Slow Cooker Beef Stew

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Get ready for a hearty bowl of slow cooker beef stew made with potatoes, onions, celery, carrots, and seared beef for extra flavor. This entire meal cooks in a delicious gravy that compliments the fork-tender meat and vegetables. Now, this is comfort food!

slow cooker beef stew with carrots and potatoes

Beef stew is a staple dish that’ll warm you up on a chilly day. This recipe uses a Crock-Pot to cook big chunks of meat and vegetables over an extended period to ensure every bite is tender and tasty. What makes stew taste so great is that the juices from the meat add flavor to the liquid when cooking which then infuses into the carrots and potatoes.

If you’re looking for the most flavorful beef stew then I highly recommend sautéing the meat first to add another layer of taste and texture. This optional step allows you to incorporate the incredibly flavorful bits left on the bottom of the pan into the stew. This is a classic dish that’s easy to prepare with gourmet results!

small pieces of beef chuck sautéing in a pan

What kind of meat do you use for beef stew?

The best meat to use is beef chuck roast or chuck eye roast. It comes from the shoulder area of the cow and has a good balance of connective tissue and fat. I use this cut for my slow cooker pot roast with rave reviews from my family. I avoid buying pre-cut stew meat from the market unless the butcher confirms that it’s from the cut mentioned above. I’d rather trim and cut down the meat myself so I can remove any excess fat that would make the stew become too greasy.

Do you have to cook the meat before putting it in the slow cooker?

No, you do not have to cook the beef before adding it to a slow cooker. Although, I find that taking a few extra few minutes to brown the meat enhances the flavor through the Maillard Reaction. So for this recipe, if you have the time I recommend the extra step. It’s something I always do for stews and braises.

pouring corn starch slurry into a slow cooker to thicken the liquid

How do you make beef stew in a slow cooker?

  • Trim any excess fat and tough visible connective tissue from the beef chuck.
  • Season and sauté the beef in a hot pan with olive oil until brown on the surface, add to slow cooker.
  • Add garlic and saute until fragrant.
  • Scrape and deglaze the pan with balsamic vinegar then reduce to a few tablespoons.
  • Cook the beef and vegetables in a slow cooker.
  • Make a cornstarch slurry to use as a thickening agent and pour it into the stewing liquid.
  • Cook until the sauce is thickened, about 30 to 60 minutes.

For the meat to become tender it needs to be cooked until well done. The key is to stew the chuck at about 210ºF (99ºC) for at least 1 hour. This allows the connective tissue and fat to melt and soften while adding body to the liquid.

After simmering this beef stew in the slow cooker for hours, the smell will draw you to the kitchen. Grab a big spoon because you’ll want each bowl to have creamy Yukon gold potatoes, sweet carrots, savory beef, and a generous drizzle of gravy!

close up of a metal spoon serving beef stew out of a slow cooker

More slow cooker recipes

Can you overcook beef stew in a slow cooker?

It takes a few hours for the slow cooker to reach and maintain its simmer point at around 209ºF (99ºC), and that’s why you can cook for several hours without overcooking the beef. If you don’t cook the meat long enough, it can taste tough and chewy, but excessive cooking past 10 hours on low will dry out the meat eventually.

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Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Get ready for a hearty bowl of slow cooker beef stew made with potatoes, onions, celery, carrots, and seared beef for extra flavor.
Pin Print Review
4 from 15 votes
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time5 hrs 10 mins
Total Time5 hrs 30 mins
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
  • 2 cups carrots, 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup celery, ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup red onions, 1-inch dice
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 ¾ pounds beef chuck , chuck eye roll or chuck tender roast
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cups unsalted beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Instructions 

  • Add potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, and thyme to the slow cooker.
  • Cut beef into 1 ½-inch pieces, trimming off any excess fat or connective tissue. Combine with salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, once hot add the beef in a single layer.
  • Cook until golden brown on one side, 2 minutes. Flip the pieces and cook the other side for 2 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add balsamic vinegar to the pan with the beef drippings. Turn heat to medium-high, deglaze the pan using a whisk to scrape any browned bits and incorporate into the liquid.
  • Reduce the sauce, stirring frequently, until 2 to 3 tablespoons of liquid remain, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the pan liquid to the slow cooker.
  • Add beef stock and soy sauce to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on "High" setting for 4 hours or "Low" setting for 8 hours.
  • Whisk together cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Add cornstarch slurry to the slow cooker, stir to combine.
  • Cook on "High" setting for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until the sauce becomes slightly thickened.
  • Taste stew liquid and season with more salt and pepper as desired.
  • Serve garnished with parsley.

Equipment

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Nutrition Facts
Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Amount Per Serving
Calories 668 Calories from Fat 333
% Daily Value*
Fat 37g57%
Saturated Fat 11g55%
Cholesterol 136mg45%
Sodium 808mg34%
Potassium 1802mg51%
Carbohydrates 42g14%
Fiber 8g32%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 47g94%
Vitamin A 10765IU215%
Vitamin C 25.6mg31%
Calcium 591mg59%
Iron 20.8mg116%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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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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Reader Interactions

12 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Cindy Hodgkiss says

    I made this stew yesterday and gave half to my friend… best stew any of us have ever tasted!!
    I also did hard boiled eggs tonight following how you posted.. peels came off almost whole, and they were cooked perfectly.
    The way you explain about food makes cooking make sense… thank you!

  2. Zeke says

    This recipe is very similar to one we have had in the family for years, the biggest difference is red potatoes instead of Yukon golds, a cubed up rutabaga and adding cooked pearled barley right at the end, and instead of cornstarch we dredge the meat in flour before searing the meat, this acts as a thickener.

    I enjoy your other recipes and science lessons too!

  3. Steven Harvey Hirsch says

    I madt the stew yesterday, Jessica, and my wife complimented me — and therefore you!

    The only changes I made were because I happened to have about a 6 oz piece of lamb in my freezer, which I trimmed and cubed and combined with the chuck I bought for this dish

    I also did not use any thickener because I am diabetic and my wife is gluten-sensitive. Instead, I crumbled a slice of Ezekiel flourless whole-grain bread in the bottom of my each serving bowl, spooned the stew over that and ladeled some of the liquid over that. The bread soaked up the liquid that worked just fine.

    I’d never made a stew with Balsamic vinegar in the sauce, and I thought that was terrific.

    Thanks!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Wow, I’m sure adding in the lamb made the dish even more flavorful! I LOVE the idea of adding in the flourless bread to add thickness and soak up the liquid 🙂

  4. Rosma says

    Hi Jessica,
    I made your stew yesterday and it turned out amazing!

    Full disclosure: I hardly ever follow a recipe exactly as written, partly because sometimes I improvise to fit what’s in my pantry/Fridge, and partly because “improvised cooking” is more my style. Having said that, I did follow this one, with a few minor changes:

    I used 3lbs. of beef (because I love a beefy stew!), and then did x 1.5 on all the other ingredients, except the potatoes, where I actually reduced them just to keep things a bit less carb heavy, and added about 2 cups of mushrooms a couple of hours into the cooking time (I just love mushrooms!). I also replaced one cup of beef broth with one cup of beef bone broth – not sure why, but saw it at the supermarket and thought I’d give it a go since I keep hearing about how good it is for you. And I added about 1/2 cup of shallots because I love them.

    Then I was out of balsamic vinegar, but had some delicious fig & chocolate balsamic vinegars so I used a combination of both, and I have to say that they added an amazing aroma and tangy sweetness that I love!

    Other than that, I made it in a crockpot and followed your recipe steps (with the browned beef and cornstarch), and timing.

    Mine didn’t turn out as pretty as yours, but it tastes soooo good! We had it again for dinner tonight, and the beef is even more tender and the veggies just melt in your mouth!

    I have a couple other of your recipes on my list for this week, and I am excited to try them. Thank you so much for sharing your cooking tips and beautiful images!
    Rosma

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Wow, all of your modifications sounds so tasty! Thank you for sharing your cooking experience with the beef stew.

  5. Jeannie Pelletier says

    This stew was amazing! I made it for Valentines Day. My husband and I loved it. Your recipes and information/advice is excellent. Tomorrow night will be your Bourbon Chicken and Easy Fried Rice. Thank you for these recipes!

  6. Martin says

    Used this recipe for the first time and it was wonderful.
    I had never deglazed the pan before in the manner. The balsamic is a great touch.
    I found this recipe to be quite straightforward and a timesaver. I’ll definitely be using it again!

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