Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Ale
Rich and hearty, this Slow Cooker Beef Stew recipe is a winter dinner dream come true. Tender beef braised in an ale spiked broth with simple vegetables is the best way to spoil your family.
Originally updated January 2014 and updated February 2020.
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The winter days seem to be getting longer….not shorter as they should be about now. And we’re seesawing between spring and winter temps wildly. It’s the perfect season for sickness and I’m stuffing my family full of hearty dinners in the hopes we make it out clean when flu season ends.
This Crock Pot Beef Stew is an OG on the blog and I finally got around to updating it. The stew recipe is one of the first really amazing dinners I ever made so it’s pretty regular here for dinners. And the Slow Cooker makes it so simple to have a filling, comforting meal on the table during a busy week.
I LOVE slow cooker cooking and this is the one I’ve had for years now….it’s a real workhorse!
We tend to make this Beef and Ale Stew for St. Patrick’s day because beer seems to be extra available during the month of March. We adapt the stew often depending on what type of alcoholic beverage I have lying around that day. After a party, we always have a ton of ale lying around the house. Apparently, we don’t have a lot of ale drinking friends. You will see recipes with ale again, I’m sure. Hang tight. I’m on it.
BEST EVER SLOW COOKER BEEF STEW
I know this is a big claim, BUT, this is the BEST Slow Cooker Beef Stew recipe I’ve ever made. The meat becomes meltingly tender and the vegetables are still firm enough that they’re not mushy. The gravy is filled with vibrant, rich flavor. It’s one of those stew recipes you crave when there’s a serious chill in the air.
My favorite part about it….it’s insanely easy to make, too!
HOW TO MAKE CROCK POT BEEF STEW
I know a lot of you work and are looking for dump and go recipes….you can do that to this beef stew recipe if you’d like but, I warn you, the flavors will be a little dim. Browning the meat creates so much depth of flavor to the stew I really think you should not skip this step.
You can brown the meat, sauté the vegetables and deglaze the pan in advance, store the ingredients in the slow cooker crock in the refrigerator and then plug it in before you go to work. It’s really worth the time you put in when preparing the stew and, I promise, you will be rewarded.
After browning the stew meat, you’ll add everything to the slow cooker and cook on low for, like, all day long. See how easy that is?
CAN YOU PUT RAW BEEF IN THE SLOW COOKER
Yes, you can definitely start your recipe by putting the raw beef in the slow cooker but browning it first is highly recommended. Not for food safety reasons, but purely for the extra flavor that browning adds to the beef stew recipe.
If you’re going to ignore my advice and skip the browning steps…..place the cut up chuck roast in the bottom, place the vegetables on top, herbs on the veggies and then dump in the ale and broth.
HOW LONG CAN YOU LEAVE BEEF STEW IN THE SLOW COOKER
You can cook your easy beef stew in the slow cooker on low heat for up to 10 hours. If you have a slow cooker with a warm setting, you can keep your beef stew in the slow cooker longer switched to the warm setting until you’re ready to dig in.
Cooking your beef stew longer than 10 hours will cause the vegetables and beef to break down beginning to take on a mushy, unpleasant texture.
WHAT CUT OF BEEF IS BEST FOR BEEF STEW
We like to use a Chuck Roast cut into bite sized pieces for our Slow Cooker Beef Stew recipe. Chuck Roast is a tougher cut of beef with a ton of fatty marbling that, when cooked low and slow, turns into tender, melt-in-your-mouth beef that is perfect for beef stew recipes.
Chuck Roast is not a good cut for quick cooking methods like grilling or pan searing unless cooked for a longer period of time and using low heat.
HOW TO THICKEN BEEF STEW IN A SLOW COOKER
We love a really thick, hearty gravy with our beef stew so you’ll need to take an extra step right before you eat just to add some much needed body to the braising liquid.
You can do this a few different ways but I take a small amount of the braising liquid from the slow cooker and whisk the flour into it until smooth to create a slurry. A slurry is simply a mixture of flour and liquid used to thicken up a sauce or gravy.
There is a cooking rule that says you should never add flour or cornstarch to a hot liquid because it will form lumps but I’ve found if I do this in a bowl on the side, I can work out the lumps before adding to the stew. It works….I promise you.
And that’s it! A super easy Beef Stew recipe you’ll want to put on repeat for sure. We love to serve it with some crusty bread for dipping and a fresh, crispy salad to balance out the richness of the stew.
If you love this slow cooker beef stew recipe, you may also like this Thai Red Curry Beef Stew or this Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwich. We also LOVE this easy Mississippi Pot Roast….it’s amazing and easy.
Get the Recipe: Slow Cooker Beef and Ale Stew
- 3 pounds chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions, cut into large chunks
- 3 large celery stalks, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 12 ounces beer
- 3 1/2 cups low sodium beef stock
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour, divided
- salt and pepper
- In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over med-high heat. Quickly toss the meat with 3 tablespoons flour, salt and pepper. Add the meat to the frying pan and brown on all sides. Do not crowd the pan and cook in batches if necessary. (It took me 4 batches for a 3 pound roast.) Transfer the cooked beef to a bowl and set aside. Add the onion and celery and cook over med-high heat until softened and the onions are translucent. Add the carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes, stir in the garlic and sauté for 1 minute longer. Stir in the thyme and bay leaves and then add the ale. Stir the mixture being sure to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Transfer the meat to the slow cooker and add the vegetable/ale mixture on top. Pour the stock over the stew mixture and cover. Cook the stew on high for 5-6 hours or low for 8-9 hours. (If using the dump and go method cook the stew on low for 8-10 hours.)
- Transfer 3/4 cup of the stew broth to a small bowl and whisk in the remaining flour quickly (and carefully...it will be hot) until there are no lumps. Slowly whisk the flour/broth mixture into the finished stew and allow to cook for another 10-15 minutes to thicken slightly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Leftover stew can be stored in an airtight container refrigerated for up to 3 days and frozen for up to 6 weeks.