This hearty and simple beef stew is made completely from scratch and is absolutely delicious, just like Mom used to make it.
Today’s recipe is one of my absolute favorite comfort foods, my mom’s simple and easy, completely from scratch homemade beef stew.
And when I say completely from scratch, I mean from scratch. There’s no beef broth, no packets of flavoring mix, no consommé in here. It’s chunks of beef chuck, vegetables, and spices, and a couple hours of long, low simmering time.
You can add all the artificial flavor in the world, but nothing is going to beat the rich flavor of a stew that is given time to cook the way stew was meant to be cooked.
- Flour: Dusting the beef with flour before browning helps to thicken the stew as it simmers.
- Beef chuck roast: I always recommend using a beef chuck roast for stew, but the price can vary quite wildly especially around the holidays. Keep an eye on the price and stock your freezer when you see it at a good one.
- Vegetables: Onions, carrots, and celery are my classic go-to stew veggies, but feel free to add whatever veggies sound good to you!
- Red potatoes: I prefer the flavor and texture of red potatoes for stew, but you can also use Russet potatoes if that’s what you have on hand.
What is a good meat for beef stew?
For the best (and usually cheapest) stew meat, skip the package of cut up “stew meat” in the meat department (you never know what odds and ends you are getting in those) and buy a cheap 2-pound chuck roast.
Trim the roast of silverskin (the thin silvery-blue membrane that sticks tightly to the meat) and any large pieces of fat, and then cut it into 1 to 2-inch cubes. It takes a bit of extra time, but you will end up with tender chunks of meat that practically melt in your mouth after cooking, so I think it’s so worth it.
If you’re in a hurry, you can also use boneless beef short ribs (NOT bone-in short ribs) in your stew. Boneless short ribs are just chuck that has already been trimmed and processed. They’re usually pricier than a chuck roast but much less work.
How to Make the Best Beef Stew
- Toss beef chunks with flour and brown them in olive oil in a large pot. Browning the meat helps deepen and enhance the beefy flavor of the stew.
- Add filtered water and use a wooden spoon to scrape all the cooked-on bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring to a simmer and cook, adjusting the temperature as necessary, for 80 minutes.
- Add onions, carrots, celery, and salt and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add potatoes and remaining spices and cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Taste and add more salt/pepper if necessary. Allow stew to cool for at least 15 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!
How do you make beef stew tender?
To make tender beef stew, use the correct cut of meat (beef chuck) and let it cook low and slow. Stew meat needs a couple of hours at a low simmer for the connective tissue in the muscle to break down, but once you hit that sweet spot, the meat becomes fall-apart, meltingly tender.
What to serve with homemade beef stew?
If you want to cook more veggies to go with the stew, you can’t go wrong with roasted broccoli or roasted green beans. But since you have vegetables in the stew already, I usually serve this as an all-in-one meal with just a couple slices of crusty bread or cheddar scones and good-quality butter.
Can I use water instead of beef broth for beef stew?
In this stew, yes. This recipe is designed to use water since the long slow cooking time with flavor-rich beef chuck makes it beefy and delicious without using beef broth or stock.
How do you spice up a bland stew?
Salt!!! Alongside the basil, oregano, and bay leaves this recipe calls for, using the right amount of salt makes a huge flavor difference for beef stew.
Once you add your vegetables, check your salt level at every step. You will be surprised at how much you need, especially once you add the potatoes.
More Soup & Stew Recipes
- Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
- Ham and Potato Soup
- Chicken Carcass Soup
- Chicken Parm Soup
- Broccoli Chowder
- Tomato Tortellini Soup
Simple Beef Stew Recipe Notes
LET YOUR STEW COOL BEFORE EATING! This sounds silly to write, but I have this fight with friends and family every time I make stew for them. I know it smells heavenly and you want to try it NOW, but when your stew is done cooking, turn it off, remove it from heat and walk away for at least 15 minutes.
You cannot appreciate the flavors of the stew when it is also scalding the taste buds off your tongue. 😉
Simple Beef Stew
- 1/3 cup (40g) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt divided
- 1 teaspoon pepper divided
- 2 pound beef chuck roast trimmed and cut into 1 to 2-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 10 cups filtered water divided
- 1/2 large onion diced
- 3-4 medium carrots peeled and sliced 1-inch thick*
- 3-4 celery stalks sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 2 pounds red potatoes cubed
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
Brown the Meat
- In a large bowl, mix flour, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper together. Dredge stew meat in the flour, coating completely. Set meat and flour aside.
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or dutch oven. Add the meat (reserve the remaining flour in the bowl) and cook until just browned. If necessary, you can add a little more oil to the pot or a bit of water to keep the meat from burning.
- While meat is browning, whisk 1 cup of filtered water into whatever flour was left in the bowl until no lumps remain. Once the meat is browned, pour in flour and water mixture and an additional 7 cups of water.
- Bring to a boil and reduce temperature so your meat is cooking at a simmer.
Cook for a Really Long Time
- Set your timer for 80 minutes and walk away. Check on the stew every 20 minutes or so, giving it a stir to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom.
- Add your onion, celery, and carrots. Stir, bring back to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes.
- Add potatoes, basil, oregano, whole bay leaf, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Check salt and water level. If stew seems too thick, add up to 2 cups of water until it reaches your prefered consistency.
- Simmer for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender. Taste and add more salt if necessary (you might need to add quite a lot). Remove bay leaf. Dish up and allow to cool in bowls for at least 5 minutes (or on the stove for at least 15) before serving.
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