Greek Rabbit Stifado

4.96 from 24 votes
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Stifado is truly a classic of Greek cuisine. I have read at least a dozen different recipes for it, and this one is a rabbit stifado, called kouneli stifado in Greek. You see a beef stifado a lot, too, but that is a different dish.

A bowl of rabbit stifado, called kouneli stifado in Greek.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

In the case of stifado (stee-FAH-do), debate centers on the tomatoes and wine. Simple chopped tomatoes? Or tomato paste and crushed tomatoes? Red wine or white? Sweet or dry? I use both, largely because I live in Sacramento and have access to the incomparable Greek sweet wine Mavrodaphne. Without Mavrodaphne my rabbit stifado is a shadow of itself, although you can use Port in a pinch.

What does rabbit stifado taste like? The Orient, in its classical sense. It must have been quite the treat when it was invented, most likely in the Middle Ages when Greece was under Venetian rule. Any combination of sweetness with exotic spices such as cinnamon and allspice in an otherwise savory dish screams 1300 or 1400 to me.

Stifado uses a lot of olive oil, so it is smooth going down. This moistens the rabbit as well, which is braised slowly until it is about to fall off the bone. You can pull the meat off the bone before serving, as I do, or just leave the pieces in the stew. The Greeks typically leave the pieces as-is.

The spices give the stew zing without heat, and the tomatoes, which are obviously a post-1492 addition, add a bit more sweetness as well as needed acidity. There’s a reason stifado is such a strong part of Greek cooking.

You’ll want either a nice Greek red wine, a lager beer, or ouzo with a glass of water as a chaser to go along with this stew. And don’t forget to have lots of good crusty bread around, too.

If you want to make this part of a Greek feast, try starting with my favorite Greek fish recipe, and maybe serve Greek venison shanks after this stew.

A bowl of rabbit stifado, called kouneli stifado in Greek.
4.96 from 24 votes

Greek Rabbit Stew. Kouneli Stifado

I have made this rabbit stew many times, and I always seem to like it better with the skinny cottontails here in California, although it is very good with domestic rabbits, too. You could use snowshoe hare or pheasant, too, although you’d need add another 30 to 45 minutes on the cooking time. Freaked out about rabbit? Use chicken.
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Greek
Servings: 6 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes


  • 2 cottontail rabbits or 1 domestic rabbit
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 medium red onions, sliced
  • 5 cloves chopped garlic
  • 10 allspice berries
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 large tomatoes, grated, or 1 14-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup sweet red wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken or rabbit stock
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  • Cut up the rabbits and cut into serving pieces. Be sure to include little bits, like the belly flaps, the front legs, the kidneys and such; they become yummy surprises in the finished stew. Salt the rabbit pieces well and set aside for 30 minutes.
  • Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a frying pan and brown the rabbit well. As each piece browns, move it to a brazier or Dutch oven or other heavy, lidded pot. When the rabbit is browned, sauté the onions for 4 to 5 minutes over medium-high heat, until they begin to brown. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Sprinkle with salt. Do not let the garlic burn.
  • Turn the contents of the frying pan into the brazier or a Dutch oven, then arrange the bay leaves, oregano, allspice berries and cinnamon stick over them.
  • In the pan you browned the rabbit and the onions, add the wine, sweet wine, vinegar, stock, tomato paste and grated tomatoes — cut tomatoes in half and run them through your coarsest grater to leave the skins out of your pot. Cook this down over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, then pour over everything in the pot.
  • Cover the pot and bring to a simmer. Cook slowly for 1 hour, then check. It may need up to another hour. You want the rabbit to be just about falling off the bone. You can pull the rabbit meat off the bone, as I do, or just let your guests do that. Grind some black pepper and drizzle some really good olive oil over everything right when you serve.


If you want to serve this as a main course, have some crusty bread or rice to serve alongside. 

Keys to Success

  • Brown the rabbit really well. Take your time. It makes a difference in the finished stew. 
  • Include the sweet wine (Mavrodaphne if you can find it), as well as allspice and cinnamon. If you can't find Greek Mavrodaphne, which is highly likely, use Port or any other sweet red wine. 
  • Like many stews, this one is best a day or two after you make it. It will keep a week in the fridge. 


Calories: 557kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 75g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 270mg | Sodium: 223mg | Potassium: 1625mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 779IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 12mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Great recipe. Combining it with other Stifado recipes to come up with the right combination. Most Stifado stews call for 1 lb of peeled who pearl onions. I love rabbit and my local butcher started stocking it so introducing my kids to the heavenly meat.

  2. Hey Hank!
    I made this stew, first I soaked the rabbits in the ingredients overnight, when I put the rabbits in the Dutch Oven, I used fresh ingredients, not quite with all YOUR ingredients, omitted the Oregano and chicken stock, I used 1/2 tsp. allspice instead of berries…oh, and I added one peeled orange, and 2 tbs. of flour to thicken the into gravy. We ate it with fresh made garlic bread. It is AWESOME! This is from a woman who didn’t like rabbit, ME!
    So, this recipe goes into my home cook recipes. Thanks!

  3. Great recipe Hank!
    One small suggestion though: Try it with small onions (pickler onions as mentioned in wikipedia), which is the traditional way of making stifado here in Greece! We don’t chop them, just peel and use them whole!
    The same more-less recipe without onions, just the rabbit served with pasta, french fries or baked potatoes is also very popular in Greece (we’ll post it sometime this winter).
    Thanx for sharing your recipe!

  4. yum. I love rabbit. I moved to Spain 2 years ago so I could eat it quite often now. I usually prepare it in the oven with some garlic, fresh herbs and white wine. I have yet to try it with as stew and will definitely check out your recipe. Thanks!

  5. so glad you reposted this! I hope lots of people try it. i’ve made it often with skinless chicken thighs (takes less time obvs) and guests love it. makes the house smell wonderful. I always have a bottle of mavrodaphne on the counter now.

  6. We have some domestic rabbits already grown, ready to be made to some kin of a meal. Grandma allways roasts them, but thats getting kind of boring to me. I wanted to cook them in some new way, but I did not know what recipe to use. Then I open your website, and what do I see? A great rabbit recipe. Cant wait to try. Thanks

  7. When I was very young, we ate a lot of rabbit, but It was always a simple stew. As an adult, I’ve been looking for rabbit recipes that could go beyond a plain stew. The internet hasn’t provided much, but you certainly have! This recipe is outstanding, and I can’t wait to give it a try.

  8. Looks wonderful and I bet it tastes better!
    Is there any issue with using dried tomatoes (at least this time of year)? Would you increase the stock or the wine or another component to compensate for the different moisture content?

    I have what looks to be jars & more jars of dried tomatoes due to a decent garden this summer.


  9. Marshall: You could use a jackrabbit here. It is dark meat, not light meat like a rabbit, but the Greeks do make a beef stifado, so it makes sense.

  10. I kept looking for the Feta in the recipe. Anytime I hear “greek recipe” I am always looking for the feta, understandably omitted from this recipe that looks amazing!


  11. Wow! What a great recipe! As an avid small gamer I must say this is a brand new direction for me to go with the rabbit. However, my wife lived in Greece for three years and loves to cook Greek, so maybe this will be a hit at our home. Thanks!

  12. hahaha. But that would be cheating, wouldn’t it ? because we feed it it would be considered domesticated although it is a pretty wild cat. We do feed it an all protein diet, but I am guessing that wouldn’t make very good eating. Any thoughts on eating things that eat all protein as opposed to grass/vegetarian?

  13. Those beans are fantastic, we have them marinated in olive oil and roasted peppers where I work. They remind me of lima beans…my favorite! I like rabbit and loved it as a kid but now a skinned one looks too much like my cat …hmmmmm…say, ever tried cat?

  14. I haven’t had rabbit in years, but I grew up eating it as well as squirrel, venison, and any other wild game my father brought home. Your stew sounds really good, and I bet those Meyer lemons worked well in the dish. Thanks for joining in on Grow Your Own! Happy New Year!

  15. That stew even looks good to me! and I like the idea of beans. I love beans. Never ate rabbit though. Hmm, dinner thoughts for when we visit?

  16. I am yet to try rabbit. I can’t believe that about myself 🙂 I have tried squirrel. Bad memories there as my 15 year old hunter/brother cooked them in tomato sauce and told me they were something else. ..which is probably why I never tried rabbit haha
    Your stew looks and sounds delicious.