Cut down for smaller households but easy to double for larger families. This easy slow cooker recipe is the best traditional comfort food—full of tender chunks of beef with rich, hearty sauce and vegetables.
I love beef. I like pork and chicken, but I LOVE beef the most. Too much Iowa in me, I guess. Cool weather is coming, so it's a perfect time for an easy slow cooker beef stew.
This is a small crock pot version of beef stew. I started with a Cooks Country recipe (subscription required), but I think it is unrecognizable now. Lots of fuss as usual from Cooks Illustrated has been removed along with some other adjustments, and the size decreased.
I keep a little fuss at the beginning that I thought would enhance the taste with browning the meat and onion, but I used the time to cut the other veggies, so really minimal extra time, just one dirty pan.
You could probably skip this extra work of browning and dump the ingredients in, but I think the taste was great and worth the little extra work.
An easy 5. We loved it with seconds all around.
For tender beef stew, well-marbleized beef is a must. I suggest chuck roast for this recipe, but many other cuts of beef will work fine.
If you want to be a bit lazy, use pre-cut stew meat. But, pick through it and trim and cut it into bite-size pieces if needed.
Browning the beef with a dusting of flour before adding to the crock pot will add some nice flavor with a Maillard reaction, but you can skip this with only a small effect on the final results.
Any potatoes will do, and if you use a thinner skin potato like red or Yukon, you do not need to peel them. If you use Russet potatoes, you should peel them before adding them.
The potatoes should be cut into 1-inch or slightly smaller in size.
In addition to the potatoes, you can add what you like. Commonly onions, carrots, tomatoes, and peas are added. This recipe uses tomato paste instead of tomatoes.
Other common additions are celery, green beans, parsnips, or sweet potatoes.
Just salt and pepper will do, but a bit of garlic adds a nice touch.
Thyme is usually added but can easily overwhelm the taste—add it if you like. I have it as an option in the recipe.
Tapioca is used to thicken this recipe. It is an excellent choice and can be added at the beginning of cooking. Another plus is reheating, where it is fine.
Liquids thickened with cornstarch can be gel-like when reheated, so I don't suggest it.
Using a roux with flour is just fussier than it needs to be. Potato flakes are another possible choice.
♨️Cooking Beef Stew
As written, this makes about 2 quarts of stew. That will nicely fit in a 3-quart crock pot since crock pots should not be filled over 75% full.
The 2 quarts of stew is 8 cups which makes four 2-cup servings.
A double recipe, which is what we usually make, needs a 6-quart or bigger crock pot.
On low, this takes 8 hours, and on high, 4-5 hours. Some beef may take a bit longer, so check the beef for tenderness and extend the time a bit if needed ( not commonly needed.)
It is fine in the crock pot on the "keep warm" setting for an hour or a bit more if needed for your timing.
Leftovers are good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Or in a freezer, 2-3 months and longer in a freezer.
📖Crock Pot Stew/Soup Recipes
Note: All images are for a double recipe. Instructions and ingredients are for a single recipe.
Start by trimming about 1 ½ to 2 pounds of boneless chuck roast or use stew meat if you are lazy. Give it a light dusting of flour and place in hot oil over medium-high heat in the large nonstick pan—brown for about 7-8 minutes. Move the meat to crock pot but keep any liquid in the pan.
While browning meat, peel 2 carrots and cut into ½ inch thick medallions. Scrub ½ pound of red potatoes and cut them into chunks. Other potatoes could be used but if using russet potatoes, peel also.
Dice 1 medium onion. Crush or mince 2 cloves of garlic. Add onion, 3 oz. tomato paste, and ¼ tsp salt into the hot pan. Cook until onions are soft and lightly browned. Add the garlic for the last minute.
When the onion is ready, add 1 cup of beef broth to the pan and scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add all ingredients except the peas in the crock pot, stir well. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Add the frozen peas for the last hour of cooking.
Easy Beef Stew for Smaller Crock Pots
- 1 ½-2 lbs boneless beef chuck-eye roast - trimmed and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion - diced
- 2 cloves garlic - minced or pressed
- 3 oz tomato paste
- 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
- ½ lb red or Yukon gold potatoes - cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 carrots - peeled cut into ½ inch medallions
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoons Minute tapioca
- 1 bay leaves - Optional
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme - Optional
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cups frozen peas
- Start by trimming about 1 ½ to 2 pounds of boneless chuck roast or use stew meat if you are lazy. Give it a light dusting of flour and place in hot oil over medium-high heat in the large nonstick pan. Brown for about 7-8 minutes. Move the meat to the crock pot but keep any liquid in the pan.
- While browning meat, peel 2 carrots and cut into ½ inch thick medallions. Scrub ½ pound of red or Yukon gold potatoes and cut them into chunks. Other potatoes could be used but if using russet potatoes, peel also.
- Dice 1 medium onion. Crush or mince 2 cloves of garlic. Add onion, 3 oz. of tomato paste, and ¼ tsp salt into the hot pan. Cook until onions are soft and lightly browned. Add the garlic for the last minute.
- When the onion is ready, add 1 cup of beef broth to the pan and scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Add all ingredients except the peas in the crock pot, stir well. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Add the frozen peas for the last hour of cooking.
- Images are for a double batch.
- This makes about 2 quarts as written and will fit a 3-quart crock pot. I recommend a double recipe and then use a 6 quart or bigger crock pot.
- I prefer to cut and trim a chuck roast for this, but store stew beef will work fine.
- If you're in a hurry, skip the whole browning skillet steps. Just dump it in, and it will be great.
- Check for beef tenderness before stopping cooking. Some beef may take a bit longer.
- Leftovers are good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or 2-3 months in a freezer.
- Nutrition is calculated on a large serving size of about 2 cups.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Publisher Note: Originally published March 5, 2011. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation. Also, the technique has been updated a small amount to current my practice.