Slow Cooker Beef Stew is a comforting and simple slow cooker recipe that is 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, it almost melts in your mouth 🙂
More on the best beef for slow cookers below!
How To Make Beef Stew In A Slow Cooker
You can change what ingredients you include in your beef stew depending on your tastes, as well as 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.
- 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. If need be 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 available; I like to use new potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks, celery. Just chop them up and throw them in!
- Herbs/Spices – adding a couple of bay leaves and or 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 2 beef stock cubes, or stock pots.
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 really, if you are adding flour, you should really brown the beef too, or the flour might go lumpy in the slow cooker.
I am pretty lazy when it comes to browning meat before adding it to the slow cooker, (the only exception being when I make a slow cooker sausage casserole because sausages that aren’t browned first end up with a rather unpleasant texture!) so 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.
If you do want to include this step, pop the beef cubes in a sandwich bag and add 1 or 2 tbsp. flour, shake it up to make sure all the meat is completely covered. Then, in a little heated oil, gently fry the flour coated beef until it is lightly browned before adding it to the slow cooker bowl.
How To Thicken Beef Stew
It is likely you will want to thicken up the stew before serving it. How thin the liquid ends up at the end of cooking time will be dependent 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 the cooking process. 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 of cooking time, turn the slow cooker up to high. And/or;
- Add in some gravy granules and stir in. Add 1tbsp of beef gravy granules at a time and stir, add more until it is at your preferred consistency.
- Make up a cornflour mixture using 1-2tsp cornflour with a little bit of 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, you can 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 and cook it for around 4 hours, but the beef might not be as tender.