Slow Cooker Beef Stew
This Slow Cooker Beef Stew is made by simmering beef, vegetables, and spices together in a crockpot to make a tender and savory soup. It is the definition of comfort food, perfect for warming you up inside and out. Serve this next to Creamy Mashed Potatoes and dinner is made.
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Slow Cooker Beef Stew Recipe
Unlike our Classic Beef Stew, this Beef Stew is made in a Crockpot. It’s a great set-it-and-forget-it meal! The stew is slow-cooked for hours until the beef is fall-apart tender and full of flavor. This beef stew recipe consists of hearty beef chuck roast and a variety of vegetables that are softened to perfection while cooking. The flavors from all the ingredients meld together as the stew simmers low and slow, making the stew exactly what it should be — perfect.
How to Cook Beef Stew in a Crockpot
One of the best parts about this hearty and comforting slow cooker beef stew is how easy it is to make. This hearty soup is the perfect make-ahead meal. Set it to stew in the morning and walk away — it’ll be ready for you just in time for dinner.
- Brown the beef: Preheat a skillet on medium-high heat with oil then brown the beef on all sides. Once browned, remove the beef and place in a separate dish.
- Sauté the onion: In the same skillet, sauté the onion in the leftover oil and beef juices.
- Combine all ingredients: Add soup ingredients into a crockpot. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7 hours.
- Season to taste: Remove bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Substitutions and Variations
If you don’t have the exact ingredients the recipe calls for on hand, here are some alternatives or additions to make your beef stew turn out great regardless.
- Beef: If you don’t have chuck roast, substitute rump roast, bottom round, or “beef stew meat.” These cuts of beef are typically more tough and full of connective tissue, but when slow-cooked, they become perfectly tender. Look for a good amount of marbling (fat) in the meat. More marbling means the meat will be melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
- Potatoes: The best potatoes for beef stew are Yukon gold potatoes. Red potatoes and sweet potatoes are also great alternatives as they have less starch and hold up well in a slow cooker. Add them peeled or unpeeled.
- Tomato paste: If you’re out of tomato paste, you have a few options. For every 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, use 3 tablespoons of tomato puree or sauce. Or, add an equal amount of ketchup (although ketchup does have a slightly sweeter flavor)
- Vegetables: Add chopped celery and garlic and sauté briefly with the onion to soften and infuse the flavors. Green beans, mushrooms, and frozen peas are also great additions to this hearty stew.
Tips for the Best Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Why settle on a regular beef stew when you can have an exceptional beef stew? Follow these tips to make your beef stew rich in flavor.
- Brown the beef and onions: For the best flavor and color, make sure to separately sauté and brown the beef and onions over medium-high heat. It’s okay if the meat is not fully cooked through as it will finish cooking while stewing.
- Adjust spices and vegetables: Feel free to add any of your favorite spices or vegetables to diversify the stew. A splash of Worcestershire sauce, a sprinkle of paprika, and sautéed celery are great options. Use what you have in your pantry and refrigerator.
- Avoid rushing the cooking process: For the most tender and flavorful meat, cook the stew long enough. If you rush the cooking process (skip browning the meat or shorten stew cook time), the meat can remain tough. The longer the stew is cooked, the softer the meat will be.
- Limit cooking time: If the stew is cooked for too long (such as overnight), the vegetables can become too tender. Overcooked vegetables will fall apart extremely easily and turn your stew into mush. If you plan to leave the stew in the crockpot, place the setting on “keep warm” after the stew has finished cooking.
How to Thicken Beef Stew
To thicken the stew, make a cornstarch slurry (start with 1 teaspoon cornstarch and 1 Tbsp cold water) and add to the crockpot at the end. Mix and stew for about 10 minutes or until thickened. Alternatively, add a tablespoon or two of flour when initially browning the meat.
To thin beef stew – add more beef broth and season to taste.
Searing the beef and onion before adding to the crockpot will improve the flavor and texture of the stew; however, it is not absolutely necessary. If you are low on time, add the raw onions and beef directly to the slow cooker.
With 2-inch cubes of beef, it is best to cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7 hours to achieve tender meat. With smaller cubes of beef, the cooking time may decrease. Beef stew is cooked and ready when the beef is tender and falls apart easily when pierced with a fork.
This will fit into a 6 quart or larger slow cooker. We used an 8-quart slow cooker.
To Serve Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Beef stew is incredibly easy to serve because it’s a meal in itself. It is loaded with protein, vegetables, and carbs all in one. To top it off, serve Crusty French Bread or No-knead Artisan Bread on the side and dip the bread slices into the savory stew. Yum!
Crockpot beef stew is a great meal to make-ahead, store, and reheat. Prepare the stew in the morning and have the slow cooker do all the hard work for you. You can also prepare it the night prior and follow these tips to store and reheat the leftovers.
- Refrigerator: To store for up to three days, refrigerate cooled beef stew in an airtight container.
- Freezer: Beef stew freezes really well. To freeze for up to four months, pour beef stew into airtight containers, allowing about an inch of space on top to compensate for expansion when freezing.
- Reheating: To reheat from the refrigerator, pour beef stew into a pot and heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the soup is warmed through. To reheat from frozen, thaw overnight in the fridge or thaw on the stovetop over low heat, stirring frequently.
More Hearty Beef Recipes
- Beef Stroganoff
- Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry
- Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom Sauce
- Prime Rib Roast
- Beef Barley Soup
- Slow Cooker Beef Roast
Slow Cooker Beef Stew Recipe
- 2 tbsp extra light olive oil, or high heat cooking oil
- 3 lb beef chuck roast, cut into 2 inch cubes
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 4 large carrots, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 lb Yukon potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
- 1/3 cup apple cider juice, (NOT vinegar)
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 cups beef broth
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp fine sea salt, or added to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- parsley, finely chopped, to serve
- Preheat a skillet with oil. Once the oil is hot, add the beef in a single layer and saute until browned on both sides. Don't crowd the pan and cook beef in batches if needed. Remove and set aside.
- In the same skillet, sauté the onion until lightly browned, adding more oil if needed.
- Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker. Set it on high for 4 hours or on low for 7 hours.
- Remove bay leaves, season to taste, and serve garnished with parsley if desired.