It’s stew season: the best time to cozy up to a bowl of super hearty, super warming crockpot beef stew!
Beef stew has to be one of the coziest, most comforting things to make and eat. Who doesn’t love tender, juicy little nubbins of beef and perfectly cooked potatoes, carrots, and onions all snuggled up in a rich and flavorful gravy? Pair a bowl with a loaf of crusty hot bread and you have my idea of heaven.
At its heart, beef stew ingredients are very simple: aromatics, beef, vegetables, stock. Everyone knows and loves beef stew, but this beef stew is particularly good. It’s a take on my all time favorite stew ever, Vietnamese bo kho, a super flavorful rich and hearty stew.
Are you a crockpot lover? Maybe you grew up with a crockpot happily bubbling away on the countertop or maybe you’re a recent crockpot convert. Either way, I’m pretty sure that crockpots were made for beef stew. They might as well have called them beef stew pots, am I right?
How to make crockpot beef stew
- Generously season your beef and toss in some flour. The flour will help give body to the stew so it ends up just the right amount of thickness, between a sauce and a gravy.
- Add all the ingredients to the crockpot: the floured beef, onions, carrots, potatoes, tomato paste, beef broth and a couple of secret ingredients that I’ll go over more later in this post.
- Turn the crockpot on, and go about your life. Ten to twelve hours later, your stew will be perfectly cooked and ready to eat!
How long should you cook beef stew in the crockpot
- 10-12 hours on low
- 4-6 hours on high
There’s a little bit of wiggle room for preference. If you like your vegetables firm, you’ll probably want 10 hours. If you want vegetables you can squish, you’ll want 12.
Beef stew ingredients
Bo kho has all of your usual beef stew suspects: beef, onions, carrots, and potatoes, but the seasoning is where the fun happens. Lemongrass adds a zippy undertone and star anise, fennel and cinnamon add warmth. It’s SO good. If you’re looking for something super comforting, yet different, this is the beef stew for you.
The best cut for crockpot beef stew
The secret to really, really good stew is to not buy those precut pieces of stewing beef. All too often, those pieces have no collagen, no connective tissue, no fat, and no flavor. Yes, they’re super convenient and I’ve bought them many times, but I’ve learned from my mistakes. Now I like to buy whole cuts and cut them myself.
For stew, you want pieces of beef that have lots of collagen and fat because well marbled meat is the key to stews that are rich, tender, and juicy. Cooking low and slow will magically turn those pieces into melt in your mouth pieces of deliciousness.
Best cuts for stew
- chuck – this is probably the most common beef for stew and the BEST choice when I’m looking for something relatively cheap that has a lot of flavor, fat, and connective tissue.
- short rib – we’re going up in price, which means we’re going up in flavor. Short ribs are deeply beefy and well marbled. Bonus: short rib is usually pre cut into nice neat even cubes, if you’re into that sort of thing.
fatty brisket – brisket is a great beef for stew, especially the fattier side of the
- brisket – don’t get lean brisket. It has huge beef flavor and lots of fat. Brisket is cheaper than short rib but more than chuck. It tends to be a touch fiberous though, because of the way muscles run through it.
- cross cut beef shanks – these guys are what you make osso buco with and they have the bonus of having a bone in them, which adds bone marrow beefiness. You’ll have to pull the meat off the bones and they take longer to cook, but they are delicious.
Do you really need to brown beef for stew?
This crockpot beef stew has zero browning. That’s right, it’s a no browning crockpot beef stew. I am a huge fan of browning meat – it adds SO much flavor. But sometimes, you just want to throw everything in to a pot, set it, and forget it. This is truly one of those super easy recipes were you don’t have to brown the beef. Of course, if you want to take the extra step, please feel free, it’ll take your stew over the top.
To make up for the lack of browning, we’re going to amp up the flavors by adding in a bunch of umami forward ingredients:
- tomato paste – this has the benefit of thickening up your stew a bit and also adds a nice round sweet note.
- soy sauce – soy sauce helps accentuate the beefiness of this beef stew.
- fish sauce – fish sauce is the secret ingredient that will add a huge amount of umami! If you don’t have any, in this case you can substitute worcestershire sauce, which, surprise, surprise, is actually a fermented fish sauce!
- lemongrass – cut a stalk of lemongrass into 4 inch lengths, and slightly bruise it. It’ll add brightness and so much flavor to the gravy of this stew.
star anise, fennel, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf – these are some warming spices that are optional, but completely recommended. They add undertones of warmth, pepperiness, and sweetness.
Which crock pot?
Instant Pot beef stew
Can you make this stew in an Instant Pot if you don’t have a crockpot? Yes! You can just use the slow cooker low mode and follow this recipe exactly the same, but you can even pressure cook and it’ll taste just as good!
To make this crockpot beef stew in the Instant Pot, add all of the ingredients minus the carrots ad potatoes and cook on high for 35 minutes. Quick release, then add the potatoes and carrots and cook on high pressure for 7 minutes. Quick release, stir, and enjoy! Click here for more in-depth instructions on making Instant Pot beef stew.
What to serve with beef stew
We like our beef stew with a loaf of crusty bread but here are some other suggestions as well:
- creamy mashed potatoes because beef stew with extra potatoes is extra good
- fluffy rice – you haven’t lived if you haven’t had beef stew with rice!
- homemade pasta – you went the easy route with crockpot beef stew, why not make some fresh pasta and scoop it over the top?
- garlic bread – just in case you are a garlic bread fiend like me
I hope you give this crockpot beef stew a try. It’ll fill your house with amazing smells and fill you up with flavor. May beef stew be in your future!
Crockpot Beef Stew
A slow cooker take on Vietnamese bo kho, a super flavorful rich and hearty beef stew.
- 1 lb beef cut into 1 inch cubes, see notes
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 cloves garlic lightly crushed
- 1 tbsp ginger grated
- 1 small onion roughly chopped
- 1-2 potatoes cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 carrots roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cups beef broth low sodium preferred
- 1 tbsp fish sauce or worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 stalk lemongrass cut into 4 inch lengths, bruised
Optional but highly recommended spice packet
- 1 whole star anise
- 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
Toss the beef in the flour and season with salt and pepper.
Add the beef, along with the garlic, ginger, onion, potatoes, carrots, tomato paste, beef broth, fish sauce, and soy sauce to the crock pot. If your potatoes are poking out, push them down and add a bit more beef broth to make sure they’re covered.
Optional spice packet: wrap the star anise, fennel, cloves, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick in cheese cloth or place in a large tea bag for easy removal later. Add it to the stew.
Top with the lemongrass, cover, and cook on low for 10-12 hours on low or high for 4-6 hours. Stir occasionally. Remove the lemongrass and spice pack and enjoy warm!
Crockpot Beef Stew
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 2.9g18%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.