Nikujaga (Japanese meat and potato stew)

Nikujaga literally translated is meat and potatoes. And this is one version you can make with dashi. There are all kinds of variations on nikujaga since it’s a popular comfort food. Like any stew or long simmered food, it will taste even better the next day. The best part about this aside from the flavor? All the ingredients are easy to find. Have you tried making nikujaga yet?

Nikujaga (肉じゃが)

Nikujaga is an extremely easy comfort food to make.

It could also be a top contender as the most popular Japanese dishes that contains meat. Aside from, sukiyaki and shabu shabu, similar meat preparations with a broth.

Best made during cold weather (winter), but can be enjoyed any time of the year.

I dunno maybe it’s just me…

But I also like to eat this and other hot things in the middle of summer every now and then. Do you?

This dish will give you a good dose of umami in each bite as the sauce contains a dashi based broth.

If you read my dashi post, you may remember that dashi packs lots of umami compounds that enhance the flavor of food. Naturally! 

As such, I use it for nikujaga.

Nikujaga also gets flavor from soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar.

All you have to do is go ahhh.

Ready to learn more?


How do you make nikujaga?

It’s easy! Keep reading if you like easy!

Essentially all you need to do are chop your vegetables, cook your meat, cook your vegetables, and add in the sauce.

Some recipes use dashi while others don’t.

The nikujaga without dashi has a slightly different flavor.

That’s probably as far as I’ll go trying to explain that since words can’t do it justice.

You just have to try it.

If you haven’t made nikujaga before, using dashi will give you a good base with which you can compare other variations!

In this version, we used the niban (number 2) dashi that we learned how to make a few weeks ago.

If you don’t want to make your dashi from scratch you can also use dashi packs.

What you need to add next are the soy sauce, sugar and mirin or sake!

Add in those tasty ingredients and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, you’ll notice your kitchen will begin to smell like edible magic.


mmmm sounds tasty… What can you put in nikujaga?

If you haven’t made this before, the main ingredients are the meat, onions, and potatoes.

For the meat, you can use pork or beef.

If you can’t find either thinly sliced, just slice whatever you can as thinly as possible.

But you don’t need a lot, it’s not meant to be a meaty dish.

The best part about this nikujaga, in my opinion, are the onions! What’s yours?!

The onions soak up the flavor from the broth like a sponge and literally melt in your mouth.

They are sooo good!

As for other vegetables, you could add carrots, green beans or peas.

Shirataki noodles (made from konnyaku) can also be added.

Though I like shirataki, I feel like it adds too much filler and don’t usually add it in.

Especially since you always eat this with rice, the potatoes are sufficient!

But that’s probably about it, at least for a classic nikujaga.


Aside from the above, not sure you’d really want to add any more.

It’s not meant to be a complex dish with multiple layers of flavors.

It’s simple Japanese comfort food at it’s best.


Tips for cooking nikujaga:

  1. brown your meat for additional flavor. Browning is the result of the Maillard-reaction and makes things delicious
  2. microwave your potatoes to make them cook faster
  3. double the recipe as it tastes even better the next day as the broth soaks further into the meat and potatoes
  4. allow the liquid to reduce if you like stronger flavors with a less soupy base (I like it soupy so I don’t reduce much)


Here’s a video I put together explaining how to make it-



Any comments or questions? Let me know below and enjoy!



Print Recipe
Nikujaga (Japanese meat and potato stew) BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list Yum
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Japanese
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
For the soup base
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Japanese
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
For the soup base
  1. First measure out all your soup base ingredients
  2. Next microwave potatoes for 3-5 minutes in microwave until cooked through (pierce with chopstick). Then cut up the potatoes into 1/2 in. cubes and set aside.
  3. Slice the onions about 1/2 in thick or thinner as you like and set aside.
  4. Using a large dutch oven add some olive oil and brown the meat.
  5. As the meat has finished browning add in the onions and cook until they are half the volume.
  6. Next add in all of the sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer.
  7. Cover with lid and leave open slightly, simmer for at least 30 minutes,
  8. Serve with rice and shichimi pepper, chopped green onions and rice!

Yo! I'm Pat, a self-taught cook, indoor gardener, and world traveler. Here I share my knowledge of Japanese cooking, indoor gardening, and points travel.

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