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I love all curries, but there’s something truly special about this Japanese Beef Curry.

Think beefy goodness enveloped in a thick, slightly sweet, slightly savory, and slightly spicy sauce. And the meat? Incredibly silky soft it practically melts in your mouth – it’s like a symphony of flavors that’s just *chef’s kiss*.

If you think Japanese Beef Curry is a time-consuming task, let me share my method with you. With just 15 minutes of active cook time, you can enjoy this delightful dish without breaking a sweat.

To do so, we need 3 things: an Instant Pot, baking soda, and some multi-tasking!

Tips for making extra tender and savory beef curry

1. Use WHOLE chuck beef roast with extra marbling
Choose chuck roasts with extra marbling within the meat, not pockets of fat between meat pieces. If you can, get a USDA Choice chuck roast.

raw beef chuck roast with marbling with hand-drawn illustrations to describe the fat components

Avoid packages labeled ‘beef stew meat’; they usually contain less desirable tough cuts with minimal marbling and irregular shapes. When making curry, the smaller pieces fall apart, while larger ones remain tough. Not a great experience!

Opt for the whole steak and cut it into uniform, large pieces (I recommend 1.5 to 2 inches). This guarantees even cooking and eliminates having to fight over the best pieces!

2. Use A LOT more onions than you think
This recipe calls for 3 whole onions. I used medium onions for this recipe, but honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong with more onions. The onions disintegrate into the sauce completely, giving it a subtle sweetness and body.

How to make curry with only 15 minutes in the kitchen

1. Sear the beef whole on a cast iron skillet or carbon steel pan
Although I love the Instant Pot for breaking down tough cuts of meat in record time, I am not a fan of its searing ability (it takes forever). You might be tempted to turn this recipe into a one-pot recipe, but I don’t recommend it especially if time is of essence.

Instead, grab your skillet and crank up the heat to sear the beef. Another time-saving tip? Keep the beef steak whole when you sear. Sear both sides until you get a rich chocolate brown; you can ignore the edges.

Why, you ask?

We’re searing to achieve the Maillard reaction (those distinct complex flavors you often find in grilled meats) for flavor, not crispiness. You don’t need to sear every bit of it since it’s all going into the sauce. Focus on creating a rich browning on the largest surface areas instead.

2. While searing, caramelize the onions in the Instant Pot
Caramelizing onions is as mundane as watching paint dry, but they make too much of an impact on the final dish for me to skip it.

Although the IP is terrible at searing, it’s perfect for our onions because it prevents it from burning too quickly. Besides the occasional stirring, you can leave the onions to do their thing. Take this opportunity to focus on searing the beef instead.

Don’t worry if you’re not good a multi-tasking in the kitchen. I promise it’s quite hard to burn the onions given the volume we’re using here.

3. Use baking soda to break the onions down faster
Add a hint of baking soda (approximately 1/4 tsp) to the pot of onions. This accelerates the breakdown of onion walls, facilitating faster caramelization by allowing water to escape. This step takes around 10 minutes.

Once the onions are caramelized and the beef is seared, you’re ready for a convenient dump-and-go situation.

How to freeze leftovers for later

If you’re planning to freeze this curry for later, don’t use potatoes (not included in the recipe for this reason). But if you want to include potatoes, just eat them all before freezing. 😉

Pro tip: potatoes do not freeze well due to their high water content. Oftentimes, they disintegrate completely into the sauce.

To freeze, let the curry cool a bit, transfer to airtight containers (leave room for expansion), label, and date. Consume within 6 months.

For reheating, thaw in the refrigerator for at least 1 day (up to 2 days depending on portion size). Curry is best reheated on the stove over medium heat with a splash of water. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

If microwaving, use a splatter cover—the curry tends to pop!

Other ways to use Japanese beef curry

I don’t enjoy repeating meals much, but this curry is an exception—I could eat it for days (if it lasts that long)!

If you’re looking to spruce it up a bit, here are my top picks for repurposing leftover beef curry. They’re also great for using up the delicious curry sauce when the meat runs out!

1. Tonkatsu Curry: Pour leftover curry sauce over tonkatsu for a mouthwatering tonkatsu curry—my personal favorite and the main reason I whip up this curry. If you’re lucky to have some beef left, this dish is extra decadent with TWO kinds of meat!

Head over to this 2-day meal plan for the tonkatsu recipe (air fried). You can add this curry recipe into the mix and spruce it up into your own 4-day meal plan!

2. Curry Omurice: Grate some leftover curry roux powder and stir-fry it into your fried rice, top it with a buttery soft-cooked omelet, and pour your curry sauce over it. Look out for the recipe soon!

Print Recipe
4.34 from 3 votes

Easy Instant Pot Japanese Beef Curry

Tender melt-in-your-mouth beef coated in a slightly sweet, slightly savory, and slightly spicy luscious curry sauce. Make this recipe in half the time than its traditional counterpart!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Pressure Cook Time50 minutes
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Curry, Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: comfort food, freezer-friendly recipes, instant pot
Servings: 8
Calories: 577kcal


  • Instant Pot
  • Skillet


  • 2 lb well-marbled beef chuck steak excess fat trimmed
  • 3 medium onions thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1.25 lb carrots cut into even bite-sized pieces
  • 4 oz cremini mushrooms sliced
  • 1 cup red wine or beef stock/water for non-alcoholic
  • 1.5 cups low sodium beef stock
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda optional
  • Salt and pepper

Curry Seasoning:

  • 4 cubes Japanese curry roux chopped or grated
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper optional
  • 1 tsp Hershey’s dark cocoa powder


Heat the Instant Pot and Skillet:

  • Heat the Instant Pot (IP) on high in sauté mode with butter. Simultaneously, heat a skillet on the stove over high heat.

Sauté Onions and Sear Steak:

  • Sauté onions in the IP with 1/4 tsp salt and pepper and 1/4 tsp baking soda until softened (about 10 mins). Meanwhile, pat dry and season the chuck steak with 1 tsp kosher salt and pepper. In the hot skillet, add 2 tbsp oil, sear each side until brown (2-3 mins per side). As you wait, toss onions occasionally to prevent burning.

Resting the Steak and Deglazing:

  • Transfer the seared steak to a cutting board and rest for 2 mins. Deglaze onions in the Instant Pot with 1 cup red wine (or water). Slice the rested steak into 1.5-inch cubes as alcohol evaporates.

Pressure Cook:

  • Push onions to the sides, add minced garlic, sauté for 30 seconds. Add beef cubes and its juices, 1.5 cups low sodium beef stock, 2 large bay leaves. Close lid, cook on "High" pressure for 20 mins, followed by a 10-min Natural Release.
  • After 10 mins, Quick Release. Add curry seasonings, carrots, and mushrooms in layers. Do NOT stir. Close the lid, cook on high pressure for 1 min, followed by a 5-min Natural Release.
  • Quick release any remaining pressure, set Instant Pot to “sauté” mode. Stir gently to combine the roux and thicken the sauce into a stew-like consistency. Adjust flavors if needed. Serve hot over rice!


You can freeze leftover beef stock for up to 6 months. Thaw it in the fridge before use.
If you prefer a curry with a thicker consistency, allow it to reduce for 5-10 minutes on sauté mode (medium/normal heat).
A note on potatoes and freezing: If you decide to add potatoes, cut them into small chunks and layer them in this order: seasoning, potatoes, carrots, and then mushrooms. Ideally, the potatoes should be partially submerged. You may also need to add an additional 1 cup of stock to balance the starch from the potatoes, which can act as a thickening agent. Please note that potatoes do not freeze well.


Calories: 577kcal