Serbian bean stew recipe – easy, affordable and delicious!

Prep time 2-3 hours
Difficulty Easy

Many people think that a bean stew is hard to prepare, but actually it’s a piece of cake!

This is my favorite recipe and I stick with it because it’s delicious, practically prepares itself and feeds up to 10 people for less than €10 (in Serbia).

What you do need is plenty of time, because depending on how old the beans are, it should be cooking for 2-4 hours (the older they are, the more time they need to get softer).

Wash the beans and leave in water overnight so they get thicker and softer. In case you can’t or forget to do this, no worries, just repeat step 1. (below) one more time.


  • 1 kg white beans
  • 1 kg smoked meat (knee, ribs, bacon or combination). Don’t forget to ask your butcher to cut it in half so you can place it in the cauldron. Some people prefer sausage instead of smoked meat. 😉
  • 1 big onion, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5-6 peppercorns
  • Salt to taste
  • Zaprška (Roux):
    • 2-3 tbsp oil (I use regular, but if you prefer olive, that shouldn’t be a problem)
    • 1 tbsp white flour
    • 3 cloves garlic
    • 1 tsp cayenne pepper


  1. Put the beans in a pot, add water to cover every bean, bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Then pour off that water and add a new one. Adding a teaspoon of baking soda in this step will make your bean stew more “environmentally friendly” (won’t produce too much gasses).
  2. When the new water boils again, reduce the fire to the minimum while it keeps boiling, add minced onion, meat, peppercorns and bay leaf.
  3. Cook until the beans become tender (2-3 hours), occasionally adding water. When done, try it and add salt if necessary.
  4. Zaprška (roux): Mince the garlic. Pour the oil in the skillet, add the flour and stir until light brown. Add the garlic and cayenne and stir for about a minute more, until the garlic gets a golden color.
  5. Pour the zaprška into the bean stew and cook for another 5-10 minutes.

Tools needed

  • Large kitchen pot
  • Skillet
  • Wooden spoon

Serve with

In Serbia, the bean stew is usually served with coleslaw (sweet or pickled cabbage salad), fresh onion or roasted paprika salad. In Spain, on the other hand, a similar bean stew is served with boiled rice, a meal called Moros y Cristianos, so depending on your taste, you can try some of these variations, or suggest your own in the comments below!


Posted on: 06.11.2014. / Last edited on: 22.12.2023.