Beef Stew Recipe for Your Crock Pot
This time of year I love to make a big batch of beef stew that's good for a couple of nights worth of meals with left overs that can be frozen for a quick meal when you don't feel like cooking. Preparing it in a crock pot is a perfect way to make a great stew by cooking it slowly without having to pay much attention to it.
If you are interested in making it more traditionally and not in a crockpot, check out my more classic Beef Stew recipe.
It takes about 30 to 40 minutes to prep the ingredients before adding to a crockpot, then you let it cook all day until dinner time. I don't like to leave anything cooking while I'm not at home, but I have friends who will prep a meal in the morning and let it cook all day while they are at work.
The beef came from Costco and was already cut up into cubes. I'm not sure what cut of beef it was, it said, "Beef Stew Meat" on the package. I typically use meat cut from the chuck or beef round but you can use just about any part of the cow for stew. Obviously, you don't want to use expensive cuts if you are going to cook it all day.
In fact, I think the stew meat I purchased at Costco was a little too lean and although tasty, was a little dry. You're better off with cuts that have more connective tissue and fat for two reasons. One, they will be cheaper and two, the more fat, the more flavor.
Crockpot Beef Stew
- 3 pounds beef stew meat cut to uniform cubes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- red wine to deglaze the pan
- 2 onions yellow, diced
- 2 cloves garlic diced
- 6 carrots cut up into little pieces.
- 3 stalks celery cut up into like sized pieces
- 14½ oz diced tomatoes
- 2 cups beef stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- salt & pepper to taste
- Start by heating up one tablespoon of oil in a large saute or fry pan until hot but not smoking. We're going to brown the beef cubes in stages so start with ⅓ of the beef and brown until all sides are brown. Add the meat to the crock pot. Then add another tablespoon of oil and brown the next batch and then the third.
- When all the beef is browned and in the crock pot, deglaze the pan with a little bit of red wine. If you don't want to use red wine, substitute a little of the beef stock. Let the wine cook down to an essence.
- Now add the onion and garlic. There should be enough liquid in the pan to saute the onion and garlic but if not, just add a little bit of oil to the pan. When the onion and garlic are lightly browned, add them to the crock-pot.
- Next add the carrots and celery to the pan and saute for 5 minutes before adding them to the crock-pot. You could just add the carrots and celery directly to the crock-pot but I like to brown them just a little for an extra layer of flavor.
- Add the diced tomatoes, beef stock, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, and paprika to the crock-pot and stir to combine all the ingredients. Add a little salt and pepper but you will be adjusting seasoning when the beef stew is almost finished.
- Be careful not to add to much salt to the stew if the beef stock is loaded with salt. It's easier to add later and impossible to remove if too much is added.
- Let this cook in the crock pot for at least 6 hours or until the beef is tender. Depending on whether you set the crock pot on high or low, the cooking time will vary but in the end you will know it is done when the meat is fork tender.
- Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. You can serve this with fresh bread, mashed potatoes, rice, egg noodles or by itself.
Your beef stew recipe is most amazing so I'm really looking forward to the crock pot version. Just a note though, don't serve it with a fork and a spoon, serve with a fork and lots of crusty bread to soak up the extra liquid.
RG - One of the things I miss most these days in my hectic life is a good home cooked meal. I rarely find time to make a 'real' dinner for my wife and I, and when I do, it's certainly not a pot roast simmere for hours and hours. I've got an interesting suggestion that some folks might find a little weird, but I assure you, it's magic. Try replacing half of the beef stock with2 cups Dr. Pepper, ordinary soda, and instead of Worcestershire, add a Tsp. of Anise, whole, in a sachet. The result is a slightly sweet, but still very savory beef dish that tastes great.
In practice, the extended cooking time breaks down the syrupy, sugary soda and lends a lovely deep brown caramel color to the whole dish.
This stew looks great!!! Is it true if you cook meat in a slow cooker you can't over cook it. Even if you leave it cooking 1-2 hours over the cooking time? Hope you answer this question for me. Thanks
How are the vegetables NOT overcooked if you cook the entire dish (meat, veggies & seasonings) for 6 hours?? Even if you are simmering it.... Thanks.
The Reluctant Gourmet
Hi Lauri, you are absolutely correct, the vegetables are overcooked when you prepare this dish in a crock pot, start it in the morning and want it to be ready when you come home from work. Some people will blend some of the vegetables into the stew to help thicken the sauce and it can be quite tasty.
If you have the time, you can remove the meat and hour or so before it is done, strain the vegetables, return the liquid and meat back to the pot and add fresh vegetables and cook for an hour or until the fresh vegetables are done. It adds an extra step but your vegetables will be perfectly cooked.
So it really comes down to convenience and texture and your schedule. Another alternative if you have the time is to make the stew in the traditional way not using a crock pot. You can see a good recipe for this at my blog post for Beef Stew at http://www.reluctantgourmet.com/beef-stew-recipe/
This recipe describes how to start with aromatic vegetables, removing them after all the flavor has been cooked out and replacing them with new vegetables. Also, be sure to check out my article on How to Make a Great Stew Recipe at http://www.reluctantgourmet.com/how-to-stew-anything/
Hope this helps,
old post I know, but someone did ask nicely if you can overcook the meat and hoped you would reply which none did. I too would like to know if you can overcook the meat using a slow cooker. I leave home at 6 am and do not get back until around 9 pm twice a week, so ideally a ready meal would be great for me. What would the meat be like having cooked on slow from 6 am until 9 pm. Will it end up dry and tough or ???
The Reluctant Gourmet
Hi Sue, in my experience it should not be a problem but I would keep the slow cooker on low and make sure you have a good seal between the cooker and the cover. I sometimes use a little aluminum foil for a better seal. What kind of meat you use is also important as I describe in the post. I have slow cooked (braised) short ribs overnight and they turn out delicious. The meat may fall apart more easily the longer you cook the meat but for some that’s a good thing. I suggest you give it a try and see how it turns out. If it is too dry for you, you can always add a timer to your crock pot to go on at a later hour.
I am new to slow cooking and so far have had success. I would like to know 2 things however, which would be really helpful.
1. Reading the comments about overcooked veg, what is the LONGEST time on low that any of you have had OK veg before it starts to break down too much?
2. RG mentions adding a timer device to start the process while you're out but all my instructions make it clear that you must ALWAYS add BOILING liquid but how can you if you're not there? What happens if you don't add boiling liquid - does it never reach the right temperature?
Thanks in anticipation.
The Reluctant Gourmet
Hi KF, I’m hoping someone else has some actual times to answer your first question but from my experience anytime you braise vegetables in a crackpot, they are going to break down and loose their flavor. The good news you can use them to make a delicious sauce. You can also add fresh vegetables like potatoes after the meat is cooked and cook until tender.
To answer your second question, I have never seen or heard a recipe saying to add “Boiling liquid” to make stew whether in a crockpot or not. I’m not saying there are not recipes out there that use this method, I just have never experienced it. If this is a technique you want to follow, a timer is not going to help.
Would love to hear other home cooks thoughts on this and your own experiences. – RG
Judy and Joy
Hi we are Judy and Joy, the Twice Baked Twins. This sounds amazing and the Dr Pepper recipe is terrific .We came up with a recipe for beef stew that has all the great flavor Mom and Nana talked about but made it in less than 30 min.
Hi Judy and Joy, thanks for sharing. - RG
It doesn't help that I'm looking this up while starving! The beef looks delicious!
Made this on Saturday to serve on Sunday. My son was crazy about it. Had two big bowls full and took some home with him. Definitely a hit. I brought some to work with me for lunch today! Thanks!
1. When cooking Beef Stew in the crock pot, do you stir/combine the veggies and stew meat (after searing) cook so they are mixed, OR do you have to leave the meat on the bottom in order for it to cook?
2. How long do you cook the Beef Stew ON HIGH so that everything is done and tender
Thanks in advance - M
The Reluctant Gourmet
Hi Melody, I don’t usually combine the veggies and stew meat but keep them separate. Sometimes I leave the meat on the bottom but other times I’ve placed the vegetables on the bottom. I think most home cooks prefer the latter but I’m interested in hearing what they have to say.
How long you cook a beef stew on high depends on your crock pot, the thickness of the meat, did it come right out of the refrigerator and into the pot, what else you are cooking. If you are using the right cut of meat, I don’t think you have to worry if you let it cook 4 to 6 hours. You can tell by taking a piece out, checking for tenderness and giving it a taste.
John A Parker
AFA over cooking the meat... Cooking at a higher than recommended temperature or for hours too long will absolutely make the meat fall apart. I personally don't mind that at all but if you're counting on "chunks" of meat, try to stick to the proposed cooking time.
AFA adding the vegetables... Every time you remove a crock pot lid to stir, check or add ingredients it takes about 20 minutes for the cooking conditions (a slight buildup of pressure in the pot from the steam). So, it's advisable to do so only of necessary.
This said, we started out with just meat, onions, garlic and celery, we added our carrots. potatoes (and yams) about four hours before it being ready to serve, and green beans about an hour before.
Hi , I like to add lots of potatoes and small halves of corn on the cobb to my stew my kids were always looking for more potatoes and the corn added extra flavor ! Cook on low all day and everyone thinks you slaved over a hor stove all day,the aroma is the best !
I have prepared and cooked ( in a slow cooker ) on low for the required time of 9 hours a meat goulash with lots of veg , stock etc ! On checking after 9 hours I feel it needs at least 1 plus hours more ! Will it be ok to leave it in the slow cooker overnight once turned off at say 10 hrs from start ? Is there any possibility of creating bacteria by leaving the food as stated above ? Your response is appreciated . Thankyou .
The Reluctant Gourmet
Hey James, I really don't know. I guess you did what you had to do but I think I would have stayed up an extra hour to finish the cooking and I don't think I would have let it sit on the counter all night not cooking. I think you need to get hold of a food nutritionist to know for sure. Best of luck.