Classic Beef Stew

Saved to Favorites Save to Favorites↓ Jump to Recipe

Get ready for the best beef stew recipe with chunks of potatoes and carrots simmering in a flavorful red wine sauce. It’s the ultimate cold-weather comfort food packed with protein and vegetables.

Try this stew recipe with the Instant Pot or Slow Cooker for alternative cooking methods.

Delicious beef stew recipe cooking in a dutch oven.
Table of Contents
  1. What’s the best beef for beef stew?
  2. Searing adds surface flavor
  3. Sautéing the aromatics
  4. Using hearty vegetables
  5. The secret ingredients
  6. Wine selection
  7. Thickening the sauce liquid
  8. The dutch oven sautés and braises
  9. Braising in the oven
  10. Can this stew be made entirely on the stovetop?
  11. What to serve this with
  12. Beef Stew Recipe

Beef stew has everything you need for a complete meal. I use my dutch oven to sear the beef first to add flavor to the surface. Then I place it in the oven to finish the braising process. The recipe involves a little upfront preparation, but you have an hour to let the equipment do the work.

The gentle and prolonged cooking time ensures that the chunks of meat and vegetables become extremely fork-tender. Over time, the flavorful red wine liquid concentrates into a creamy, thickened sauce that infuses and coats every ingredient. You can serve this meal with mashed potatoes, rice, or pasta for a satisfying feast.

Beef chuck in a mixing bowl seasoned with salt and pepper.
Step 1. Prepare the meat

What’s the best beef for beef stew?

Beef stew is extremely popular because it takes tough, inexpensive cuts of meat and turns them into tender pieces. I recommend using a boneless beef chuck (chuck roast), which comes from the cow’s shoulder section, or beef chuck roll. This selection contains a lot of marbling and connective tissue to create flavorful pieces.

Avoid buying precut pieces labeled as stew meat from the store. They tend to be too lean, resulting in a dry texture. I also like to control the size of the pieces, cutting them into about 1 ½-inch cube. Make sure to trim off excess fat and tough silver skin.

Chunks of browned beef searing in a dutch oven.
Step 2. Cook the beef

Searing adds surface flavor

To create a flavorful golden-brown crust on the beef, dry the surface well with paper towels. Doing so ensures that the meat sears instead of steams when it hits the hot pan—season with salt and pepper to enhance the savory taste. Sear in hot olive oil over medium-high heat. The goal is to brown the sides, not cook them all the way through. The flavorful browned bits of fond on the bottom of the pan will add a lot of flavor to the stew.

With chuck cuts, dry heat from pan-searing won’t thoroughly tenderize the meat. The moist cooking environment and stewing liquid will turn tough collagen in the muscle fibers into rich gelatin.

Minced garlic added to a pot of carrots, celery, and onions.
Step 3. Cook the vegetables and aromatics

Sautéing the aromatics

A classic mix of onions, carrots, and celery adds aromatics and natural sweetness to the dish. As the moisture evaporates and these ingredients lightly brown, they caramelize. The garlic and fresh thyme cook in the fat so that their fat-soluble flavors infuse into the stew before adding the liquid.

Deglazing a pan with carrots inside.
Step 4. Deglaze the pan

Using hearty vegetables

I add big chunks of carrots and potatoes to make this a complete meal. I cut them into pieces large enough to withstand the long cooking time and not fall apart. I find that waxy types of potatoes, which are lower in starch and higher in sugar, like white, red, and yellow, keep their shape when stewing and absorb lots of flavors. I prefer the buttery and smooth taste of Yukon golds.

The secret ingredients

Add tomato paste and soy sauce to deepen the savory notes and make the beef stew flavor pop. They contain natural glutamates that increase the umami taste of the beef for dimension. I also use balsamic vinegar for acidity to balance and enhance the dish’s salty and subtly sweet flavors. If you don’t have soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce is a good substitute.

Wine selection

Use a dry red wine like cabernet sauvignon, merlot, chianti, pinot noir, or a French Beaujolais. You want it to be fruity with tannins but not overly sweet. Make sure it’s one you’d like to drink because its flavors will infuse into the stew. Plus, you’ll have leftovers to enjoy with the meal.

Thickening the sauce liquid

Add flour at the beginning of cooking to saute out its raw taste. Adding in beef broth or stock helps hydrate the starches; as it begins to boil, the starches swell and thicken. The starches in flour are robust and can keep their consistency in prolonged heating, making it an ideal candidate for stewing. 

Over time as steam builds up in the pot, you’ll notice it gradually exiting the sides of the lid. This release helps to reduce the volume and to concentrate the liquid. If needed, at the very end of cooking, simmer the stew on the stovetop for a few minutes to adjust the consistency.

The dutch oven sautés and braises

A dutch oven is an extremely versatile pot to execute multiple cooking methods. The heavy cast iron construction, with thick walls, does a great job retaining heat. It beautifully browns the beef stew meat, sautees the vegetables, and simmers the stew with fragrant thyme and bay leaf. Then the whole pot goes in the oven to complete the braising process.

The oven provides a consistent heated environment, gently simmering the ingredients for over an hour. Hands-off cooking is similar to using a slow cooker. One thing to check is that the knob of the lid is heat-rated above 350ºF (177ºC) so it doesn’t melt. If not, then finish cooking the stew on the stovetop.

Braising in the oven

The most consistent and low-key way to cook a stew is in a covered pot in the oven. The hot air evenly circulates in the closed environment, gradually transferring the heat by conduction from the pot to the food. I use a moderate 350ºF (177ºC) to keep the braising liquid at a low simmer. 

The beef is tender when cooked to well done. The connective tissue and fat must reach 210ºF (99ºC) for at least an hour. This duration allows the collagen to transform into gelatin and render the fat from the protein. The meal is ready when you can easily cut the beef and vegetables with a fork.

Top down view of a large pot filled with old-fashioned beef stew.

Can this stew be made entirely on the stovetop?

Yes! However, the burners on the stove give direct heat to the bottom of the pot, making it prone to hot spots. Therefore, check and stir every 20 minutes and adjust the heat as needed.

The cook time may be slightly longer with the lid’s constant lifting, releasing steam that helps to soften the food—cook on a gentle simmer, low to medium-low heat. 

What to serve this with

Beef stew garnished and served in a bowl with a spoon.

Benefits of adding wine to the dish

The alcohol in wine lowers the boiling point of a liquid, like beef stock. Instead of the boiling point of water being 212ºF (100ºC), the wine reduces that to below 200 degrees. This causes the wine to evaporate quicker and generates more water vapor in the pot for quicker heat transfer and cooking of the stew. It’s like pressure cooking.

Pin this recipe to save for later

Pin This

Beef Stew

Delicious beef stew recipe with sauteed chunks of tender meat and hearty root vegetables simmering in a flavorful red wine reduction sauce.
4.93 from 38 votes
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 30 mins
Servings 6 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 ½ pounds boneless beef chuck, or beef chuck roll
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed for seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, plus more as needed for seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled, cut into ¾" thick slices
  • 1 cup celery, ½" thick slices
  • 1 cup red onion, 1" dice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1 bay leaf, dried or fresh
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup red wine, dry
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 pound yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Instructions 

  • Prepare Beef – Thoroughly dry the surface of the beef with paper towels. Trim off any excess fat or silverskin. Cut into 1 ½-inch thick cubes, then season with salt and pepper.
  • Saute Beef – Set the oven rack to the lower third position. Heat to 350ºF (177ºC). Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Once hot, add the beef in a single layer and work in two batches. Sear the meat until browned, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a clean plate. Repeat with remaining beef.
  • Cook Vegetables – Turn the heat down to medium and add the carrots, celery, and onions. Saute until the onions are lightly browned and tender, 5 minutes.
    Add the thyme and bay leaf and saute for 30 seconds. Add the garlic, and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Deglaze Pan – Add the balsamic vinegar. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 1 minute.
  • Make Stew Liquid – Add the tomato paste, stir and cook for 30 seconds. Sprinkle in the flour, stir and cook for 1 minute. Slowly stir in the beef stock, scraping down the bottom of the pan. Add the wine and soy sauce, and stir to combine. Add the browned beef and potatoes.
  • Finish Cooking – Bring the liquid to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, and turn off the heat. Cover and carefully transfer the pot to the oven.
    Cook until the meat is tender and the vegetables are easily pierced with a fork, about 75 to 90 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired. For a thicker sauce, stir and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • To Serve – Garnish with chopped parsley.

Recipe Video

Notes

  • Make it Gluten-Free: Substitute tamari or coconut aminos for soy sauce. Omit the flour and use a cornstarch slurry. Once the stew is done cooking in the oven, transfer it to the stovetop. Combine 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and ¼ cup water. Bring liquid to a boil over medium-high heat, slowly add the slurry, and stir until the liquid thickens, 60 to 90 seconds.
  • Make it Whole-30: Substitute coconut aminos for soy sauce. Substitute arrowroot flour (starch/powder) Bob’s Red Mill is recommended.
  • Storing: Cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Freeze in a resealable plastic bag for 3 months. Defrost before using. 
  • Reheating: Cover and reheat in the microwave on high setting in 30-second increments, stirring in between, until hot. Heat on the stovetop or medium heat until hot. Add more beef stock if needed. 
Nutrition Facts
Beef Stew
Amount Per Serving
Calories 629 Calories from Fat 306
% Daily Value*
Fat 34g52%
Saturated Fat 11g55%
Cholesterol 130mg43%
Sodium 1174mg49%
Potassium 1566mg45%
Carbohydrates 33g11%
Fiber 5g20%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 45g90%
Vitamin A 131IU3%
Vitamin C 22mg27%
Calcium 389mg39%
Iron 14mg78%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Tried this recipe?

Tag me on Instagram. I'd love to see how it turns out!

Tag @jessica_gavin

Filed under:

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

Jessica's Secrets: Cooking Made Easy!
Get my essential cooking techniques that I learned in culinary school.
Jessica Gavin standing in the kitchen

You May Also Like

Reader Interactions

24 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Patricia says

    I made this last night. I used gluten free flour and soy sauce. I tossed in a bell pepper and jalapeno since I had them and served it over mashed potatoes It had great Flavor and the thickness was perfect. Everyone agree it made the keeper list

  2. Natalie says

    This beef stew was incredibly yummy and comforting. It was a perfect dish for a pandemic winter night. The recipe was easy to follow and I loved how everything was made in one pot. It smelled so amazing. This beef stew recipe will definitely be my go to. Thank you for the recipe!

  3. Maureen Matthews says

    I followed the recipe exactly and it was delicious but found it a bit too sweet for me. I think I would cut down or eliminate the balsamic vinegar
    next time.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thanks for your feedback! Perhaps reduce the balsamic vinegar to 1-2 tablespoons next time. That will still give the stew dimension without tasting overly sweet. Let me know how it goes!

  4. Richard Travers says

    There are so many recipes available but yours is one of the best I have tried. Really enjoyed your video..

  5. Felicia says

    I’m trying to figure out how many calories are in this so I can track it. I know it says 629 per serving, but what quantity is a serving?
    This was delicious by the way!

  6. Lisanne says

    Made this today for dinner. It was super easy and delicious. Didn’t have wine so used a little bit of Marsala wine. Put it over noodles. And baked some biscuits. Thanks for your easy recipes that are YUMMY! My family loves them too!
    Lisanne NY

  7. Judy says

    I am making this right now. I’m about to put it in the oven. I can tell if that sauce is going to be perfect. Cannot wait to try it later tonight but I have no doubts this is a five star. Thanks so much Jessica and merry Christmas

  8. Angela says

    I have made this classic stew twice so far and it has turned out incredible each time. The only substitution I made is to use gluten free flour, and it turns out beautifully. This stew has so much depth of flavor, and it is so rich and satisfying. My husband loves it, too! He said he could tell this meal was made with love. ❤️

Leave A Reply

Recipe Rating