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Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Slow Cooker Beef Stew is a comforting and simple slow cooker recipe full of flavour. I love cooking beef in the slow cooker; if it is cooked on low and for a long enough time, the beef comes out so soft and tender that it almost melts in your mouth 🙂

bowl of beef stew cooked in the slow cooker next to some bread

How To Make Beef Stew In A Slow Cooker

You can change what ingredients you include in your beef stew depending on your tastes and what is available.

Aside from the meat, you can use a wide range of root vegetables to cook slowly alongside the beef and soak in all the flavour from the juices as it cooks.

To print out this recipe card, head down to the bottom of this post.

What You Need:

  • Beef – the cheapest cut of meat is going to be the best one to use for a beef stew. If you can’t easily get beef shin or brisket in the supermarket aisles, head for the butchers or meat counter within the supermarket. Ask the butcher for their recommendation, explaining that you are using a slow cooker. There is no need to use expensive cuts of meat in a slow cooker.
  • Vegetables – add whichever vegetables you have; I like using new potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks, and celery. Just chop them up and throw them in!
  • Herbs/Spices – adding a couple of bay leaves and herbs such as rosemary and thyme add a welcome taste to a beef stew.
  • Worcestershire Sauce – adding a couple of tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce to a beef stew will really enhance the flavour.
  • Stock – I usually add two beef stock cubes or stock pots dissolved in 500ml of hot water.

Making It:

Add everything to the slow cooker bowl and stir to ensure everything is mixed together.

ingredients in the slow cooker

Set off on low for 8 to 10 hours or high for 4 hours. I prefer to cook slow cooker beef stew for a long time on low heat to get the meat really soft and tender.

Remove the lid for 30 minutes to thicken the stew. Switch the slow cooker to high and add gravy granules or cornflour at this stage to thicken up even more.

If you are adding dumplings to your slow cooker, now is the time to add them.

Do I Need To Coat The Beef In Flour Before Cooking?

Personally, I don’t – but you can. The point of adding flour to the beef is to thicken up the stew, but if you are adding flour, you should brown the beef too, or the flour might go lumpy in the slow cooker.

I am pretty lazy when browning meat before adding it to the slow cooker (the only exception is when I make a slow cooker sausage casserole because sausages that aren’t browned first end up with a rather unpleasant texture!). Hence, I tend to skip the whole coating in flour step. I do, however, thicken up the liquid at the end before serving; more on that below.

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If you want to include this step, pop the beef in a sandwich bag and add 1 or 2 tbsp of flour; shake it up to ensure all the meat is completely covered. Then, gently fry the flour coated beef until it is lightly browned in a little heated oil before adding it to the slow cooker bowl.

beef stew with french stick

How To Thicken Slow Cooker Beef Stew

You will likely want to thicken up the stew before serving it. How thin the liquid ends at the end of cooking time will depend on a) how much liquid you added at the beginning and b) how many vegetables you added. Vegetables have a high water content that will be released during cooking. Sometimes it’s hard to judge how much liquid will be released until you reach the end of the cooking time.

You can thicken up a beef stew in the slow cooker by any of the following methods;

Remove the lid for the last 30 minutes, and turn the slow cooker up to high.

And/or;

  • Add in some gravy granules and stir in. Add 1 tbsp of beef gravy granules at a time and stir; add more until it is at your preferred consistency.
  • Make a cornflour mixture using 1-2tsp cornflour with a little water (follow pack instructions). Stir it into the slow cooker and leave it to thicken up.

Adding Dumplings To A Slow Cooker

Who can resist some dumplings with a beef stew? They are really easy to make and add in. Just follow pack instructions if you are using a dumpling mix and add to the slow cooker 30 – 40 minutes before the end of the cooking time.  Alternatively, make your own dumplings before adding them to the slow cooker.

How Long Should I Cook A Beef Stew For In A Slow Cooker?

Low and long is the preference for the best slow cooker beef stew. I find for the best results, 8 to 10 hours on low is ideal. If you are short on time, you can put the slow cooker on high for around 4 hours, but the beef might not be as tender.

beef stew in a bowl

More Slow Cooker Recipes

Are you looking for more slow cooker recipes? Get some inspiration here:

slow cooker beef stew in a bowl next to beef

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Yield: 4-6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes

Beef stew in the slow cooker is a delicious comforting meal that tastes wonderful after a long day of the meat slowly cooking until tender. Lovely with a chunk of crusty bread!

Ingredients

  • 800g diced stewing beef
  • 800g casserole vegetables*
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2tsp dried mixed herbs (optional)
  • 2 beef stock cubes/pot 
  • 500ml boiling water
  • Gravy granules or conrflour to thicken (optional)

Instructions

  1. Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker and stir round to make sure everything is nicely mixed together.
  2. Set off on low for 8 to 10 hours or high for 4 hours.
  3. To thicken up the stew, remove the lid for the last 30 minutes and switch the slow cooker to high. Add gravy granules or cornflour at this stage to thicken up even more. If you are adding dumplings to your slow cooker now is the time to add them. If you want to add any peas or broccoli, now is a good time to add it.

Notes

*choose your vegetables according to what is available and what you prefer. Options can include; carrots, leeks, celery, potatoes, swede, onions.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 392Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 73mgSodium: 928mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 27g

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Paul

Saturday 21st of October 2023

My wife and I have just got a ninja speedi and have had some good results and would very much appreciate any recipes you have for the speedi from time to time in your weekly recipe selection which we both enjoy. Thanks Paul.

Liana Green

Wednesday 20th of December 2023

Hi Paul - I'm yet to get round to trying the Ninja Speedi but as soon as I do I will share some recipes (or coming to you for advice!)

Alan Wigmore

Tuesday 6th of December 2022

I have made this a few times with different vegetables. Absolutely LUSH. Only thing different is that I add a sachet of Bouquet Garni.

Joanne Simpson

Sunday 6th of February 2022

I recently made this and it tasted even better after freezing. A bit unsure about not searing the beef but it was very tasty.....really is a simple throw it all in kind of dish. I used parsnip, purple carrots and onion as vegetables plus some fresh thyme leaves. Cooked on low for 7 hours then turned up to high for last hour. I also thickened with corn-flour at the end. Tonight we had this with green beans and roasted potatoes - delicious and printed off for future use.

Louise Curtis

Monday 3rd of January 2022

Is the liquid meant to cover the veg etc?

Melissa

Tuesday 10th of November 2020

I got my first ever slow cooker on Saturday and the first thing I made was your amazing chicken casserole! Out of this world! So now I want to make the beef stew but I'm wondering if I can adapt a non-slow cooker recipe for steak and ale casserole? What would you advise - it has 300ml beef stock and 300ml Guinness?

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