Slow Cooker Guinness Beef Stew

4.89 from 53 votes
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Guinness beef stew is a classic St. Patrick’s Day recipe with tender pieces of corned beef and root vegetables infused with beer and spices. This method uses the stovetop and slow cooker for maximum flavor.

Guinness beef stew in a white bowl.

My family looks forward to celebrating our Irish heritage with a big yearly feast! Corned beef is always on the menu. When not making my baked corned beef, I’ll chop the meat and vegetables into chunks for a Guinness beef stew.

After briefly searing the meat to develop surface flavors, I simmer the tough cut for hours in the slow cooker for fork-tender pieces. To make the gravy incredibly delicious, add Guinness. The malty stout has deep-roasted coffee notes that complement the dish.

“The Guinness Irish Stew is my favorite. I have made this numerous times over the years. It is my go-to if I am making a stew to take to friends. This week I make and delivered to two of our friends. I get “that is the best stew I have had”. Thank you, Jessica”—Theresa

Recipe ingredients

  • Beef: Corned beef is a tough cut of meat with lots of intermuscular fat and gelatin. It benefits from prolonged, moist-heat cooking, so a slow cooker or Dutch oven is an ideal preparation method. Corned beef gets its characteristic pink hue and taste from being cured in tinted brine.
  • Beer: For this Irish-inspired recipe, flavoring the stew liquid with a stout like Guinness beer is preferred. It has a heavy body that’s dark in color. The sweetness of the malt balances the slight bitterness of the hops. Be sure to use Draught beer and not an extra stout kind, which tends to be more bitter.
  • Oil: Used to sear the pieces of beef for a golden crust.
  • Aromatics: Diced onions and minced garlic add an earthy taste.
  • Tomato: Tomato paste thickens the stew and enhances the umami flavor.
  • Vegetables: I use a variety of root vegetables and squash. The starches in red potatoes soak up the flavorful liquid and hold their shape well while simmering. Butternut squash, when softened, adds a nice contrast in texture. Carrots add sweetness to the dish. Corn kernels add little chewy bits to the stew.
  • Stock: Use unsalted beef broth or stock to add dimension to the stewing liquid. If using salted stock, omit the salt added to the beef for seasoning.
  • Sugar: Brown sugar, which contains molasses, offsets some of the bitter taste of Guinness.
  • Seasonings: I use the package of pickling spices that come with the corned beef (this is optional) and chopped fresh thyme.
  • Flour: Used to thicken the stew at the end of cooking.
  • Herbs: Freshly chopped parsley adds a pop of color for garnish.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Prepare the corned beef

Step 1: Corned beef brisket has a fatty layer on top. Trim most of it off so it doesn’t make the stew too greasy. Also, cut the brisket into large 1-inch pieces as it will shrink as it cooks. Season with salt and pepper before adding it to the hot pan.

Sear the beef first

Cubes of corned beef with herbs and pickled spices in a Crock-Pot.

Step 2: Before placing the corned beef in a 6-quart slow cooker, I sear the meat in a pan on the stovetop. Set the heat to medium-high, warm the olive oil, then saute the beef for a few minutes per side. This process develops a flavorful brown crust that a steamy slow cooker can not achieve. This step adds some extra work to the recipe, but the flavorful brown bits are worth it.

Prepare the aromatics

Step 3: Heat the chopped onions, sliced garlic, and tomato paste in the microwave. This technique quickly softens the onions and mimics cooking them in a pan. The dry heat helps concentrate the alliums and glutamates flavor in the tomatoes. Transfer to the slow cooker with the seared beef.

Chef’s Tip: Alternatively, you can saute the ingredients in the same pan used to sear the beef over medium heat.

Add the beer and vegetables

Step 4: To the slow cooker, add the potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, beef stock, Guinness beer, brown sugar, thyme, and pickling spices. Stir it, then cover the pot. You can toss in bay leaves if desired.

Slow cook the stew

Step 5: What’s great about making this beef and Guinness stew in the slow cooker is you can just set it and forget it. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or low for 6 to 7 hours. The potatoes should be fork-tender when done.

Thicken the sauce

Cubes of corned beef and vegetables stewing in a slow cooker.

Step 6: After a few hours in the Crock-Pot, the simmering stew liquid will be thin. Make a flour slurry by whisking some of the hot stock with all-purpose. Pour that into the slow cooker, along with the starchy corn kernels. Cook for 30 minutes on high; the sauce will slightly thicken and should cling to the meat and vegetables.

Serve the beef stew

Step 7: Now you’re ready to serve the ultimate bowl of comfort food! Garnish with chopped fresh parsley. Don’t forget that leftovers can be used to make corned beef hash for breakfast.

Flavor variations

It’s easy to switch up the flavor of this Irish beef stew. Try these ingredients for your next batch:

  • Beef: If you prefer a less salty taste, use beef chuck or chuck roll, which I use in my classic beef stew.
  • Beer: Similar types of stout beer can be used, like Murphy’s or Beamish Irish stout, or other varieties of stout or dark beers like Porter.
  • Potatoes: Use other types of potatoes like Yukon Gold for a buttery and creamy texture, but avoid Russets that break apart easily.
  • Vegetables: Add other vegetables like celery, parsnips, turnips, sweet potatoes, or other types of squash. Cut them into similar sizes to cook evenly, about 1-inch pieces. 
  • Sweetener: Use maple syrup or honey instead of brown sugar.
  • Flour: Make the stew gluten-free using cassava flour instead of all-purpose flour. Alternatively, mix 3 tablespoons cornstarch with 6 tablespoons of water.
  • Flavoring: To enhance the beefy taste of the stew, add Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce. Use 1 to 3 teaspoons to taste.

Serving suggestions

Frequently asked questions

Can I use regular beef instead of corned beef?

I recommend using a beef chuck or beef chuck roll to substitute the corned beef. They are tough cuts that tenderize with low heat and a slow cooking process. However, the taste will be much less savory. Adjust with more salt at the end of cooking.

Why is my stew bitter?

The beer ingredients like hops and barley contribute to a slightly bitter coffee flavor. The stout has a slightly sweet taste, but to balance the beef stew’s flavor, add a small amount of brown sugar, increasing it if needed.

Can I make the Guinness beef stew in a Dutch oven?

Suppose you don’t have a slow cooker, no problem. Using a Dutch oven, brown the beef and remove it from the pot. Saute the onion, garlic, and tomato paste until tender. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the liquid ingredients and seasonings. Add the vegetables and beef. Cover and bake at 350ºF (177ºC) until tender, about 75 to 90 minutes. Add corn and simmer on the stovetop until cooked through.

Irish beef stew with tender pieces of meat and root vegetables.

Benefits of browning the meat

You can add the beef straight to the slow cooker if you’re short on time. However, the meat will be less flavorful. Searing corned beef develops hundreds of new flavors on the surface, called Maillard browning. This step also helps render the fat so the stew doesn’t become greasy.

Slow Cooker Guinness Beef Stew

A hearty beef stew with tender pieces of corned beef and root vegetables infused with beer and spices, perfect for St. Patrick's Day!
4.89 from 53 votes
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time4 hours
Servings 6 servings
Course Soup
Cuisine Irish

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 pounds corned beef brisket
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups yellow onion, ½” dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups baby red potatoes, quartered, 1” pieces
  • 2 cups carrots, 1” pieces
  • 2 cups butternut squash, 1” cubes
  • 3 cups unsalted beef stock
  • 1 ½ cups beer Guinness Draught
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 1 packet pickling spices, comes with corned beef, optional
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup corn kernels, fresh or canned
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley

Instructions 

  • Prepare Corned Beef – Trim the excess fat off the surface of the beef, leaving a thin layer. Cut into 1-inch cubes, about 3 cups—season with salt and pepper.
  • Sear the Meat – In a large frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, brown the meat for about 2 minutes on each side, 8 minutes total. If needed, work in batches, keeping the pieces in a single layer. Transfer to a 6-quart slow cooker.
  • Microwave the Aromatics – In a microwave-safe dish, combine the onions, garlic, tomato paste, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Microwave on high for 5 minutes, stopping and stirring every 2 minutes. The onions should be tender. Transfer to the slow cooker.
  • Add the beer and vegetables – Add the potatoes, carrot, butternut squash, beef stock, Guinness beer, brown sugar, thyme, and pickling spices (if using) to the slow cooker. Stir to combine.
  • Cook – Cover and cook for 3 to 4 hours on high or 6 to 7 hours on low. The potatoes should be fork-tender.
  • Thicken the Sauce – In a medium bowl, combine flour with ¾ cup of the hot stew liquid and whisk to combine. Pour the mixture back into the slow cooker and stir. Add the corn kernels—cover and cook on high for 30 minutes.
  • Serve – Pour the stew into bowls and garnish with parsley right before serving.

Notes

  • Make it Gluten-Free: Use equal amounts of cassava flour instead of the all-purpose flour. For cornstarch, mix 3 tablespoons cornstarch with 6 tablespoons of water. Use a gluten-free beer.
  • Storing: Cool completely, then cover and store inside the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freezer for 1 month.
  • Reheating: Cover and reheat individual portions in a microwave-safe bowl on high in 30-second increments until hot. Alternatively, simmer on the stovetop until hot.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 6 servings
Calories 491kcal (25%)Carbohydrates 45g (15%)Protein 26g (52%)Fat 21g (32%)Saturated Fat 8g (40%)Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5gMonounsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 94mg (31%)Sodium 1509mg (63%)Potassium 870mg (25%)Fiber 6g (24%)Sugar 10g (11%)Vitamin A 10600IU (212%)Vitamin C 52.8mg (64%)Calcium 50mg (5%)Iron 2mg (11%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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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.

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23 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Judy says

    Hi Jessica,

    This will be the next soup/stew I am making. Probably after New Years but just made my list for ingredients.

    Thank you for another great recipe.
    Judy

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I can’t wait to hear what you think Judy! A yummy recipe for the winter or st. patrick’s day 🙂

      • Larry Scheiber says

        Jessica,
        Do you think the Guinness corned beef stew receipe would also work using a crockpot?
        Thank you.
        Larry S

        • Jessica Gavin says

          Hi Larry! Yes, I think you could make this in a slow cooker. I would still brown the meat before adding to the slow cooker. Microwave the onions, garlic and tomato paste together for about 5 minutes until softened (stir every 2 minutes). Add the flour, stir and microwave 1 minute. Add that to the pot. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot (broth, vegetables, beer) and cook until the vegetables are tender. I would estimate 3 hours on high and 6 hours on low. Let me know how it turns out!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Chris! I think you could leave it out, but maybe reduce the Guinness to 1 cup so the soup doesn’t taste bitter. The brown sugar helps balance the bitterness. Would you be okay with substituting maple syrup, honey or some pureed dates instead?

  2. Stacy | POP KITCHEN says

    Yum! I love Irish stew and Corned Beef. But I’ve never thought of making them one dish. Sounds very delicious. Especially with that soda bread!

  3. Nicole Pellegrini says

    So I made this today (no, it’s not St. Patrick’s Day, but I wanted to use up some corned beef in my freezer). This was easily the best corned beef I have ever made in my life! My partner usually hates corned beef made the traditional way but this was a winner, and a keeper. So much more flavor and the broth was delicious!

    The only changes I made were I soaked the corned beef for an hour in water, just to drain out some of the saltiness. And I didn’t have butternut squash so I threw in some turnips instead. Yum!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yay Nicole! You made my day 🙂 I’m so happy that you enjoyed the corned beef stew, even though it’s not St. Paddy’s day, hehe. I love the idea of using turnips. I’ll have to try soaking the corned beef next time. Happy eating!

  4. Theresa W Halford says

    Hello Jessica,

    I made this stew for a family gathering and I had such great feedback. One stated it was the best stew she ever had. This will be a repeat again and again. Thank you.

  5. Judy Caywood says

    I’m making this right now. I am using chuck since that is what I had in the freezer. Cannot wait to finally try it. Will let you know how it turns out.

    I told my husband I am wearing your favorite perfume – ode de garlic. Grin We both like garlic.

  6. Mary says

    Word of caution for gluten free: You must not only change the flour to a gluten free option but utilize GLUTEN FREE BEER. Guinness is not gluten free!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thanks for the catch! I’ve updated the notes section of the recipe to call out using gluten-free beer.

  7. Cynthia says

    Am I the only person that has a problem with mushy vegetables when you put it in with the meat? Every time I make a dish that says put the veg in with a tough meat, it happens. How do you prevent that? To me, the vegetables are the best part and its ruined.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I think cutting the vegetables to a similar size and large enough to withstand the long cook time helps with the texture.

  8. Jennifer Raye says

    Tasted like a regular stew but with a tough of meat. Missed the cornbeef taste. Followed recipe to a tee. Will use recipes with a roast again but not cornbeef. Why do?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thanks for the feedback, Jennifer! Glad to hear that you would use the recipe again with regular beef. Do you prefer to eat corned beef more as larger pieces are sliced instead of stew for a stronger brined taste?

  9. Mike West says

    I bought already cooked corned beef. Will it work and when should I add the corned beef? Making it tomorrow Saint patty’s day…thanks!

  10. Michael J. Kraemer says

    I am one of these people who change 15 things in a recipe and then wonder why it doesn’t come out as advertised! Couldn’t find Corned beef, so I used a chuck roast. To my palate, “Dirty Bastard” beer has a similar taste to Guinness and also has molasses in it and it was what I had on hand. This came out very bitter. I have never used pickling spice other than for corned beef, and since I didn’t have a packet I guessed at 1 tablespoon. Don’t know if this was a factor. Since I didn’t follow the recipe not fair to give a rating.

    My wife liked it. She hates beer. Go figure.

  11. Theresa says

    The Guiness Irish Stew is my favorite. I have made this numerous times over the years. It is my go to if I am making a stew to take to friends. This week I make and delivered to two of our friends. I get the “that is the best stew I have had”. Thank you Jessica for such an easy stew that is so great!