Hearty and rich homemade Dutch Oven Beef Stew is exactly what you need on a cold winter night. Stew meat, carrots, potatoes and fresh herbs are started on the stovetop and finished off in the oven until the meat is pull-apart tender.
Imagine yourself at home on a cold winter night. You're warm and cozy inside with your hands wrapped around a hot bowl of homemade beef stew. You're filling your belly with tender pieces of stew meat and soaking up the gravy with a crusty piece of bread.
I would also be serving this old-fashioned dinner recipe with a glass of pinot noir and Apple Blackberry Crumble... but that's just me!
Living in Northern NY (up near the Canadian border), means cold-weather comfort food recipes are a specialty of mine! After you make my beef stew recipe, you need to warm up your belly with my Dutch Oven Mac and Cheese, Cheeseburger Meatloaf, Meatball Stuffed Shells and Pink Pasta Sauce with Ground Turkey.
Why you'll love this recipe
- One pot dish: This traditional dinner recipe is made from start to finish, in your Dutch Oven cooking pot. A Dutch Oven is ideal for beef stew because it can hold heat for a long time, distribute heat evenly and transfer to the oven.
- Family dinner: Kids, grown-ups and (most) picky eaters love beef stew!
- Large batch recipe: My recipe makes 8-9, 1 cup servings! This dinner recipe will definitely feed your entire family and provide leftovers for a few days too!
- Nutritious: Even though this is "comfort food," it still provides healthy servings of protein, vegetables and fiber! Added bonus? It's also gluten free!
Beef stew meat: Stew meat is most commonly made from cuts of chuck or round steak. Stew meat usually is full of tough, connective tissue, which is why a long, slow simmer is a must! The hot liquids will break down the connective tissue and turn the meat into melt-in-your-mouth tender bites.
Vegetables: I add yellow onion, carrots, celery, garlic and potatoes to my beef stew. These also soften up during the lengthy, slow cook in the oven.
Flavor enhancers: Adding multiple levels of flavor to your beef stew is a must. I use tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, red wine, miso paste, parsley, thyme and bay leaves to add deep, salty, umami layers of flavor.
Additional ingredients needed: Kosher salt, black pepper, olive oil, beef broth, corn starch and water.
*Detailed ingredient list and quantities can be found in the recipe card below.
- Dutch oven with a lid - I use an enameled 6 quart Dutch Oven made by Lodge. I prefer to use enameled cast iron because they clean up so much easier. You can use non-enameled cast iron if you'd like though.
- Cutting board, chopping knife, measuring cups and measuring spoons
- Silicone spoon, spatula or bowl scraper - You MUST use silicone cooking utensils when cooking in an enameled Dutch Oven so that you don't scratch the enamel coating.
How to make Dutch Oven Beef Stew
Step 1: Season your stew meat with kosher salt and black pepper. Transfer the stew meat to your hot Dutch Oven coated in extra virgin olive oil. Sear all sides of the stew meat over medium-high heat, until the outsides are golden brown and caramelized.
Pro tip: Do NOT skip this step! The caramelization on the outside of the meat, along with the yummy little brown bits left on the bottom of the pan, add depth and complexity to the flavor of the stew. You'll brown your meat in batches to ensure all chunks of beef have the opportunity to brown.
Step 2: Remove the seared stew meat from the pan and add the chopped yellow onion, carrots, celery and minced garlic. Sauté until tender, about 3 minutes.
*You may need to add another tablespoon of olive oil so that the veggies don't stick to the pan.
Step 3: Stir the fresh parsley, fresh thyme, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar and miso paste into the vegetables.
Step 4: Pour the red wine into the mixture to deglaze the pan. Bring the wine to a simmer.
Step 5: Transfer the seared beef stew meat back into the Dutch Oven. Add in the potatoes, bay leaf and beef broth. Bring the broth to a boil. Once boiling, mix in your corn starch slurry.
*A corn starch slurry is 1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of cold water, whisked until smooth.
Step 6: Place the lid on your Dutch Oven and transfer the Dutch Oven to your preheated 325°F oven. Let the beef stew cook in the oven, covered, for 2.5 hours. This will cook your vegetables and break down the meat until it is melt-in-your-mouth tender!
Do you need a Dutch Oven for stew?
A Dutch Oven is the perfect cooking vessel for beef stew, because it allows you to start your beef stew on the stovetop, and then slow cook for hours in the oven to tenderize the meat and develop depth of flavor in the gravy.
Cast iron transfers and holds heat, and the tight-fitting lid traps moisture inside the pot!
Compared to using a Crock Pot slow cooker or an instant pot, a Dutch Oven really allows the flavors in the stew to develop, creates a juicy and moisture rich stew and allows you to adequately brown the meat!
Variations and substitutions
Stew meat: Beef stew meat is either cubed or cut into chunks. The best cuts of stew meat are the leaner cuts that are full of connective tissue. If you can't find beef that is specifically labeled as "stew meat," choose either a round cuts, chuck meat or sirloin.
Vegetables: In addition to, or in place of some of the vegetables that I use, you can also try adding in frozen peas, root vegetables, winter squash, mushrooms, green beans and hearty greens (add towards end of cooking time).
Red wine: You'll want to choose a dry red wine like pinot noir, merlot or cabernet sauvignon. Non-alcoholic alternatives to red wine would be additional beef broth or non-alcoholic red wine.
- Thickly chop the vegetables: Chop the carrots and potatoes into thicker chunks. If you finely chop them, they will break down too much during the cooking time in the oven.
- Cooking time: You can pull your beef stew out of the oven as early as two hours. The vegetables will be cooked through at this point and the meat will be tender. The gravy may not have fully thickened yet though.
- Deglazing: Don't worry about how brown and almost "burnt" looking the bottom of your Dutch Oven gets when you're browning the meat. You'll notice that your Dutch Oven starts to deglaze when you add the balsamic vinegar and tomato paste. The pan will fully deglaze when you add the red wine.
- Seasoning: Liberally season the chunks of beef with salt and pepper. Don't be shy here! You can add more seasoning at the end of cooking time if needed.
- Prep: Prepare all of your ingredients before you start your stew. This means chop all of your vegetables and measure out your balsamic, tomato paste, etc... The stovetop process moves along pretty quickly so it will go much more smoothly if you're prepared.
Recipe serving suggestions
I also recommend serving beef stew with a French baguette, cornbread muffins or a green salad.
More soup and stew recipes
Storage and reheating
How to store: Allow the stew to cool completely and then transfer to a glass, air-tight container and cover tightly with a lid. Store in the refridgerator for 3-4 days.
How to reheat: You can reheat stew on the stovetop or in the microwave. You'll notice that any fat in the stew will have hardened. This will melt and mix back into your stew when you reheat it.
How to freeze: Store your stew in a freezer-safe container. Stew can be frozen for up to 3 months. Since we have thickened the stew with cornstarch, the stew may separate a little after thawing and reheating. The potatoes may not hold up during freezing and reheating either. If you plan on freezing this stew, then you may want to skip the corn starch slurry and wait to add your potatoes.
Frequently asked questions
It's possible that you chose a very low-sodium beef broth and now your stew doesn't have enough salt. I would add some salt and pepper to taste.
Beef stew may be watery if you haven't given it enough time to thicken. Allow the stew to continue cooking in the oven with the lid on. You could also try adding another corn starch slurry. Sometime stews will thicken as they cool down as well.
It's best to start your beef stew on the stovetop and then transfer it to the oven for low and slow cooking. This will help to further develop flavors in the dish, create a thick and rich gravy and tenderize the beef.
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