It’s dark and cold outside, which means it’s beef stew season!
And while there are a million recipes out there, this one-pot beef stew is my go-to. It’s not quick, but the prep is minimal. And after just a couple of hours on the stove, it’s ready for devouring.
I mean, there’s nothing quite like the comforting embrace of a warm, hearty bowl of beef stew, right?
It’s a timeless classic and the true embodiment of comfort food.
Why This Beef Stew Recipe Is So Good
Beef stew looks and smells incredibly impressive. But really, you can whip up a huge pot with minimal effort.
Let’s start with the meat: tender, melt-in-your-mouth beef. When you cook it in seasoned broth for a couple of hours, all the fat renders, and the tissue in the meat becomes wonderfully soft.
Next, there’s a dreamy blend of aromatics. I use rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves, but you can change things up as you like.
As for the veggies, onions, garlic, carrots, and potatoes are about as traditional as it gets. But again, go nuts! If you want butternut squash, add it in. Or maybe you want pops of crisp corn?
There are no wrong answers here!
Whether you’re a seasoned home cook or just starting your culinary adventures, this recipe is sure to become a family fave.
Here’s what you’ll need to make a pot of stew for 4-6 people:
- Beef Stew Meat: The heart of the dish, providing a rich, meaty flavor and tender texture.
- Vegetable Oil: To brown/sear the meat.
- Onion and Garlic: Aromatics to bring complexity and savory notes.
- Beef Broth and Water: The liquid base delivers a hearty, meaty essence to the stew. Water ensures it’s well balanced.
- Bay Leaves, Dried Thyme, and Dried Rosemary: These herbs bring earthy, aromatic notes that complement the beef and vegetables beautifully.
- Salt and Black Pepper: Essential for seasoning, enhancing the overall taste, and bringing out the flavors of all other ingredients.
- Carrots and Potatoes: For a hearty finish, color, and texture.
- All-Purpose Flour: To thicken the gravy. You’ll mix it with water to make a slurry.
- Chopped Fresh Parsley (optional): For a burst of fresh, vibrant flavor.
What Kind of Beef Is Best for Stews?
It might sound odd, but the best type of beef for stews is typically tougher cuts. You want something rich in connective tissue and marbling because that’s where you get the deeper flavor from.
That said, it’s vital to simmer this type of meat slowly. If you cook it too quickly, the meat will be tough. Instead, you want it to simmer for a couple of hours so the fat melts and the tissue softens.
So, here are my top choices for cuts of beef for stews:
- Chuck Roast: Chuck roast is well-marbled and contains a good amount of connective tissue, which breaks down during cooking. That makes it tender and succulent.
- Bottom Round: Bottom round is leaner than chuck but still contains enough connective tissue to make it suitable for stewing. It’s often less expensive than chuck, too.
- Short Ribs: Beef short ribs are rich and beefy with ample marbling. They’re perfect for hearty stews and add a depth of flavor. But they are kind of expensive.
- Brisket: While brisket is commonly used for smoking or barbecue, it can also be used in stews. It has a wonderful beefy flavor but may require a longer cooking time to become tender.
- Stew Meat: Some grocery stores sell pre-cut stew meat, which can be a convenient option. However, the quality of stew meat can vary, so look for well-marbled pieces.
How to Make Beef Stew
You’ll find a detailed list of instructions at the bottom of the post. For now, here’s a quick overview of the steps:
- Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Brown the beef on all sides, then set aside.
- Add the onions and garlic to the pot and cook until tender.
- Deglaze the pot with a bit of beef broth, scraping up flavorful bits from the bottom.
- Return the browned beef to the pot. Add remaining beef broth, water, bay leaves, dried thyme, dried rosemary, salt, and black pepper.
- Stir and bring the liquid to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours until the beef is tender. Stir occasionally.
- Add carrots and potatoes. Continue to simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes until vegetables are tender.
- Mix the flour with some water until it’s smooth. Add the slurry to the pot, stir well, and cook until it thickens.
- Taste the broth and season with salt and pepper, as needed.
- Garnish with fresh parsley if desired. Enjoy with crusty bread or biscuits.
Slow Cooker Instructions
If you want an even more hands-off recipe, why not try the slow cooker?
Here’s how it’s done:
- Brown the meat in a large skillet.
- Deglaze the pan with a bit of beef broth, scraping the brown bits off the bottom.
- Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker, including the beef. Stir and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the beef easily falls apart with a fork.
- Make the flour slurry, add it to the stew, and cook for another 30 minutes or until thickened.
Tips and Tricks
If you’ve never made beef stew before, don’t let it stress you out. The most work you have to do is cutting the meat and chopping some veggies.
But if you’re still hesitant, here are a few tips:
- Choose the Right Cut of Beef: I’d go with chuck roast for this beef stew. It’s relatively inexpensive and will become nice and tender when it’s done.
- Brown the Meat: Although the meat will cook fully from raw, browning it in the pot before adds a ton of extra flavor.
- Use Fresh Herbs and Spices: While dried herbs are great, consider adding fresh herbs for extra aroma and flavor. It’s easy to add them - just wrap them in some kitchen twine and then remove them before serving.
- Simmer Slowly: Low and slow is the key to a tender stew. So don’t be tempted to turn the heat up.
- Don’t Overcook the Vegetables: Add the vegetables towards the end of cooking. If you add them too soon, they’ll turn to mush.
- Refrigerate for Better Flavor: Beef stew tastes even better the next day, as the flavors have had time to meld. So, store it in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it when you’re ready to enjoy.
How to Store
To store leftovers, let the stew cool to room temperature. Then, transfer it to an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 4 days.
I don’t recommend freezing it, as potatoes don’t thaw well. But if you have to, let it cool, transfer it to an airtight container, and keep it in the freezer for no more than 3 months.
When you’re ready to eat it, let it thaw in the fridge overnight and then reheat it on the stove on low heat.
One Pot Beef Stew
- 2 pounds (1 kg) beef stew meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion, chopped (or 10 ounces of pearl onions)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups beef broth
- 2 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper
- 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into thick slices
- 4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced into bite-sized pieces
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (optional, for thickening)
- Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Add the beef chunks and brown them on all sides. Do this in batches to keep from overcrowding the pot.
- When browned on all sides, remove the beef and set it aside.
- In the same pot, add the chopped onion and minced garlic. Sauté for a few minutes until translucent and fragrant.
- Pour in a little beef broth to deglaze the pot, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom.
- Return the browned beef to the pot, add the remaining beef broth, water, bay leaves, dried thyme, dried rosemary, salt, and black pepper. Stir everything together.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.
- Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the beef is tender and can be easily pierced with a fork. Stir occasionally.
- Add the carrots and potatoes to the pot. Then, continue to simmer, covered, for another 20-30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
- Make a slurry by mixing the flour with some cold water until smooth. Add this to the pot and stir well. Simmer until thick.
- Taste the stew and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Remove the bay leaves before serving.
- Serve the stew with crusty bread or biscuits for a hearty meal.