Beef Stew with Carrots & Potatoes

beef stew

We had the best snow day last week…school was cancelled, work wasn’t happening and the only thing to do was hunker down in the house or go outside to play. With little kids, we didn’t have much choice, so we dug our saucers and sleds out of the garage, bundled up and invited friends over for a day of sledding. Not surprisingly, the boys (and I’m including husbands in this category) took charge of the fun, creating a luge-like course on a steep hill in our backyard and risking life and limb to see who could get to the bottom the fastest. When we finally came back inside, it was almost dark and everyone was starving. By chance, I’d made a big pot of this beef stew the day before so we warmed it up in the oven for an impromptu dinner party. Everyone agreed, it hit the spot.



Mike and kids-1

It’s a classic French beef stew, otherwise known as Beef Bourguignon. The meat is seared in olive oil first, then slowly braised with garlic and onions in a wine-based broth.  After a few hours in the oven, the meat becomes meltingly tender and enveloped in a rich, deeply flavored sauce.

Beef stew 8

It takes some time to make (about an hour of active cooking), but I promise you it’s well worth the effort. Aside from being delicious, it’s a one pot meal that feeds a crowd. You can also make it a day ahead—in fact, you should because the flavor improves the longer it sits.

Beef stew 1

The most important thing is to start with the right cut of meat. You want to buy chuck roast that is well-marbled—that means it should have a good amount of white veins of fat running through it. Stay away from meat generically packaged as “stew meat,” especially if it looks lean. As someone who has fed an entire pot of leathery stew to her dog, I can guarantee you it will not get tender, no matter how long you cook it.

Beef stew 2

The first step is to season the meat generously with salt and pepper and brown it in batches in a large, heavy pot. This caramelizes the meat, which adds depth and dimension to the stew.

Beef stew 3

Next, add the onions, garlic and balsamic vinegar to the pot. The vinegar will loosen all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan and coat the onions and garlic.

Beef stew 15

Add the tomato paste, then toss the beef back into the pan with the flour. Pour the wine, stock, water and spices over the meat, then cover with a lid and braise in the oven for two hours.

Beef stew 10

Towards the end of cooking, add your carrots and potatoes (this prevents them from getting mushy)…

Beef stew 12

Cook an hour more, until the vegetables are cooked and the meat is almost falling apart.

Beef stew 13

Feel free to adapt the recipe to your liking. You can leave out the potatoes and serve it over buttered egg noodles, or toss in some frozen peas or sauteed mushrooms at the very end. Either way, serve it with a crusty bread to sop up all the sauce.

This is soul-satisfying comfort food for a cold night. Enjoy!

Beef Stew with Carrots & Potatoes

Print Recipe
Servings: 6
Total Time: 3 Hours 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds boneless beef chuck (well-marbled), cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 7 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth (I like the Pacific organic brand)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into one-inch chunks on a diagonal
  • 1 pound small white boiling potatoes (baby yukons), cut in half
  • Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in middle.
  2. Pat beef dry and season salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Brown meat in 3 batches, turning with tongs, about 5-8 minutes per batch, adding one tablespoon more oil for each batch. (To sear meat properly, do not crowd the pan and let meat develop brown crust before turning with tongs.) Transfer meat to a large plate and set aside.
  3. Add onions, garlic and balsamic vinegar; cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape brown bits from bottom of pan, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook a few minutes more. Add beef with juices back to pan and sprinkle with flour; stir with wooden spoon until flour is dissolved, 1-2 minutes. Add wine, beef broth, water, bay leaf, thyme, and sugar; stir with wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits from bottom of pan and bring to a boil. Cover pot with lid, transfer to preheated oven and braise for 2 hours.
  4. Remove pot from oven and add carrots and potatoes. Cover and place back in oven for 50-60 minutes more, or until vegetables are cooked and meat is very tender. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary (freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sugar go a long way). Let cool, then store in refrigerator overnight or until ready to serve. This stew improves in flavor if made at least 1 day ahead. Reheat, covered, over medium heat or in a 350°F oven. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

 

 

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  • Dottie White

    The Cook’s Illustrated Beef Stew recipe is 4 pages long. When did cooking peasant food get so complicated? This recipe is simple, the ingredients true, and the results are amazing.

    • Gabriele Deschaine

      believe it or not some people do not know how to cook and do need those pictures…I work in food service and had to stand there and teach some how to cook step by step, the pictures will help those who need help to cook

  • Tricia O

    OMG, this looks so good. I getting hungry just looking at the picture. I’m making this tonight!

  • The Beef Stew with Carrots and Potates was the first recipe made in our home from this website. It was superb! Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  • Schmidty

    Excellent stew recipe! I use my own homemade beef broth but otherwise follow this to the letter. Easy and delicious.

  • Jan M

    Just Awesome!!! Made for a special dinner with my folks and was a big hit. Thanks for the recipe

  • Mary

    This has got to be the best stew recipe ever! My husband isn’t usually a big fan of stew but he loved this one. Thanks for another great recipe!

  • Mario

    Talking about a big hit, I am working in Manila, Philippines and the culture here when is your birthday, you must invite the people to a blowout (dinner or lunch), let me tell you very happily that out of 63 people I had invited 63 of them loved it. I can not thank you enough for your recipe. It was one of my greatest birthday, thanks to you and my friends.

    Mario

    • Jenn

      This comment was so nice to read, Mario. I’m so glad your guests loved the stew. Happy Birthday!

  • Jennifer

    My husband I LOVE this recipe. I normally make stew in a crockpot but since making this recipe I will never go back. This recipe is so worth the extra effort. Yum!

  • Every time i make this the pot is cleaned out. It may be the best beef stew ever. Can’t wait for winter…just to make this of course.

  • Kim McCary

    This recipe was fabulous, always looking for stew recipes! It is very important to sear the beef cubes, as instructed. Don’t cut corners! the flavor is wonderful!

  • Janet Porterfield

    Best beef stew I have ever made in 45 years of cooking! It is an official family favorite! I love that it is a do-ahead meal, too. When a crowd is coming, I can just pop it in the oven to re-heat. I so appreciate your teaching the techniques involved, i.e. selecting the proper cut of beef and cubing it, searing the beef in small batches, et.al. It’s a little time consuming but the end result is worth every minute!

  • Pauline Milner

    This was a great dinner! I found the recipe a bit long, but I followed along and we all enjoyed a great dinner! Thanks!

  • josef

    the best!!!!!!

  • Dina

    I am currently cooking this recipe for tonight’s dinner, the aroma in my apartment is wonderful. Having read the previous reviews of this dish I had to try it and I’m hoping my efforts are just as delicious…

  • Sara_A

    Making this tonight for some visiting family. After searching for a flavorful recipe I am confident this will be a huge hit! It has inspired me to make my own bread just for this!

  • Amber R

    Hi Jennifer,

    Can the balsamic vinegar be substituted for another vinegar, or be left out all together? Thanks!

    • Jenn

      Hi Amber, You can either substitute red wine vinegar or leave it out — won’t make much difference at all. Hope that helps!

  • Nicole

    :) Okay, so came across a few hiccups today when trying this recipe for the first time. All my own fault. I had no balsamic vinegar, and since I had all the other ingredients, I really really did not want to run out to the store for any. So…I took 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and mixed it with orange blossom creamed honey. Then…I thought I had tomato paste (I was pretty darn certain I bought it last week to make a seafood paella) but, it was no where to be found. I did however have strained tomatoes (much like paste, but thinner.) So, I simply doubled it up. Put it in as the recipe called for, but, cooked a little longer for the liquid to cook out a bit. We don’t really like wine to much (and my mother is allergic to it… asthma) so, I only added 1 cup, and instead added 3 cups of beef broth. I like the glazed looking stews, rather than the thicker paste looking stews, (which for some reason always happens for me when I use flour) so, I did not add the water and also left out the flour. I added a couple squirts of Merlot cooking sauce. Its right now at the braising stage and has been braising for 1 hour. It smells amazing in here, and my husband keeps rubbing his hands together saying he “can’t wait” (we make dinner early on Thursdays due to my daughters having dance classes at 5pm, with both of them being in the classes, we don’t leave until 8pm!) We usually skip lunch on this day. Can’t wait to taste it!

  • Finally a basic but hearty stew with nothing in it but what makes a stew. Thank you for posting. I can’t wait to try your version and see what my husband thinks. He is soup/stew cook around here so this should be interesting. Looks amazing. Wish they had smell a monitor.

  • Sharon Rutherford

    Followed recipe correctly, tastes nice but put carrots/ potatoes in after two hours and in for an hour and still not ready! Too hard ahhh! Back in again hoping meat doesn’t overcook now.

    • Jenn

      No worries, Sharon, the meat will not overcook.

  • Rebecca

    Sorry to ask a silly question, but here goes…. I don’t own a dutch oven! I have a big oven safe stock pot, but would have to put my oven rack on the lowest position. Would that work or should I just wait until I get a dutch oven?

    • Jenn

      Hi Rebecca, Not a silly question at all! It’s fine to use your stock pot w/the oven rack on lowest position – just be sure to stir the stew every so often so it doesn’t burn on the bottom. You can also cook the stew over low heat (covered, stirring occasionally) on the stovetop. Hope you enjoy!

  • Laura

    Just made this stew last night and it was incredible. By far the best stew recipe I have stumbled upon. Can’t wait to eat the leftovers tonight! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  • Jessica

    This looks and sounds so wonderful, but I would need to cook it in the slow cooker.. Any tips on how to change the recipe?

    • Jenn

      Hi Jessica, I believe the rule of thumb is to reduce the amount of liquid by one-half. For this recipe, I don’t think you’d need to adjust anything else. Please let me know how it comes out!

  • Kristie

    Hi, can I make this stew in the slow cooker? If so, do you know for how long, or if I would need to decrease the liquids at all? Thanks,nit looks delish!! Was thinking about making it for part of our Chrisytmas yummys!!

    • Jenn

      Hi Kristie, I’ve never made it in a slow cooker so I can’t say for sure how it would turn out, but I believe the rule of thumb is to reduce the liquid by half.

  • Kaidee

    Quick question, any way to get around the wine? My husband can’t have it and even though it cooks out it still makes him nervous. Could I substitute with something else?

    • Jenn

      Hi Kaidee, I’d substitute beef stock – it will work just fine.

  • Vanessa

    I just have to say GREAT STEW!! I ve tried numerous recipes for stew but this one by far takes 1st place ;) Hubby and kids loved it!! Thank you

  • Laura P

    I bought cooking red wine can I use that in place of the wine?

    • Jenn

      Hi Laura, The stew will be much better with regular red wine. You can buy a package of 4 small bottles if you don’t want to open a regular-sized bottle.

  • Denise Adams

    Made this tonight. My husband had been ice fishing all day and came home cold and hungry. He came through the door and said, “Wow, what is cooking?’ He yum, yummed all the way through the meal.
    I have a question about smashing the garlic cloves. I took it literally, smashed the clove w/ the side of my big knife and through them in just like that. Is that what you do? And do you try to fish the out later? I didn’t, and didn’t notice any in my bowl.
    Thank you for the recipe. It will be added to my collection.

    • Jenn

      Hi Denise, So glad you and your husband enjoyed! Yes, that is exactly what I do with the garlic and it just dissolves into the stew since it cooks for so long.

      • Denise Adams

        Thank you for your reply. It is below zero here today so your stew is once again on the menu!

  • CHELSEA

    Hiya – love the recipe with Balsamic. I always have it in the kitchen to dunk bread in but never tried in stew ill do this recipe tomorrow :)

    Please help though – when i add frozen veg they NEVER soften??any ideas or tips?

    Thanks :)

    x x

    • Jenn

      Hi Chelsea, The only thing I can think of is that maybe you’re not cooking them long enough. Can you be more specific as to which vegetables?

  • Clarissa

    Our favorite! We like thicker stew so I leave out the water. Also, I roasted the potatoes and carrots on a baking sheet for the last hour and just toss with the beef before serving. Thanks for a winning recipe!

  • Kris

    I have been cooking for 40 years and this is the first time I have made beef stew in the oven. I used my cast iron Dutch oven. I had a small rump roast and cut it into cubes. This is delicious! I tasted it and will have it tomorrow night. Nice complexity of flavors.

  • Gail Pearson

    My 20 yr old daughter n I shared a bonding memory over this recipe yesterday while snowed in here in KC. We pretty much determined that adding the correct cut of meat, balsamic vinegar n wine n flour made all the diff along with the slow cookin oven process. Thank you dearly. My only regret is that we are not able to imbibe with Lenten meat fast today! What a sacrifice waitin for Saturday. :)

  • Bobbi

    That looks so good -(presentation ) i am going to make this Saturday everyone will be home. I haven’t made Beef Stew in years. thanks for perkining up my tastebuds

  • Looks good! Planning on a version of beef stew tonight and was browsing for tips.

  • Mable

    I made this beef stew today for my family’s dinner and they really enjoyed it. It was perfect for the snowy weather we had today. Thank you for this wonderful recipe. Once again you exceeded my expectations!

  • Tami

    If you skip the flour and serve over mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes, this works as a hearty paleo comfort food.

  • mary

    I am a stew lover and this recipe is my new favourite. Using Chuck roast and de-glazing the pot is essential. I have both slowed cooked it in the stove and on top of the stove, both worked well. Actually I had had a stew in a restaurant famous for its stew in Northern New York and I had to replicate it, so i went in search of that flavour. This recipe was even better, thank you.

    • Nicola

      What does de-glaze the pot mean? Sorry for being ignorant? Does that mean when you put the vinegar in and scrape off the brown stuff because I totally messed that up this time!

      • Jenn

        Hi Nicola, That is a good question!You are correct — it is when you put the vinegar in and scrape the brown stuff off the bottom.

  • I tried this out – it was so good! I left out the potatoes (because I didn’t have any on hand) and served it over buttered egg noodles. That took care of the starch portion of the meal! Delicious!

  • debbie jackson

    I varied this with blue potatoes. Yummy.

  • Bill

    I have made this twice. I found the instructions for this receipt to be perfectly written for a novice like myself – at making a stew. The time in the oven and the overnight in the refrigerator make this a great dish.

  • Mary

    Love this recipe, I have made it countless times! Usually I add an extra pound of beef and double the carrots so that we have lots of left overs. Works great in the crock pot as well.

    • Suzette

      Mary…I would love to make this in my crock pot as I do not have a dutch oven (I plan on purchasing one in the not-too-distant future). Do you modify the recipe at all for the crock pot? Thank you in advance….

  • Megan

    We had this for dinner on Tuesday night, it was so good! Very good! I actually tripled the onion and just halved them, and seared the cut side.

  • Elizabeth

    Hi Jenn,
    This looks amazing! I eat gluten-free, can you recommend a replacement for the all purpose flour?
    Thanks so much for sharing your recipes! The Peruvian chicken was delish!

    • Jenn

      Hi Elizabeth, So glad you enjoyed the Peruvian Chicken…that’s one of my favorites! For this recipe, you can use cornstarch (be sure brand is gluten free) instead of the flour, but don’t add it at the same time. You’ll want to cook the stew, omitting the flour, until the very end (the broth will be thin). Then make a “slurry” by combining a 1/4 cup cornstarch with 1/4 cup cold water; mix until completely smooth. Whisk half of the slurry into the stew and bring to a gentle boil on the stovetop and simmer until the broth is thickened and any starchy taste has been cooked away. If you want the broth thicker, add the remaining slurry and repeat.

  • ian

    regarding gluten free -do you think rice flour would work? I am thinking I will make this but thicken it and serve it with a sheet of pastry on top (like a skillet pie)

    • Jenn

      Hi Ian, I think it’d work fine. You could also just leave it out for a thinner sauce. Please come back and let me know how it turns out!

  • Deb

    Made it. Loved it! Family requesting again…good sign;)

  • Elizabeth

    This is in the oven as I type. If it taste half as good as it smells, I will be very happy!

    • Elizabeth

      I let this cool and then refrigerated overnight. Just heated up as directed and served with a fresh baguette. I think it is one of the best things I have ever eaten! It was delicious and looked exactly like the pictures. Thanks for the recipe and tip regarding chuck roast in lieu of stew meat.

  • I have made this recipe 3 times and it keeps getting better. I am currently making it right now. The only changes I have made are the addition of 1 1/2 tsp. of Beef Soup Base. I also substituted Beck’s Sapphire Beer instead of wine. It works out really well. I will be trying out more of the recipes. My wife loves when I make this.

    • Jenn

      Love your suggestions, Anthony. Thank you!

  • Cilla

    Your illustrations and tips are outstanding!

    • Jenn

      Thank you, Cilla!

  • Judy

    Oh my!
    Ha ha! We have balsamic vinegar. Now question time. From which part of the poor cow is chuck meat from. What on earth is a Dutch oven and a crock thingy? Forgotten the word. We don’t get ready made stock!!! I have to use soup powder. What ratio of the powder to the water would you suggest? Do you put the onions and garlic in at the same time as the balsamic or fry them first? Otherwise they’re boiled no? But it sounds delicious. I’ve been thinking about stews but I’ve forgotten how to make it. Many thanks.

    • Jenn

      Hi Judy, Chuck is from the shoulder…a Dutch oven is a heavy oven-safe pot with a lid…for the powder, just use the ratio called for on the package…and, yes, you cook the onions and garlic first. Hope you enjoy!

  • Spencer

    Hi Jenn,

    This recipe sounds amazing, thank you for sharing! I plan on cutting the recipe in half since I will be the only one eating it. Should I adjust the cooking times at all?

    • Jenn

      Hi Spencer, Good question. It may cook a little faster, but not much. In the beginning, you’ll save time searing the meat, and the onions won’t take as long. But the meat will still need a long time in the oven…I can’t say for sure how long so just keep an eye on it — when the meat is tender, it’s done. Hope you enjoy!

  • Steven

    I like how you cut the onions you should show people how you did that

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