Go Back
+ servings
Guatemalan hilachas shredded beef stew in a yellow bowl.


Hilachas is a traditional Guatemalan stew featuring shredded beef simmered in a lightly-spiced tomato sauce with tender potatoes. This delicious dish is famous throughout Guatemala and, like most comfort foods, takes time to prepare. But it's totally worth the effort!   
Course Main Course
Cuisine Guatemalan
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 284kcal
Author Michele Peterson
Cost $25


  • blender
  • Dutch Oven
  • Stock pot
  • Sieve


  • 2 pounds flank steak in one piece or skirt, hangar or flat iron steak
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 onion sliced
  • 5 Roma tomatoes - very ripe and sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper stem removed, seeded and sliced
  • 1 dried chile guaque or guajillo - seeds and stem removed
  • 1 cup potato cut into two-inch pieces - cooked separately but still firm
  • 5 fresh thyme divided reserve some for garnish
  • 1 corn tortilla or piece of French Bread toasted optional
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste


  • Combine the beef in water with the salt, bay leaves and two cloves of garlic. Bring to a quick boil, cover and then simmer for 1.5 hours or until tender. Be sure the beef is covered by water while cooking.
  • Remove meat from the water, reserving the broth and garlic, allowing the meat to cool slightly on a cutting board. Discard the bay leaves.
  • Cut the steak in half lengthwise and then using two forks (or your fingers) shred each half into small “threads” about three inches long.
  • Combine the sliced tomatoes, onion, reserved garlic, red bell pepper, chile guaque and three cups of broth in a saucepan
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Transfer tomato mixture to a food processor or blender. Blend until a smooth consistency is reached. You may need to do this in batches.
  • Add vegetable oil to a Dutch oven (or large saucepan) and heat to medium high.
  • Strain the tomato puree into the vegetable oil, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes with two sprigs of thyme until slightly thickened. If sauce is too thick, add more broth or if too thin, add a puree of toasted tortilla (or French bread) and broth.
  • While the sauce is simmering, peel and slice the potatoes into pieces two inches long and ½ inch thick. Parboil separately in water until soft but still firm.
  • When the sauce has thickened, remove the sprigs of thyme, add the parboiled potatoes and shredded beef.
  • Simmer for 10 minutes until potatoes are tender and sauce is thickened. Add fresh ground pepper and adjust salt to taste.
  • Garnish with sprigs of thyme and serve immediately in bowls or on a plate with a mound of white rice, slice of avocado and fresh corn tortilla.


  • Although usually served with white rice, slices of avocado and fresh handmade corn tortillas, hilachas can also be enjoyed tucked inside a soft tortilla.
  • Dried guaque peppers should be dry but still pliable. If the guaque pepper you have is very dry and brittle, you may need to rehydrate it in hot water for 30 minutes before using.  
  • This stew is mildly spicy, so if you'd like more heat, serve it with a hot sauce like Marie Sharpe's Habanero Sauce, Guatemalan Picamas or a homemade salsa. 
  • If you'd like to add fresh green beans or chayote, cook them separately and add to the stew along with the potatoes.  
  • Freeze hilachas for up to 3 months. It will thicken so you'll need to add more water when reheating. I recommend cooking and adding the potatoes at the time you reheat it. Potatoes get soggy and grainy when frozen. 
Nutritional information is created by online calculators and figures are only estimates.


Calories: 284kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 91mg | Sodium: 488mg | Potassium: 848mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 938IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 3mg