Crock Pot Beef Stew is comforting, delicious, and effortless to make in the slow cooker -- loaded with vegetables, seasoned with herbs, and enhanced with a few special ingredients for deep, savory flavor!
Do you ever get stuck in a rut when it comes to dinner menu planning? I have to admit that I do. Making tried and true recipes is often just easier than trying something new. There’s little thought required in cooking an old standby, since I practically have it memorized. And there’s no question as to how kiddos will react to their dinner offerings, since I already know. Crock Pot Beef Stew is one of those meals for me!
This recipe involves quick and easy prep and does the rest of work on its own in the slow cooker.
It incorporates lots of veggies, which is always a win.
And I can predict which kid will clean his plate, which kid will pick out all of the carrots, and which kid will do her best to avoid the peas. 😉
The only downside? Regularly repeated recipes can get kind of boring.
But lucky for us all, that led me to jazz up my longtime favorite Crock Pot Beef Stew recipe. The amount of effort remains at a Level 1 (AKA, easy-peasy), but I took the flavor to a Level 10!
So how did I manage to boost the flavor of regular ol' Crock Pot Beef Stew? Keep reading to find out...
- Beef stew meat. You can buy beef stew meat already cut up, or purchase a chuck roast, trim it, and cut it into chunks yourself. If you decide to cut up your own roast, you'll want to start with about ½ pound extra since the fat will be trimmed off and discarded.
- Garlic. Minced. When it comes to garlic, I tend to lean in the direction of the more, the merrier. 😉
- Dried herbs. Consider this to be special ingredient #1! Using enough herbs -- both in quantity and variety -- really builds the flavor profile of your stew. Specifically, you'll be adding parsley, oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, sage, and bay leaves to this recipe. And if you'd like to add fresh herbs instead of dried, increase the amount of each fresh herb X 3, since dried herbs are three times stronger than fresh. So for example, 1 tablespoon dried parlsey would be equivalent to 3 tablespoons fresh parsley.
- Beef broth. Use low-sodium broth to have control over the saltiness of your stew. Or you can also opt to use water plus Organic Reduced-Sodium Better Than Bouillon Beef Base.
- Tomato paste and balsamic vinegar. Combined with the plentiful dried herbs, these would be special ingredients #2 and #3 to take this Crock Pot Beef Stew recipe over the top! Adding the perfect amount of tomato paste adds depth of flavor without making your beef stew taste tomato-y, and balsamic vinegar contributes a rich, complex undertone.
- Vegetables. Feel free to tweak the vegetables to include your favorites and/or whatever you need to use up in the fridge or pantry. But I customarily add the classic beef stew veggies of potatoes (peeled and cubed), carrots (peeled and sliced), frozen green beans, frozen corn, and frozen peas. I recommend Yukon Gold (or yellow) potatoes as they maintain a nice texture over long cooking times. Red potatoes would be fine as well, but russet potatoes are starchier and more likely to break down. And feel free to add the peas at the end of the cooking time if you want them to remain bright green (though I typically don't bother -- ha).
- Salt + pepper. To taste.
- Cornstarch + water. For thickening the gravy. You can adjust the amount to your liking.
The results of combining the above ingredients and flavor-boosters?
An otherwise ordinary, predictable beef stew crock pot recipe gets a little kick!💃
How to Make Beef Stew in a Crock Pot
(The below photos are intended to be helpful, but please refer to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for FULL DIRECTIONS.)
There are generally two camps when it comes to making beef stew in a crock pot: searing the beef cubes first, or simply tossing the raw meat into the slow cooker.
Thanks to the special flavor-boosting ingredients added to this particular Crock Pot Beef Stew recipe, I find the dump-and-cook method to be not only easier, but totally sufficient for a deliciously savory beef stew.
That being said, if you prefer to sear your beef before tossing it in the slow cooker, keep scrolling past the below step-by-step photos for directions on that option as well. 🤗
- Place beef cubes in the bottom of a large slow cooker. Top with garlic and sprinkle with the dried herbs, bay leaves, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
- Pour beef broth into the slow cooker and and add the tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, and all of the veggies.
- Give everything a stir and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours. Yes, you could cook on HIGH for half that time, but I always feel like the BEST Crock Pot Beef Stew is cooked low and slow.
- About an hour before serving, whisk some cornstarch into water until smooth, and then pour into the slow cooker while stirring.
- Replace the lid and allow the broth to slightly thicken as the stew finishes cooking.
- Before serving, season with salt and additional pepper, to taste. And then, ENJOY!
How to Sear the Beef (Optional)
If you'd like to sear your beef cubes before proceeding with the Crock Pot Beef Stew recipe, it requires just a few extra minutes of prep and an extra pot.
- Generously season the beef cubes on all sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or your favorite vegetable oil) in a large pot over medium-high heat until it's shimmering.
- Working in batches so as not to crowd the pot, add a single layer of beef cubes and cook until they're browned on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
- Transfer all of the browned beef to your slow cooker and proceed with the recipe.
Converting Crock Pot Beef Stew to the Stovetop
If you wish to make your beef stew on the stove instead of in the slow cooker, you may certainly do so! A few tips...
- Go ahead and sear your beef first since you'll already be dirtying a pot!
- Along with the beef, add all of the other ingredients to a large pot or Dutch oven, increasing the beef broth to 6 cups total.
- Stir everything together and bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low/simmering. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until the beef is very tender. Watch the liquid level and add a little more, if necessary. Or, if you prefer less broth, leave the lid off for a bit and allow some of the liquid to evaporate.
- Thicken as desired with a cornstarch slurry.
Ideas for Serving Crock Pot Beef Stew
One of my favorite things about beef stew is that it's basically a complete meal in one bowl, with protein, veggies, and carbs. That being said, I'll never oppose something on the side to soak up that savory broth!
I don’t know about you, but I pretty much can’t eat beef stew without first crumbling cornbread into it. So whip up a batch of cornbread batter to bake in a pan or a skillet or enjoy as muffins.
Or, for an exciting twist, you can use cornbread batter for...are you ready for this...?
Not only are they fun to eat -- and not only do they serve to soak up the juices of the stew -- but they also cook in no time.
Simply pour your batter into a waffle iron for piping hot cornbread in mere minutes. And then get ready for your family to ooh and aah over waffles for dinner. Because waffles make any meal more fun...right?
I'm telling you, it's hard to beat Crock Pot Beef Stew spooned over cornbread waffles!
Winter’s not over yet, so there’s plenty of time left to whip up a pot of hearty, comforting Crock Pot Beef Stew. Not only will this meal warm you up straight down to your toes, but it’s also good for the ol' soul.
And what more can you ask of a dinner than that? 😁
More Beefy Soups and Stews
- Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff Soup
- The BEST 3 Bean Chili
- Hamburger Vegetable Soup
- Tortellini Lasagna Soup
Easy Crock Pot Beef Stew (with AMAZING Savory Flavor!)
- 2 pounds beef stew meat
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon dried sage
- 2 bay leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 ½ pounds yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 cup frozen green beans
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 3 tablespoons water + 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- Salt, to taste
- Place stew meat in the bottom of large slow cooker. Top with garlic and sprinkle with dried herbs, bay leaves, and freshly ground black pepper. Pour beef broth over meat, and add balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, potatoes, carrots, green beans, corn, and peas to crock pot. Stir all ingredients to combine.
- Cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours or until beef is very tender.
- About an hour before serving, use a fork to whisk cornstarch into water and pour in crock pot, stirring to distribute. Replace lid and allow broth to thicken slightly as stew finishes cooking. Season with salt, if needed, and additional pepper, to taste.
- Instead of beef broth, water plus Organic Better Than Bouillon Beef Base may be used.
- Fresh herbs may be substituted for dried herbs at a 3:1 ratio, since dried herbs are three times stronger than fresh. For example, instead of using 1 tablespoon dried parsley, you could substitute three tablespoons fresh parsley.
- Yukon Gold (or yellow) potatoes hold up best in a slow-cooking stew, as do red potatoes. Russets are starchier and more likely to break down, so not as preferable.
- If you'd like your frozen peas to remain bright green, you can wait to stir them in during the last 15-20 minutes of cooking time.
- You may increase the amount of cornstarch slurry for a thicker stew.
- While you may opt to cook your Crock Pot Beef Stew on HIGH for half the allotted time, I recommend cooking the recipe on LOW for the best flavor and most tender beef.
- IF YOU'D LIKE TO SEAR YOUR BEEF BEFORE ADDING IT TO CROCK POT: (1.)Generously season the beef cubes on all sides with salt and pepper, to taste. (2.)Heat 2 tablespoons EVOO or vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. (3.)Working in batches so as not to crowd the pot, add a single layer of beef cubes and cook until they are browned on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. (4.)Transfer the browned beef to your slow cooker and proceed with the recipe.
- TO CONVERT THIS RECIPE FROM CROCK POT TO STOVETOP: I'd recommend searing your beef first since you'll already be dirtying a pot! Along with the beef, add all of the other ingredients to your large pot or Dutch oven, increasing the beef broth to 6 cups total. Stir everything together and bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low or so until simmering. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1 to 1 ½ hours or until the beef is very tender. Watch the liquid level and add a little more, if necessary, or remove the lid and allow to evaporate for a bit if you'd prefer less liquid. Thicken as desired with a cornstarch slurry.