Go Back
+ servings
bowl of beef stew
Print Recipe Pin
5 from 6 votes

Old Fashioned Beef Stew Recipe

There's nothing like tucking into a cozy, old fashioned beef stew on a chilly weekend. Tender beef, carrots, celery, onions and potatoes in a rich, beefy gravy - a one pot meal with everyday ingredients. The best.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings (change as needed): 6
Author: Cheryl


  • 2 pounds stew meat cubes or beef chuck roast, cut into 1 inch/2.5 cm cubes (or a bit bigger)
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided for pan frying 2 batches of meat and onions
  • salt and pepper for sprinkling on meat
  • 2 cups chopped onions Note 1 about 1 large onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

Liquids and seasonings

  • 1 cup red wine omit if needed
  • 4 cups beef stock or broth I use half chicken broth, half beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste I add a pinch of sugar too
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or more if broth is low sodium)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce optional

Vegetables, Note 2

  • 1 pound potatoes, Note 3
  • 3 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1 inch/2.5 cm pieces
  • 2 large celery ribs, cut into 1 inch/2.5 cm pieces

To thicken sauce and finish dish

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water called a slurry
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped optional
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (garnish)


  • PREPARE STEW MEAT: Sprinkle meat lightly with salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on flour and toss to coat evenly.
  • SAUTE BEEF THEN ONIONS: You will need to sauté meat in two batches as you don't want to overcrowd the pan or the meat won't brown properly. Using a large pot or large Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil on medium-high heat. Add half of beef. Let it pan fry for 3 minutes until first side is brown. Flip and brown the other side. Set aside in a bowl and repeat with the remaining beef. Add a bit more oil if needed. Add onions to pot, sauté for 3-5 minutes until soft and translucent. Stir in garlic for 30 seconds.
  • ADD WINE, THEN SEASONINGS AND BROTH THEN SIMMER: Add wine and let it almost evaporate completely, scraping up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add meat, broth, tomato paste, seasonings. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low (e.g. 3/10). Cover and cook for 1 hour (or 90 minutes if beef chunks are larger).
  • ADD VEGETABLES AND SIMMER: Skim of any grease from top of stew. Add potatoes, carrots, celery. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low heat again. Cover partially and cook at a slow simmer for another 1 hour.
  • THICKEN GRAVY AND FINISH: When vegetables are tender, add the corn starch slurry to thicken gravy. You can add half to start, wait a couple of minutes, then add the rest if you like the gravy thicker. It will also thicken on standing or in the fridge. Add spinach (if using). Taste and adjust seasonings. Sprinkle on parsley and serve with crusty bread, biscuits or a salad.


  1. Pearl onions - you can use frozen pearl onions (about 225 grams/half pound) instead of a chopped regular onion. These are NOT the same as cocktail onions in a jar which are brined or pickled. Just drop them in with the other veggies and skip the sauté step. 
  2. Other vegetables to add or substitute: mushrooms, green beans, turnips, parsnips, red bell peppers. You can also add frozen corn niblets or peas in the last few minutes of cooking.
  3. Potatoes-  Yukon gold, baby potatoes (yellow or red) or fingerlings are best for this recipe. 1 pound/450 grams = approximately 3 yellow potatoes, 12-14 baby potatoes or 7-8 fingerling potatoes. Cut into 1 - 1 1/2 inch pieces (2.5-3.7 cm)
  4. Variations for seasonings and flavor: Add:
    • a dash of Worcestershire sauce.
    • bacon - fry before you add stew meat (skip the oil).
    • lemon zest stirred in just before serving.
    • a pinch of allspice. 
    • a splash of fish sauce for umami.
  5. Instant Pot version: Turn on Sauté function. Add 1 tbsp oil. Brown half of meat then set aside. Add 1 tbsp oil, then brown rest of meat. Set aside. Sauté onions until translucent and garlic for 30 seconds. Add wine and let it evaporate. Turn OFF. Set PRESSURE on high for 30 minutes. Add all other ingredients except spinach, cornstarch and parsley. Place on lid and turn to SEALING. Instant pot will take 10-15 minutes to come to pressure then it will start the count down. When Instant pot beeps, it's done. Do a natural release for 10 minutes, then turn to VENTING and do quick release. When button on lid drops, open lid. Turn on SAUTE function. Stir in cornstarch slurry to get desired thickness of sauce. Add spinach if using until it wilts (1 minute). Taste and adjust seasonings. Sprinkle on parsley. Serve. 
  6. Slow cooker version: Sauté beef cubes in a separate large skillet in two batches on medium-high heat. Set aside. Add a bit more oil and sauté onions until translucent, then garlic for 3O seconds. Add wine and let it evaporate, scraping up browned bit at bottom of the pan. Transfer meat and onions to slow cooker. Add all other ingredients except parsley, cornstarch and spinach. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Add cornstarch slurry, spinach (if using) and cook for another 30 minutes to thicken sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings. Sprinkle on parsley and serve. 
  7. Make ahead: 
    • The stew makes delicious leftovers the next day or the next. Store it in an airtight container or ziploc bags in the fridge for 3-4 days and reheat on the stove or in the microwave.
    • To freeze: Cool the stew, then transfer to airtight containers or sealable freezer bags in portions for up to 4 months. Defrost in fridge overnight and heat up on stove top or in microwave.
Nutrition information is estimated and based on all ingredients above (including regular beef broth, spinach and wine). 
Calories: 309kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 433mg | Potassium: 960mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 6344IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 4mg