Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Slow Cooker Beef Stew is one of the best hearty and comfort food to make in a crock pot. Tender and melt-in-your-mouth beef is simmered in a rich and divine sauce with carrots, onions, and potatoes. Your family and friends will ask for this Crock Pot Beef Stew again and again! Plus recipe video tutorial!
This Slow Cooker Beef Stew is easy to make and full of flavor. I make it year-round and is one of my favorite Slow Cooker recipes, along with Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken, Slow Cooker General Tso’s Chicken, Slow Cooker Pulled Pork, Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup and Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken.
Beef stew is a perfect weeknight meal for the whole family, and your home is filled with the fantastic aroma as it cooks. Plus, it doubles or triples easily! If you want a faster version, make our traditional beef stew recipe.
Select the Right Cut for Beef Stew
The most important thing for beef stew is to buy the right cut. Everyone loves the tender meat in the stew, but you need to know that the tender cuts of the meat actually can become tough and chewy if you cook them in a stew.
So the best cuts for beef stew are big and tough cuts. The best choice is chuck roast, which comes from the shoulder and has great flavor. The collagen in its connective tissue breaks down during cooking and leaves you with fork-tender beef.
Other cuts that are good for beef stew include bottom round roast, chuck steak, bottom eye roast, chuck-eye roast, English roast or pot roast, etc. Make sure to AVOID packaged “stew meat” at the supermarket. The pre-cut “stew meat” is quite inconsistent and most of the time you would end up with tough and chewy stew.
If your chuck roast is well-marbled, you can trim large pieces of excess fat, but leave the small ones. Cut the beef into big chunks (about 2-inch cubes) as small pieces tend to fall apart during cooking.
Select the Right Potatoes for Slow Cooker Beef Stew
In general, try to use baking potatoes such as Russet potatoes, Goldrush, etc., as they can withstand a couple hours of slow cooking while retaining the shape and texture.
Avoid boiling potatoes such as large red, yellow, salad potatoes as they tend to become mushy when cooked for a long time. However, baby potatoes work well with this recipe as they can hold their shape well.
How to Make Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Step 1: Season the Beef
Pat the beef dry and cut into 2-inch cubes. Then place them in a large ziplock bag along with flour, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Shake until well coated.
Step 2: Sear the Beef
In a large skillet on medium-high heat, add cooking oil. When the oil is hot, add beef cubes to fill the pan ¾ full in one layer. Cook the beef in batches. Let your beef sit for about 2-3 minutes before turning them so that you can get brown sear at the bottom. Flip the beef and brown all sides (about 5-6 minutes total per batch). Then transfer the beef to a large plate and set aside. Repeat for any remaining beef.
Note: It’s important not to over-crowd your pan and cook your beef in a single layer. Add more oil for each batch. This step takes some time but it adds so much flavor to your stew. However, you could skip this step if you are in a rush.
Step 3: Braise in the Slow Cooker
Add garlic, onions, carrots, potatoes and browned beef into the slow cooker. Then add red wine, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, tomato paste and beef broth to the slow cooker. If the liquid doesn’t cover, it’s ok. Just make sure to mix everything well.
Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 4 – 5 hours until beef and vegetables are tender.
Note: if your beef is still chewy, you can let the stew simmer for a little longer. Just remember to check it every 20 minutes. It will eventually get tender.
Step 4: Thicken the Stew (Optional)
This Crock Pot Beef Stew tastes best with the thickened gravy. About 30 minutes prior to serving, mix together 2 tablespoon cornstarch with 2 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl until smooth (This mixture is called slurry). Pour the slurry into the slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 20- 30 minutes until the broth has thickened. If your slow cooker doesn’t get hot fast enough, you could transfer your stew to a large pot and heat on the stove. Stir in peas and cook for a few more minutes. Add more salt and pepper if necessary.
Note: If you want your stew to be thicker, you can add more slurry. Just remember that the stew will thicken more as it cools, especially if you leave it in the fridge overnight, and it will be quite thick even without the slurry.
How to Serve Slow Cooker Beef Stew
This Slow Cooker Beef Stew is a complete meal on its own. Garnish with parsley and serve warm for the best results. If you don’t include potatoes in this recipe, you can serve beef stew with noodles, pasta, garlic bread, mashed potatoes or rice. The gravy is perfect with buttermilk biscuits.
Tips and Secrets for Making the Best Slow Cooker Beef Stew
- Make sure to use the right cuts of meat and chuck roast is the best for this recipe. This is the most important factor in making beef stew. Cut them into big chunks (about 2-inches) so that they won’t fall apart during cooking.
- Searing the beef before adding to the slow cooker takes about extra 10-15 minutes, but it adds so much more flavor to your stew. I highly recommend it. When you sear your beef, make sure not to over-crowd it.
- Thickening the stew 30 minutes before serving will make the stew so flavorful. Just quickly add the cornstarch and water mix, and you will get that nice thick and divine gravy.
You can make the whole recipe a day ahead, let it cool down and store in the refrigerator. The flavor actually improves overnight.
If you prefer to get the preparation ready the night before and start cooking the next morning, here is what you can do: cut, season and brown the beef, then store in a zip-lock bag or airtight container; cut carrots, garlic and onions, then store them in an airtight container.
If you use large potatoes, you can peel and chop potatoes and place them in a large container, covered with cold water (otherwise they will turn brown). Then the next morning all you need to do is to spend 5 minutes to throw everything into the crock pot and add the rest of the ingredients (except peas).
Special Ingredients and Equipment to Make Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Beef: The most important thing about this recipe is to use the right beef. As explained before in this post, the best cuts are CHUCK ROAST. Don’t use packaged “stew meat” from the supermarket.
Potatoes: Use baby potatoes or baking potatoes, and avoid boiling potatoes if you don’t like the mushy potatoes in the stew. If you don’t want to use potatoes, you can add more carrots and onions. Mushroom is also a good choice for this recipe.
Carrots: both regular carrots and baby carrots work well for this recipe.
Wine: Red wine (especially Red Burgundy wine) works well for this recipe. You don’t have to use expensive wine, but try to avoid cooking wine. Alternatively, you can substitute wine with beer such as Guinness. If you want to avoid alcohol, you can substitute wine with apple juice.
Worcestershire Sauce: It adds great flavor to your stew. You can replace with soy sauce if you are in a pinch.
Beef Broth: I used regular beef broth, but you can use low-sodium beef broth to reduce salt intake.
Peas: You can use either fresh or frozen peas. If you use frozen peas, you don’t need to thaw them beforehand as they cook very quickly in the hot stew.
Seasoning: Homemade seasoning is the best, but if you prefer to use packaged seasoning mix, McCormick’s beef stew seasoning mix is a good choice.
How to Store Leftover Beef Stew
Leftover Beef Stew tastes so delicious, and that’s why I often double the recipe and make extra for leftover. The flavor actually improves the next day. To store leftover Beef Stew, let it cool down first, and then store it in an airtight container in the fridge. It can last up to 4 days. You can also store it in the freezer and it freezes very well.
Tips for Better Slow-Cooking in a Crock Pot
- Choose the Right Size: A standard 4-8 quart slow cooker or crock pot like this one would work well with this recipe. Mine is 6-quart crock pot and it works with all of my slow cooker recipes.
- Don’t Over-crowd Your Crock Pot: Fill a crock pot between 1/2 to 2/3 full for the best results (except some cake recipes). If your crock pot is overflowing or underfilled, it will prevent the meat from being cooked properly.
- Resist the Temptation to Open the Lid and Check: Each time you open the lid and check the cooking process, it will add additional 15 minutes of cooking time. So only open it 30 minutes before the low end of the recommended time range.
- Understand Settings: Generally, the LOW setting’s cooking time is twice as long as the HIGH setting’s. Different meats require different cooking time, so follow your recipe and use your settings properly.
- Take Care of Your Crock Pot: Remember to turn off your crock pot and unplug it when you finish cooking. It’s best to clean your crock pot when it is cool.
How to Make Instant Pot Beef Stew
To make Instant Pot Beef Stew, follow the same steps as the slow cooker version, and add all ingredients (except the peas) to the Instant Pot instead of Crock Pot. Then close the lid and cook at high pressure for 35 minutes, or press the “meat/stew” button.
After 35 minutes, let Instant Pot sit for about 10 minutes, then release pressure and open the steam valve. Add peas and stir until peas are warm, for about 5 minutes.
Watch Now: How to Make Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Best Ever Slow Cooker Beef Stew (With Video)
For the beef
- 2 pounds beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-2 inch chunks
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp salt
For the stew
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, sliced
- 1 lb baby potatoes
- 4 tbsp red wine
- 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp Italian Seasoning, or oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- 4 cups beef broth
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp green peas, fresh or frozen
- fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
- Pat the beef dry and cut into 2-inch cubes. Place the cubes in a large ziplock bag along with flour, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Shake until well coated.
- Place a large skillet on medium-high heat. Once hot, add cooking oil followed by enough beef to fill the pan 3/4 full in one layer.
- Sear in skillet until lightly browned on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Then transfer the beef to a large plate. Repeat for any remaining beef.
- Add garlic, onions, carrots, baby potatoes and browned beef cubes into the slow cooker.
- Add red wine, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, tomato paste and beef broth to the slow cooker. Mix well.
- Cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 4-5 hours until potatoes are tender and meat is tender.
- About 30 minutes prior to serving, mix together cornstarch with 2 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl until smooth. Pour the mixture into the slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 20-30 minutes until the broth has thickened.
- A few minutes before serving, add peas to the slow cooker.
- Serve with optional chopped parsley on top for garnish. Enjoy!
What’s the Difference Between Beef Bourguignon and Beef Stew
Beef Bourguignon is a certain type of Beef Stew made with red wine and a few specific ingredients such as pearl onions and bacon lardons. The cooking method used is very similar to the regular Beef Stew.
Editor Note: Post updated 3/2/2018 with additional details.
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