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There’s nothing more comforting than a hot amazingly Easy Beef Stew. Chock full of tender chunks of beef and vegetables and other simple pantry ingredients, this is a hearty bowl of savory goodness that will satisfy even the hungriest appetites.
I have always had a love-hate relationship with beef stew. I love the flavor, the way it warms you up and fills your belly. But I hate making it. For some reason it’s one of those things that I always thought was just too complicated so I wouldn’t bother with it. Then I got over it and made it and it was the BEST. THING. EVER.
Kind of like soups, there’s no definitive “right” or “wrong” way to make beef stew. There are a lot of ingredients, which can be intimidating, but it’s really an easy recipe to make. It’s basically meat and vegetables in gravy. Once you break it down like that, it becomes pretty simple!
The key to a good stew is getting the meat right. You can use different cuts of beef depending on the time you have. Traditionally, chuck roast is used for beef stew. But chuck is a tougher cut of meat, albeit more flavorful because of it’s higher fat content. To cook the chuck you’d want at least an hour to an hour and a half. More tender cuts of beef, like sirloin can be used to get a quick stew in 30 minutes or so. Since the meat is more tender already, it doesn’t need the traditional low and slow cooking time that a chuck roast does. However it doesn’t have the same fat ratio so it’s not as flavorful.
I always use chuck and I’m willing to wait it out because I feel like the flavor is so much richer and the meat so much more tender. Try it for yourself – I think you’ll agree!
Whichever cut you buy, I do recommend buying a whole roast and cutting it into chunks yourself. The already cut up stew meat might save you time, but it’s often made up of remnants of cuts of meat, so some will be more tender than others and may require different cooking times and methods.
This Beef stew recipe has got tons of flavor added! Aside from your basic salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce adds umami and Liquid smoke adds a rich smokiness to the gravy.
You can cook the meat in the broth without browning if you want to shave a little time off the cooking. However, browning infuses a ton of flavor, so I highly recommend it.
When cooked with the beef broth, the potatoes release starch which thickens the broth. Flour is also added as a thickener.
Whisk the flour with some of the broth from the soup until it’s smooth and there are no lumps f flour left. Pour this into the stew and let it simmer a bit until you are happy with the thickness of the gravy.
Do not add flour to the stew on it’s own or you’ll end up with lumps of flour floating around, which isn’t very delicious.
You can also make beef stew in the slow cooker! Brown the meat, then add all of the ingredients except the carrots and potatoes to the crock pot. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, adding the additional vegetables during the last 2 hours. If thickening is needed, add the flour mixture and turn heat to high with the lid removed for 15 minutes.
Beef Stew is hearty, rich and filling. It’s a meal on it’s own and doesn’t require much to be served. If I want to stretch the servings, I’ll make some Garlic Bread and a Garden Salad, or just serve with a loaf of crusty bread or some crackers.
Another delicious option is to omit the potatoes from the stew, and serve over make ahead mashed potatoes.
Make Ahead – You can make the stew a day ahead of time. Cool, cover and refrigerate, then heat on the stove or in your slow cooker.
Storing leftovers – Coll the stew completely, then pour into a container with an airtight lid and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Freezing – Beef stew freezes beautifully. Allow to cool completely, then transfer to a freezer safe container or plastic resealable bag. Store in the freezer for up to 6 months. Thaw and reheat as desired.
Updated from Oct 2017