The Easiest Beef Stew Recipe
With January just around the corner, this hearty Classic Easy Beef Stew Recipe will warm you up when you are coming in from out of the cold. This Easy Beef Stew Recipe gets an A+ from everyone in my family and it’s so easy to make. It will be ready as fast as you can count one, two, three! (Just kidding!)
This is one of those meals I like to make as part of meal preparation for the week. So, in the winter, I’ll usually make this Easy Beef Stew on Sunday night to use the following night. I’ll leave the Beef Stew in the pot and place the pot in the fridge. When I come home from work on Monday, I just take the pot out of the fridge and put it on the stove top to warm up. Stress free for me and satisfying for my family. A win-win situation!
While I’d like to take credit for shelling peas and cutting carrots, I won’t. If you don’t know me by now, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I like to cut corners, especially when it makes me look like I have spent hours in the kitchen. So, what’s my secret? Most of the ingredients can be found pre-cut and/or frozen ready to use. Using pre-cut and pre-portioned ingredients cuts down on your preparation time.
For this Easy Beef Stew recipe, I used frozen peas and carrots like these ones.
The cooking time on this classic easy beef stew recipe is about 90 minutes if you want tender beef. The longer the beef simmers in the stew the more tender it will become. What makes a beef stew so great is that you cannot over cook it.
Tips and Tricks to making this Classic Beef Stew
If you get pre-cut and pre-portion ingredients, it will take you about 20 minutes to start the cooking process. Use pre-cut stewing beef to cut down the time of cutting beef into bite sized pieces.
With all good stews, it starts with searing the stew beef. A sear on the beef creates a great flavor profile for your stew. But before you jump in to sear the beef pieces, remember to dredge them in flour and season them with salt and pepper.
Coating or as they say “dredging” the beef with flour will help to thicken the stew as you progress through the cooking process. However, the dredge on the beef may not be enough to fully thicken the stew. Keep reading to find out my dirty little secret to thickening this beef stew.
I also consider this meal to be a one pot meal. From searing the beef to adding the beef stock and from adding the vegetables to table top for serving. What’s better than doing everything in one pot? Ummm, nothing?! When you need only one pot for the entire meal, it makes it really easy to clean up the mess.
Beef Broth vs. Bouillon Cube
I don’t always use ready made beef stock to make this stew. That’s because sometimes I can’t find my favorite organic beef stock or because I’ve just run out. So, what do I do? I use a beef bouillon cube and make the beef stock as per the directions. Either beef stock or bouillon cube will work well with this stew. I consider them to be interchangeable.
Frozen Vegetables and Prepared items that You can Use in Your Beef Stew Recipe
I found the following items at my local grocery store that made things easier for recipe preparation:
- chopped onions
- pre-cut stewing beef (not frozen, but in the refrigerated section)
- beef stock
The thing about using frozen produce is that it does’t require as much cooking time as fresh. So, if you are using frozen onions, peas and carrots be cautious about how much you cook them. When using frozen peas and carrots wait until you are mid-way through the cooking process. Until then, continue to simmer the beef stew for 30 minutes or until the beef is slightly tender, but firm when poked by a fork.
When to Add Your Potatoes and Vegetables to Your Stew
Do not add your potatoes or vegetables at the beginning of the cooking process especially if you are using frozen vegetables. Once your stew has simmered for about 30 minutes, you will want to add the cubed potatoes and continue to cook for about another 30 minutes. If you are using fresh vegetables add them with the potatoes. Otherwise hold off another 30 minutes and then add the frozen vegetables. The total cooking time will be about 90 minutes, give or take.
How to Thicken Your Classic Beef Stew
Depending on individual preferences, you may want the broth of your stew to be thicker. So what can be done to thicken this easy beef stew? I usually make a slurry and carefully add it to the stew at the very end. A slurry is a mixture of starch and water that’s mixed and then added to a liquid to thicken it. You can use your preferred starch like corn starch, arrowroot starch, potato starch, etc.
You can thicken your stew at the end of the cooking process just before you are about to serve it. To make a slurry use one tablespoon of starch to 1/4 cup of water. Mix together the ingredients with a whisk or spoon and then carefully pour into the pot stirring constantly. Be careful that you are stirring the pot continually while you pour the slurry in the stew. If you do not stir while pouring, you will create clumps of starch in your stew.
The thickened stew also refrigerates well either in the pot or in a container in the fridge. Leftovers make great lunches during the week. The longer it sits, the better it tastes. A great make ahead dinner for busy families.
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Recipe Details for this Easy Beef Stew
- Season beef with salt and pepper and dredge in flour or starch of your choice. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and sauté the garlic and onions until fragrant.
- Place beef in saucepan with garlic and onion and sear on all sides. Add beef stock and bring to a boil. Lower temperature and simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until the beef is slightly tender (can pierce through it with a fork, but not so easily).
- Add cubed potatoes and continue to simmer. If you are using fresh vegetables add them now, otherwise wait for another 30 minutes. Add frozen peas and carrots and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes. Season to taste if necessary.
- If you want to thicken your stew, do it now by using a slurry comprised of 1 tablespoon of starch (potato, arrowroot, or corn) mixed with 1/4 cup of water. Mix well with a whisk and pour into stew stirring constantly as you pour. This stew should thicken up within a minute. If needed, repeat the process until you have the consistency you like.