This old-fashioned Beef Stew recipe is tender, homey, and amped up with complex flavors. Simmered on the stove top, it’s a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs meal that might as well also give hugs.
This is the best beef stew recipe, made with fork-tender, marbleized chunks of beef, a savory wine broth (I’ll give the option to make the beef stew recipe without the wine too), and a cozy harmony of classic stew vegetables.
Beef stew will restore your body and spirits after a long day, warm you on a cold night, feed a crowd, impress company, and even please the kids.
Beef stew is so everything because it is so…homey.
Some days, you need a hearty bowl of home and some good ol’ steak and potatoes, like Beef Bourguignon (a classy, French-inspired beef stew riff with mushrooms) or Braised Short Ribs (absolutely divine served over Crockpot Mashed Potatoes, if I do say so).
Beef Stew Recipe Tips
- Choose the Right Cut. Use a cut of beef that is highly marbleized, like beef chuck roast. A lean beef like sirloin is quick-cooking and will not be the fall-apart tender we’re going for.
- Brown the Beef. Searing the beef caramelizes the exterior and enhances the deep, rich flavor. *Do not skip or rush the browning step.* Additionally, when the pan is deglazed, bits of browned beef that clung to the pan (called “fond”) mix back in for phenomenal additional flavors.
- Don’t Crowd. If the pan is crowded, the beef will steam rather than sear, and we’re all about the sear here. Take your time to get every piece seared.
- Cook With Wine (and even add it to the food). Red wine is a flavorful liquid to use for beef stew, adding complexity to the beef broth. It’s optional but delightful.
- Take Your Time. The secret to tender beef stew is low and slow. If you try to cook the beef too quickly, it will not sufficiently tenderize. Cook beef stew in a Dutch oven covered for 1 1/2 hours to tenderize the meat, add veggies and cook partially covered for 30 minutes, then simmer uncovered for 15 minutes more so it can really thicken and reduce.
- My Secret Ingredients. My beef stew recipe adds red wine and honey. These two small but important ingredients balance the acidity and round out all the flavors.
How to Make the Best Beef Stew
The key to making good stew is to first sear the beef, and then cook it low and slow to really tenderize the beef chunks.
This recipe is how to make a traditional beef stew on the stovetop. No transferring to the oven is needed.
The crock pot and the Instant Pot are also excellent tools for preparing beef stew. For alternative methods, check out these two:
- Crock Pot Beef Stew. This is the perfect make-ahead, healthy comfort food for a busy week, with a rich sauce that’ll send everyone running to the kitchen to see what that fabulous smell is. Crockpot Vegetable Beef Soup is another succulent spin on beef stew, prepared in the crock pot and made without wine.
- Instant Pot Beef Stew. This Instant Pot version makes for faster and easy preparation for days you want tender stew tonight, but don’t have the time to let it cook for hours.
- Beef. Boneless chuck roast is the best type of beef to use for beef stew. I recommend that you do not use stew meat, because it is a mix of different cuts and differently sized pieces (confusing, I know!). The butcher can help you with the best selection if you aren’t sure.
- Vegetables. I use onion, carrot, parsnips, celery, russet potatoes, and peas. Each brings a flavor and texture, and they all marry together perfectly with the tender hunks of beef.
The hearty vegetables are added halfway through cooking so as to sufficiently soften but not turn to mush. More delicate vegetables, such as peas, are added in at the end.
- Garlic + Herbs. Garlic cloves (use fresh), dried thyme, bay leaves, and fresh parsley deliver the aromatics and that old-fashioned, earthly stew flavor.
- Worcestershire Sauce. A power-house ingredient to drive home the savory flavors.
- Tomato Paste. Builds the backbone of the stew broth. Another “oomph” ingredient.
- Beef Broth. The majority of the liquid in beef stew is beef broth. I recommend low sodium so it does not become overly salty.
- Wine. Use any dry red variety such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir or Cotes du Rhone. Bonus, these also taste great alongside the meal. You can use additional beef broth instead if you prefer.
- Red Wine Vinegar. It gives the stew some perk.
- Honey. Adds a little sweetness to further build the depth of flavor and balance the acidity.
- Cut the beef into pieces and toss with flour and plenty of salt and pepper.
- Sear beef cubes in batches on medium-high heat.
- Stir in cloves garlic.
- Add red wine vinegar and red wine and deglaze pan. Stir in tomato paste.
- Stir in the beef broth, Worcestershire, thyme, bay leaves, and honey and bring to a boil.
- Cover and simmer beef stew over medium-low heat for 1.5 hours, until the beef is tender and cooked through.
- Uncover and add vegetables. Continue simmering for 30 to 40 minutes more with lid partially covered, then uncover and reduce.
- Add peas. Serve hot with parsley. ENJOY!
- To Store. Refrigerate beef stew in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or gently in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze beef stew in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- Stew is one of those recipes that taste even better the next day, so it’s great for meal prep. Make a big batch, and then enjoy it all week.
- Additionally, you could freeze individual servings for future on-demand dinners when you’re in a pinch or on the go.
Meal Prep Tip
- Chop the vegetables up to 1 day in advance.
- Prep your meat the day before, and store cut chunks in a ziptop bag with the air squeezed out.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Dutch Oven. This is my favorite Dutch oven. I also love this one, and this is easier on the wallet but also great quality.
- Ladle. For serving all your soups and stews.
- Large Cutting Board. A sufficiently large cutting board makes chopping and prepping all your vegetables much easier, and this one is nonslip to boot.
Beef stew will feed you and your family happily with its innate comfort.
Frequently Asked Questions
Beef stew’s flavor is built over time. Searing the meat is the first step. From there, deglazing the pan with wine and adding other savory elements and herbs will make it taste rich and complex: bayleaf, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, and a finish fresh herbs (parsley) will create the best stew ever.
Use russet potatoes, which are starchy, over more waxy potatoes like Yukon gold potatoes or red potatoes. The russets’ starch helps to thicken the stew. If swapping Yukon golds or another kind of potato, note that your beef stew won’t be quite as thick.
Peeling potatoes for stew is personal preference. For a smoother texture, peel them first, but feel free to skip this step if you don’t mind them. Some of the peels will probably fall off and into the stew, but this will just add to the rustic texture.
It’s true that cooking the beef chunks for a longer duration on a lower heat makes for tender meat; however, if you cook the stew too long, your vegetables will become mushy.
- 2 pounds boneless chuck roast
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt reduce to 1 teaspoon to start if not using reduced sodium broth
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons canola oil or grapeseed or another neutral cooking oil
- 4 garlic cloves smashed and peeled
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups dry red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir or Cotes du Rhone
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 cups reduced sodium beef broth
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 yellow onions 1/2-inch diced
- 3 medium carrots peeled and cut into diagonal 1-inch pieces
- 3 parsnips peeled and cut into diagonal 1-inch pieces
- 2 stalks celery cut into diagonal 1-inch pieces
- 2 russet potatoes* peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 cup frozen peas no need to thaw
- Fresh parsley for serving
- Cut the beef into rough 1-inch pieces. Place a large bowl and toss with the flour, salt, and pepper.
- To a Dutch oven or similar large soup pot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and heat over medium. Once the pot and oil are hot, add half of the beef cubes in a single layer. Let cook undisturbed for 2 minutes. Continue cooking, turning the pieces occasionally, until the cubes are browned on all sides. Remove the cubes to a large plate or bowl. Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon and remaining beef cubes.
- Return the initial batch of beef cubes to the pot. Stir in the garlic cloves.
- Add the red wine vinegar and red wine and bring to simmer. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, scrape up any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pot. Stir in the tomato paste.
- Stir in the beef broth, Worcestershire, thyme, bay leaves, and honey. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cover the pot and simmer for 1 ½ hours, until the beef is super tender and cooked through.
- Uncover and add the onion, carrot, parsnip, celery, and potato. Cover the pot part way and continue simmering for 30 to 40 more minutes, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Uncover and simmer 15 more minutes to reduce.
- Stir in the peas. Let cook 2 minutes to warm through. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Serve hot with parsley sprinkled on top.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate beef stew in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or gently in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze beef stew in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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