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Easy & Delicious Beef Stew Recipe

crockpot beef stew

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Few dishes evoke the warmth and comfort of a homemade meal like a hearty bowl of beef stew. Beef stew is one of those recipes I love to cook up during the winter months because I feel like it warms me up when it is cold outside. In addition to warming you up, the rich aroma of simmering beef, vegetables, and savory spices fills your home, creating a sense of anticipation and nostalgia. I don’t know about you, but the smell of stew cooking reminds me of growing up and my dad brewing a stew for dinner.

If you're looking for a convenient and delicious way to make beef stew, then consider the magic of the crockpot. I prefer recipes that are quick and easy. A little preparation earlier in the day then you don’t have to worry about it until you are ready to eat. In this recipe blog, we'll explore the art of making crockpot beef stew, from selecting the finest ingredients to enjoying the delectable results. Seriously, this is one of my favorite crockpot recipes!

The Art of Beef Stew

Beef stew is a timeless classic, loved by families for generations, including my own. Its simplicity lies in the harmonious combination of tender beef, vegetables, and a savory broth. However, perfecting this dish requires a few essential techniques and careful attention to detail.

I learned the art of making beef stew from watching my dad make it growing up. I understand that there are little subtleties that will make all of the difference in the final taste of your stew. If I ate it as a kid then I am confident this is a kid-friendly crockpot recipe for you and your family!

Choosing Beef Stew Ingredients

To create a mouthwatering crockpot beef stew, you'll need a selection of high-quality ingredients. These typically include:

Beef: Choose cuts like chuck roast or stew meat, known for their tenderness when slow-cooked. Both are incredible in the crockpot. I prefer to use actual stew meat if I am doing a stew, but a chuck roast will work in a pinch. Both are tender and having a chuck roast fall apart at the end of cooking is so delicious and amazing.

Vegetables: Common choices are carrots, potatoes, onions, celery, and peas, but feel free to customize to your liking. This is where your food storage can come in handy. Utilize those canned vegetables that have been sitting on the back of the shelf or any vegetables frozen from last year.

Broth: Beef broth serves as the flavorful base of your stew. You can use water, but I would highly suggest using broth because this adds extra flavoring.

Herbs and Spices: Common seasonings include bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, and garlic. Don’t forget salt and pepper!

Liquid: Red wine or tomato juice can enhance the depth of flavor. I prefer red wine, but I understand not everyone drinks alcohol, so that is up to your preference.

Crockpot vs Stovetop

While traditional stovetop cooking is a great way to make beef stew, the crockpot offers unique advantages. The slow, steady cooking of a crockpot allows flavors to meld and intensify, resulting in a more tender and flavorful dish. Additionally, the convenience of "set it and forget it" makes crockpot cooking a favorite for busy households. I truly love being able to put everything into my crockpot then go about my day’s work, not having to worry about accidentally burning something on the stovetop.

beef stew meat

Preparing the Beef

Properly preparing the beef is a crucial step in making exceptional beef stew. Cut the beef into bite-sized pieces. Sear the beef in a hot pan before adding it to the crockpot. This step locks in the meat's juices and enhances its flavor. I also will sear the beef if I decide to can beef stew as well. Searing does enhance the flavors.

beef stew in crockpot

Building Flavor Layers

To achieve a deeply satisfying beef stew, it's essential to build layers of flavor. Start by sautéing onions, garlic, and aromatic herbs in the pan used for searing the beef. I love to sauté in butter because butter makes everything taste better, right? This step releases the vegetables’ natural oils and adds complexity to the stew's base. Deglaze the pan with wine or broth, scraping up any flavorful browned bits and adding them into the crockpot.

Benefits of Crockpot Cooking

Crockpot cooking offers several advantages, especially when making dishes like beef stew:

Convenience: Minimal hands-on time is required. This is a life-saver if you have chores and other errands to do during the day.

Tender Results: Slow cooking yields tender meat and melded flavors. Seriously, the chuck roast will fall apart after a long day of cooking in the crockpot.

Time Efficiency: Prepare ingredients in the morning, and dinner is ready when you return home.

crockpot beef stew

Crockpot Beef Stew Recipe

If you're looking for a convenient and delicious way to make beef stew, then consider the magic of the crockpot.

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 4 potatoes, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Sear the beef in a hot pan until browned on all sides.
  • In the same pan, melt the butter and sauté onions and garlic until translucent.
  • Deglaze the pan with 1 cup of beef broth, scraping up any flavorful bits and add into the crockpot.
  • Transfer the beef, onions, and garlic to the crockpot.
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the crockpot. Ensure that the bay leaves are near the top so they are easy to get out later.
  • Pour in the remaining beef broth.
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the beef is tender. Remove the bay leaves from the stew.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Notes

Cooking Tips
For a thicker stew, mix 1/4 cup of flour with cold water and stir it into the crockpot during the last hour of cooking. You can also use corn starch for a thickener.
Experiment with different vegetables and seasonings to create your signature beef stew. I feel like the vegetables, butter, and meat do the heavy work in a stew and seasonings really add a flavorful addition.
Don't overfill your crockpot; leave some room for the stew to simmer and expand. 
Ensure you remove the bay leaves at the end of the cook time.

Serving and Enjoying

Once your crockpot beef stew is ready, serve it piping hot in bowls with a sprinkle of fresh herbs like parsley or thyme. Pair it with sourdough dinner rolls or buttery biscuits for a complete and satisfying meal.

Commonly Asked Questions

Can I use a different meat besides beef for this stew?

While traditional beef stew uses beef, you can experiment with other meats like chicken, lamb, or even pork for a unique twist. I have used buffalo stew meat with great results.

Can I beef stew vegetarian or vegan?

Absolutely! Replace the meat with plant-based alternatives like tempeh or tofu, and use vegetable broth instead of beef broth.

Is it okay to leave the crockpot unattended for long hours?

Crockpots are designed to be left unattended safely. However, it's a good practice to check on your stew periodically, especially if you're new to using a crockpot. I personally don’t leave the crockpot unattended for long hours while away from home, but that is up to you.

Can I freeze leftovers for later?

Yes, you can freeze leftover beef stew in an airtight container for several months. Just reheat it when you're ready to enjoy it again. You can even freeze-dry your beef stew.

What's the secret to making the stew extra flavorful?

Building layers of flavor with sautéed onions, garlic, and herbs, along with deglazing the pan, is the key to a flavorful stew.

Can I use a different type of wine in the recipe?

While red wine is a classic choice, you can experiment with different types of wine, such as white or even beer, to add unique flavors to your stew.

Easy & Delicious Beef Stew Recipe

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