shoulder and cut it yourself into 2cm cubes.
- If you can't find any allspice kernels then you could use one teaspoon of ground allspice.


You could store any leftover of this giouvetsi casserole in the fridge for the next day or freeze it for up to 2 months.

Nutrition Info (per serving)

Calories: 449kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 51g | Cholesterol: 133mg | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Fiber: 3g | Sodium: 134mg | Potassium: 476mg | Sugar: 7g

I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.

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This recipe is: dairy free, nut free, egg free, greek savoury
Recipe keywords: beef stew, beef with orzo pasta, beef casserole, giouvetsi, youvetsi, greek beef casserole, greek beef stew