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.
You may also like my similar Stovetop Beef Stew or Instant Pot Beef Stew recipes for alternative cooking methods.
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
- It's a complete meal in itself, but if you want to pair it with a side salad, that would be great. Try some mixed greens with this Simple Italian Dressing or Creamy Balsamic Dressing.
- A slice of crusty bread, cornbread, or a dinner roll works too, or go all-out and serve some Cheesy Garlic Bread.
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 pounds boneless stewing beef cubes or chuck
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 4 large carrots peeled & cut into fairly large bite-size pieces
- 3 sticks celery chopped
- 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes peeled & diced (fairly large bite-size pieces)
- 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!
I wanted to come here and say, this recipe is amazing! I served mine over rice bc it’s a comfort food for me. I ended up changing a few things-out of necessity not want but it worked out great.
1. Just me this week so I halved the recipe.
2. Store was out of stew meat so I subbed stir fry meat. 10 hours in a slow cooker, it’s tender.
3. No tomato paste on hand but I had a 16 oz. can of tomato sauce so used that. The whole can.
4. Bc of said extra liquid, I kept the cornstarch amount at same level as recipe though rest was halved. Still used 2 tbls.
5. Measured garlic and Worcestershire sauce with my heart and used more than the halved recipe stated. I love flavor.
This turned out so good! Thank you for a great recipe! I chose it bc I hate thyme and rosemary is iffy for me as I feel it overpowers a lot. I was happy to see a recipe without those.
I'm so glad it was a hit!! Thanks for your tips - I am sure they will help other readers. 🙂
Gloria Bello says
I want to start by saying that I am so grateful for so many of your awesome recipes and usually love them but I'm not sure what happened with this one. I followed the instructions and after 10 hours my potatoes are still not cooked through (cut them in about 1 in pieces and was worried they might be mushy but they are the opposite). I also found it lacking flavor. Just added more salt and garlic powder and will be cooking it on high for another 2 hours in hopes this will workout 🤷♀️
Hi Gloria! I'm glad you've been enjoying my recipes. Sorry this one didn't work out for you. I'm just throwing this out there, but is it possible that your slow cooker is malfunctioning? I've never had potatoes cut that small not cook in 10 hours. As far as the flavor goes, if the Crockpot wasn't working properly, I would say the flavors definitely wouldn't become concentrated enough. But with that said, it's also possible you just needed to adjust seasonings (as you did). Hopefully the higher heat will get everything cooked properly. Let me know! 🙂
I made this tonight and it was fabulous! Followed the recipe exactly and had no issues. My only question is, do you know how much is in a serving? (ie. 1 cup?) Just curious.
Thank you for this cozy dish!
You're very welcome!! I'm glad you liked it, Amanda! 🙂 I don't know the exact size for servings, no. The nutrition info is just an estimate and the recipe card software calculates it automatically by diving the recipe by the # of servings. I am not a trained nutritionist (or good at math), so beyond that I can't provide any more info.
I followed the recipe to a tee however it came out looking rather anemic and definitely not as rich looking as the photo. What did I do wrong ha ha??
Hmmm I don't know! It's hard to say. Did you get a good sear on the beef?
Karen Lusk says
Made this stew 3 times now and it was great. My husband loves it. I did cut back on the fresh garlic but in future I will use what the recipe calls for. Thanks
Fantastic!! I'm so glad it's a new favorite in your home. 🙂
Monica Murray says
Delish! Big hit with my family!
Have used similar family recipe for years but without tomato paste and so much beef stock.
It definitely elevated flavour!
Added half tsp mixed herbs too.
Thank you !
That's awesome!! So happy you enjoyed it! Thanks for your review, Monica.
Delicious! I made it stove top. I didn’t have enough time for the crockpot. Cut the recipe down, just 2 of us. I used a sirloin steak because of a shorter cook time (tenderness). Tossed it in a little flour and browned it. Followed recipe from there. Thank you for this recipe!
Excellent! So glad you were able to adapt it. 🙂
I was only able to get baby Yukon gold potatoes. Should I just cut them in half and leave the skin on or should I still peel them? Also do I add the cornstarch and cold water in toward the end of cooking?
I'd leave the skins on and cut in half yes. Yes, add it as per step 5. Hope you enjoy the recipe! 🙂
I’m making this for the first time this weekend and I’m concerned about adding the potatoes and baby carrots. Won’t cooking them for 10 hrs make them super mushy or do you add them in at like the 5 hr mark?
If you prefer them to be less soft, then you can definitely add them in later on. I'd also be sure to cut them into large chunks.
One of the best recipes I’ve found so far! Even when I didn’t have any bay leaves, the recipe still worked and was freakin delicious. I kept an eye on it throughout the cooking process and added more broth, because it got really thick. I work night shift and my hubby works long hours in the day, so when I get home, I just brown the meat and throw everything into the crockpot. By the time he gets home, the place smells wonderful and dinner is ready. We like it over white rice 🙂 Definitely one of my favorite comfort foods during cold season.
I'm so happy that you loved the stew!! 🙂 Thanks so much for your review!
This a delicious combination of flavors. This will be my go to beef stew recipe. I dredged the meat in flour before browning and skipped the cornstarch step. Thank you for this recipe.
Wonderful! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for your 5-star review. 🙂
Kirsten Hampton says
Girl I added the tomato paste and it tastes like I’m eating ketchup soup! Disgusting! Ruined whole dinner
Uh that's very odd. You sure you added the right amount? It's a standard ingredient in beef stew, and this recipe is highly rated. Sorry it didn't go well for you.
Love it!! Bomb it up with some seasoning - Lots of salt, ground pepper, mustard powder, paprika, garlic pow, dash of cloves/ nutmeg, etc.
Add herbs you like, fresh sage or rosemary, tarragon, a pinch of saffron, oregano and lots of thyme. Also, green onion and/or shallot taste great. I'll even add a green pepper and some zucchini
PS- in the croc pot, take the lid off at the end and let some of the water evaporate away. I've found this to reduce the "croc pot flavor" and enhance the food
Glad you enjoyed it!! And that's a great tip re: letting some of the water evaporate.
Love this recipe. It’s not only delicious the way it is but it’s versatile too.
Question: can this version be canned?
My freezers are full so need to fill my shelves! 😳
Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it, Desiree. I haven't ever canned before, so I can't give you an answer re: the canning. I imagine that if you're able to can similar recipes then it could work, but you'd have to look into the safety of it.
This is insanely easy and so delicious and satisfying. We love it. I chop veggies at night. Quickly brown the meat in the AM. Chuck it all in the crock pot. And it's ready to be devoured for dinner. We serve with egg noodles. We replace the potato's with parsnips which are lower carb and sugar.
I'm so happy it's a hit!! 😀 Thanks for your review!
Hannah Buck says
Added two tablespoons of brown sugar to cut the acidity - really pulled it all together!
Would it make a big difference in the consistency if I used parsnips instead of potatoes?
I think that should work fine!
Can you have everything in the crockpot the night before and start it in the morning?
I wouldn't recommend that because the beef could go off in that time. It's probably not a good idea to have chopped veggies sitting out either. You could pre-chop the veggies and just keep them in the fridge, along with the beef, then add it to the slow cooker in the morning.
Betty K says
This was delicious, only cooked it for 9 hours and the meat was so tender. Loved all the flavors and so easy to prepare. Will definitely be one of my go to recipes.
I'm so happy it was a hit, Betty! Thanks for your review! 🙂
I absolutely LOVED the combo of the broth + tomato paste + Worcestershire sauce! Even though I let it go the full 10 hours on low, the stewing beef was still a little tough. I think next time I will try with beef chuck roast, which we've always had good results in the slow cooker.
I loved the suggestion to add frozen peas, will also try that next time - just to add a little color!
Hi Angela!! Yes... beef stewing cubes sometimes never get melt-in-your-mouth tender, unfortunately. It's a bit random what cut(s) you end up getting with those, sadly. I always look for well marbled stew cubes when I use them. I think using ground chuck is a great idea! 🙂
Hi Natasha - I finally was able to circle back to this recipe and give it another go. Seemed like a perfect comfort meal after our recent snow storm. This time I used beef chuck steak cut into cubes and it made a huge difference - so tender! It was a game changer compared to the tough "stew beef" I used the first time!
I also added in the frozen peas and swapped out the potatoes for 1.5 cups elbow macaroni. I just never have success with freezing potatoes, as they always seem to go mushy. Family agreed this version was a winner and we will definitely be keeping it in the rotation. Thank you as always!
Awesome!!! Appreciate your update, Angela! 🙂
Hello! If I wanted to add some frozen peas at what point should I do that? Thanks!
I'd probably add them in during the last 30 min or so, just to heat through. Hope you enjoy the recipe, Sarah! 🙂
If I’m prepping this for a freezer meal, do you suggest cook ahead of time and then freeze and reheat in crockpot? Or sear beef and then throw all in freezer bag and cook when want? Or throw all in bag raw to freeze until ready. Thank you.
Hi Kim! I usually just freeze it in portions once I've fully cooked the stew, and that has always worked fine for me. 🙂 I usually reheat individual portions in a covered saucepan on the stove. I hope you enjoy the recipe!
If you don’t have a slow cooker, can you cook this on the stovetop or in the oven? It would be great to hear the alternative cooking options for your recipes that call for a slow cooker if possible.
Hi Elissa! I haven't tested this particular recipe on the stove or in the oven, unfortunately. Many people Google "Crockpot beef stew", so that's why it's a standalone recipe. It can take multiple days to perfect a recipe, so I don't always have time to also try different cooking methods for the same recipe. I'm a one girl cooking operation here. 🙂 A stovetop version of this recipe is on my list, though. I don't feel 100% confident making suggestions for you to adapt this for the stove or oven without first testing, or else I would definitely provide some. I would hate for you to waste ingredients.
April J says
Just made this tonight and it was so delicious. This recipe is a keeper for sure! Thanks for posting!
Wonderful! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. XO
I just threw this all in my crockpot and can’t wait for dinner. I know it will be delicious. I have made several of your recipes and have NEVER been disappointed! Thank you so much!
You're too kind! I hope you enjoy this one too, Kerry. 🙂
What if I don’t have tomatoe paste ?
I haven't tested it without, so I can't confidently recommend a substitution since there is a fair amount of it in there. Do you have a can of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce? You could maybe sub some of that, but the flavor won't be as rich and the overall product may end up slightly more watery.
Tricia Hoffman says
I have made this twice and my family LOVES It! So rich and hearty. I use more meat and veggies, as I feed a big family. I think I might add a splash of wine next time. So goooood! Thank you for the great recipe.
Forgot to add that I cook it on high for 5-6 hours as I rarely get a start on it early enough for the slow setting, and it comes out incredible that way also.
I'm so happy to hear that!! 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to comment!
Mariah Richardson says
I Made this as my first ever crock pot meal it was so delicious my husband and I enjoyed every piece of it. So did my family and friends who tried it. It was a lot of work and a lot of waiting but it was so worth it. It also made our apartment smell so good all day witch was my favorite part . I will definitely be making this recipe again soon
I'm thrilled to hear that, Mariah! 🙂 Appreciate your review!
Second time making this. Followed recipe exactly and it's so delicious. 10 hr cook time is so worth it.
I am so glad you enjoy it, Lexi!! 😀
Is the olive oil for searing the beef, or is that supposed to go in pot with all the ingredients? I assumed it was just for searing the beef?
You are correct! I will update the recipe to fix it. Sorry about that!
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Thank you, Josephine! Your support means more to me than you know! 🙂
Delish! Just made this for dinner tonight. I didn’t have enough beef stock so I topped off with vegetable stock. It had a rich tomato flavor that I am not used to in beef stew and I LOVED it (I’m more of a veggie gal but make meals like this to please the meat and potato lovers in the family). I’m not sure if it was the tomato paste or the veggie stock that imparted that flavor but either way, I loved it. Super easy too!
I'm so happy that you enjoyed it despite not being much of a meat lover! That's great. Thanks for taking the time to write me a review! 🙂