Crock Pot Beef Stew
Crock Pot Beef Stew is one of the most popular comfort foods on Earth. Tender beef and vegetables nestled into rich gravy; patience is so rarely and richly rewarded as it is with this dish. It only makes sense that I think this is one of the best crock pot recipes in my arsenal.
3 Important Reasons to Make Crock Pot Beef Stew
- The low and slow cook time makes the beef so fall-apart tender you can cut it with a spoon.
- The deep browning and caramelizing of the beef gives it a dark, golden, irresistible crust.
- The leftover red wine you’ll have after making the sauce for serving will be JUST ENOUGH to enjoy with the stew.
Making this Slow Cooker Beef Stew recipe is WORTH EVERY MINUTE!
We’re at that odd point of seasonal transition where spring scratches at the door but winter isn’t ready to let it in. I see signs of spring here and there—the melted snow puddling on our front sidewalk, the return of non-sad-looking asparagus to the grocery store—but however brave (or stubborn) I may be, it’s still too chilly for flip flops.
This time of year, when spring butts up against winter, is the ideal moment for Crock Pot Beef Stew, or at least this particular recipe for it.
It has just the right amount of homey, stick-to-your ribs comfort to sustain us through the straggling cold days, combined with light nods to the warmer season ahead. You’ll find the deep, rich flavors of well-browned beef and red wine that you want, right alongside the heap of fresh veggies like carrot, potato, and peas that you need. (For another rich flavor variation, this Guinness Beef Stew recipe sounds amazing too!)
Crock Pot Beef Stew Recipe — Patience Rewarded
Beef stew is also the right recipe for this time of year because it rewards patience.
As you read this, I’m probably staring longingly at my sundresses thinking, “Spring, are we there yet?” March/Wisconsin-at-large is responding, “Three more weeks, honey. Go make yourself some more of that slow cooker beef stew.”
In every way but waiting for it to cook, this Crock Pot Beef Stew recipe is EASY.
- Browning the stew meat does take some time—work in small batches and resist the urge to crowd the pan. You want that beautiful brown crust, because that’s where the flavor is to be found.
- Once the meat is browned, there’s one last round of focused activity while you chop the veggies, but that’s it. Add everything to the crock pot, then let the beef stew do its thang.
- Beef stew cooks in a crock pot in 6 to 8 hours on low or 3 to 5 hours on high. The time can vary depending upon your slow cooker, so check early if your crock pot tends to run on the hotter side.
I wrote this recipe to ensure the beef stew is plenty thick, so you won’t need to do anything to thicken it up, which is why the recipe starts with so little broth in the slow cooker.
If you do want to thicken up the beef stew more, you could try whisking in a slurry of cornstarch at the end, but (and this is coming from someone who loves her soups and stews so thick that a spoon can practically stand up in the bowl on its own), it truly doesn’t need it. Take advantage of this beef stew recipe’s easy nature and skip it.
The Best Meat For Beef Stew (It’s not what you think!)
As far as what kind of meat is best for beef stew, my answer is (ready for it?) NOT stew meat.
Stew meat is typically a mix of all different sizes and cuts, so the pieces may not cook evenly. You could have some bites with perfect, tender beef and others with tough, rubbery meat. There’s a reason this Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff (which uses sirloin) and this Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli (which calls for flank steak) have different cooking times: each uses a different type of beef.
For the best results when making Crock Pot Beef Stew, I recommend buying a single piece of chuck roast from the butcher, then cutting it into cubes yourself. You’ll know what cut you are getting, your pieces will be uniform in size so that they cook evenly, and chuck roast’s deep marbling ensures that every bite of the beef in the stew is fall-apart tender.
And now, our reward for waiting patiently (or not so patiently) for the spring: a beef stew that’s easy, not too heavy, richly flavored, and fall-apart tender. It’s one of the best slow cooker beef stew recipes ever, if I do say so myself!
Recommended Tools to Make Crock Pot Beef Stew:
- Programmable slow cooker
- A sturdy Dutch oven for browning the meat. I also love this one. This is another good brand and more affordable.
Healthy Crock Pot Beef Stew
The BEST Crock Pot Beef Stew recipe ever! An easy, healthy slow cooker beef stew with fresh veggies and fall-apart tender meat in a rich and flavorful red wine sauce. Simple, freezer friendly, and perfect every time.
Yield: 6–8 servings, about 14 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes (on high); 7 hours, 30 minutes (on low)
Total Time: 4 hours, 45 minutes (on high); 7 hours, 45 minutes (on low)
- 2 1/2 pounds boneless chuck roast
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
- 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 cups dry red wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon), dark beer (such as an amber, porter, or Guinness—do not use a bitter or hoppy beer such as an IPA as the hops will throw off the flavor), or additional beef broth
- 1 large yellow onion
- 3 celery stalks
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 4 large carrots
- 2 parsnips
- 3/4 pound red potatoes (about 2 medium)
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme (if you like, tie the fresh thyme together with kitchen twine to make the stems easier to fish out at the end)
- 3 to 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen peas (no need to thaw)
- Fresh parsley, optional for serving
- Cut the chuck roast into 1-inch cubes, removing any large, tough pieces of fat or gristle. I found it easiest to cut it into 1-inch-thick large, round slices, then strips, then cubes. Place the cubes in a large bowl and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Sprinkle on the flour, then toss lightly to coat.
- Place a large, deep Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Once the oil is hot and shimmering (a drop of water should sizzle if added to the surface), add one-third to one-half of the beef. The cubes should be in a single layer and not too crowded so that they brown nicely. Let the cubes of beef cook undisturbed for 4 to 5 minutes (resist the urge to peek!), until the bottom of the cubes develop a dark-brown crust and come away from the pan easily. Turn and continue searing until dark and golden all over, about 4 to 5 additional minutes. Transfer the seared meat to a clean bowl or plate. Add another 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pot, and once hot, sear the remaining beef, working in batches and ensuring that you do not overcrowd the pieces. It may take two or three batches total depending on the size your pan. If the pan gets too dry, add a bit more oil as needed.
- While the meat browns, dice the yellow onion and celery. Mince the garlic.
- At this point, the pan should have some nice sticky brown bits (a.k.a. FLAVOR). If it seems to be burning or smoking, add a bit of the wine or beer, scrape it up, then pour it over the beef you set aside.
- Reduce the pan heat to medium and add the final tablespoon olive oil. Add the onions and celery and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds, until fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste, Worcestershire, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
- While the onions sauté, peel and dice the carrots and parsnips. Scrub the potatoes and cut into a rough dice. Set aside.
- Increase the pan heat to medium high and add the wine or beer (stand back, as it will sputter). Cook, letting the wine reduce and scraping up all of the brown bits from the pan. Continue to scrape and stir until the liquid is slightly reduced and thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Transfer the sautéed vegetables and any sauce from the pan to a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Add the beef, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, bay leaf, thyme, and 3 cups beef broth. Stir to roughly combine. Cover and cook on low for 6 1/2 to 8 hours or high for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours, until the beef is cooked through and fall-apart tender and your kitchen smells so cozy you might not ever leave. Remove the bay leaf and thyme stems and stir in the peas. If you’d like the stew thinner, add additional broth until it reaches your desired consistency. Taste and add additional salt or pepper as desired. Serve hot, sprinkled with fresh parsley.
Serving Size: 1 (of 8), about 1 3/4 cups
- Amount Per Serving:
- Calories: 321 Calories
- Total Fat: 10g
- Saturated Fat: 2g
- Cholesterol: 81mg
- Sodium: 359mg
- Carbohydrates: 24g
- Fiber: 4g
- Sugar: 4g
- Protein: 30g
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