Crockpot Beef Stew
Calling on all the warm fuzzies, cuddly blankets, and flannel! It’s time for a hug in dinner form: Crockpot Beef Stew. Every bite of this old fashioned beef stew slow cooker recipe soothes me from the inside out. Tender beef and vegetables nestled into rich, soulful gravy, this slow cooker beef stew will reward your patience with every bite.
Now that each day seems to be cooler than the last, I wanted to share the recipe for this warm-you-up (and lightened up!) slow cooker beef stew, one of the best crockpot soups in my arsenal.
This best ever slow cooker beef stew tastes like pure comfort in a bowl. Have it at the ready for the cool evenings ahead.
Crockpot beef stew is the kind of thing I love to have simmering in the house all day. As the beef stew cooks and the broth thickens into a rich gravy, the smell fills my kitchen in a nostalgic way that reminds me of my Grandma Dorothy.
Browning the meat for this beef stew does take a bit of time, but it is worth every second. The stew leftovers taste even better the next day, so you can make this beef stew once, then enjoy it for cozy lunches and dinners all week long.
This old fashioned beef stew recipe is fully loaded with colorful veggies and tender meat, all wrapped up in a rich (red wine!) gravy. Every bite is cozier than the last.
Very Important Reasons to Make Slow Cooker Beef Stew
- Cool nights are here, and this recipe is the equivalent of your beloved childhood blanket.
- The low and slow cook time makes the beef so fall-apart tender, you can cut it with a spoon.
- FLAVOR OVERLOAD.
- The leftover red wine you’ll have after making the stew will be the perfect amount to enjoy with dinner.
- The recipe is loaded with both veggies and protein, so it’s an ideal all-in-one meal.
Translation: Making this slow cooker beef stew recipe is WORTH EVERY MINUTE!
How to Make the Best Crockpot Beef Stew
- Chuck Roast. Boneless chuck roast is perfect for this recipe. It’s a more marbled cut (and marbling = flavor) that becomes tender throughout the low and slow cooking. The deep browning and caramelizing of the beef gives the stew a dark, golden, irresistible crust that enriches the gravy and makes this one of the best slow cooker beef stew recipes ever.
- Whole Wheat Flour. To help the meat brown and caramelize.
- Red Wine. Slow cooker beef stew with red wine has so much flavor! Try Cabernet Sauvignon or a dark beer (such as an amber or porter).
- If you prefer to not use alcohol, you can simply add additional beef broth.
- Veggies. The more the merrier! I used onion, celery, potatoes, carrots, parsnip, and peas.
- You can omit the potatoes, if you want to make your slow cooker beef stew with no potatoes.
- Tomato Paste. An easy way to build concentrated flavor.
- Worcestershire Sauce. A tangy, savory addition to your beef stew and another flavor building block.
- Beef Broth. To provide moisture and helps the meat tenderize. I recommend low sodium so that your beef stew does not become overly salty.
- Thyme. Thyme is my absolute favorite in beef stew. It’s the ideal match with the root vegetables, and its earthy, savory flavor is a hallmark of comfort food.
- Salt and Pepper. Don’t be skimpy. These give the beef and vegetables outstanding flavor.
- Cut your chuck roast, and place it in a large bowl. Sprinkle with spices and flour, tossing to coat.
- Start on the stove: Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat, then brown the meat in batches. When dark and golden all over, remove to a plate.
- Reduce the heat, and add your vegetables. Add the garlic, tomato paste, Worcestershire, and spices.
- Increase the heat, and add the red wine or additional broth. Let it reduce, scraping up any pieces stuck to the bottom (that’s where the flavor is!). Now, we move to the slow cooker.
- Transfer everything to your slow cooker, including the additional spices and broth. Stir to combine. Cover and cook, until beef is cooked through and fall-apart tender. When done, serve hot with desired topping (I like fresh parsley). DIG IN!
- To Make Gluten Free. Omit the flour when you brown the stew meat, and use red wine instead of beer. If your stew finishes up thinner than you would like due to the absence of flour, try one of the suggestions to thicken it below.
- Slow Cooker Beef with Frozen Vegetables. While I love fresh vegetables for their superior flavor and texture, you could swap part of the vegetables (including the carrots and parsnips) for a bag of frozen mixed veggies. No need to saute the frozen veggies; simply stir them into the slow cooker towards the end of the stew’s cooking time.
Tips for Perfect Crockpot Beef Stew Meat
The Best Type of Meat to Use for Beef Stew
For the best results when making crockpot beef stew:
- 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.
- Similar to this Crockpot Vegetable Beef Soup, I recommend buying a single piece of chuck roast from the butcher, then cutting it into cubes yourself.
- Selecting a single type of beef means 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.
Do You Have to Cook Stew Meat Before Putting It In the Crockpot?
For the best beef stew, you need to brown the meat first.
- The crust that forms on the beef as you brown it is the most essential foundation of the stew’s flavor. It’s the secret to making an old fashioned beef stew you’ll devour over and over.
- In every way but waiting for it to cook, this is an EASY beef stew recipe. Browning the meat takes some time, but it is worth it.
- Brown the meat in batches and don’t crowd the pan to ensure that glorious crust forms. Be patient. Pour yourself some wine. Embrace the moment.
Can You Put Frozen Meat or Raw Stew Meat in the Crockpot?
- Raw meat is perfectly safe to put into the slow cooker. In fact, after it’s browned it probably won’t be fully cooked through. The crockpot finishes the job.
- Frozen beef is not safe to place in a crockpot. During cooking, the meat may spend too long at room temperature and become unsafe to eat.
- To thaw beef quickly and safely: Place your meat in a ziptop bag, squeeze out excess air, and seal. Then, place it in a large bowl, and fill the bowl with cold water. Let it sit for about 30 minutes. If it’s not thawed after this time, empty the water, and refill with fresh water.
What Spices Do You Put in a Beef Stew?
- Plenty of salt and pepper! This gives the beef and vegetables outstanding flavor.
- Thyme is the perfect addition to beef stew. It complements the root vegetables with an earthy and savory flavor. (If possible, use fresh thyme.)
Can You Overcook Stew in a Slow Cooker?
- You can overcook stew meat in a slow cooker but, the slow cooker significantly reduces these odds due to the low and slow cooking method and the amount of liquid.
- Beef stew cooks in a crock pot in 6 to 8 hours on low or 3 to 5 hours on high. Time can vary depending upon your slow cooker, so check early if your crock pot tends to run on the hotter side.
- Chuck roast is fairly forgiving thanks to its marbling, so if you go over on time or your crockpot switches to “keep warm” all is certainly not lost. Your vegetables may be a little mushy, but your stew should still have great flavor.
How Do You Thicken Beef Stew in a Crock Pot?
- I wrote this recipe to ensure the beef stew is plenty thick, so you won’t need to do anything extra to thicken it up <—this 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.
How to Store, Reheat, and Freeze Crock Pot Beef Stew
- To Store. Place cooked and cooled stew in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Gently reheat leftovers in a Dutch oven or similar large pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat, adding splashes of broth as needed as needed. You can also rewarm this stew in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave until hot.
- To Freeze. Store cooked and cooled leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
What to Serve with Crockpot Beef Stew
While this gourmet beef stew slow cooker recipe is a complete meal in itself, here are a few ideas of what to serve with it:
- Bread. A loaf of bread is the perfect complement to stew. Try this Crock Pot Bread, Cheesy Jalapeño Cornbread or a crusty loaf from your local bakery.
- Vegetables. Add more healthy vegetables to your meal like this Roasted Zucchini, Sautéed Cabbage, or Sautéed Brussels Sprouts.
- Salad. This Anytime Arugula Salad or Caesar Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Crispy Chickpea Croutons would be light, fresh, and delicious with this stew.
Recommended Tools to Make Slow Cooker Beef Stew
- Programmable slow cooker. A helpful tool to deter overcooking.
- A Sturdy Dutch oven. For browning the meat. I also love this one, and this is another good brand.
This crockpot beef stew is the easy, not too heavy, richly flavored, and fall-apart tender recipe you need this season. Let it comfort you on a cool night soon!
Healthy Crock Pot Beef Stew
- 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.
- TO STORE: Place cooked and cooled stew in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently reheat leftovers in a Dutch oven or similar large pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat, adding splashes of broth as needed as needed. You can also rewarm this stew in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave until hot.
- TO FREEZE: Store cooked and cooled leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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