Hearty and full of subtle flavor with tender beef cubes made soft from hours of slow cooking. Slow cooker beef stew is a set it and forget it type meal. Just throw a bunch of ingredients into a slow cooker and let them do their thang.
It might not feel like it, but autumn is technically in session and this is a great stew for it!
Slow Cooker Beef Stew: The breakdown
Beef : Use any cut of boneless beef cubes like stew meat or chuck. Don’t bother with an expensive cut of meat because the slow cooking process will break down even the toughest cuts. Brown the beef in hot olive oil before slow cooking. This adds a lot of flavor, but if you really want to you can skip this step.
Veggies: With a stew, you want sturdy veggies that hold up to being cooked for so long. Therefore, I used carrots, celery, and baby potatoes. Leave the skin on the potatoes to make this even easier, after thoroughly washing them. To substitute with regular sized potatoes, cut them into 1.5 inch chunks.
Liquid and Flavoring: Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and balsamic vinegar are added for flavor. The meat gets cooked in a beef broth resulting in a deeper flavor. I don’t even bother preparing broth from the bouillon cubes. Pour hot water over the pan ingredients and crumble the bouillon cubes on top. Voila! Instant beef broth.
Dried herbs and paprika round this out. Dissolve cornstarch into a little of the broth and add back to the stew to cook further and thicken it.
Can I make this without a slow cooker?
You absolutely can! Here’s how. Place all the ingredients (browned beef, onions and garlic, liquid ingredients and herbs) EXCEPT the carrots, potatoes, and celery. into an oven safe casserole dish. A Dutch oven would work perfectly here. Cook the dish covered in a 325 F oven for two hours, then add the chopped vegetables, return to the oven and cook for a further hour. Vegetables and beef should be tender.
Storing leftover beef stew:
This is even better the next day. All the flavor deepens significantly. Store the beef stew tightly covered in the fridge for 3-4 days. Heat up leftovers in the microwave, a 180C oven or on the stove over medium heat.
It also freezes very well in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw the day before using and reheat in a 180 C oven or on the stove over medium heat.
Slow Cooker Beef Stew
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 kg stew beef, cut into 1.5 inch cubes 2 lbs
- salt and pepper
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 4 large carrots, sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices
- 500 g baby potatoes, quartered 1 lb
- 2 stalks celery, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
- 1.5 beef bouillon cubes
- 3 cups hot water
- 1/2 tsp dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs
- 1 tsp dried thyme or oregano
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp cornstarch (cornflour)
- Pat dry the beef cubes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Once very hot, add the beef cubes to the skillet and brown in two batches, about 5 minutes each batch, turning the cubes over halfway through. Place the beef cubes in the slow cooker.
- To the same skillet, reduce heat to medium, add the diced onion and garlic and balsamic vinegar, cooking until onions have softened about 5 minutes. Add in the tomato paste and cook for just another minute, then add this mixture to the slow cooker.
- Add the carrots, potatoes, celery to the slow cooker. Crumble the beef bouillon cubes on top of the vegetables and add the hot water. Add the dried parsley, dried herbs, thyme or oregano, and paprika. Stir the ingredients in the slow cooker to evenly distribute.
- Cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours. Once beef cubes are tender and can easily be cut apart with a fork, it's ready. To thicken the stew, remove a few tablespoons of the liquid from the slow cooker to a small bowl, add the cornstarch and mix until a paste forms, then return the cornstarch paste to the bowl of the slow cooker. Cook for another 10-20 minutes.
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