Perfect Beef Stew can be made from scratch in your slow cooker or on your stove top! This beef stew recipe is thick, hearty, and packed full of tender beef!
This beef stew is a total classic, perfectly cozy on a chilly night! I know you'll love how easy this dish is to make. The best part about this stew is that it's so thick, beefy, and rich with tons of flavor! The beef cooks down at a slow simmer in your crockpot or on the stove top, depending on your preference! When it's finished, it simply melts in your mouth! We do have a very quick/easy Instant Pot Beef Stew that is one of our most popular recipes on the blog! But, this one is the ultimate, from scratch, like grandma made that you just can't beat. When making/testing this one, I have to say it truly doesn't take much longer at all than the instant pot version, and you could make this one in your IP too if you wanted!
Making Beef Stew Meat Tender:
Beef stewing meat is generally found at any grocery store/butcher pre-cut into chunks. It can come from many different cuts of beef, but most often it's going to be a tougher cut of meat like beef chuck. If you can't find pre cubed, you can simply purchase a chuck roast and cut it into bite sized pieces. A tough cut of meat is perfect for beef stew! It has lots of connective tissue that really melts right into the meat making it amazingly moist and tender. The key to having a super tender beef stew, is really to be patient! On the stove top, this stew needs to simmer for about 1 ½ hours total. In the slow cooker, it will go for a good 6-8 hours.
Perfect Stew From Scratch:
- The first step is to cut up your beef into bite sized chunks (if they aren't already), then throw them in a bowl with flour, salt, and pepper and stir to make sure all of your meat is well coated.
- You'll want to use a large heavy-bottom pot or dutch oven and heat up 2 Tablespoons of oil to start. You'll need to brown your beef in 3 batches so that you don't overcrowd your pan. That way, each piece of meat can get a nice sear on it. This will take about 3-5 minutes per batch. Make sure to drizzle more oil in the pan if needed between batches. This portion is the "longest" the rest of this recipe is super hands off.
- Once all of your meat is browned you'll set it aside. Next, we use butter and cook our onions and garlic for just a couple of minutes until softened. Stir in your tomato paste for about one minute to break it up.
- Then, use the wine (or broth) to deglaze the pot and get up all of the tasty bits that will give this stew even more flavor! After this, it's basically "dump and go" because you will add in all of the rest of your ingredients to the pot, or dump everything right into your slow cooker. Let everything simmer to perfection!
Beef Stew Tips and Notes:
This recipe calls for red wine, and you can use whatever wine that you like best. I used a Pinot Noir. Whatever you do, don't use the stuff labeled "cooking wine" that you can find at the grocery store by the vinegars. It does not taste good! If you prefer, you can skip the wine and just use more broth, but, the wine adds some really great depth of flavor! Don't skip the tomato paste in this recipe and don't substitute it! You need this to add flavor to the base. You can often find tomato paste in tubes instead of cans. I love purchasing it in the tube because I use what I need, then store it right in the refrigerator for later. Let's talk veggies! I LOVE mushrooms in my stew, it's not the same without it for me! But, if you are not a fan, you can leave them out if you wish. Also, I know some people like peas in their stew, no problem, you can stir in about 1 cup of frozen peas in the last 10 minutes of cooking time. Lastly, don't skip the vinegar if you don't have balsamic, red wine vinegar works too, and make sure that you add that pinch of sugar! It doesn't make the stew sweet AT ALL but it helps to balance out the flavors.
Perfect Beef Stew
TO BROWN THE MEAT:
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2.5 Pounds Beef Stew Meat
- ¼ Cup All Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Pepper
FOR THE STEW:
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 Large Onion Chopped
- 5 Cloves Garlic Minced
- 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
- 1 Cup Good Quality Red Wine
- 6 Cups Beef Stock
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 teaspoon Granulated Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Dried Thyme
- 3 Large Carrots Cut into ½ inch chunks
- 1 Pound Yellow or Russet Potatoes Cut into ½ inch chunks
- 8 Ounces Cremini Mushrooms Cut in Half
- 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
- 2 Tablespoons Cold Water
BROWN THE MEAT:
- Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottom pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- While the oil is heating up, add the beef stew meat to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle over the flour, salt, and pepper and stir to coat.
- Working in three batches, add ⅓ of the meat to the pan and sear, turning with tongs until browned on all sides for about 4-5 minutes per batch. Set all of the meat aside on a clean plate.
FOR THE STEW STOVE TOP:
- Reduce the stovetop heat to medium
- Add the butter to the pot along with the chopped onion, cook, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes until softened.
- Add in the garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 30 seconds. Then, stir in the tomato paste and cook for one more minute.
- Pour the red wine into the pot and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Pour in the beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, bay leaves, thyme, and return the seared beef to the pot. Stir to combine.
- Reduce the heat to low (medium-low), cover and simmer for 60 minutes until the beef ins becoming tender.
- After 60 minutes, stir in the carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms.
- Cover and simmer for 30 more minutes until vegetables are tender.
- If desired for a thicker stew, whisk together the cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl, then whisk into the stew for 1-2 minutes until thick.
FOR THE STEW SLOW COOKER:
- Brown the meat as directed above and place in the bottom of a 6 quart or larger slow cooker.
- Follow directions 1-4 from the stove top version, then add all of the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker with the meat.
- Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours until meat is tender.
- During the last 30 minutes of cooking time, turn the slow cooker up to HIGH.
- Whisk together the cornstarch and cold water, then whisk into the stew and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.