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Dendeng Age - Spiced Ground Beef

Indonesian dendeng age is ground beef cooked with plenty of spices, palm sugar, and kecap manis. This sweet and spicy beef is the perfect side for nasi gurih or steamed rice.

Dendeng age is Indonesian spiced ground beef that is super handy to have. We enjoy this easy to cook ground beef as topping for nasi gurih, though regular steamed rice can be used too. If you wish, you can even eat it with noodles or pasta. :)

Ingredients to prepare Indonesian dendeng age (spiced ground beef).
Ingredients to prepare Indonesian dendeng age (spiced ground beef).

What is dendeng?

Dendeng is basically Indonesian beef jerky, typically made from thinly sliced meat cooked with a mixture of spices and sugar. The most popular version of Indonesian dendeng is dendeng balado from Padang cuisine, which is super spicy as with typical Padang dishes. Dendeng age, on the other hand, originates from East Java and is mainly sweet. You can still make it a bit spicy by adding a couple of bird-eye chilies if you wish, though keeping it free of chilies means almost everyone can enjoy this dendeng. :)

Ingredients to prepare Indonesian dendeng age (spiced ground beef).
Ingredients to prepare Indonesian dendeng age (spiced ground beef).

What do I need to cook Indonesian dendeng age?

To make dendeng age, you will need:

  • ground beef, though you can use thinly sliced beef too for a more traditional approach
  • daun salam (Indonesian bay leaves), omit this if you don’t have them and don’t substitute with regular bay leaves
  • kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)
  • palm sugar, or substitute with dark brown sugar
  • salt
  • tamarind
  • coconut milk
  • water
  • kaffir lime leaves
  • shallots
  • garlic
  • galangal
  • coriander powder
  • cumin powder

Once you have all the above ingredients, we can start cooking our dendeng age, like so:

  1. Prepare a spice paste by grinding together shallots, garlic, galangal, coriander, and cumin.
  2. Heat oil in a wok/frying pan over medium-high heat. Sauté spice paste and daun salam (if using) until fragrant. About 5 minutes.
  3. Add ground beef (or thinly sliced beef), cook until no longer pink.
  4. Season with kecap manis, palm sugar, salt, and tamarind juice. Mix well.
  5. Add coconut milk and water, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the sauce is completely absorbed by the meat and quite dry. Towards the end, you may need to stir quite often to prevent the meat from sticky to the wok/frying pan.

And our dendeng age is done!

Indonesian dendeng age - spiced ground beef.
Indonesian dendeng age - spiced ground beef.

What do I serve with dendeng age?

Dendeng age is enjoyed mainly as topping/side dish for steamed white rice, especially nasi gurih, alongside even more dishes to make a complete Indonesian rice set, such as:

Most people prepare dendeng age ahead of time and let it age for 2-3 days since the flavor improves with time. I usually store my dendeng age in an airtight container in the fridge and simply reheat the amount that I wish to eat with my steamed rice as needed.

Indonesian dendeng age - spiced ground beef.
Indonesian dendeng age - spiced ground beef.

Dendeng Age - Spiced Ground Beef

4.9 from 16 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson




Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour 15 mins

Serves: 4

Print Recipe


  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 2 salam leaves (Indonesian: Indonesian bay leaves), omit if you don't have these
  • 1 lb (450 gram) ground beef, or thinly sliced beef
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon sweet soy sauce (Indonesian: kecap manis)
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar (Indonesian: gula Jawa), or dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • tamarind juice (from 1/2 tablespoon tamarind + 1 1/2 tablespoon hot water), mix, massage, and strained
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves (Indonesian: daun jeruk), remove the ribs and cut into thin slivers
  • Grind the following into spice paste
  • 75 gram shallot (Indonesian: bawang merah)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch galangal (Indonesian: lengkuas), bruised
  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander powder (Indonesian: bubuk ketumbar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder (Indonesian: bubuk jinten)


  1. Heat oil in a wok/frying pan on medium-high heat, sauté spice paste and salam leaves until fragrant. About 5 minutes.
  2. Add ground beef, cook until no longer pink.
  3. Season with sweet soy sauce, palm sugar, salt, and tamarind juice. Mix well.
  4. Pour in the coconut milk and water. Mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until all the sauce has been absorbed by the meat. Stir occasionally to prevent the meat from sticking to the wok/pan.
  5. Add kaffir lime leaves slivers and toss to mix. Turn off the heat and transfer to a serving plate. Set aside to cool.
  6. Dendeng age is usually served warm or at room temperature. It is best if you can let this age for 2-3 days to let the flavor develops. Simply store the cooled dendeng in an airtight container in the fridge, and reheat the amount you wish to eat as needed.
Indonesian Pantry
Indonesian Kitchen


  • John John says:

    Lovely Recipe. Could not find Palm sugar but used cane sugar instead and was still amazing. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Anita Anita says:

      You are welcome John.

  • stuart macaulay stuart macaulay says:

    is this a traditional indonesiaan recipe anita. My wife n i have started a indonesian catering business n like this recipe

    • Anita Anita says:

      Yes, it is one of Indonesian traditional recipes, specifically from the island of Java. I wish you and your wife the best for your Indonesian catering business.

  • Silvia Silvia says:

    Delicious & easy to make! It’s a hit with my family!

  • Shadi Hasanzadenemati Shadi Hasanzadenemati says:

    I tried your recipe last night and loved it! Can't wait to make it again!

  • Erika Erika says:

    This is one of the most delicious and flavorful beef dishes I've ever had, yum!

  • Andrea Metlika Andrea Metlika says:

    So flavorful and easy to make. My family will loves this.

  • Irina Irina says:

    I am thinking of making this dendeng age tonight with serve with pasta. Thanks for sharing. Sounds delicious!:)

    • Anita Anita says:

      It's not traditional, but I've done this myself, Irina. This goes surprisingly really well with pasta. :)

  • Noelle Noelle says:

    Oh wow, delicious recipe. Love the flavors of this beef! Can't wait to make it again.

  • Milky Milky says:

    This is a very convenient meat topping, perfect for lunchboxes and the potent flavor makes it stand up well as a leftover. I was a little afraid of how much oil was in the pan (I figure it was from the coconut milk) but it didn't make it as heavy or greasy as I expected. It was pretty tasty right out of the pan, but day 2 was great with the kefir lime leaf bits really getting their time to shine. Definitely great with steamed rice.

    I made a half-portion since I only had that much beef and it fit in a small skillet. I didn't time it, but it was definitely a long cooking time (at least an hour). But! It's very low-maintenance so once it was at the simmering stage, I cooked other stuff, cleaned up the kitchen, messed with my phone, etc., and just poked it once in a while until it was dry, hahaha.

  • Lany Susanto Lany Susanto says:

  • Hallie Hallie says:

    My husband and I both love this recipe so much! The beef is full of flavour! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe with us ! We’re very thankful.

  • Beth Beth says:

    This looks so delicious. I love all of the bold flavors. Can't wait to try it.

  • Holley Holley says:

    This beef dish is amazing! Great recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  • Emily Emily says:

    The spicy and sweet flavors are delicious! We really enjoyed this with rice, thank you for the recipe!

  • Beth Sachs Beth Sachs says:

    We all loved this sweet and spicy beef, even my fussy 12 year old. Delicious with rice and stir-fried veggies.

  • Rachel Rachel says:

    Wow this recipe is so flavorful! Tamarind is one of my all time favorite ingredients so I knew this was a hit as soon as I saw the ingredient list! Yum!

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