One of the first recipes I reach for when the weather gets cold is a nourishing one-pot meal, like this classic red wine beef stew. It’s slow braised in a dutch oven with vegetables, fresh herbs, and of course lots of dry red wine. It’s utterly satisfying, and the ultimate hearty comfort food for Sunday supper.
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I don’t know about y’all, but one of the first things I reach for when the weather gets cold is hearty one-pot recipes, like this red wine beef stew. It’s filling, comforting, easy, kid-friendly, and lasts for days and days.
It also doesn’t push my kitchen into level four trauma status. Raise your hand if you want to clean a disaster area with wild children running afoot? No takers? Thought so. Raise your hand if you want an easy dinner and an excuse for perfectly paired Pinot Noir? Thought so! Red wine beef stew for the win.
This stew is incredibly rich and robust, and makes enough to feed a crowd with leftovers to spare. And spare you must, because it’s even better the next day.
How to Make Red Wine Beef Stew
This classic recipe is a cross between beef bourguignon and traditional beef stew, with little bits pulled from each to create an easy yet incredibly flavorful stew recipe with hearty vegetables and tender, melt-in-your-mouth shreds of beef. The full recipe calls for blanched pearl onions, and while a bit time-consuming to prepare, they’re worth the added effort. If you want to take a short-cut, go for frozen and defrosted pearl onions. They’re easier to handle, and you won’t sacrifice too much flavor or texture.
Begin by blanching the pearl onions. Trim the root end from each pearl onion, then place them into a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain, then plunge the blanched onions into an ice bath to stop the cooking process and cool them down. Squeeze each onion gently and it will pop right out of the tough, outer peel.
Slice your chuck roast into 2″ chunks and season the meat with salt and pepper. Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat, add a bit of olive oil, and brown the beef cubes in batches. Leave some space in-between each piece, and care not to crowd the pot (you want them to brown, not steam so that crispy bits are left behind) and remove the batches with a slotted spoon and set aside while the remaining batches brown.
After browning the meat, add 4 slices of chopped bacon to the pot and sautee it until the fat renders. Push some of the bacon to the side and add the pearl onions to the center of the pot. Toss them in the rendered fat and sautee until they’re soft and starting to brown. Then add in a few cloves of chopped garlic and sautee until it’s fragrant. Finish your sautee session by deglazing the pot with balsamic vinegar. Be sure to scrape up the flavor-packed browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
Add the meat back to the pot along with an entire bottle of decent quality dry red wine, and then enough beef broth to barely cover the meat. Top with a bay leaf and a bundle of fresh thyme. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a simmer. Cover the dutch oven, transfer to the oven, and braise for two hours.
After two hours, remove the dutch oven and add your chopped vegetables – potatoes, carrots, and celery. Please don’t be tempted to add these into the initial braise to “save time” (can you tell I’ve made that mistake?). You’ll be rewarded with mushier vegetables than preferable.
Whisk some thickener of your choice (flour, cornstarch, or arrowroot powder) into a cup of beef broth to create a slurry. Pour the slurry into the stew, and once again heat over a high flame to bring the liquid to a simmer. Cover the pot, and return to the oven once more to finish braising for another hour to an hour-and-a-half.
Check on the stew after an hour – it’s done when the meat is falling apart and the vegetables are bite tender. Once it’s reached this stage, remove the lid and increase the oven temperature to 450°F. Braise for an additional 15 minutes to caramelize the top of the stew and thicken the sauce. Please don’t skip this step! It’s gives the final texture that extra special kick.
Fish out the bay leaf and thyme bundle, then ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with just a bit of chopped fresh parsley for a punch of brightness. The stew needs nothing else. You can serve with crusty bread if you love to dip, but truly you don’t need it – it’s utterly satisfying all on its own.
Red Wine Beef Stew Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to use a dutch oven? You can use any heavy-bottomed pot that is oven safe, but I always braise beef stew in a dutch oven, for a few reasons.
The defining characteristic of a dutch oven is its weight – these suckers are heavy. For one-pot braised meals like stew and chili, heft is a necessity. It translates to superior heat retention, allowing you to evenly brown and caramelize the meat before braising (vs. a standard soup pot, which gets colder once the meat hits the fat).
Secondly, the tight-fitting lid ensures a steady cooking temperature, resulting in oh-so-tender meat that is perfectly infused with moisture and flavor. Dutch ovens – they get the job done.
What dutch ovens do you recommend? If you have the budget, this masterpiece from Le Creuset will serve you well for many, many years to come. I have the more affordable but dependable 6-quart enameled Lodge Dutch Oven.
Do I have to brown the meat first? Yes, please do! Searing the meat will give your stew so much more flavor. The browned bits on the bottom of the pan are savory gold.
Can I use frozen pearl onions? Yes! Feel free to use an equivalent amount of frozen onions to save time. Defrost under cool running water, then pat dry.
What’s the best cut of meat for red wine beef stew? I like chuck roast for beef stew. It’s an affordable cut of meat, collagen rich, and well-marbled, so it’s got lots of flavor. For everything you need to know about selecting the best cut for beef stew, this article from Serious Eats is an excellent resource.
What kind of red wine should I use? The first rule is to cook with wine that you’d also drink – AKA, the good stuff (or at least the decent stuff). Aim for a red wine on the drier side, like pinot noir, for best flavor; avoid anything too sweet.
What kind of potatoes should I use? Use any variety of potatoes you like – I like creamy baby yukon golds, but baby red or white new potatoes are perfect, and even diced russets are nice and will create a starchier, thicker broth.
More Recipes Made in a Dutch Oven
You’ll love these other healthy and hearty cool weather recipes prepared in the dutch oven:
- Red Wine Pot Roast with Savory Jus
- Dutch Oven Pulled Pork
- Paleo Chili Con Carne with Roasted Poblano Peppers
- Pomegranate Chicken
- Butternut Squash Winter Minestrone
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This recipe was originally published November 2016. It was updated November 2018 with minor recipe modifications and new images.
Red Wine Beef Stew
This classic red wine beef stew recipe is incredibly flavorful with hearty vegetables and tender, melt-in-your-mouth shreds of beef. The full recipe calls for blanched pearl onions, and while a bit time-consuming to prepare, they're worth the added effort. If you want to take a short-cut, go for frozen and defrosted pearl onions. They're easier to handle, and you won't sacrifice too much flavor or texture.
- 10 oz fresh pearl onions or equivalent amount frozen, defrosted, and patted dry
- 2 lb chuck roast cut into 2" pieces
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 slices thick cut bacon diced
- 4 cloves garlic chopped to 1/2"
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 quart beef stock divided
- 1 bottle dry red wine like Pinot Noir
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 bundle fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch or 3 tbsp all purpose flour
- 12 oz baby potatoes quartered
- 3 large celery stalks cut into 1" pieces
- 3 large carrots peeled and cut into 1" pieces
- sea or kosher salt to taste
- cracked black pepper to taste
Heat the oven to 350°F.
Fill a medium pot with 6 cups of water and bring to a boil (do not salt). While the water is coming to a boil, trim the root ends from the pearl onions.
Add the trimmed onions to the boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, drain in a colander, and plunge into an ice bath. Allow to sit in the ice bath for a few minutes, then drain. Peel the onions by gently squeezing until they pop out of the tough outer skin.
Cut the beef into 2” cubes, then season generously with salt and pepper.
Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and heat until it shimmers. Brown the beef in the olive oil in batches. Take care not to crowd the pot. Turn the pieces every few minutes until browned and slightly caramelized on all sides, 20-25 minutes total. As you finish each batch, remove the beef with a slotted spoon and set aside onto a plate.
Add the bacon to the pot and cook until the fat renders, 5 minutes. Push to bacon to the outer edges, add the onions, and cook until soft and starting to brown in spots, 8-10 minutes. Push aside some of the onions from the center of the pot, add the garlic, and saute until fragrant, 1 minute. Deglaze the pot with the balsamic vinegar, and cook, stirring up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot, until the vinegar stops bubbling and is mostly evaporated, 2-3 minutes.
Return the browned beef to the dutch oven. Pour in the wine and enough broth to barely cover the beef (2-3 cups). Stir to incorporate. Add the bay leaf, thyme bundle, and another half teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a simmer. Cover the pot, turn off the burner and transfer to the oven. Braise for 2 hours.
Remove the pot from the oven and place onto the stove. In a small measuring cup, whisk together the arrowroot powder and one cup of beef broth to create a slurry. Pour the slurry into the stew, then add the chopped potatoes, carrots, and onions. Give the stew a good stir, and again heat over high until the liquid comes to a simmer. Cover, and return the stew to the oven to continue braising. Braise an additional 1-1.5 hours, or until the beef is falling apart and the vegetables are tender. Test for doneness around the 1 hour mark.
Once the stew is ready, increase the oven temperature to 450°F and remove the lid. Braise 15 minutes more at the higher temperature to caramelize the top of the stew and thicken the sauce.
Remove the dutch oven from the stove. Fish out the bay leaf and thyme sprig using tongs. Ladle into stew bowls and garnish with chopped fresh parsley if desired. Serve immediately. This stew keeps in the fridge in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 days, and is even better the next day.
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