This Crockpot beef stew is a slow cooker classic! It's simple to throw together and so hearty for a warming family meal on a chilly or rainy day, and there's no fancy ingredients needed.
Why you'll love it
This thick, cozy slow cooker beef stew is a super easy set-it-and-forget-it kinda recipe. It takes minimal effort to prep, and next thing you know, a traditional dinner from scratch is ready when you're back home from work!
The best part might be how the beef melts in your mouth, but the tender potatoes and veggies are a close second. The build-up of flavor is incredible considering we're using just a few pantry staples. You really don't need much to create that amazing slow-cooked taste.
Ingredients for it
- Beef - use pre-cut boneless beef stewing cubes or chuck (you may need to cut it up yourself). Avoid anything extra lean.
- Olive oil - for sautéing
- Onion and celery - sweet (Vidalia) onions are our favorite, but yellow or white work too
- Garlic - to mince garlic, this garlic press makes it hassle free
- Potatoes and carrots - Our star veggies. Yukon gold potatoes are the variety we picked since they're waxy and hold up great for slow cooking.
- Beef broth - for that deep, rich flavor
- Tomato paste - the concentrated taste adds a special something-something
- Worcestershire sauce - my not-so-secret ingredient and the key to giving the sauce a really deep and satisfying umami flavor. Don't skip it!
- Salt & pepper - it's important to be fairly generous with stews and soups
- Bay leaves - my other go-to ingredient. They're very fragrant and a favorite in stews.
- Cornstarch - it's optional, but it will thicken it up
What kind of beef to use
- Our kitchen used the pre-cut meat labeled "beef stewing cubes" or similar at your meat counter. Look for a fair amount of marbling (fat) and that it doesn't look too lean, or the meat will won't be as tender.
- Cutting up a beef chuck roast works too will and produce really tender meat. Top or bottom round cuts or even short ribs are good as well.
- Whatever you use, the searing step adds so much texture and flavor, so make sure to do it!
How to make slow cooker beef stew
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Sear half of the beef cubes in a skillet with the olive oil so they're not overcrowded, and then transfer to a plate. Brown the second batch of beef. Transfer all of the meat and any juices to the slow cooker. In the skillet, fry the onion and garlic, then add to the Crockpot.
Add the remaining ingredients to the Crockpot apart from the bay leaves and cornstarch. Toss well. Gently add the bay leaves in, and cook on low until the beef is tender, about 10 hours. To make it thicker, add a cornstarch slurry if desired. That's it!
- I recommend cooking it for the suggested full 10 hours on low since stewing beef needs time to get tender, so you'll get better results than cooking it on high for a shorter period. It's worth it for those delicious concentrated flavors.
- Cut the potatoes and carrots larger for that chunky consistency. If they're too small, they're going to get lost in that 10-hour cook time.
- If your bay leaves have been sitting in the cupboard for a while, take a trip to the grocery store. They're liable to lose flavor over time!
Substitutions and variations
- You could use Russet potatoes, but keep in mind that they'll fall apart more, and then you may opt to not add the cornstarch slurry. Red potatoes would be your best bet if not using Yukon golds.
- Add some frozen peas in towards the end of cooking time for a pop of color and more vegetables.
- Replace some of the beef broth with red wine for a touch of elegance! I suggest between 1/2-1 cup or so.
- Add a half teaspoon or so of Italian seasoning for a more herby flavor, or use a few sprigs of fresh thyme if you've got it on hand. This stew is flexible.
What to serve with it
Leftovers and storage
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for 3-4 days in an airtight container.
- Beef stew freezes well! I like to portion it up in individual containers for easy meals anytime and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- You can either thaw it overnight or reheat from frozen, thawing over a very low heat while stirring occasionally until warmed through.
Hope you enjoy this easy beef stew recipe as much as I did! Questions, or did you make it? Talk to me in the comments below.
Crockpot Beef Stew Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 2 pounds boneless stewing beef cubes or chuck
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes peeled & diced (fairly large bite-size pieces)
- 4 large carrots peeled & cut into fairly large bite-size pieces
- 3 sticks celery chopped
- 3 cups beef broth
- 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Pepper to taste
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch optional
- Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to a skillet and sear half the beef cubes (brown them on all sides) over medium-high heat. Transfer to a plate and then add the remaining oil to the skillet and brown the second batch. Once all the beef is seared, transfer it (and any juices on the plate) to your slow cooker.
- Add the onion to the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes, then stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer the skillet contents to the Crockpot.
- Add the remaining ingredients (except for the bay leaves and cornstarch) to your slow cooker. Stir/toss well.
- Gently add the bay leaves in. Cook on low for 10 hours or until the beef is tender.
- Optional: to give the stew a thicker consistency, mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water, stir it into the stew, and then cook until it's thickened up a bit (give it 10 minutes or so).
- Update for 2022 - This recipe has been tweaked to make it more delicious and with the optional cornstarch addition. Here's the original recipe from 2018 if you loved it as-is.
- I suggest cooking this on low for the 10 hours vs. on high for less time. Stewing beef is not tender, and slow cooking it gives it a chance to tenderize. If using chuck, you may get away with less than 10 hours.
- This recipe freezes well.
- This is the 7-quart Crockpot I used to make this recipe.
- Want to make this in your Instant Pot? Try the Instant Pot version instead. Or try my Stovetop Beef Stew.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.
This recipe was originally published on January 17, 2018. It's been tweaked to be even easier, tastier, and has new photos!