Sign me up at the county fair and slap a blue ribbon on me, because this is the best beef stew I’ve ever had or made. Dutch Oven Beef Stew boasts seared pieces of chuck roast and hearty winter vegetables braised low and slow in a savory herb gravy. For being so decadent, this one pot wonder is a surprisingly easy and healthy meal – it’s a family favorite when we’re on a Whole30 or trying to limit grains and gluten.
I know there are times it’s hard to improve on an original – and far be it from me to call out anyone’s grandma – but my Dutch oven beef stew is better than your grandma’s beef stew. Hell, it’s better than MY grandma’s beef stew, and she’s the one who taught me how to cook beef stew in a dutch oven.
Some people believe that comfort food isn’t comfort food without cream or cheese. To them I say “kiss my grits… yet another comfort food that needs neither cream nor cheese.”
Classic beef stew is the ultimate winter comfort food, and there’s nothing more classic than pulling out your trusty dutch oven to make it happen.
Well, to be fair, our healthy beef stew is everything you love about the classic, without grains, gluten, or wine*. Balsamic vinegar and tomato paste create a deep flavor base punctuated with onions, leeks, plenty of garlic, and fresh thyme. Oh, and did I mention potatoes? This is real, whole (and Whole30) comfort food at its finest.
(*P.S. If you are looking for easy Dutch oven beef stew with wine, we’ve got you covered.)
Watch: Dutch Oven Beef Stew Recipe Video
How to Make Beef Stew in the Oven
A proper beef stew should braised low and slow for hours. You’ll create layers of deep flavor in this modern classic Beef Stew by simmering seared pieces of chuck roast with onions, leeks, and garlic in a seasoned broth. Add the vegetables in the last hour to ensure they’re perfectly bite-tender. This is a recipe made for Sunday supper, but the leftovers are even better the next day.
Be sure to check out the tips below as well as the detailed steps in the recipe card. This recipe is also available as a story!
- BROWN the beef in batches. Add the beef to the Dutch oven in a single layer and brown undisturbed for about 5 minutes, or until a good crust forms. Remove the beef and set aside.
- BUILD your stew base. Saute onions and leeks in Dutch oven until soft, then add minced garlic. Work tomato paste into the vegetables. Deglaze with balsamic vinegar.
- SEASON your meat. Return the beef to Dutch oven (along with any juices accumulated on the plate) then add about 3 cups beef stock to barely cover the meat. Season, stir, then top with a bay leaf and thyme bundle.
- FIRST braise. Bring the broth to a simmer, then cover the pot and transfer to 350°F oven. Braise undisturbed for 2 hours.
- ADD Vegetables. Add the rest of your vegetables (carrots, celery, and potatoes), plus cornstarch slurry, and stir together. If you like a thinner stew, add additional broth at this time.
- SECOND Braise. Once again, bring the liquid to a simmer on stovetop, then cover the pot and return to the oven. Braise an additional 1-1.5 hours. Check the beef for readiness at the one-hour mark. It’s ready when the potatoes are tender and the meat is falling apart into shreds.
- SERVE. Remove the bay leaf and thyme stems, then portion the stew into bowls and garnish with fresh parsley.
Tips for the Best Beef Stew, Every Time
- Use the right cut of meat (see below), and trim with care. A well-marbled chuck roast is both economical and full of flavor. Remove any large obvious fat deposits and gristle, but keep the rest – the fat supplies flavor and adds body to the gravy.
- Brown thoroughly. Sear the pieces of beef until a good crust forms on at least two sides for best flavor.
- Always bring the liquid to a simmer before placing in the oven – this keeps the temperature consistent throughout the cooking process, resulting in a more tender, evenly cooked stew.
- Oven braise in stages – meat first, then the hearty vegetables. This will ensure the meat simmers into fall-apart tender shreds and the vegetables are cooked through, but still bite tender. No one likes mushy vegetables.
- If your Dutch oven doesn’t have a tight seal, lay a piece of foil over the pot before securing the lid to prevent excessive evaporation. Alternatively, you can add an additional cup of stock (2 cups total) in the second stage of braising to reach your desired consistency for the gravy.
What’s the Best Cut of Beef for Beef Stew?
The pre-cut beef labeled “stew meat” isn’t really the best choice for beef stew. Those pieces are typically cast-offs from various cuts, which makes the quality inconsistent. Some pieces will be super lean, while others are full of gristle. Variety might be the spice of life, but not so when making the very best beef stew possible.
The best choice is chuck roast. A well-marbled piece will have even ribbons of fat throughout. You’ll likely need to cut away some of the very large fat deposits and obvious gristle or sinew, but keep most of those ribbons of fat intact – they’ll render down to create a deeply flavorful and luxurious beef stew in the Dutch oven.
How Long to Cook Beef Stew in a Dutch Oven?
Ultimately this depends on how much beef stew you’re making and the size of your beef cubes. The sweet spot for this recipe is 3-4 hours, in two stages: the first 2 hours you’ll braise the beef, then you’ll add the hearty vegetables and braise until they’re tender and the meat is falling apart. If you’re not quite ready to serve yet, simply place the pot on the stove and cover tightly. It’ll stay warm for at least an hour.
Can I Make Beef Stew in the Crock Pot?
Yes, with caveats. First, the flavor in a terrific beef stew all comes down to the sear. If you toss the beef raw into the crockpot, you’ll have tender but bland stew – you still have to sear it first!
Second, just be aware, this beef stew is so easy that cooking in a slow cooker won’t make it easier, save you, or even save you dishes. I’d only recommend if you need a set-it-and-forget-it meal. That being said, it’s a great option for weeknight beef stew if you won’t be home during the day!
To make this recipe in the slow cooker, follow these steps:
- Brown the beef in a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, then remove and place into your crock pot.
- Cook the onions, leeks, and garlic.
- Add the tomato paste, then deglaze with balsamic vinegar.
- Scrape the onion mixture into the crockpot.
- Pour in 4 cups broth, add the thyme and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper, and give the stew and sautéed vegetables a good stir.
- Place the carrots, celery, and potatoes on top (so they don’t get mushy!).
- Program to Low for 8 hours.
- In the last hour, pour in the slurry, give the stew a good stir. Crack the lid and simmer for the final hour to allow the stew to thicken.
Freezing and Storing
- To Freeze, Option 1: Fully prepared, beef stew with potatoes freezes fine. Cool the stew, then portion into airtight containers and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight then reheat in a pot over medium heat until warmed through.
- To Freeze, Option 2: For beef stew purists (ahem, lifts hand) defrosted stew with the vegetables isn’t quite right. After freezing and defrosting, the vegetables can be mushy. For that reason, I like to freeze dutch oven beef stew half-way through the cooking process, just after the first braise is completed. I’ll often have 2 pots of stew working – one to eat immediately, one to freeze. After the first braise, cool the stew and transfer to an airtight container; freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight and continue from Step 6 – bring the liquid to a simmer, then add the slurry and vegetables. Finish braising in the oven until the vegetables are cooked through.
- To Refrigerate: Store leftovers in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Pro tip: it’s even better the second day. Reheat in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in-between, or in a pot over medium heat until warmed through.
More Easy Dutch Oven Recipes
- Red Wine Pot Roast
- Red Wine Braised Beef Stew
- Chili Con Carne
- Easy Hamburger Vegetable Soup
- Ground Beef Taco Soup
- No Bean Beef Chili
Did you make this Easy Beef Stew recipe? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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- 2 lb chuck roast, excessive fat deposits trimmed, cut into 2” pieces
- 1 tbsp avocado oil, or olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion, diced to ½”
- 1 large leek, halved and sliced into ½” moons
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 quart beef stock, divided
- 1 tsp sea or kosher salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 12 oz yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 2” chunks
- 3 large carrots, skins peeled, cut into ½” coins
- 3 stalks celery, cut into ½” coins
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, bundled with kitchen twine
- 1 tbsp cornstarch, or arrowroot powder, for Whole30
- Heat the oven to 350°F.
- Divide the beef into 2" pieces. Remove any thick fat deposits, sinew, and gristle.
- Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add olive oil and heat until it shimmers. Add half the beef, ensuring pieces are in a single layer. Leave undisturbed for at least 5 minutes to sear until a good crust forms. Remove beef to a plate and repeat with the remaining chuck roast pieces. Set aside all browned beef on a plate.
- Add the onions and leeks to the dutch oven and toss to coat in the fat. Saute, stirring occasionally, until soft, 5-6 minutes. Add garlic; saute, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and work into the vegetables.
- Deglaze the pot with the balsamic vinegar, stirring up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot, until the vinegar stops bubbling and is mostly evaporated, 1-2 minutes.
- Return the browned beef to the dutch oven. Pour in enough broth to barely cover the beef (about 3 cups), as well as salt and pepper. Give everything a good stir, then add the bay leaf and thyme bundle. All the liquid to come 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. Whisk together the cornstarch or arrowroot powder and remaining cup of beef broth, then pour into the stew.
- Add the chopped potatoes, carrots, and celery. Give the stew a good stir, and again heat over a medium-high flame 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.
- Remove the dutch oven from the stove. Fish out the bay leaf and thyme sprig using tongs. Stir in half to one cup of additional beef broth if the stew is too thick. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper if needed. Ladle stew into bowls and garnish with chopped fresh parsley if desired.
- To Freeze, Option 1: Fully prepared, beef stew freezes well. Cool the stew, then portion into airtight containers and store in the fridge for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight then reheat in a pot over medium heat until warmed through.
- To Freeze, Option 2: For beef stew purists (ahem, lifts hand) defrosted stew with the vegetables isn’t quite right. After freezing and defrosting, the vegetables can be mushy. For that reason, I like to freeze stew half-way through the cooking process, just after the first braise is completed. I’ll often have 2 pots of stew working – one to eat immediately, one to freeze. After the first braise, cool the stew and transfer to an airtight container; freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight and continue from Step 6 – bring the liquid to a simmer, then add the slurry and vegetables. Finish braising in the oven until the vegetables are cooked through.
- To Refrigerate: Store leftovers in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days. It’s even better the second day. Reheat in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in-between, or in a pot over medium heat until warmed through.
- Brown the beef in a large soup pot or dutch oven, then remove and place into your crock pot.
- Cook the onions, leeks, and garlic.
- Add the tomato paste, then deglaze with balsamic vinegar.
- Scrape the onion mixture into the crockpot.
- Pour in 4 cups* broth and season with salt and pepper. Add the carrots, celery, and potatoes and give everything a good stir. Place the bay leaf and thyme on top. (I find that I lose more liquid to evaporation in the slow cooker. If yours has a very tight seal, keep the 3 cups as listed in the recipe card above).
- Program to Low for 6-8 hours.
- In the last hour, pour in the slurry and give the stew a good stir. Crack the lid and simmer for the final hour to allow the stew to thicken.
Hi! It looks delicious. Could I prepare this in the slow cooker?
Yes! Follow the steps in a dutch oven (or other large pot) through Step 5. Transfer the onion mixture and the browned beef to the crockpot, then add the broth, seasoning and herbs and cook on low 6-8 hours. Add the arrowroot slurry in the last hour and crack the lid open to allow the stew to thicken, OR cook the full time in the crockpot, then transfer the stew back to the dutch oven, add the slurry, and simmer 10 minutes until thick.
Do you know what the timing would be in an instapot?
I’m still tweaking the Instant Pot version of this. I have a tried a few different times/temperatures and still haven’t nailed down a combination yet where the beef is tender and the vegetables aren’t over cooked. I hope to publish the Instant Pot version soon, but until then, I can’t really make a recommendation that I’m 100% certain will work.
This was AMAZING. Best stew I’ve ever made. The beef was super tender… and the flavor!
I added parsnips and dried shitake mushrooms for a deeper flavor profile for the second braising.
I’ll make this again and again. Thanks for an awesome recipe!
Love the addition of shiitakes, brilliant! Thanks for making and sharing your thoughts Jenna.
Hi there!! I’ve made this before and absolutely loved it, but I need to double the recipe to feed at least 8. Do you think this would fit in a standard Dutch oven? Thank you!
I think the sizing would be really tight in a 6-quart pot – I’d use an 8-quart pot if you have one. If you don’t have a larger dutch oven, what you could do is omit the potatoes from the recipe entirely to save space and instead make mashed potatoes in a separate pot and serve the stew over the mashed potatoes. I hope that helps!!
I’ve made a number of beef stew recipes over the years but there is something special about this one. I followed your recommendation to use a Dutch Oven through step 5 then finish in the slow cooker. The beef stew came out flavourful and simply delicious. The only change I made was to use veggie stock (what I had on hand) and omit the leeks (didn’t have any). Definitely a keeper. Thanks!
Thanks for sharing Tracey! I’m always so happy when minor modifications work out – flexibility is so key!
I’m very wary of beef stew recipes lately; every one I find ends up being not so good. I decided to take a chance on this one because it looked cool – and honestly: it was the single best I’ve ever come across. I’ve got it saved, and I’m going to return to it again and again. thanks so much for posting it; it’s amazing!!
So happy you took the chance and thrilled it’s a keeper. Thanks for sharing Michael!
This recipe was so tasty! The only problem I had was that at the end there wasn’t much liquid at all, it ended up being just the veggies and meat. Should there still be liquid? Maybe I did something wrong, but either way it was super good! Any tips welcome!
Hi Eylssa – if your dutch oven doesn’t have a great seal (it happens over time with tiny chips and divots and such) you can lose a lot of moisture during the braising process. Next time just add an extra cup when you add the potatoes, carrots, and slurry in steps 8-9. That should give you more gravy. The other option is to create a tighter seal between the lid and pot by layering a piece of foil between them. I typically just add more broth. Hope that helps!
I’ve been a stew lover my whole life, and was looking for something to try in my Dutch oven instead of the slow cooker. This was hands down the best stew I have ever had. I subbed the potatoes for parsnips and leeks for scallions, and oooh boy was it good!! A new staple in my household!
I love that you made it your own with what you had! Thanks so much for your feedback Alyssa.
First time I made it we ate the while thing at once! The flavour is so full, perfect for these gloomy, foggy days. As I do not own a dutch oven (yet) I made it on a regular stove on low heat and cover, Just letting it slowly simmer. I didnt have the thyme but it still turned out fabulous. Definitely going in my home cookbook 🙂
So happy to hear that you enjoyed it and that it worked perfectly on the stovetop. Thanks Ina!
My picky daughter just dubbed this “probably the best beef stew you’ve ever made”!! I was looking for fork-tender beef and this recipe made me a star! Your photos and directions helped me follow along easily. A few caveats: I did not have leeks so I subbed celery (and also included them later with the carrots and potatoes) and at the 1-hour mark, I did add more broth and a can each of corn and green beans (the way my mother-in-law makes beef stew). I’ve had it for dinner and can’t wait to try it for lunch tomorrow!
Lo and behold, my husband has just said this is the best beef stew he has had “in his whole life”!!! Thank you for the mid-week success—I’ll be sharing this recipe, for sure!
These comments made my day. I love that you made it your own! Thanks for sharing Angela!!
Delicious! The whole family loved it.
Oh my goodness. This was amazing! I will literally never need to make beef stew any other way for the rest of my life. It was soooo rich and had soooo much flavor. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you so much for sharing your delicious recipe. Very, very good. Best beef stew I have made. Husband loves it 😊
Really yummy! The perfect Sunday evening stew to kick off my last week of Whole30! I omitted the balsamic vinegar (all mine at home were sugary) and switched celeriac for the potatoes. Otherwise followed instructions exactly — thanks for the great recipe!
Best beef stew I’ve ever had! I’ve made this exactly as written twice, and it is delicious and filling and enjoyable to make. The best leftovers! My apartment smells amazing, too 🙂
I have tried several beef stew recipes and this is by far the tastiest. The richness and depth of flavor is incredible. My husband raved about it. I definitely will be making this again!
Holy moly, this is good!!! By far, the best beef stew I’ve ever had. I followed the recipe to a “T” and it’s perfect! My life is complete 😁
Quite possibly the best stew I have ever made. So delicious!!!!
So the first time I made this it was perfect!!! I wanted to make it again today. I took it out from its first braise and there was no liquid left and everything was dried out! Help!! I put almost a whole carton in, covering the beef. What did I do wrong?
Hi! Sometimes that can happen if there isn’t a very tight seal on the pot. As long as the beef isn’t totally burnt, it’s salvageable! Add another 4 cups of broth along with the potatoes and vegetables for the second braise. And feel free to email me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you need to trouble-shoot more.
12 oz potatoes is about 1 potato. Am I misunderstanding how many potatoes are needed?
This is my question too, it looks like more than 1 potato in the video. Did you get a response?
I use baby potatoes in this recipe, and use half a bag, which is 12 ounces, or about a dozen small baby potatoes; I quarter them. If you’re using a single large yukon gold, diced into 1″ pieces. But you can also use more to preference! If you double the amount of potatoes, add an additional cup of broth.