Instant pot beef stew is the ultimate one-pot comfort food using high-pressure cooking. The meat tenderizes with a hearty mix of potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions for a delicious complete meal.
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This Instant Pot beef stew recipe is the answer to any dinnertime conundrum. Tender pieces of meat simmered with nutritious vegetables in a savory and rich sauce should satisfy all cravings. It’s a simple yet flavorful dish I grew up eating and always turn to for a comforting meal.
Using the multi-cooker, you skip the hours-long process of simmering the stew on the stovetop. Electric pressure quickly elevates the meal to the right temperature making it ready to eat faster! The Instant Pot also has a saute function to create a fantastic sauce near the end of cooking that even grandma would be proud to serve.
Choosing the right kind of meat
Avoid purchasing precut packages of “beef stew meat” from the grocery store. It seems so convenient, but it often becomes a lean cut that gets dried out quickly. Plus, you don’t know what primal cut it’s coming from. I recommend using larger subprimal cuts from the shoulder area called beef chuck roast. Cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes, then season with soy sauce, salt, and pepper to enhance the savory taste.
These beef cuts contain more connective tissue and fat. They are also labeled as:
- Chuck eye roll (first choice!)
- Chuck roll under the blade
- Chuck tender steak
- Chuck tender roast
Sear the beef
The advantage of using the Instant Pot is that you can brown the meat using the saute function. I always sear the meat before pressure cooking to encourage Maillard browning reaction on the surface for new flavor generation. Cook the pieces in hot olive oil for a few minutes until a golden crust is formed, then remove them from the pot.
The browned bits of meat and juices on the bottom of the pot are deglazed with onions, garlic, and balsamic vinegar. This ensures a more flavorful sauce and prevents the ingredients from burning on the bottom of the insert.
After browning, these cuts of meat require slow cooking or braising with moist heat cooking. This converts the collagen to gelatin for a tender and juicy product. This is where pressure cooking comes in.
How to make beef stew in the instant pot
Once the beef is seared, and the pan is deglazed, it’s time to cook the stew. I use a 6-quart Instant Pot to make a large batch. To withstand the high pressure, hearty root vegetables that hold their structure are added, like celery, carrots, and potatoes. Yukon gold all-purpose potatoes are my top choice for their buttery taste and waxy texture.
Beef broth or stock is added to make the sauce and help the system pressurize. Since the electric pressure cooker requires at least 1 cup of liquid to function, the steam and moisture make the right conditions for cooking this beef stew recipe. Additional soy sauce and salt enhance the umami taste of the beef. Worcestershire sauce would be a nice addition for a more tangy taste.
Cover and lock the lid on the Instant pot. Then manually pressure cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. Natural release for 15 minutes prevents the liquid from spraying out of the pot. To thicken the braising liquid, a cornstarch slurry is simmered, which thickens in less than 2 minutes. Delicate peas are stirred in just before serving to warm the legumes.
How long to pressure cook beef stew
Because multiple types of ingredients are cooking, I found that 20 minutes at high pressure, followed by releasing the steam naturally for 15 minutes, works well. This method allows the beef and vegetables to become more tender but not mushy.
The Instant Pot is a unique multi-cooker that uses pressure and heat to create superheated steam. This process cooks the food in the enclosed vessel at the high pressure setting between 239 to 248ºF (115 to 120ºC) and 10 to 12 psi (pounds per square inch). It’s amazing how it can cut the traditional stove top or oven method for making beef stew down to just 35 minutes of pressure cooking.
Serve this with
More Instant Pot recipes
How to thicken the stew
Using the saute function on the Instant Pot at the end of the cooking process has been a game-changer. It rapidly brings the sauce to a boil, which is needed for the cornstarch slurry to thicken the liquid in under 2 minutes. Make sure to stir the sauce as the slurry is slowly added to allow the starch granules to disperse, absorb and swell. If there is no agitation, the starches will clump together and become lumpy.
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Instant Pot Beef Stew
- 1 ½ pounds beef chuck eye roll, or chuck tender roast, 1 ½" cubes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 ½ cups red onion, 1" dice
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 pound yukon gold potatoes, 1 ½" dice
- 2 cups carrots, 1" pieces
- 1 cup celery, ½" dice
- 3 cups unsalted beef stock
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves
- ½ cup peas, fresh or frozen, defrosted
- Season the Beef – In a medium-sized bowl, combine cubed beef, ½ teaspoon salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon soy sauce.
- Heat Instant Pot – Select "Saute" on the Instant Pot. Allow the device to heat up. It will indicate "Hot" on the display when ready.
- Sear the Meat – Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Once hot, add the beef and brown on one side for 2 minutes, flip and brown for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a clean plate, the meat will not be fully cooked.
- Saute the Aromatics – Add 1 tablespoon oil and onions, and saute for 1 minute. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add balsamic vinegar to deglaze the bottom of the pot for 3 minutes, stir and scrape to remove any browned bits.
- Add the Ingredients – Add the potatoes, carrots, celery, browned beef, beef stock, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and ½ teaspoon salt, and stir to combine.
- Cover the Instant Pot – Press "Keep/ Warm/Cancel" on the Instant Pot. Make sure that the release valve is in the "Sealing" position. Place the lid on, turn and lock.
- Pressure Cook – Press the "Manual" button on the Instant Pot on high pressure, and then set the timer to 20 minutes using the "+" or "-" buttons. The pot will take about 15 minutes to heat up and build pressure. You will see some steam release from the lid, and then the time will start on the display.
- Release the Pressure – Once cook time is complete, allow the pressure to naturally release for 15 minutes.
- Open Lid – Use an oven mitt or towel to slowly and carefully twist the steam release handle on the lid to the "Venting" position. The initial release will spray some moisture around the pot, so be careful. Remove the lid, opening the top away from you as steam will be released.
- Thicken the Stew – In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Select "Saute" on the Instant Pot. Once the stewing liquid begins to boil, add the cornstarch slurry. Cook and stir for 60 to 90 seconds, and turn off the heat once thickened. Add the peas and cook, for 2 to 4 minutes.
- To Serve – Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with rice or mashed potatoes.
- Make it Gluten-Free: Use coconut aminos or gluten-free tamari instead of soy sauce.
- Make it Whole-30: Substitute soy sauce with coconut aminos. Substitute cornstarch with 3 tablespoons arrowroot flour (starch/powder) Bob’s Red Mill is recommended, mixed with 6 tablespoons water to make a slurry.
- 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.
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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