I have something slightly controversial to say but I’m just going to say it: I dislike — nay, loathe — chunky beef stew.
The aversion is a result of being served a few too many pot roasts with dry meat and soggy vegetables as a kid (sorry Mom!) Unfortunately beef stew became guilty by association and was lumped into the “hard pass” recipe category for many years.
Thrilled to say we’ve got a work around and that the ingredients in my Stove Top Beef Stew are not only easily scooped up with a spoon (keep your knives, pot roast!) but melt in your mouth tender. This version of beef stew is really a beef and vegetable-studded gravy that’s perfect for draping over a bowl of creamy mashed potatoes.
Get ready to replace your old beef stew recipe with this new go-to that’s cooked on top of the stove instead of in the oven!
Stove Top Beef Stew
Stove Top Beef Stew is finely chopped veggies and dried herbs sauteed with bite-sized pieces of stew meat before braising the afternoon away in beef broth thickened with butter and flour. It is TO DIE FOR and just the thing to tuck into on a cold afternoon or evening.
Long time readers may recognize this recipe as Ben’s Beef Stew – it just got a photo upgrade is all! I credit my husband Ben with the ingenious idea of turning Beef Stew, classically made with big hunks of beef and large chunks of carrots and potatoes (which again, I just cannot) into this luscious, gravy-type dish.
Can you say UPGRADE?!
How Long Does it Take Stew Meat to Get Tender on the Stove?
While classic Beef Stew is braised in the oven we actually like being able to stir and monitor and fuss over the beef stew on the stove top. I say “fuss” with my tongue in my cheek because beef stew is about as unfussy as it gets.
It’s just kind of fun to pour a couple of glasses of wine and hang out in the kitchen stirring a pot of stew on a lazy Sunday.
We simmer the stew on the stove top for 2 hours with the lid on, stirring occasionally, then remove the lid and simmer for another 1-1/2 hours, or until the beef is fall apart tender and the gravy is nicely thickened.
The secret to tender beef stew is to keep the pot at a gentle simmer the entire time so the connective tissues in the beef have a chance to break down and soften.
Aside from the stew meat, the remaining ingredients for Stove Top Beef Stew are ones I always have on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Dried herbs: dried thyme and rosemary infuse a drizzle of oil before sauting the vegetables inside.
- Vegetables: small chopped carrots, celery, and onion or shallot practically melt into the sauce.
- Mushrooms: button mushrooms are a nod to the quartered mushrooms many classic beef stew recipes call for, but are thinly sliced instead of being left in bigger pieces.
- Garlic: minced garlic brings lots of cozy flavor.
- Butter: softened butter mixed with flour helps gives the stovetop beef stew a luxurious thickness. Feel free to use vegan butter for dairy allergies/intolerances.
- Flour: we use a gluten free flour blend to thicken the stew, though you can use all-purpose if you don’t need to eat gluten free.
- Stew meat: this is an economical cut of beef from the shoulder / chuck roast.
- Beef broth: feel free to use beef stock if you prefer.
- Bay leaves: add another layer of flavor to the slowly simmered stew. Remove before serving.
- Frozen peas: add these at the end, before serving, to warm through.
- Prepared mashed potatoes: we love scooping the Stove Top Beef Stew over a bowl of buttery mashed potatoes. Homemade is great, though we love Simply Potatoes brand mashed potatoes as an easy, convenient option!
What is the Best Meat for Beef Stew?
I use stew meat cut from a chuck (shoulder) roast for this beef stew. That said, you can also use a top or bottom round roast, or beef tips for beef stew.
Typically the stew meat will come in 2-3″ sized hunks, which I cut down into 1/2 – 1″, bite-sized pieces.
Do I Have to Brown the Meat for Beef Stew?
Normally, if you were using large hunks of roast for beef stew, yes, you would want to brown them first before simmering/braising. Since the beef is cut so small in this recipe though, all you need to do is saute in the Dutch oven with the vegetables before braising.
One less step, FTW!
Is Wine Needed for Beef Stew?
The short answer? No it’s not, and there’s no wine in this beef stew recipe. Wine can add great depth of flavor to beef stew, and we’ve deglazed the pan with a big glug of red wine after sauting the vegetables in the past (and you can too if you want!) but you can still get wonderful flavor without it.
Alright, who’s ready to cook?!
How to Make Stove Top Beef Stew from Scratch
Start by heating a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat then add dried thyme and rosemary. Be sure to crush the dried rosemary in the palm of your hand using your fingertips so there isn’t large pieces of rosemary in the final dish.
Saute the dried herbs for 30 seconds – you will not hear them sizzling by the way, but trust me, they’re infusing the oil with flavor.
To the pot add finely chopped carrots, celery stalks, onion or shallot, season with salt and pepper, then saute until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes.
The key to making this Beef Stew melt in your mouth is to make sure the vegetables are all finely chopped.
Next add sliced mushrooms then saute until they release their liquid, the liquid cooks off, and the mushrooms become tender, another 7-9 minutes.
Turn the heat up to medium-high heat then add stew meat cut into bite-sized pieces. Season with LOTS of salt and pepper, plus a dash of red pepper flakes if you please, then saute until the meat is evenly browned, 8-10 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together softened butter and gluten-free flour or all-purpose flour in a small dish then add to the pot and stir to coat the meat. Cook for 1 minute.
The butter and flour mixture will give the Beef Stew a bit of glossiness, richness, and thickness. It is a must-have for delicious and thick Beef Stew!
Finally, stream in gluten-free beef broth or stock then turn the heat to high and bring the stew to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pot to release any browned bits.
Once the stew is boiling, add dried bay leaves then place a lid on top, turn the heat down to medium low heat, and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Do You Simmer Beef Stew With the Lid ON or OFF?
After two hours, take the lid off then simmer low and slow for another 1-1/2 hours, or until the beef is tender and the sauce is has thickened. Again, we’re going for a gravy-ish consistency.
Simmering the stew with the lid ON allows the connective tissues in the beef to break down. Removing the lid then continuing to simmer with it OFF allows the beef to finish becoming tender and thicken the broth.
The last step is to stir in frozen peas then simmer until warmed through, and then scoop the beef stew over a bowl of mashed potatoes. Homemade is great (try adding a thwack of sour cream to your favorite recipe – it’s a game changer!) though many store bought varieties including Simply Potatoes are truly delicious and convenient as well.
Can I Freeze Beef Stew?
YES! Cool the stew completely then scoop into gallon-size freezer bags or freezer-safe containers and freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator then reheat in a pot on the stove over medium heat.
I have also transferred the Stove Top Beef Stew into a small crock pot / slow cooker to make it easily transportable, then I keep the heat on warm.
However and whenever you make it, I hope this revolutionary homemade Beef Stew recipe becomes a go-to for you and yours, as it has for us — enjoy!
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Stove Top Beef Stew is beef and vegetables simmered in luscious gravy until fall apart tender. This ultimate cozy dish is simply the best!
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed between your fingers
- 2 medium-sized carrots, chopped small
- 2 ribs celery, chopped small
- 1 large shallot or small onion, chopped small
- salt and pepper
- 8oz button mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1-1/2lbs stew meat, cut into bite-sized pieces (1″ or so)
- pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
- 3 Tablespoons butter, softened
- 3 Tablespoons gluten free flour or all-purpose flour (dish will not be GF if using AP flour)
- 32oz gluten free beef broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup frozen peas
- prepared mashed potatoes, for serving
- Heat oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add dried thyme and rosemary then saute for 30 seconds. Add carrots, celery, and shallots then season with salt and pepper and saute until the vegetables are browned and tender, 10 minutes. Add mushrooms then saute until they release their liquid, the liquid cooks off, and the mushrooms become tender, 7-9 more minutes. Add garlic then saute for 1 minute, or until very fragrant. Turn heat up to medium-high then add stew meat, red pepper flakes, if using, and more salt and pepper, then saute until meat is evenly browned, 8-10 minutes.
- Mash together butter and flour in a small dish with a fork until smooth then add to the pot and stir to coat the meat. Cook for 1 minute then stream in beef broth, scraping the bottom of the pot to release any browned bits. Turn heat up to high to bring stew to a simmer then add bay leaves. Place a lid on top, turn heat down to low, then simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Remove lid then gently simmer for another 1-1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender and stew has thickened, stirring occasionally. If the stew begins to reduce too quickly before the meat is tender, place the lid back on top. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary then add frozen peas and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove bay leaves then serve over mashed potatoes.
- Leave a comment and star rating if you loved the recipe!
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
Photos by Ashley McLaughlin