Cozy, hearty beef stew…does anything say “comfort food” more? This crockpot beef stew recipe results in super tender, fall-apart meat.
Winter is in full effect in Michigan and we are craving lots of cozy soups and stews. This stew is great for a winter weekend when you want to start it in the morning, spend the day sledding, skiing, or snowshoeing, and then come back and have a nice hearty dinner waiting for you.
It’s also great for busy weeknights, when you have a little time to prep in the morning, but won’t have any time in the afternoon or evening to cook. Imagine coming into your house and being welcomed by the smell of the stew! It doesn’t get much better than that!
About this Crockpot Beef Stew
Cooking beef stew in the slow cooker might just be the best way to do it. It’s almost completely hands-off once you get it started, and it makes your house smell amazing.
The low, slow heat breaks down the beef, making it ultra-tender, exactly how you want it to be in a good beef stew.
You will need to brown the beef and gently sauté the vegetables before putting them in the slow cooker. Browning the beef will not only add great color to your stew, but it also adds an unbelievable amount of flavor. You really don’t want to skip this step!
After everything gets added to the crockpot, it will cook for 6-8 hours on low. You’ll remove about a half cup of the juice/broth and let it cool (feel free to pop it in the fridge!). To this, you’ll add a bit of cornstarch to make a slurry. This gets added back into the stew and cooks for an additional half hour to thicken the stew to the perfect stewy consistency that you want from a hearty stew.
All that’s left to do after that is to enjoy!
How to make this slow cooker stew your own
This is a very traditional, old fashioned beef stew recipe, but you can definitely put your own twists on it.
- Instead of using the spices in this recipe, try using homemade beef stew seasoning mix. I wanted this recipe to be a full recipe on its own, but if you have a jar of that seasoning in your pantry, it would be amazing in this recipe.
- Try switching up the seasonings and using onion soup mix instead. It’s a really flavorful, delicious choice! Better yet, use homemade onion soup mix.
- Add some acidity with a splash of balsamic vinegar when this is done cooking. It really adds depth to the flavors. Start with a tablespoon and add more to taste.
- Prefer beer to red wine in your stew? It’s perfect for game day! You can definitely substitute beer for the red wine in this recipe.
- Hate carrots? Leave them out. Hate onions? Leave them out. Hate potatoes? Leave them out. Just don’t leave all three out, k? Hate beef? Make a different recipe.
FAQs about Crockpot Beef Stew
Can you put raw beef in a slow cooker?
Yes! You can, and by the time it’s done cooking, you’ll have tender, fall-apart meat. It’s magical! In this recipe, you’ll brown it a bit first, but it won’t be cooked all the way through when you place it in the crockpot.
What is the best meat to use for stew?
The best meat for this beef stew is something with a good marbling of fat. A chuck roast works great! You can cut it yourself or have your butcher cut it into cubes for you.
How do I thicken my slow cooker stew?
This stew is thickened in two ways. First, browning the meat with a spice and flour mixture will gently thicken the stew as it cooks.
Secondly, a slurry made from cornstarch and a small amount of the broth (you can also use water, but using broth prevents you from having to add water in order to thicken it…) is stirred into the stew and then the stew is cooked for another half hour to thicken. You could also use arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch, or masa (no slurry needed for masa).
Can you freeze this stew?
I find that potatoes don’t do super well if they’re frozen and then thawed. You could leave them out if you plan to freeze this, and then add in some boiled or roasted potatoes, or serve this over mashed potatoes (yum!).
Love your slow cooker?
It’s a great kitchen tool! Try these recipes:
- 4-5 pounds beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch pieces
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 4 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices (about 2 cups)
- 4 stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 2 cups)
- 1 large onion, chopped (about 3 cups)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 pound baby potatoes, or potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 large bay leaf
- 2 cups frozen peas
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 5 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with ½ cup broth
- In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, paprika, pepper, and garlic powder. Add beef and toss, coating all sides of beef with flour mixture.
- In a large pot or skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add floured meat to pan in a single layer (you will have to do this in batches, don’t overcrowd) and brown on all sides. Add more oil if needed. Remove from pan and place in slow cooker when browned. Repeat until all the meat is browned. The meat won’t be fully cooked, just browned.
- Add carrots, celery, and onion to skillet and cook, stirring, for 7-8 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add tomato paste, stirring to combine. Add red wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen all the brown bits. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until wine starts to reduce. Add to beef in slow cooker.
- Add potatoes, broth, and tomatoes to slow cooker. Add rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf (you’ll remove stems and the bay leaf later). Stir to combine.
- Cover and cook on high heat for 4-5 hours or until meat is tender.
- Leaving slow cooker on high heat, remove about a half cup of the sauce from the slow cooker. Let sauce cool to room temperature. Stir cornstarch into the reserved sauce until smooth. Slowly stir into stew and cook stew, covered, another 30 minutes to thicken.
- Stir in peas and parsley. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Pop your beef into the freezer for about an hour before cutting into chunks. It will be so much easier to slice!
- Note about using 2-3 tablespoons beef stew seasoning (LINK) per pound of meat instead of flour and spices.
- If you prefer, you can cook the stew on low heat for 8-9 hours. Turn to high after adding cornstarch mixture to thicken the stew, for about 30 minutes.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
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Husband’s take: I think Ben enjoys stew even more than I do. You can probably guess this, but he eats leftover cold. As always…I might not understand…but to each their own!
Changes I would make: None!