This Easy Thick Beef Stew Recipe is the perfect comfort food for a cold night that your whole family will enjoy. Instructions included for Stove Top, Oven, Slow Cooker and Pressure Cooker.
Ingredients for making Thick Beef Stew
There are a few ‘basic’ ingredients when it comes to making a delicious and Easy Thick Beef Stew Recipe
- Beef Broth
- Garlic cloves
- Bay Leaf
- Tomato Paste
And here are what I consider to be ‘optional’ ingredients for The Best Easy Thick Beef Stew Recipe:
- Mushrooms (white button or wild mushrooms are all delicious!)
- Peas (frozen peas are best)
- Herbs de Provence
- Red Wine
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Worcestershire sauce
- Dijon Mustard
How to make Beef Stew
Making Easy Thick Beef Stew Recipe is so easy!!! There are no complicated techniques involved and outside of using a sharp knife, the process is simple enough for a child!
To get started make sure your pieces of stew meat are a uniform size, I like mine to be roughly 1 to 2-inch squares. Coat them in a seasoned flour mixture, I like to use an inexpensive plastic bag to make it easy to shake the meat to coat and clean up is a breeze!
There will be extra flour in the bag that will not be ‘stuck’ to the stew meat, save that for later. We’ll be using that to thicken the The Best Easy Thick Beef Stew Recipe at the end.
In a Dutch Oven over medium high heat, working in batches brown the floured beef cubes in a neutral flavored oil or ghee to give them a nice sear. You don’t want to crowd the bottom of the pot, too many pieces of meat will cause them to steam instead of getting crispy golden brown.
Those browned bits on the bottom of the pot are ways that you BUILD FLAVOR into your stew and why this step is so important!
Add a little more fat then add your onion, celery and carrots into the pot and saute them for a few minutes until soft. Stir in the garlic and mushrooms, cook another 3 minutes.
Add the tomato paste, herbs and wine… simmer until the liquid is evaporated, roughly 5 minutes. And finally add the browned beef cubes, potatoes and broth.
How to Cook Beef Stew on the Stove Top
By default I typically make my Easy Thick Beef Stew Recipe on the stove top. After bringing it to a simmer I cover it and reduce the heat to low. I let the stew cook for 2+ hours or until the meat is tender, thicken your stew using the reserved seasoned flour and water slurry.
I ALWAYS make my stew early in the day and then when it’s done I let it set on the stove until we are ready to eat dinner. I believe very firmly that this helps to enhance the flavors.
How to Make Beef Stew in the Oven
You can easily make beef stew in the oven, always make sure that you are using an oven proof Dutch Oven or similar heavy bottom pot from the start. Instead of cooking your stew on the stove top on low, simply transfer it to the oven and bake at 350F for 2 hours or until the meat is tender.
How to Make Beef Stew in a Slow Cooker
This is also slow cooker beef stew recipe! Instead of simmering your stew on the stove top, simply transfer everything into your slow cooker and let is cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. Easy Peasy!
How to make Beef Stew in a Pressure Cooker
You can easily make an instant pot beef stew using this recipe! Instead of making it on the stove top, use the saute function on your pressure cooker and then continue following the instructions. You won’t need to cook it low and slow, instead use standard or high pressure for 30 minutes and allow it to naturally depressurize.
How to Thicken Beef Stew
Nothing is worse than a too-thin beef stew with too much liquid. Thickening a beef stew is very easy; in a small bowl simply combine equal parts of starch with cold water, mixing until smooth. Starches like cornstarch, arrowroot and potato starch are wonderful and gluten-free thickener options that are so delicious & easy.
To thicken beef stew using flour (all purpose, wheat or gluten-free flour blend) you will want to make a roux, again using equal parts four and fat. In a small skillet or sauce pan melt butter (or ghee) over medium heat then sprinkle in your flour, mixing well. Then whisk in some of the liquid/juice from your beef stew and wisk until smooth. Cooking a flour based roux is essential to remove the flour taste that you would have if you just dumped flour into your stew.
It’s important to go slow with thickening to your desired consistency, a little goes a long way and it’s better to make multiple small thickener additions instead of trying to thin our a too-thick mess! Start out with 1 tablespoon of starch/flour and then allow your stew to cook over medium heat for a few minutes before determining if that was enough thickness or if you need more.
Tips for Tender Meat in Stew
There are 3 ways that you can ensure that the meat in your stew is always tender:
- Fattier cuts of meat yield more tender results
- Tenderize your stew meat chunks using a knife tenderizer
- Don’t rush the cooking and let it rest! aka “The Grandma Effect”
Below in the FAQs I go into a deep debate regarding the best type of meat to use for stew and you may be surprised at my answer – teaser alert: I always use stew meat. However, there is no arguing that meat that is marbled with fat will be more tender since it breaks down while cooking. When selecting stew meat pick that which looks to be the most fatty.
How to Tenderize Beef Stew Meat
No matter what cut of meat you choose, another way that you can be sure that your meat will always be extra tender is using a meat tenderizer with blades.
These little gadgets don’t compress or flatten the meat only (like with a meat mallet) instead they pierce the meat, cutting the fibers without taking away from the overall texture. They are a magical addition to your kitchen tool arsenal.
Again we when look to the past for how stew was made traditionally, it was a slow and low process. One when foods were often cooked all day before dinner, which is exactly how many foods were prepared in my childhood and has carried through to my own kitchen and cooking style.
I call it the “Grandma Effect” of cooking. Why foods that grandma (who was born in1927) made always seemed to be better and difficult to replicate. For me it was that she wasn’t in a hurry and gave food the time it needed to become it’s best meal.
What to serve with Beef Stew?
You can’t ever go wrong by starting a meal with a small salad and I pour up a generous glass of the dry red wine that I used IN the stew.
When I serve this Easy Thick Beef Stew Recipe I always like to add a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley on top of each bowl to make things look uber fancy on an otherwise blah-brown dish.
And no bowl of stew is complete without slice of bread to dip into that delicious stew!
Best Bread for Beef Stew?
When it comes to the best bread to serve with this Easy Thick Beef Stew Recipe, I highly recommend freshly baked crusty sourdough bread. While of course there are countless recipes out there, baking bread is not something that I prioritize since I started getting a Wildgrain box every month.
It contains a variety of slow fermented sourdough breads as well as specialty bakery items and the option to include handmade pasta. They all arrive frozen and you bake them fresh right before serving.
The ability to have extremely delicious and HEALTHY old fashioned slow fermented bread has been a complete game changer for me. I’ve been living my best life without the hassle of making sourdough bread from scratch!
I’ve been singing Wildgrain‘s praises on my Facebook and Instagram for the past year and I’ve officially tried every product they offer, so if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to ask. You know I’m always glad to help! Use code: HAYLEYINTHEKITCHEN for $30 off your first box!
Beef Stew FAQs & Troubleshooting
What is the best cut of meat for Stew?
Making ‘stew’ for most families (thinking back to pre-1970) was making something out of nothing. Like making a soup from animal bones, stew were inexpensive meals to use up otherwise less than desirable cuts of meat trim along with vegetables, that easily stored over winter.
So, when I did my research while writing this post, to see what the ‘experts’ recommend when it comes to making stew I admit that I get little put-off when they are suggesting to use prime cuts of beef that are often more expensive.
While I agree that from a modern-foodie or gourmet perspective, who is focused on making recipes for the fast paced world that most people are living in, optimizing the cuts of meat to fit the ‘cooks fast’ criteria, I do not cook that way and I’m not going to share their opinion.
The truth is that you can use ANY cut of meat for making stew. That applies to beef, lamb, bison, venison, etc…. And again historically (and when we butcher our annual grass fed beef) stew meat is the pieces of meat that are trimmed that don’t fit into any other category…. like the edges of a roast or trim from steaks.
Using fattier cuts of meat, like a beef chuck roast for example have a higher fat content. This fat will break down quicker when cooking and become tender more easily when you are in a hurry. The fat also contributes to more flavor. I can fully understand why using a chuck roast is highly recommended when making stew.
In our home, I save the chuck roast for other meals where the meat itself is the start of the show and not just another part of a bowl of stew. Much like using boneless skinless chicken breast for making chicken soup, why use the best and most expensive cut of the bird?! Does that make sense??
Which is best for making stew; Stew Meat or Chuck Roast? It really is up to you, but I’m using stew meat every time in my kitchen.
Should Beef Stew be thick or thin?
It is up to YOU as to how thick or thin your beef stew is. That is why when I make my stew I always start out with a thinner version and ADD additional thickener at the end. A thinner stew will be eaten more like a soup and a thicker stew will be more like meat and vegetables in a thick gravy. There is no right or wrong way to make a stew!!
How do I make a thick beef stew?
In my recipe we do the bulk of thickening towards the end of the cooking process so that you can customize how thick (or thin) you desire. The best way to thicken beef stew is making a slurry of flour and cool water, then adding it into your hot stew. I recommend using 1 tablespoon of flour at a time mixed with 1/4 cup of water until smooth. You don’t want to over thicken your stew then have to thin it and potentially dilute all the flavor you developed!
What is the Best Red Wine for Beef Stew?
When selecting a red wine for making beef stew, it really isn’t that challenging; any dry red wine can be used. Most often you’ll find Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Pino Noir is recommended and will work great because they are fruit forward and lends itself to reducing while cooking very well. I also feel a red blend works great too!
When selecting a wine for your beef stew, I feel the biggest factor to use is if you plan to enjoy a glass of wine with your stew. If you are like me and enjoy a glass of wine with your meal, use the dry red wine IN YOUR STEW that you enjoy drinking. Cooking with the same wine that you are drinking with the meal is a great trick to perfectly pairing wine and stew!
I’ve been keeping my wine rack stocked with wines from Dry Farm Wines since 2018 and highly recommend checking them out if you love wine and drinking the healthiest wine is important to you too.
How to Make Beef Stew without Wine
Typically a beef stew or beef borgunese is made WITH wine but you can absolutely omit it! Simply use additional beef broth/stock in place of the wine with a splash balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar and your stew will still be excellent.
How to make a Gluten-Free Beef Stew
Making a beef stew gluten free or grain free is extremely easy. For a gluten free beef stew use your favorite gluten free flour blend in place of the flour to both coat the meat and thicken it. When it comes to thickening sauces or soups my favorite gluten free and grain free alternative is potato starch, since there is already potatoes in the stew the potato starch blends in beautifully.
An extra tip for thickening gluten free soups, stews and gravy is to add a splash of heavy cream after thickening. This adds that creamy-opaqueness that flour offers where many starch thickeners like corn starch are much more translucent.
How do you fix a bland stew?
Nothing is worse than spending your precious time and money on a meal that turns out blah. A flavorless stew is most often caused by not seasoning it well while cooking. I always emphasize tasting throughout the cooking process to make sure that you are salting each layer adequately.
The best way to enhance the flavor of a finished bland beef stew is by adding beef bouillon or bouillon cubes. Not only will it give it more beefy flavor it will also add salt that most dishes are missing. You can also experiment with adding worstcheire sauce or a splash of balsamic vinegar.
I also feel that dishes like stews are best after they get a chance to rest. Like I mentioned previously with the ‘grandma effect’ it’s the same way that often leftovers taste better than the fresh version.
How to store beef stew leftovers?
Beef stew will keep in the fridge for roughly 3-5 days in an airtight container. For longer storage beef stew can be frozen or canned using a pressure canner.
If you like this Easy Thick Beef Stew Recipe here are a few more stew recipes you may enjoy:
- Spicy Lamb Chickpea Shawarma Stew
- Easy Oyster Stew
- Spicy Brazilian Fish Stew
- Morel Ramp Potato Chowder Recipe
Easy Thick Beef Stew Recipe
- glass liquid measuring cup
- OXO Onion & Vegetable Cutter/Dicer
- 1 pound beef stew meat
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons Homemade Seasoned Salt <– get my recipe
- 1/4 cup avocado oil or other neutral flavored oil
- 4 medium potatoes
- 4 medium carrots
- 4 ribs celery
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 medium Bay Leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon organic dried thyme or 1 sprig fresh
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste concentrate
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 4 cups beef broth
- Sea Salt to taste
- Black Pepper to taste
- Combine the flour and pepper in a plastic bag or bowl, add the beef and toss to coat well.
- Heat 3 teaspoons of the oil in a large pot. Add the beef a few pieces at a time; do not overcrowd. Cook, turning the pieces until beef is browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch; add more oil as needed between batches.
- Remove browned beef chunks from the pot and set aside. Leaving the browned bits in the pot.
- Add more oil as needed; saute onions celery and carrots for roughly 3 minutes or until the onoins/celery are soft. Season with salt and peper.
- Add garlic and mushrooms (if desired), continue cooking another 3-5 minutes.
- To the pot with vegetables, add tomato paste and wine. Simmer until the liquid is reduced.
- Add the beef, beef broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low. Cover and cook, until the beef is tender, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Add the potatoes and simmer until they are tender, about 30 minutes more.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add peas frozen if desired. To thicken further, make a slurry of the leftover seasoned flour and cool water, whisk until smooth. Add to stew and simmer to thicken.
- Serve immediately with crusty sourdough bread!