Classic Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Cover recipe- Cooking Light, Classic Slow Cooker Beef Stew:  December 2013

Cover recipe- Cooking Light, Classic Slow Cooker Beef Stew:
December 2013

When I was in law school, my favorite kitchen tool was my slow cooker. At the end of a long day, it was wonderful to be able to come back to my apartment to a homemade meal that took minimal effort on my part; like so many people out there who work grueling hours, minimal time and effort was literally all I had to spend on cooking. (Whoever you are, thank you to the inventor of the slow cooker!) But I have to admit, now that I work from home, my slow cooker often sits forgotten in the back of my pantry…mainly because it’s so easy for me to give a quick stir to whatever is slow cooking on the stovetop or in the oven. That is, until one day a couple weeks ago when I had friends coming over for dinner on an evening when I was going to be out all day, and I needed a home-cooked meal that could take care of itself. I was wracking my brain trying to come up with an idea when I saw the cover of December’s Cooking Light magazine.

Classic Slow Cooker Beef Stew looked perfect. Chilly days call for warming comfort food and what better than stew? With its hearty veggies and deep flavor, beef stew is always sure to be a hit. Taking a quick peek at the recipe, I realized that even though this is a fairly basic version of beef stew (without even celery or mushrooms, which are vegetables that I don’t usually leave out), it sounded like it had rich flavor with ale, thyme, Dijon mustard, and red wine vinegar. I knew I wanted to give it a try. Read my notes below to see what I thought of this recipe.

Classic Slow Cooker Beef Stew

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Classic Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Yield: 8 servings

Prep Time: 45 min

Cook Time: 7 hours


2 pounds trimmed boneless chuck roast, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
3 medium yellow onions, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 (12-ounce) bottle nut brown ale
1 1/4 cups unsalted beef stock (such as Swanson), divided
1 1/2 pounds baby Dutch potatoes, halved
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
4 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves


1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle beef evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add half of beef to pan; cook 6 minutes, turning until well browned on all sides. Remove beef from pan. Repeat procedure with 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and remaining beef; remove beef and any juices from pan.

2. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onions and garlic; sauté 4 minutes. Add beer, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes. Stir in 1 cup stock, remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a simmer. Carefully pour mixture into a 6-quart electric slow cooker. Add beef, potatoes, carrots, thyme, and bay leaves. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 hours.

3. Combine remaining 1/4 cup stock and flour, stirring with a whisk. Stir flour mixture into stew; cook 15 minutes or until thickened. Stir in mustard and vinegar. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Sprinkle with parsley.


• As per Cooking Light, be careful not to choose a beer that’s super-hoppy because it will taste too bitter.
• Also from Cooking Light, to get 2 pounds of trimmed meat, you’ll probably need to purchase a 2 1/2-pound roast.
• I decreased the black pepper from 1 teaspoon to 3/4 teaspoon, and found that this was still a touch peppery; next time I’ll decrease it to 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
• I added 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary.

Nutritional Information per serving:
Serving size: 1 1/4 cups
Calories per serving: 386
Fat per serving: 17.9g
Saturated Fat per serving: 5.9g
Sodium per serving: ,span class="sodium">509g
Fiber per serving: 3.5g
Protein per serving: 25.1g
Cholesterol per serving: 86mg
Carbohydrates per serving: 28.3g

Cooking Light December 2013

The results:

The deep flavor of this rich stew was brightened by the addition of Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar at the end of cooking, resulting in a well-balanced dish. It looks like a pretty basic beef stew recipe, but the flavor is spot-on and truly satisfying on a chilly evening.

Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?

I think it did. A perfect beef stew recipe is the ultimate cold-weather comfort food, plus the fact that this dish cooks itself in the slow cooker is just gravy (sorry, I couldn’t resist the corny pun). As another bonus, leftovers were even better for lunch the next day.

Lori is the founder of She's a professional recipe developer and food writer, and she's the author of The Recipe Girl Cookbook (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: April 2013). Beyond food, Lori enjoys traveling, being outdoors, running, and maybe even singing a little karaoke. The mountains near Lake Tahoe are home for Lori and her husband of 18 years. They have an 12 year-old son who blogs at

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5 Responses to “Beer- Braised Beef with Onion, Carrot and Turnips”

  1. 1

    noble pig — January 14, 2010 @ 9:28 am

    Yeah, I think chuck has to be cooked longer and when all the fat is trimmed it’s hard to get it tender. But it looks pretty.

  2. 2

    Katie — January 14, 2010 @ 9:41 am

    I am glad you tried this. It was on my list of to tries. I will now be taking it off. I am not a big fan of turnips and was going to try something new! Thanks for reviewing.

  3. 3

    Phoo-D — January 14, 2010 @ 8:56 pm

    I agree with Noble Pig – chuck should be cooked longer. 3-4 hours would be probably be more appropriate. What a bummer that it didn’t turn out! Braised meats are one of our favorite winter meals.

  4. 4

    Tracey — January 16, 2010 @ 9:40 pm

    I had a similar problem with tough meat with a chili recipe I tried recently. Sorry this one didn’t work out for you – it does look really good!

  5. 5

    Cynthia — January 20, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

    Thanks your insights and comments about this dish – very useful. As for me, I’d have cooked it in a pressure cooker but I guess the whole point is to make it as they suggest right?

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