Everyone loves a hearty stew. And just because the weather has warmed and winter is in the rear view doesn’t mean that this delicious meal has to hibernate until it gets colder once again. This easy crockpot beef stew is insanely simple to prep and and cook. It can easily feed a full family, or a smaller group, with leftovers to spare. Give yourself about 9 hours for it to be prepared. It should take about 30 minutes to prep, and another 8 1/2 hours to cook. Just make sure to start this meal off in the morning to have it ready for dinner. With just a few simple steps and some time, this easy crockpot beef stew is sure to be devoured with gusto.
The crockpot does all the hard work – all you’ll have to do is chop up some veggies and brown the beef. Just make sure that you keep your day open – this stew cooks for a while, so although you won’t need to take an active hand once the crockpot is on, it’s a good idea to stay close by. In fact, this is a perfect quarantine meal! What we love about this dish isn’t just the supreme taste. The delicious smell of a hearty stew roasting quickly fills the home.
And don’t let our ingredient list restrict you. While we use a pretty standard list of vegetables, this easy crockpot beef stew recipe can be elevated by using left over veggies that you have lying around. For example, while our recipe doesn’t usually call for pepper, we had an extra one and decided to chop it up and add it to the dish. And while peppers aren’t generally used for making stews, it turned out to be a delicious addition. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
The ease of making this meal is unparalleled. All you need are a few products/appliances, some fresh ingredients, and a little bit of time, and you’ll have a hearty feast. On the appliance side, make sure that you have these things handy. It’s a short list, but each item is needed:
Slow Cooker or Crockpot
Pan (while technically optional, browning the beef is an important step in our opinion!)
On the ingredient side of things, we used a crockpot that has a relatively small volume, so we kept our portions smaller. If you’re cooking for a family or larger group, don’t be afraid to add more ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:
Gather the Necessary Ingredients
Beef Stew Meat – 1.5 pounds
Salt – 2 teaspoons
Pepper – 1 teaspoon
Paprika – 1 tablespoon
Vegetable Oil – 5 teaspoons
Flour – 1/3rd cup
Worcestershire Sauce – 2 tablespoons
Beef Broth – 3 cups
Tomato Sauce or Paste – 10 ounces
Carrots – 4
Potatoes – 3
Celery – 3
Yellow Onion – 1
Red Pepper – 1
Garlic – 4 cloves
Step 1: Vegetable Prep
Excuse the Paper Plates!
Dice up the vegetables. We like to keep the potatoes in larger chunks so they don’t get too soft during the cooking process. The slow roasting of the stew means that most of the vegetables will get soft, but it’s nice to have some larger chunks with each bite. Mince the garlic to help disperse flavor throughout the dish.
Once the veggies are cut up, set aside the plate.
Step 2: Beef Prep
Add the vegetable oil to a pan or skillet and begin to warm on medium heat. We used canola oil because we had it lying around, but any vegetable oil will do.
As the oil begins to heat, it’s time to take the beef and coat in the flour. We like to use a large ziplock bag for this process, but it’s perfectly fine to do in a bowl or deep dish. With our method, pour the flour into the ziplock bag, and add a tablespoon of salt, and a dash of pepper. Place the beef chunks into the bag and seal. Shake thoroughly to ensure that the flour coats every nook and cranny of the meat.
By this point the pan should be hot enough to add the beef. Shake off any excess flower and place the meat in the pan/skillet.
Step 3: Browning the Beef
Turn the heat up to high to begin browning the beef. Remember, the goal of this step isn’t to cook the beef, simply to get a crispy brown on the outside. Let the beef chunks sit for 2-3 minutes, and then use the tongs to turn.
You’ll want to let the beef brown for 5-6 minutes total, and feel free to turn the cubes liberally. Try to get a nice brown all over the surface of each part of the beef.
Step 4: Add the Beef and Veggies to the Crockpot
Beef First, Veggies Second
As simple as the name implies, now it’s time to add all the prepared ingredients into the crockpot or slow cooker. Add the beef first, and then dump the veggies on top. Some people like to organize the vegetables into clusters, but before we turn the slow cooker on we like to mix everything together.
Step 5: Seasoning the Stew
Now is time to add the seasonings, sauces and broth. We used a standard beef broth, but low sodium also works out great and doesn’t sacrifice flavor while helping to keep sodium intake low. If you prefer a thicker stew, add less broth and more tomato paste/sauce. We use 10 ounces of tomato sauce (a tomato basil which is all we had lying around). The tomato sauce/paste helps thicken the broth while also elevating the flavor.
Sprinkle in the paprika, Worcestershire sauce, and some more salt/pepper. Don’t be afraid to throw other spices or herbs like bayleaves or basil, or even hot sauce to kick up the heat profile of the stew. We added a pinch of crushed red pepper for an added level of spice.
Step 6: Let the Crockpot/Slow Cooker do the Rest
With the prep work done, it’s time to let the slow cooker do the heavy lifting. Set on low and allow to cook for 8 and 1/2 hours. The low heat and long cook time really tenderizes the meat and allows the flavors to come out and mix beautifully. In no time your kitchen will be filled with the mouthwatering aroma of the beef stew cooking. While it might be tempting to open the lid and take a peek, try to resist so that not too much heat escapes.
After a couple hours, sneak a quick taste of the broth to ensure the flavor is where you’d like it to be. Don’t be afraid to add more ingredients to taste, like salt/pepper or even more seasonings.
Step 7: Eat!
Once the cooking is completed, pour a bowl and enjoy. We really love this easy crockpot beef stew because it’s super easy to prep and is just so satisfying to eat. We sopped up the broth with a french baguette and found ourselves crushing bowl after bowl.
After almost 9 hours of cooking, the meat and veggies were tender and jam packed with flavor. And the best part of all? If you don’t devour the whole thing, this beef stew reheats incredibly well. It can even be frozen to enjoy for future meals in a pinch!