Slow Cooker Beef Stew

4.87 from 38 votes
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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!

For alternative cooking methods, try my classic beef stew recipe on the stovetop, or you can make Instant Pot beef stew.

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 the stew taste so good 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 recipe, I highly recommend sautéing the meat first to add another layer of taste and texture. This optional step allows you to incorporate the tasty 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 and readers.

I avoid buying pre-cut stew meat from the market unless the butcher confirms it’s from the cut mentioned above. I’d instead trim and cut down the meat myself to remove any excess fat that would make the stew too greasy.

Brown the beef

Trim any excess fat and tough visible connective tissue from the beef chuck. I cut them into large 1 ½” chunks. They will shrink significantly in size as it cooks. Season the surface with salt and pepper to enhance the taste. Sear the pieces in hot olive oil until a golden brown crust is achieved on the surface.

There will be tasty bits of fond at the bottom of the pan. To make the sauce richer in flavor, saute fresh garlic in the pan, then deglaze with some balsamic vinegar. Now you can add the flavorful liquid and beef to the slow cooker.

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

You do not have to sear the beef before adding it to a slow cooker. Although, I find that taking a few extra minutes to brown the meat enhances the flavor through the Maillard Reaction. So, if you have the time for this recipe, 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?

I use a 6-quart Crock-Pot to make the stew. Once the beef is seared, add the meat, vegetables, herbs, deglazed liquid from the pan, beef broth or stock, and soy sauce to the slow cooker. Other ways to enhance the flavor or the braising liquid include bay leaves, red wine, or Worcestershire sauce.

Cook on low setting for 8 hours or high setting for 4 hours. To thicken the sauce, add a cornstarch slurry and cook on the high setting for 30 to 60 minutes.

Beef cooking time

For the beef chuck to become tender, it needs to be cooked until well done. The key is to stew the meat 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.

Crockpot beef stew requires hours for the insert to raise the temperature of the ingredients and maintain a simmer. Over time the beef, creamy Yukon gold potatoes, and sweet carrots will become fork-tender.

Close up of a metal spoon serving beef stew out of a slow cooker.

Serve this with

More slow cooker recipes

Recipe Science

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.

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.
4.87 from 38 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time5 hours 10 minutes
Total Time5 hours 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, 1 ½" pieces
  • 2 cups carrots, 1" pieces
  • 1 cup celery, ½" pieces
  • 1 cup red onions, 1" 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 

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

Notes

  • Make it Whole-30: Substitute soy sauce with coconut aminos. Substitute cornstarch with 6 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. 

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 668kcal (33%)Carbohydrates 42g (14%)Protein 47g (94%)Fat 37g (57%)Saturated Fat 11g (55%)Cholesterol 136mg (45%)Sodium 808mg (34%)Potassium 1802mg (51%)Fiber 8g (32%)Sugar 7g (8%)Vitamin A 10765IU (215%)Vitamin C 25.6mg (31%)Calcium 591mg (59%)Iron 20.8mg (116%)

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. Raymond says

    Cook Time is shown as 5 hours hrs 10 minutes mins.
    Recipe indicates 4 hrs on high or 8 hrs on low.
    Does that contradict?

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