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This comforting, traditional easy slow cooker beef stew recipe combines tender beef with hearty root vegetables in a rich red wine gravy. The perfect crockpot dinner for chilly winter evenings!
With the temperature down and the energy bills up, it’s the perfect time to ditch the oven and take advantage of your slow cooker this soup and stew season. First up, the embodiment of comfort food, classic slow cooker beef stew!
This crock pot beef stew combines tender beef with carrots, onion, and potato, all swimming in a thick, rich red wine gravy. A hearty, rich, filling, and well-rounded meal packed with lots of flavors and hearty ingredients. However, whly makes it the best beef stew recipe I’ve ever tried is the deceptively simple ingredients that work to give it a deliciously complex and full-bodied flavor.
It’s really simple to prepare, too. Just sear the beef and par-cook the veggies. Then transfer it all to your slow cooker to simmer to perfection in time for dinner. Once ready, enjoy it alone or pair it with dinner rolls, polenta, or mashed potato.
That’s a meal that warms you up from the inside out. Plus, it tastes even better on day two. So making plenty of leftovers is practically an unwritten rule for making this crockpot beef stew recipe.
Ingredients for beef stew
This old-fashioned beef stew recipe comprises entirely simple, fairly inexpensive, pantry-friendly ingredients. What goes in a beef stew is:
- Beef: I use boneless beef chuck as my stew meat, which I cut into 1-inch pieces.
- Vegetables: I’ve used a fairly classic stew combination to make a beef stew with carrots and potatoes:
- Pearl onions
- Baby carrots
- Baby potatoes
- Garlic: Helps to add aromatic depth. For a mellower, sweeter flavor, you could use an entire head of roasted garlic instead.
- Olive oil: Or another neutral cooking oil.
- Flour: Use regular all-purpose flour OR a gluten-free alternative (like Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur’s). This will help thicken the stew sauce.
- Tomato paste: For tangy, umami-rich depth. If you can’t find make the concentrated paste, you could use tomato sauce, tomato puree, or passata instead. Use 3 tablespoons for every one Tbsp paste the recipe calls for.
- Worcestershire sauce: This special ingredient helps to add complex flavor to this easy beef stew recipe. It is tangy, umami-rich, and acidic to add a “bright” flavor.
- Red wine: Use a dry red wine for a super-rich beef stew crock pot recipe. If you’d prefer to omit the alcohol, use extra beef broth or grape juice instead.
- Beef broth: As this is the base for the beef stew, use a good-quality broth. I recommend homemade.
- Seasonings: You don’t need a ton of herbs and spices to make this stew beef crockpot recipe taste great. Instead, all I use is the following:
- Bay leaf
- Black pepper
- Fresh rosemary
- Dried thyme (or fresh thyme, using 3x the amount)
- To serve: I love to stir in some cold butter just before serving for a silkier mouthfeel and glossy look. Then finish it with fresh parsley.
What is the best meat for beef stew?
Without a doubt, the best beef for beef stew is beef chuck roast. It’s a low-budget, tough cut. Low and slow cooking helps to dissolve the collagen/connective tissues that turn into gelatin as it cooks. This makes for a thicker, richer stew and super tender meat that practically melts in the mouth.
Otherwise, look for beef labeled “stew beef” (usually pre-chopped) or brisket for the second-best beef stew meat options. Avoid lean cuts of beef like sirloin, as they’ll become tough and chewy when cooked low and slow.
What are the best potatoes for beef stew?
Use waxy potatoes for slow-cooker recipes as they will hold their shape better and won’t become mealy. I used baby potatoes (new potatoes), but red potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes would also work. Avoid starchy potatoes, like russets.
How to make beef stew in slow cooker
A few steps are required to prepare this beef stew slow cooker recipe. Start with pre-cooking on the stove. Then you can chuck it all in the crock pot and let it do the rest.
Step 1: Prepare the beef stew ingredients
First, peel the garlic and onions (follow this method for peeling pearl onions), and scrub the potatoes and carrots.
If you’re using larger vegetables, cut the carrots down into 1 ½-inch batons, the potatoes into even-sized 1-inch pieces, and the onion into thick wedges.
Also, chop the beef into 1-inch cubes, removing any excess fat.
Step 2: Par-cook the meat and vegetables
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Then add the beef in a single layer, with space in between. Let it brown and form a deep, dark crust (1-2 minutes per side) on every side.
Learning how to cook stew meat is essential. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan. You want to brown the beef and not steam it.
Then, remove the meat chunks from the pan and add the onion and garlic, reducing the heat to medium.
Deglaze the pan with a splash of broth or red wine. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom. Then leave the onions and garlic to cook until softened (about 5 minutes). And finally add the tomato paste, stirring well, and cook for a further minute.
Next, toss the beef in the flour and add it back to the pan, stirring well until the flour dissolves.
Step 3: Transfer Everything to the Slow Cooker
Transfer the pan contents, beef broth, wine, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and Worcestershire sauce to the slow cooker and mix well.
Add the lid and then cook the beef stew in the crockpot for 4 hours on HIGH. Add the carrots and potatoes halfway.
OR cook for 7-8 hours on LOW, adding the vegetable midway through cook time.
If you add all the vegetables right at the beginning, they will be very tender/mushy.
Before serving, remove the bay leaves and rosemary stem from the slow cooker.
Mix in the cold butter for a smooth and velvety finish.
Serve it up, garnished with fresh parsley, and enjoy!
What to serve with beef stew
There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a big bowl of the best stew recipe alone. Yet, I highly recommend pairing it up with:
- Crusty bread or dinner rolls (optionally with butter),
- Garlic bread,
- Focaccia or flatbread (like pita bread),
- Mashed potato (or lower-carb mashed cauliflower),
- Grains like rice or quinoa,
- Thick egg noodles,
- Buttered cabbage,
- A simple side salad.
In terms of food safety, that’s fine. However, searing the beef helps to add a ton of complex flavor and caramelization (thanks to the Maillard reaction).
It also provides the meat with color and reduces the risk of the meat clumping together. Plus it is a step I don’t recommend skipping if you want a complex, full-bodied flavor.
The flour should thicken the gravy.
However, if you’d prefer it even thicker, combine ¼ cup of cold water (or broth) with 3 tablespoons of cornstarch. Pour that into the beef stew crock pot. Do this at the end of the cooking process and leave it to cook on HIGH for 15-20 minutes. It will thicken further as it sits.
When browning the meat and par-cooking the veggies, I’ve found that around 4 hours on HIGH or 7-8 hours on LOW works perfectly for juicy, tender chuck beef in a slow cooker.
Stew meat is typically cut from tougher cuts of beef such as chuck roast, shoulder roast, and round roast. These cuts of beef are best suited for slow-cooking methods such as this recipe for beef stew.
This crock pot beef stew freezes very well. Allow it to cool, then transfer it to a freezer-safe airtight container (with headspace) or Ziplock bag/s.
Freeze for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
It’s best to use dry red wine with a hearty flavor for this stew beef crock pot recipe. I tend to always reach for a Cabernet Sauvignon, though you could also use Merlot, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, or Shiraz.
I recommend simmering this stew beef recipe in a heavy-based pan/Dutch oven over low heat for between 2-3 hours. Stir occasionally and first check on the meat at two hours.
More winter warming recipes
- Crock Pot Roast
- Minestrone Soup (Olive Garden Copycat)
- Slow Cooker Beef Brisket
- Corned Beef and Cabbage
- The Best Crockpot Chili
Or perhaps you’ll like our list of 20+ winter soup recipes!
If you try this slow cooker stew beef with potatoes recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew Recipe
- 43 oz boneless beef chuck
- 1/2 Tbsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 3 Tbsp olive oil or another neutral cooking oil
- 12 oz pearl onions (aka baby onions) OR 2 medium onions
- 14.2 oz baby carrots OR 3 large carrots (cut into about 1.5-inch pieces)
- 16 oz baby potatoes OR red potatoes/yukon golds, cut into equal pieces
- 2 oz garlic 5 large cloves OR 1 head roasted garlic
- 1 oz tomato paste 2 Tbsp OR 6 Tbsp tomato sauce/passata
- 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 0.74 oz all-purpose flour 1/4 cup OR gluten-free AP flour
- 2 cups dry red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, etc.
- 4 cups beef broth or use enough stock cubes for 4 cups of water
- 2 bay leaves small
- 0.3 oz fresh rosemary 1 handful
- 1 tsp dry thyme or 3 tsp fresh
- 2 Tbsp butter added at the end to make it silky smooth (optional)
- parsley chopped, for serving (optional)
Step 1: Prepare the Ingredients
- Peel the garlic and onions and scrub the potatoes and carrots.If you're using larger vegetables, cut the carrots down into 1 ½-inch batons, the potatoes into even-sized 1-inch pieces, and the onion into thick wedges.
- Chop the beef into 1-inch cubes, removing any excess fat.
Step 2: Par-Cook the Meat and Vegetables
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, then season the beef with salt and pepper and place it in a single layer, with space in between, to brown and form a deep, dark crust (1-2 minutes per side) on every side.Make sure not to overcrowd the pan. Otherwise, the beef will steam rather than brown.
- Remove the meat chunks from the pan and add the onion and garlic, reducing the heat to medium.
- Deglaze the pan with a splash of broth or red wine, using a wooden spoon to scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom. Then leave the onions and garlic to cook until softened (about 5 minutes) before adding the tomato paste, stirring well, and cooking for a further minute.
- Toss the beef in the flour and add it back to the pan, stirring well until the flour dissolves.
Step 3: Transfer Everything to the Slow Cooker
- Transfer the pan contents, beef broth, wine, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and Worcestershire sauce to the slow cooker and mix well.
- Add the lid and then cook the beef stew in the crockpot for 4 hours on HIGH, adding the carrots and potatoes halfway OR 7-8 hours on LOW, adding the vegetables midway.If you add all the vegetables right at the beginning, they will be very tender/mushy.
- Before serving, remove the bay leaves and rosemary stem from the slow cooker and mix in the cold butter for a smooth and velvety finish. Serve it up, garnished with fresh parsley, and enjoy!
- Store: Allow the stew to cool, and store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.Reheat: Reheat it gently on the stovetop over low heat or in the microwave for 2 minutes, then in 20-second increments until heated through. If needed, add an extra splash of beef broth.Freeze: Allow it to cool, then transfer it to a freezer-safe airtight container (with headspace) or Ziplock bag/s and freeze for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- Brown the meat: It makes a massive difference in building deep, rich flavor.
- Deglaze the pan: You don’t want to miss out on all the flavor caught up in the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Avoid peeking: Every time you lift the lid, you add 10-15 minutes of cooking time.
- Don’t overfill the crockpot: Most crock pots work best when only filled halfway (or up to 2/3 maximum).
- Tweak the flavors: Give it a taste and adjust any elements before serving. I.e., more salt (or soy sauce) for saltiness, Worcestershire or vinegar/lemon juice for tang and brightness, a pinch of sugar (or honey) for a touch of sweetness, etc.
- If it’s “greasy”: You can skim the grease from the top before serving. However, even better, if you’ve made enough for leftovers, the fat will solidify on top of the stew while it chills, making it easy to remove before reheating.
- Dried mushrooms: Like porcini or shiitake, add tons of umami depth for complex flavor. Rehydrate a handful of the mushrooms in some warm beef broth, then finely chop them and throw everything (mushrooms and liquid) into the stew.
- Other vegetables: There are plenty to choose from:
- Parsnips (treated like carrots),
- Winter squash,
- Green beans,
- Frozen peas (added right at the end).
- Hearty greens: Like kale, chard, or collard greens – for extra nutrients. Add them towards the end, so they don’t soften too much.
- Beans: For a heartier, more protein-dense crock pot beef stew, add a can or two of white beans/pinto beans.
- Caramelized onions: Replace just some of the pearl onions with caramelized onions for an extra rich and luxurious flavor.
- An acid: A splash of apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or lemon juice right before serving can help brighten the stew beef with potatoes.
- Other herbs: Instead of individual herbs, use a blend like Herbs de Provence.
- Smoked paprika: for a subtle smoky flavor.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.