Beef Rendang Recipe (How to make authentic Indonesian Rendang)

Do you know what the world’s best foods are? Sushi, beef rendang or lasagne? You probably thought you knew, but most likely you don’t.

If you chose rendang, congratulations!  Based on 35,000 votes, the world’s most delicious food is rendang from West Sumatra, Indonesia.

CNN scoured the planet to create the list of 50 most delicious foods in 2011, and rendang took the top position on the list.

Introducing the best rendang- rendang minang from Sumatra

Beef rendang is one of the original cuisines of Minangkabau descent and Sumatra’s culture. It is served at special occasions to honor guests and during festive seasons. It is a delicious Indonesian dish prepared with a myriad of herbs and spices cooking for a few hours until all the liquids have been completely absorbed by the meat. Beef rendang is best eaten with steamed rice and condiments such as fried onions and chili pieces.

Here is the good news.  You do not need to travel to Sumatra of Indonesia. You can just recreate the world’s best food at home by following this beef rendang recipe.

This recipe is the authentic beef rendang recipe from the native land of Rendang in Minangkabau, tested in my kitchen based on several original recipes written in Bahasa Indonesia (the Indonesian language).

Beef rendang 4

(step by step instruction with photos)


Step 1: Cut the beef

Cut the beef into 4 cm squares, half cm thick. Do not cut the beef too small as the meat can break into smaller pieces during cooking.


Step 2: Blend the spice

Blend all the ingredients in (B), set the blend aside.


Step 3: Bash the lemongrass

Remove the green section and the outer sheath of the lemongrass. Use only the white portion. Bash them so that the lemongrass to ensure the release of the flavor.


Step 4: Saute the spice

Heat up the vegetable oil in a wok. Saute the spice paste (B) over low heat until aromatic.


Step 5: Add the coconut milk

Add the coconut milk and lemongrass into the wok.


Step 6: Add the beef

Add the beef and cook over medium heat. Bring the coconut milk to a boil.


Step 7: Simmer the beef

Once it is boiled, continue simmer over low heat. Add water from time to time when the stew is about to dry.


Step 8: Cook until tender and turns into dark brown

Cook until the beef absorbs the flavor of the spices thoroughly and the color turns to dark brown. It will take about three hours.


Watch this video (6.03 minutes)

Beef Rendang Minang recipe

4.2 from 5 reviews
Beef Rendang Recipe
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Indonesian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2.5kg
Authentic Indonesian dry rendang.
  • beef rendang recipe
Ingredients (A)
Ingredients (B)- to blend
  • 4 candlenuts
  • 12 cloves of garlic
  • 300 g of red chili
  • 250g of onions,
  • 50g of ginger
  • 50g of galangal
  • 50g of fresh turmeric (or 25g of turmeric powder)
  • 1½ tsp of coriander
  • 1 tbsp (15g) of salt
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 4 green cardamoms
  • 11/2 tsp of cumin
  • 10 cloves
Ingredients (C)- Seasonings and Spices
  • 4 stalks of bashed lemongrass
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 piece of asam keping
  • 2 turmeric leaves, tied up
  1. Cut the beef into 4 cm squares, half cm thick. Do not cut the beef too small as the meat can break into smaller pieces during cooking.
  2. Blend all the ingredients in (B), set the blend aside.
  3. Remove the green section and the outer sheath of the lemongrass. Use only the white portion. Bash them so that the lemongrass to ensure the release of the flavor.
  4. Heat up the vegetable oil in a wok. Saute the spice paste (B) over low heat until aromatic.
  5. Add the coconut cream, turmeric leaves, kaffir lime leaves, asam keping and lemongrass into the wok.
  6. Add the beef and cook over medium heat. Bring the coconut milk to a boil.
  7. Once it is boiled, continue simmer over low heat. Add water from time to time when the stew is about to dry.
  8. Cook until the beef absorbs the flavor of the spices thoroughly and the color turns to dark brown. It will take about three hours.
  9. Served with rice or bread.
Note: Since not everyone tolerates the same level of hotness of chili, please reduce the amount and remove the seeds of the chilies if you are not used to spicy food.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2500g Calories: 2500 Fat: 330g Carbohydrates: 360g Sugar: 160g Sodium: 7g Protein: 360g Cholesterol: 890mg

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post.


2 types of superior rendang recipe with terrific flavor

There are two types of beef rendang, depending on how much water content is in the dish.

Dried beef rendang

According to Minangkabau (hence the name Minang rendang) tradition, their authentic beef rendang should be dry. Beef rendang is carefully stirred, simmered and cooked for three to four hours until the coconut milk has totally evaporated and the meat has absorbed the flavor of the herbs and spices. Dried rendang can be stored at room temperature for three to four weeks.  It can even last up to six  months if frozen.

Moist beef rendang (kalio)

Moist beef rendang is cooked much shorter than dry beef rendang.  The cooking process ends when the coconut milk becomes a thick gravy of the rendang.  Moist rendang is more popular in the neighboring countries- Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and southern Thailand. One of the exceptions is rendang Tok found in the state of Perak, Malaysia, which is dry.  Most rendang served in the western countries is moist rendang, compared to its original Minang counterpart.

Malaysian rendang is normally cooked for shorter periods and added with kerisik (toasted grated coconut) to thicken the gravy.  I have written another recipe for the Malaysian rendang which is included in the recipe compilation in my eBook.

Beef rendang 7


How to prepare the best beef rendang (12 helpful tips)

It is quite easy to cook rendang Minang, but pay attention to some finer points below in order to successfully cook the most delicious food in the world.

  • Sirloin is the choice for a more tender rendang, but topside is good to use since the beef is stewed for about four hours.  You can stew the meat longer by adding water until the beef is tender enough. I used the topside in this recipe and it turned out perfectly.
  • Blend the spice with an electric blender.  You do not need to add water as the chilies and onions have sufficient water content for blending.  Furthermore, it will take longer to saute the spice paste if water is added.
  • Saute the spice paste with vegetable oil on low heat until it turns fragrant.   Add coconut milk and stir frequently.  The spice paste can scorch easily if left unattended.
  • Most Asians use a wok to cook rendang.  This is because the beef is cooked by the coconut milk at the bottom of the wok which is spherical.  Alternatively try to find a pan with a curved bottom to cook rendang if you do not have a wok.
  • Cut the beef across the grain by using the sharpest knife you have.  If it is too soft, place it back in the freezer until it gets firmer.  Since the beef will be cooked for about four hours, the size should be not smaller than 2 cm cubes.  Otherwise, the meat will easily break into smaller pieces.
  • There is an easy way to peel the ginger and turmeric which I explained in another post.
  • I normally prefer to remove the seeds of the red chili to reduce the hotness.  Rendang is not very hot and spicy, but you can always alter the amount of chili to taste.
  • It is best to use freshly pressed coconut milk.  If it is not available, you can use canned or carton packed coconut milk.  Once opened, coconut milk should be kept in the chiller at all times.  You can also divide the coconut milk into smaller portions and keep them frozen.  Fresh coconut milk can be kept for much longer if frozen.  I have used frozen coconut milk for making rendang and it is as good as the freshly pressed one after a month.
  • Substitute the fresh coriander seeds, turmeric and cumin with ground powder  if you prefer. It will not make a huge difference to the final taste.
  • Use only the pale yellow bulbous bottom part of the lemongrass. The greenish upper part of the stalk has less flavor and should be discarded. Bashing the lemongrass before adding it to the coconut milk will help release the aromatic flavor of the lemongrass into the rendang.
  • Assam keping (also called assam kandis / gelugur in Indonesia) is available in dry pieces and is extremely sour.  You can use tamarind (assam jawa) as a replacement since it is quite similar.  However, the authenticity of rendang is lost if you substitute it with other souring agents such as lemon or vinegar. You can omit it if assam if unavailable. Some original rendang recipes from Indonesia do not include assam.  Be careful not to add too much assam as rendang is not supposed to be a sour dish.
  • Turmeric leaves are another ingredient that is not available in certain parts of the world.  If you are unable to get turmeric leaves, use two more kaffir lime leaves.


Beef rendang 6

8 bonus tips to get the best result for the beef rendang

The proccess of cooking rendang is simple.  The following tips will be useful to guide you through the process if you are to cook rendang for the first time.

  • Start with sauteing the spice paste with oil on low heat.  The purpose of this step is to lightly fry the spices until they become aromatic.  Constantly stir the spice paste as it can get scorched easily.  You may want to add oil for easy sauteing and remove the excess oil during stewing.  Stop sauteing when it turns aromatic or if the oil separates from the spice.
  • Once the coconut milk reaches boiling point, reduce heat to minimum.
  • Be patient when preparing rendang.  The long cooking time will enable the flavor of the coconut milk and spices to be fully absorbed into the beef.
  • After one to two hours of continuous cooking, the liquid will turn into a thick gravy.  If you are preparing moist rendang, stop at this stage.
  • Since this is the dry beef rendang recipe, the cooking process should be continued until the liquid has totally evaporated.  This will take about four hours. Add water if it becomes too dry before the end of four hours.  The authentic Minang rendang  is dry, as opposed to the moist beef rendang more popular in Malaysia, Singapore, and the western countries.
  • The liquid will eventually fully evaporate and completely caramelize.  The beef will cook continuously in the remaining oil and absorb all the flavor of the spices.
  • The color of the meat will gradually turn darker  and eventually become dark brown at the end or four hours. The flavor of the spices and coconut is fully fused with the beef now.  You can finally enjoy the flavor of the authentic beef rendang Minang.
  • You can garnish rendang with turmeric leaves cut into thin strips, red chillies and kaffir lime leaves.

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Beef Rendang Recipe (How to make authentic Indonesian Rendang) was last modified: November 3rd, 2017 by KP Kwan


  • Chester Mak

    Reply Reply April 15, 2016

    Wow, what a detailed recipe with tips too. I am excited to make your rendang. It looks GREAT! Thank you!

    • kwankp

      Reply Reply April 15, 2016

      Hi Chester,
      Thanks for your interest in rendang. Hope my tips helps.
      KP Kwan

  • Hebergeur

    Reply Reply June 6, 2016

    This is one of my all-time favorite Malaysian dishes, yet I ve never tried to make it. But the lemongrass in my herb garden is ready to be harvested, and here is your recipe I think the universe is trying to tell me that it s time to make beef rendang!

  • Hasbel Zainuddin

    Reply Reply June 8, 2016

    The rendang looks so delicious!
    I have always wanted to have the minang rendang recipe.
    Thanks a lot Kwankp and also thanks for the tips. They are
    a great help.
    I will try making it.

    • KP Kwan

      Reply Reply June 8, 2016

      You are welcome Hasbel. Hope my post help you to make a great rendang.

  • David

    Reply Reply August 2, 2016


    I,pm trying to find an ingredient I had in a ineonesan restraunt. It was in a beef randang and it’s got a similar texture to a fresh olive, it’s dark black and had an almost mild but salt caper like taste. Any ideas?

    • KP Kwan

      Reply Reply August 2, 2016

      I am not sure whether that is buah keluak, based on your description. It is used in certain types of Indonesian dishes such as rawon and rendang.

  • Joanie Ning

    Reply Reply September 1, 2016

    Hi Kwan.

    Your blog is very informative. I was looking up the net for the most suitable type of beef to use for Rendang and you mentioned to use topside?.
    I am residing in Australia, fresh coconut milk is not available here in Queensland. Having no choice, I have to opt for coconut cream.
    Our Malaysian herbs are costly here too!
    I am planning to cook 3kgs of Rendang next week as my mom and Aussie friends have been asking for it.
    Thanks for all the tips here.


    • KP Kwan

      Reply Reply September 1, 2016

      Dear Joanie,
      Thanks for dropping by my blog.
      I use topside, mainly due to the price factor. Australian beef is definitely of better quality (and comparatively cheaper). I suggest use sirloin and shorten the time of stewing.
      It is hard to get fresh coconut milk so you may have to settle with the can or package coconut milk.
      KP Kwan

  • Francis

    Reply Reply November 14, 2016

    Hi Kwan,

    Thanks for the detailed receipe. Was wondering if the cut of beef can be substituted with brisket or ox tail instead? Also, where can i buy tumeric leaves?


    • KP Kwan

      Reply Reply November 14, 2016

      Traditional Indonesian used sirloin for best result, but can be substituted with other cuts for cost reason. Beef rendang is a boneless cuisine, so I suggest you use the oxtail for other recipes.

      I can understand turmeric leaves is hard to find. Over here it is sold in the wet market. If it is not available, keep it simple and omit the leaves.

  • liliantiro

    Reply Reply December 12, 2016

    Hi, what other kind of beef cut can I use aside from topside? I prepared rendang using boneless beef blade for pot roast but the meat broke into pieces. I used crabapple as a souring agent.

    • KP Kwan

      Reply Reply December 12, 2016

      Sirloin and rump are both suitable alternatives to prepare rendang.

  • Sylvia

    Reply Reply February 5, 2017

    Hi KP,

    I will try your recipe next round. It is by far the most informative recipe I came across. Thank you very much. I have some questions and hope you can help.

    1. Do I close the lid when I am cooking the meat?

    2. I have cooked Rendang many times but last night was the only time the meat became a little dry. The only different thing I did was I cut the meat pieces into a smaller size. Could this be the reason? The meat did not break too much into smaller pieces because I turn them very gently.

    I would like to point out that your PDF step 1 and 3 are reversed, but I definitely think you are very kind to share the recipe in such a step by step detail instruction.

    I will rate the recipe after I try it next round.

    Thank you and hope to hear from you soon.

    Sylvia Lian Brand

    • KP Kwan

      Reply Reply February 5, 2017

      Dear Sylvia,

      Thanks for reading my post and recipe, and pointing out the mistake in the arrangement of the PDF file.

      I would like to share my experience with you of what I have done. I have tried to cook it with the lid on and open it throughout the process. There is no noticeable difference in the final result.

      I do try to reduce to heat to the minimum through the cooking, as close as to just below the boiling point of water. I find the meat tend to be more tender when I turn up the heat. Small size usually is not the main problem in my opinion.

      Also, if you use turmeric powder, reduce the quantity in the recipe by half. The quantity in the recipe is for fresh turmeric root.

      Hope this is useful and looking forward to knowing the result.

      KP Kwan

  • Ken

    Reply Reply April 29, 2017

    Hello. Looks like a fantastic recipe!

    One question: are the kaffir lime leaves, assam keping, and turmeric leaves only used for garnish? Although you list them in the ingredients, you don’t mention them again in the recipe instructions. I’m just wondering. Thanks so much!

    • KP Kwan

      Reply Reply April 29, 2017

      Hi Ken,

      Asam keeping is for sourness (much like using vinegar of lemon for other dishes), whereas both turmeric leaves and kaffir lime leaves are for flavors.
      I miss out the instruction which has been added to the recipe accordingly.

      Thanks for pointing out the confusion.

      KP Kwan

  • S O Chang

    Reply Reply June 5, 2017

    Hi KP Kwan,

    Really tempting recipe for beef rendang. Will try out when I find the time. Just to highlight to you regarding your pictures in Step 1 and 3 in the PDF file. They do not correspond to the steps you indicated.

  • Nadine

    Reply Reply October 13, 2017

    Hi KP Kwan,
    Just wondering in this whole cooking process, do we cover the rendang with a lid? so do we cook it for hours open without covering with a lid?
    thank you so much for this amazing and detailed recipe. So, so Appreciated!
    hope to hear from you
    Kind regards

    • KP Kwan

      Reply Reply October 13, 2017

      Hi Nadine,

      I did try both ways (cove and uncover) to cook beef rendang. I find that both yield the same result.
      Personally, I like not to cover it. I can see what is happening and if I need to add water to prevent it from getting burned at the bottom. I also like to stir and flip from time to time so that the meat is cooked evenly.
      If you cover it with a lid, then you need much less water, and perhaps do not need at all. It is great to do that if you have a transparent (glass) lid.
      No matter which way I use, I will not add water for the last 15 minutes. Just let it cook over very low heat until it is dry. After all, this is a dry beef recipe.


      KP Kwan

  • Jen

    Reply Reply October 19, 2017

    Hi KP Kwan,

    Thank you for the detailed recipe:) I find your video is very useful, I can always check if I am on the right track! I tried your recipe and absolutely love it. I used Tamarind concentrate (2 tsp) as I can’t find assam keping, will I get the same end result? Thank you.


    • KP Kwan

      Reply Reply October 19, 2017

      Hi Jen,
      Use can use that as the substitute. Assam keping (or assam gelugor) is a different type of plant from Tamarind paste (assam Jawa), but both are similar.
      Assam adds a tinge of sourish note to the rendang, which is nice.
      I am glad that the beef rendang recipe works and hope you enjoy it.

      KP Kwan

  • beverley

    Reply Reply November 3, 2017

    I don;t know if the people who have cooked this and given it a 5* star rating have any taste buds.

    This was foul. I only had 45 grammes of chillis not the 250g stated and it was searingly hot and inedible. There is also far far too mush turmeric in this recipe.

    All in 4 hours of a day wasted for a disgusting curry

    • KP Kwan

      Reply Reply November 3, 2017

      Hi Beverley,

      Thanks for your comments, and sorry that you are not used to taking food that is too hot. You have highlighted a point that we overlook, i.e., not everyone can accept the same level of hot and spiciness.

      The amount of chili in the recipe is the typical amount used in Indonesia. We suggest to remove the seeds and reduced the chilies for anyone do not wish the rendang to be too hot.

      As for the turmeric, you can substitute fresh turmeric with turmeric powder, and reduce the amount to just half.

      I have just added the above information in the recipe so that it will not happen to other readers in future.

      Thanks very much.

      KP Kwan

  • Yong

    Reply Reply November 28, 2017

    Brilliant recipe and well explained with pictures. Tried it yesterday and came out very authentic indeed. Made using 2.5 kg of skirt steak. It was perfect.

    • KP Kwan

      Reply Reply November 28, 2017

      Hi Yong,
      Thank you for trying the Indonesian Rendang recipe and feel happy that it turned out well.

      You may want to try some of my other recipes and let me know your feedback.


      KP Kwan

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