Crockpot Beef Stew (with Beer and Horseradish)
This horseradish beef stew with beer is the definition of pure comfort food! Cooking it in the slow cooker makes the beef and veggies super tender with a rich, silky sauce… and it takes hardly any effort to make! Come home to a mouthwatering dinner, ready to eat!
Comfort food recipes like this Crockpot Beef Stew are essential in the colder months. You come home to a house that smells heavenly and dinner is finished and ready for you to enjoy! We love easy crockpot meals like my Crockpot Mongolian Beef and this is one of my Comfort Food recipes you’ll definitely want in your dinner rotation!
CROCKPOT BEEF STEW
As someone who works from home, it’s easy to forget what it’s like to come home after working a full (long) day and still have the very crushing reality of having to cook dinner. For me, there is no coming home, since I’m always here writing, cooking, setting up photoshoots, etc.
Even before this website, there wasn’t any coming home, since I was a stay at home Mom. BUT, I can tell you, the night’s when I’ve got dinner going in the slow cooker… those are the nights that before my husband even has his whole body through our door, he’s going, “man that smells amazing, I’m so hungry!”.
HOW TO MAKE A BEEF STEW
Generally beef stew is made with a tough cut of meat like a chuck roast (or shoulder roast), vegetables (like potatoes, carrots, celery, parsnips, mushrooms, etc), beef stock, and plenty of seasoning. I like to add some beer to mine, as I love the depth of flavor, as well as some tomato paste and beef base.
- Season and brown beef in a pan, then add to slow cooker.
- Deglaze pan with beer and broth (just pour in liquids and stir to loosen any browned bits from the pan).
- Add vegetables, tomato paste and beef base to slow cooker.
- Pour liquid from pan into the slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on LOW 7 – 7 1/2 hours.
- Thicken stew, if desired.
HOW DO YOU THICKEN A STEW?
There are three main ways to thicken up a beef stew. The first two involve making a slurry – which is basically adding flour or cornstarch to a cold or room temperature liquid.
- Mix 1-2 Tbsp cornstarch into 1-2 Tbsp of beef stock/broth or even water. Use a fork or spoon to mix it around until there are no lumps. Stir into beef stew, and cook on low for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Do the same as above, but use flour instead of cornstarch.
- Using a fork mix together equal parts (I usually do 1 Tbsp each) softened butter and flour. Mix it together well, so it almost forms a ball. Add it to the beef stew, stir, and cook on low for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. This method is my absolute favorite!
COOKING TIPS FOR MAKING CROCKPOT BEEF STEW
- Brown your beef if possible! I know it’s an extra step, but I love the extra flavor it adds!
- Use sturdy potatoes! I love to use baby Yukon gold potatoes. They’re so buttery, yet they are sturdy and hold up well to a full day of cooking in the slow cooker. Plus, there’s no need to peel them, just halve or quarter them after washing.
- Use tomato paste in a tube. Since you only need a little bit for this recipe, I find using tubed tomato paste easier than figuring out what to do with the remaining 5 oz of the can.
- Add your horseradish at different times for different flavor profiles! For a more mild, almost sweet flavor, add the horseradish in with the rest of the slow cooker ingredients and let it cook all day. For a more intense kick, add the horseradish at the end, while you’re thickening up the stew.
- Don’t forget to dip some crusty bread into the stew!
VARIATIONS OF BEEF STEW
- Bacon – try cooking some bacon before browning the beef… this will do two things. First, you’ll get yummy crumbled bacon to add on top of your stew later that night. And secondly, the bacon grease will add extra flavor to your beef as it browns!
- Swap the alcohol – if you’re not a beer fan, try using a dry red wine instead. Or if you’re against using any alcohol, you can use an equal amount of beef broth.
- Add mushrooms – mushrooms are amazing in beef stew, and we add them most of the time. However I know not everyone is a fan of them, so I left them out of this version.
- Omit the horseradish – horseradish has a rather unique and strong flavor, which some people just don’t like. No worries, you can omit it in this recipe and have a more classic beef stew!
HOW DO YOU MAKE BEEF STEW ON THE STOVETOP?
No slow cooker, no problem! Be advised though, a stovetop beef stew takes multiple hours to properly come together.
Start by browning the beef pieces in a large dutch oven. Remove beef to a plate and cook onions and garlic in beef drippings. Add beer and beef broth to deglaze the pan (scraping the bottom of the pot to release those browned bits). Return beef to the pot and add remaining ingredients. Stir well, cover and simmer on LOW for 2 – 2 1/2 hours.
MAKING STEW AHEAD OF TIME
Beef stew is a FABULOUS make ahead meal, because I think it tastes even better when eaten the next day!
Make sure you cool the stew completely, then cover and refrigerate.
Reheat on the stovetop over MED heat, adding a splash of extra beef broth if needed.
Stews generally freeze really well (for up to 3 months), although if it’s been thickened (with the methods outlined above in the post), it may separate when frozen.
I find it’s best to make (without thickening), cool completely, then freeze. When reheating, thicken the stew as you like.
Leftovers should be kept refrigerated in an airtight container and consumed within 3-4 days.
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT USED IN THIS RECIPE
- 4 quart slow cooker – this is the one pictured in my photos, and my most used slow cooker. I love that the insert is stovetop safe, so I can brown the beef right in it! It’s also pricey, so below I have another option.
- Programmable slow cooker – this one is super economical and I love that the lid latches.
- Better Than Bouillon – these jars are like magic, and lend SO much extra flavor! I find them cheaper at my grocery store, but wanted to link them here so you know what they look like or in case you can’t find them.
Crockpot Beef Stew
- 2 - 2 1/2 lbs boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 12 oz dark stout beer (I usually use Guinness)
- 3 cups beef broth
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
- 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 1/4 lb baby Yukon gold potatoes, halved or quartered
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp fresh sage, minced
- 2 Tbsp beef base (better than bouillon)
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1-2 Tbsp prepared horseradish
- 1 Tbsp softened butter
- 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
- Season beef pieces with 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1 tsp black pepper. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over MED-HIGH heat until shimmering, then add beef in a single layer (you may have to do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan). Brown on all sides, about 1-2 minutes per side, then turn off heat. Remove beef to slow cooker.
- Pour beer and broth into hot pan and stir to loosen any browned bits. Let sit for a few minutes while you add other ingredients.
- Add carrots, parsnips, potatoes, onion, garlic, sage, beef base and tomato paste to slow cooker with the browned beef. Pour beer/broth mixture from the skillet into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 - 7 1/2 hours.
- Mix together butter and flour to form a pasty ball. Remove lid, add horseradish and butter/flour mixture, stirring well. Cover and continue cooking another 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste, and add additional salt and pepper as needed.
- Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve!