Slow Cooker Beef Stew

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There’s nothing quite like a big pot of beef stew simmering away, filling the house with those rich, hearty aromas that instantly make you feel comforted and at home. This slow cooker beef stew recipe has been a beloved family tradition in my household for years, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

Every time I make this stew, it takes me back to crisp autumn days spent raking leaves in the backyard as a kid, coming inside with rosy cheeks and being greeted by the intoxicating smells of mom’s stew. She’d make a huge batch that seemed to get even better as the week went on. We’d eagerly spoon up the tender beef and velvety gravy over fluffy mashed potatoes, savoring each warm, satisfying bite.

Nowadays, this stew is my go-to recipe for easy, comforting meals on chilly nights. It’s a true labor of love, but most of the time is hands-off while the slow cooker works its magic. I’m telling you, this soul-warming dish is worth every minute. Let me show you how it’s done!

What Makes This Slow Cooker Beef Stew So Irresistible?

Imagine the most decadent, deeply-flavored beef stew you’ve ever tasted. We’re talking fall-apart tender chunks of beef, a lusciously thick gravy, perfectly cooked veggies in every bite, and layers of savory, slightly sweet, herby notes that meld together in pure comfort food bliss. This slow cooker beef stew checks all those boxes with:

  • Melt-in-your-mouth beef chuck roast that becomes incredibly tender from the long, gentle cooking
  • A rich, velvety gravy made even more luscious by deglazing the pan with red wine
  • Yukon gold potatoes that hold their shape instead of disintegrating
  • Sweet carrots, aromatic garlic, and pearl onions that soak up all those delectable flavors
  • A hint of tomato paste for subtle sweetness and beautiful color
  • Fresh rosemary and thyme for an herbal, earthy backbone

Just a touch of Worcestershire and browning sauce (like Gravy Master) to deepen the flavor
Seriously, the ingredients list reads like a greatest hits of stew all-stars. It’s the kind of rustic, soul-satisfying dish that makes you want to curl up by the fireplace with a big crusty bread for sopping up every last drop.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew Ingredients

Before we get started, gather up these stew essentials:

  • Beef Chuck Roast: Chuck is my go-to for stew because it has an incredible beefy flavor and becomes meltingly tender when braised. You’ll need 2 1/2 lbs cut into 1-inch cubes.
  • Flour, Salt & Pepper: For dredging the beef to get a nice sear. I use a mix of garlic salt, celery salt, and black pepper.
  • Olive Oil: For searing and cooking the aromatics.
  • Onions, Garlic, Carrots, Potatoes, Peas: The quintessential stew veggie blend! I use pearl onions, Yukon golds, and frozen peas.
  • Red Wine: Using a dry red like Cabernet or Merlot adds such amazing depth. Don’t worry, the alcohol cooks out.
  • Beef Broth: To create that glorious gravy! I always add a spoonful of Better than Bouillon for extra richness.
  • Tomato Paste: A small amount goes a long way in adding subtle sweetness and beautiful color.
  • Herbs & Aromatics: Fresh rosemary, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, and a dash of browning sauce like Gravy Master.
  • Butter & Cornstarch: For a lush, velvety finish and thickening at the end.

Beef Stew Tips & Tricks

  • Sear the beef in batches. This creates incredible flavor from those browned bits on the bottom of the pan. We’ll deglaze with wine to incorporate all that goodness into the stew.
  • Use a chuck roast or other tough, inexpensive cut. Lean, tender cuts like sirloin or tenderloin will become dry and tough. Chuck has amazing marbling and becomes fork-tender when braised low and slow.
  • Don’t overcrowd the slow cooker. This stew is hearty! Make sure to use at least a 6-quart slow cooker so everything can fit comfortably.
  • Add frozen peas at the end. This keeps them from overcooking and losing their bright green color.
  • Thicken the gravy right before serving. I like to make a quick slurry with cornstarch and cold water, then stir it into the stew until it reaches my desired consistency.
  • Finish with butter. Swirling in a couple tablespoons of cold butter at the end creates an outrageously rich, velvety texture. It’s a chef’s trick called “monter au beurre.”

Slow Cooker Beef Stew Variations

This classic stew recipe is a total crowd-pleaser on its own, but you can easily mix it up with different flavors and ingredients:

  • Swap the wine for Guinness or hard cider for an Irish or autumnal twist.
  • Add mushrooms, celery, green beans, or parsnips for extra veggies.
  • Use sweet potatoes instead of Yukon golds for a touch of sweetness.
  • Make it spicy with a dash of cayenne, chipotle chili, or your favorite hot sauce.
  • Try fresh thyme, rosemary, or oregano for different herbal notes.
  • Swap beef for lamb or bison for a fun change of pace.

Beef Stew FAQs

Can I put raw beef in the slow cooker?
Absolutely! If you’re short on time, you can skip searing the beef and simply toss the raw cubes with the flour/seasoning mixture and add directly to the slow cooker. The long cooking time will ensure it becomes perfectly tender.

What can I use instead of red wine?
If you don’t have wine on hand, you can use equal amounts of beef broth, red grape juice, or even a dark beer like a stout or porter. Just be sure to add a tablespoon or two of vinegar (red wine, sherry, or balsamic all work) to help tenderize the beef.

How do I store leftover beef stew?
Let the stew cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for 3-4 days. You can also freeze it for 2-3 months. The stew actually tastes even better after a day or two as the flavors continue to meld!

What should I serve with beef stew?
My family’s favorites are crusty bread, buttermilk biscuits, egg noodles, or creamy mashed potatoes to soak up all that delicious gravy. A fresh green salad with a zippy vinaigrette also makes a nice, bright contrast.

Make-Ahead Beef Stew

This stew is the ultimate make-ahead meal! You can fully prepare it up to two days in advance and simply reheat gently on the stovetop or in the slow cooker. It also freezes beautifully for up to 3 months.

I love making a double batch to have plenty of leftovers for easy lunches or dinners later in the week. The stew gets even better as the days go on and the flavors have more time to develop. It’s pure comfort in a bowl!

Time to Dig In!

I can’t even begin to describe the incredible aromas that will greet you when you lift that slow cooker lid. Just pure, savory, beefy goodness with hints of red wine, herbs, and sweet carrots that will have your mouth watering like crazy.

This stew is a showstopper, but not at all fussy. It’s rustic, homestyle cooking at its finest. I can’t wait for you to cozy up with a big bowl and dunk some crusty bread to soak up all that gravy. This is the kind of soul-warming dish that sticks to your ribs and leaves you feeling satisfied to your core.

Enjoy, my friends! I’d love to hear if this slow cooker beef stew becomes a new family tradition for you.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

This classic beef stew is pure comfort in a bowl. Tender beef, perfectly cooked veggies, and a rich, velvety gravy make it a soul-warming dish for chilly nights. Let your slow cooker do the work for an easy, amazingly flavorful family meal.
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Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds beef chuck roast cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3-6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter divided
  • 2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup dry red wine like Cabernet or Merlot
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons better than bouillon or 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 5 medium carrots cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 pound baby Yukon gold potatoes halved or quartered
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup cold water + 3 tablespoons cornstarch optional for thickening
  • 2-3 drops browning sauce like Gravy Master optional

Instructions

  • Cut beef into 1-inch cubes, discarding any large fat pieces. Season with pepper, garlic salt and celery salt, then toss with flour to coat.
  • Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear beef cubes for 45 seconds per side until browned. Transfer to slow cooker.
  • Reduce heat to medium and melt 1 tablespoon butter. Cook onions for 5 minutes, then add garlic for 1 minute until fragrant. Deglaze pan with a splash of wine, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer to slow cooker.
  • Add remaining ingredients except peas, cornstarch slurry, and 2 tablespoons butter to slow cooker. Cook on low for 7 1/2-8 hours or high for 3 1/2-4 hours.
  • In the last 15 minutes, add peas. Remove bay leaves and rosemary stem.
  • For a thicker gravy, stir together the cold water and cornstarch, then slowly whisk into the stew.
  • Turn off heat and swirl in remaining 2 tablespoons cold butter until melted. Add browning sauce if desired.
  • Serve stew warm over mashed potatoes, egg noodles or with crusty bread.

Notes

  • Beef can be added raw to the slow cooker instead of searing if desired.
  • Substitute beef broth, red grape juice or stout beer for the red wine if needed, adding 1-2 tablespoons vinegar.
  • Let stew cool completely before storing in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or freezing for 2-3 months.

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