Slow Cooker Beef Stew
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
Slow Cooker Beef Stew, with tender bites of beef and vegetables in a rich broth, is the best comfort food. This easy beef stew recipe is perfect for a weeknight or Sunday dinner.
One of my favorite ways to make dinner for my family is to use my slow cooker. I’ve shared many slow cooker recipes, and even a guide with my best tips for how to use a slow cooker, because it’s so convenient to get the prep work of cooking done early in the day. When you make this slow cooker beef stew, you’ll have a hot meal ready to serve in the evening when you are ready to eat dinner.
This hearty crock pot beef stew is one of our favorite meals to enjoy at the end of a long day. The best part is that the flavors really develop and blend together as the stew simmers in the slow cooker all day. The broth is incredibly rich and the vegetables become tender and flavorful.
When you’re craving cozy comfort food, I hope you’ll give this beef stew a try. It’s both delicious and easy to make. I love to serve it with some crusty bread, dinner rolls or Biscuits, with a crisp Green Salad or Italian Salad on the side.
Slow Cooker Beef Stew Ingredients
- Onion and Garlic: These aromatic ingredients add a delicious base layer of flavor. You can chop the onions into smaller pieces or larger slices, depending on your preference.
- Celery, Carrots and Potatoes: These are classic beef stew vegetables. I like to use Yukon gold potatoes because of their rich flavor and creamy texture. Other potatoes, such as baby potatoes or red potatoes will also work.
- Tomato Paste: The tomato paste both adds richness and helps to thicken the broth. It won’t make your beef stew taste like tomato sauce.
- Worcestershire Sauce: Worcestershire sauce adds depth of flavor, but if you don’t have any on hand or don’t care for it you can leave it out.
- Flour and Olive Oil: You will brown the beef and sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil before adding the ingredients to the slow cooker. Coating the beef with flour creates a flavorful crust on the meat as it browns in the skillet. The flour also thickens the broth as the stew simmers in the slow cooker.
- Seasonings: The seasonings for this beef stew include Italian seasoning, dried thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper.
- Beef Broth: I recommend using a low sodium beef broth so that you can control the amount of salt in your finished dish. You can always add more salt, to taste, after the stew cooks, but you can’t take it away.
- Boneless Chuck Roast: This is the cut of beef that I recommend for the best beef stew. Read more below about what kind of meat is best for beef stew.
What Kind of Meat to Use in Beef Stew
I recommend using a boneless chuck roast to make beef stew. You can also use beef stew meat, but the stew meat that you buy pre-cut at the grocery store is often lower quality and less tender than buying a larger cut of beef and cutting it into smaller pieces yourself.
Look for a boneless beef chuck roast that is about 2 pounds total. A little bit of fat marbled throughout the meat will add flavor, but you should cut off any excess fat when you cube the meat.
How to Make Slow Cooker Beef Stew
- Coat the chunks of beef in flour, salt and pepper. You can do this by shaking the beef, flour, salt and pepper together in a large zip-top bag, or by stirring them together in a large bowl.
- Brown the beef. Before adding the beef to the slow cooker, it is important to first brown it in a skillet on the stove. This step creates a flavorful crust on the pieces of beef and sears in the juices of the meat. After you sear the beef cubes, put them in the bottom of your slow cooker.
- Sauté the onion and garlic. Since you have a skillet hot and ready, you’ll take a few minutes to sauté the onion and garlic in the beef drippings. You are adding delicious layers of flavor to your stew.
- Deglaze the pan. This is just a fancy way of saying pour in a little broth and scrape up the flavorful browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Then you’ll transfer the contents of the skillet to your slow cooker.
- Add remaining ingredients to the slow cooker. Everything else can be added to the crock pot now, including the rest of the beef broth.
- Slow cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or high for 3½ to 4 hours.
- Taste and adjust seasonings. I always add less salt to begin with because you can easily add more after your slow cooker beef stew finishes cooking.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Don’t skip the step of browning the beef in a skillet before adding it to the slow cooker. It takes just a few minutes and it adds so much flavor to the finished dish.
- I find that Yukon gold potatoes or baby potatoes work best in this recipe because they hold their shape while cooking. Russet potatoes don’t work as well because they tend to fall apart more easily.
- If desired, you can replace 1 cup of the beef broth with dry red wine. In step 5 of the recipe, instead of using 1/2 cup of beef broth to deglaze the pan, add 1 cup of red wine to the pan and scrape up any browned bits. Then reduce the amount of beef broth that you add to the slow cooker to 3 cups.
- If you like peas in your beef stew, feel free to stir in some frozen peas after the stew is fully cooked.
How to Thicken Beef Stew
To thicken beef stew, this recipe uses flour and tomato paste. The broth will thicken as the stew slow cooks, and it will continue to thicken as the stew cools. I find this stew to be thick and hearty as is, but if you prefer a thicker gravy, you can stir a mixture of 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water into the stew at the end of the cook time. Then continue cooking on high for 20-30 minutes.
Storage & Reheating
Beef stew can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also freeze the stew, although the potatoes may break down a bit when frozen and reheated. To freeze, let the stew cool and then store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw frozen stew overnight in the refrigerator or on low power in the microwave before reheating.
To reheat beef stew, simmer it in a pot, covered, over medium heat on the stove until it is heated through. You can also reheat beef stew in the microwave. Stir the stew occasionally as it reheats to help it heat evenly.
More Easy Slow Cooker Recipes
- Slow Cooker Chili
- Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Crockpot Lasagna
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs
- Slow Cooker Pork Chops
Slow Cooker Beef Stew
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 pounds boneless chuck roast (cut into 1-inch cubes and trimmed of excess fat)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- 1 yellow onion (chopped)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 3 ribs celery (chopped)
- 4 medium carrots (cut into ¼-inch rounds)
- 1 ½ pounds Yukon gold potatoes (about 4 medium, cut into 1-inch pieces)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 4 cups low sodium beef broth
- Place flour, salt and pepper in a large zip-top bag. Add the cubes of beef, seal the bag, and shake to coat the meat with the flour mixture. (Alternatively, you can place the beef, flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl and stir to coat the beef.)
- Heat 1 ½ tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pieces of beef in a single layer in the pan (brown the beef in two batches if necessary). Let the beef brown on the first side for about 4 minutes, then flip and brown the other side. Stir in any remaining flour from the bag and then transfer the beef to the slow cooker.
- Add the remaining ½ tablespoon olive oil and the onion to the pan. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3-4 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
- Pour about ½ cup of the beef broth into the pan and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer the contents of the pan to the slow cooker.
- Add the remaining ingredients, including the rest of the broth, to the slow cooker. Stir gently to combine.
- Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 3 ½-4 hours, until the vegetables and meat are tender and cooked through.
- Remove and discard the bay leaf. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve.
- To reheat beef stew, simmer it in a pot, covered, on the stove until it is heated through. You can also reheat beef stew in the microwave. Stir the stew occasionally as it reheats to help it heat evenly.
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