Crockpot Beef Stew {Healthy Slow Cooker Stew} – WellPlated.com


Every bite of this old-fashioned Crockpot Beef Stew recipe soothes me from the inside out. Tender beef and vegetables nestled into a rich, soulful gravy, this slow cooker beef stew will reward your patience with every bite.

bowl of comforting old fashioned beef stew slow cooker

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Calling all the warm fuzzies, cuddly blankets, and flannel!

It’s time for a warm squeeze in dinner form: crockpot beef stew.

Now that each day seems to be cooler than the last, I wanted to share a recipe for a warm-you-up (and lightened-up) slow cooker beef stew.

It’s, without a doubt, one of the best crockpot soups in my arsenal (this Crock Pot Beef and Vegetable Soup is another favorite).

Crockpot beef stew is the kind of thing I love to have simmering in the house all day.

As the beef stew cooks and the broth thickens into a rich gravy, the smell fills my kitchen in a nostalgic way that reminds me of my Grandma Dorothy.

Alternative Cooking Methods

  • For a stovetop version of this soup, check out my classic Beef Stew, which is made in a Dutch oven.
  • To make this recipe in a pressure cooker, see Instant Pot Beef Stew.
bowl of beef stew with red wine made in a slow cooker

5 Star Review

“I made this today, and it was truly a 5-star meal. Everyone absolutely loved it, including my children who can be fussy.”

— Kelly —

Reasons to Love Crockpot Beef Stew

Here’s why you need this old fashioned slow cooker beef stew in your life:

  • Cooler nights are here! With every bite cozier than the last, this slow cooker stew recipe warms to your core (like this Beef Barley Soup).
  • A low and slow cook time makes this recipe the perfect make-ahead meal during a busy work week. You’ll come home to beef so fall-apart tender, you can cut it with a spoon.
  • FLAVOR OVERLOAD. With a rich red wine gravy and aromatic fresh herbs, everyone at your table will be begging for seconds.
  • Loaded with both veggies and hearty protein, beef stew in the slow cooker is a healthy, filling, and satisfying all-in-one meal (although I always recommend serving it with this Rosemary Olive Oil Bread for soaking up extra gravy).

Translation: Making this slow cooker beef stew recipe is WORTH EVERY MINUTE!

crock pot full of healthy beef stew with potatoes and carrots

How to Make Crockpot Beef Stew

This best-ever slow cooker beef stew tastes like pure comfort in a bowl.

Have it at the ready for the cool evenings ahead.


The Ingredients

  • Chuck Roast. Boneless chuck roast is perfect for this recipe. It’s a more marbled cut (marbling = flavor) that becomes tender throughout the low and slow cooking. (This Italian Beef is another delicious chuck roast recipe.) You also could use a top or bottom round roast.

The best type of meat to use for beef stew

  • As far as what kind of meat is best for beef stew, my answer is (ready for it?) NOT beef stew meat.
  • Stew meat is typically a mix of all different sizes and cuts, so the pieces may not cook evenly. You could have some bites with perfect, fork-tender beef and others with tough, rubbery meat. There’s a reason this Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff (which uses sirloin) and this Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli (which calls for flank steak) each have different cooking times: each uses a different type of beef.
  • Rather than purchasing precut stew meat, I recommend buying a single piece of chuck roast from the butcher, then cutting it into cubes yourself.
  • Selecting a single type of beef means you’ll know what cut you are getting, your pieces will be uniform in size so that they cook evenly, and chuck roast’s deep marbling ensures that every bite of the beef in the stew is fall-apart tender.
  • Red Wine or Beer. Slow cooker beef stew with red wine has so much depth of flavor! Beef stew with beer is also hard to beat. Try Cabernet Sauvignon for wine or a stout or porter for beer.

Substitution Tip

If you prefer to not use alcohol, you can simply add additional beef broth.

  • Vegetables. The more, the merrier! I used onion, celery, carrots, parsnip, and peas for an array of flavors, textures, and nutritional benefits.

Market Swap

Feel free to add or swap in other fresh, frozen, or seasonal produce of your choice.

  • Crockpot Beef Stew with Mushrooms. This is perhaps the most popular suggestion among readers and similar to Beef Bourguinon! Add a cup of button, white, or cremini mushrooms while sautéing the other veggies.
  • Slow Cooker Beef with Frozen Vegetables. For ease, you can swap part of the vegetables (including the carrots and parsnips) for a bag of frozen mixed veggies. No need to sauté the frozen veggies; simply stir them into the slow cooker towards the end of the stew’s cooking time.
  • Potatoes. The starch in the potatoes helps thicken the stew and adds some extra bulk to make every bowl filling and satisfying. For the thickest stew, a starchy potato like russet is the best, but if you’d like the potatoes to keep more of their texture (russets tend to break down), choose a waxy potato like red potatoes or Yukon golds.

Substitution Tip

You can omit the potatoes if you want to make your slow cooker beef stew without potatoes. You may also swap them for a side of steamed rice, quinoa, or cooked noodles.

You also could play around with adding the dumplings from these Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings to make this into a crockpot beef stew and dumpling recipe.

  • Tomato Paste. An easy way to build concentrated flavor (as in my favorite Braised Short Ribs).
  • Worcestershire Sauce. A tangy, savory addition to your beef stew and another flavor building block. If in a pinch, substitute with balsamic vinegar.
  • Beef Broth. To provide moisture and help the meat tenderize. I recommend low sodium so that your beef stew does not become overly salty.
  • Flour. To help the meat brown and caramelize. It also helps the gravy thicken as well. No need to use cornstarch here.

Dietary Note

To Make Gluten Free. Omit the flour when you brown the stew meat, and use red wine instead of beer. If your stew finishes up thinner than you would like due to the absence of flour, try one of the suggestions in the FAQs below to thicken beef stew.

  • Thyme. Thyme is my absolute favorite herb in beef stew. It’s the ideal match with the root vegetables, and its earthy, savory flavor is a hallmark of comfort food (like in Shepherd’s Pie).
  • Salt and Pepper. Don’t be skimpy. These give the beef and vegetables outstanding flavor.

The Directions

beef for slow cooker beef stew
  1. Cut your chuck roast, and place it in a large bowl. Sprinkle with spices and flour, tossing to coat.
browning meat for beef stew
  1. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, brown the meat in batches on the stove-top. When dark and golden all over, remove to a plate.

Tip!

Browning the meat for this beef stew does take a bit of time, but it is worth every second.

  • Just like when making pot roast or Braised Short Ribs the deep browning and caramelizing of the beef give it a dark, golden, irresistible crust that enriches the gravy and makes this one of the best slow cooker beef stew recipes ever.
adding tomato paste to beef stew
  1. Sauté the vegetables, then add the tomato paste and spices.
crockpot beef stew with red wine
  1. Deglaze with the red wine and let reduce.
assembling crockpot beef stew with herbs
  1. Transfer everything to your slow cooker.
adding broth to healthy crockpot beef stew
  1. Pour in the beef broth and stir to combine.
vegetables and beef in crockpot for slow cooker beef stew
  1. Slow cook beef stew on LOW for 6 1/2 to 8 hours or HIGH for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours, until the beef is cooked through and fall-apart tender.
adding frozen peas to crockpot beef stew
  1. Stir in the peas (or other frozen vegetables if using), cook until tender. ENJOY!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Place cooked and cooled stew in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • To Reheat. Gently reheat leftovers in a Dutch oven or similar large pot/skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat, adding splashes of broth as needed. You can also rewarm this stew in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave until hot.
  • To Freeze. Store cooked and cooled leftovers in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Meal Prep Tip

The stew leftovers taste even better the next day, so you can make this beef stew once, then enjoy it for cozy lunches and dinners all week long. Snag some meal-prep containers so you can divvy up leftovers into preportioned amounts for an easy grab-and-go lunch.

easy Beef Stew recipe with gravy and vegetables in a bowl

Wine Pairing

Any full-bodied, dry Cabernet Sauvignon will pair nicely with its hearty, flavorful slow cooker beef stew. 

What to Serve with Crockpot Beef Stew

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

My Favorite Slow Cooker

This 6-quart programmable slow cooker has a locking lid for easy transport, and its ceramic insert is oven and microwave too.

The BEST Crock Pot Beef Stew ever in a bowl with a spoon

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

This crockpot beef stew is the easy, not too heavy, richly flavored, and fall-apart tender recipe you need this season.

Let it comfort you on a cool night soon!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do You Have to Cook Stew Meat Before Putting It In the Crockpot?

While raw meat is perfectly safe to put into the slow cooker, for the best beef stew, you NEED to brown the meat first. The crust that forms on the beef as you brown it is the most essential foundation of the stew’s flavor. It’s the secret to making an old-fashioned beef stew you’ll devour over and over. Browning the meat takes some time, but it is worth it. Brown the meat in batches and don’t crowd the pan to ensure that glorious crust forms. Be patient. Pour yourself some wine. Embrace the moment.

Can You Put Frozen Meat in the Crockpot?

Frozen beef is not safe to place in a crockpot. During cooking, the meat may spend too long at room temperature and become unsafe to eat. To thaw beef quickly and safely: Place your meat in a zip-top bag, squeeze out excess air, and seal. Then, place it in a large bowl, and fill the bowl with cold water. Let it sit for about 30 minutes. If it’s not thawed after this time, empty the water, and refill it with fresh water.

Can You Overcook Stew in a Slow Cooker?

You can overcook stew meat in a slow cooker, but the slow cooker significantly reduces these odds due to the low and slow cooking method and the amount of liquid. Keep in mind that the cooking time can vary depending on your slow cooker, so check early if your crockpot tends to run on the hotter side. Chuck roast is fairly forgiving thanks to its marbling, so if you go over on time, all is certainly not lost. Your vegetables may be a little mushy, but your stew should still have great flavor.

How Do You Thicken Beef Stew in a Crockpot?

I wrote this recipe to ensure the beef stew is plenty thick, so you won’t need to do anything extra to thicken it up. This is why the recipe starts with so little broth in the slow cooker. If you do want to thicken up the beef stew more, you could try whisking in a cornstarch slurry at the end, but (and this is coming from someone who loves her soups and stews so thick that a spoon can practically stand up in the bowl on its own), it truly doesn’t need it. Take advantage of this beef stew recipe’s easy nature and skip it.

  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless chuck roast
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper divided
  • 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon, dark beer (such as an amber, porter, or Guinness—do not use a bitter or hoppy beer such as an IPA as the hops will throw off the flavor), or additional beef broth
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 large carrots
  • 2 parsnips
  • 3/4 pound red potatoes about 2 medium
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme; if you like, tie the fresh thyme together with kitchen twine to make the stems easier to fish out at the end
  • 3 to 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen peas no need to thaw
  • Fresh parsley optional for serving

  • Cut the beef chuck roast into 1-inch cubes, removing any large, tough pieces of fat or gristle. I found it easiest to cut it into 1-inch-thick large, round slices, then strips, then cubes. Place the cubes in a large bowl and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Sprinkle on the flour, then toss lightly to coat.

  • Place a large, deep Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Once the oil is hot and shimmering (a drop of water should sizzle if added to the surface), add one-third to one-half of the beef. The cubes should be in a single layer and not too crowded so that they brown nicely. Let the cubes of beef cook undisturbed for 4 to 5 minutes (resist the urge to peek!), until the bottom of the cubes develop a dark-brown crust and come away from the pan easily. Turn and continue searing until dark and golden all over, about 4 to 5 additional minutes. Transfer the seared meat to a clean bowl or plate.

  • Add another 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pot, and once hot, sear the remaining beef, working in batches and ensuring that you do not overcrowd the pieces. It may take two or three batches total depending on the size of your pan. If the pan gets too dry, add a bit more oil as needed.

  • While the meat browns, dice the yellow onion and celery. Mince the garlic.

  • When the last batch of beef has been seared, transfer it to a plate and reduce the heat to medium.

  • Add the final tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Add the onions and celery and cook until the onions are soft and translucent; about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds, until fragrant.

  • While the onions sauté, peel and dice the carrots and parsnips. Scrub the potatoes and cut into a rough dice. Set aside.

  • Stir in the tomato paste, Worcestershire, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

  • Increase the pan heat to medium-high heat and add the wine or beer (stand back, as it will sputter). Cook, letting the wine reduce and scraping up all of the brown bits from the pan. Continue to scrape and stir until the liquid is slightly reduced and thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.

  • Transfer the sautéed vegetables and any sauce from the pan to a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Add the beef, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme.

  • Slowly pour in 3 cups of beef broth.

  • Stir to roughly combine.

  • Cover and cook on low for 6 1/2 to 8 hours or high for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours, until the beef is cooked through and fall-apart tender.

  • Remove the bay leaf and thyme stems and stir in the peas. If you’d like the stew thinner, add additional broth until it reaches your desired consistency. Taste and add additional salt or pepper as desired. Serve hot, garnish with fresh parsley.

  • TO STORE: Place cooked and cooled stew in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Gently reheat leftovers in a Dutch oven or similar large pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat, adding splashes of broth as needed. You can also rewarm this stew in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave until hot.
  • TO FREEZE: Store cooked and cooled leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Serving: 1(of 8), about 1 3/4 cupsCalories: 463kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 33gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 98mgPotassium: 1246mgFiber: 6gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 5414IUVitamin C: 26mgCalcium: 73mgIron: 4mg

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