Slow Cooker Beef Stew (with Instant Pot option)
Yield: 8 servings
Inspired by the tomatoey beef stew that my mom and grandmother used to make, this comforting dish is loaded with tender meat and wholesome vegetables and comes together in snap.


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 (16-ounce) bag baby carrots or 3 large carrots, sliced
  • 2½ pounds cubed stew beef (I like chuck roast)
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped (I include any leaves)
  • 1½ pounds baby potatoes (I often use a bag of Green Giant’s Klondike minis)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can sliced stewed tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can low sodium beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ – 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided use
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning (or a mix of dried thyme, oregano, basil, and rosemary)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Optional for serving: chopped fresh parsley, crusty rolls or cornbread


  1. To make in your slow cooker: Layer the onions, carrots, beef, celery, and potatoes in a 6-quart slow cooker.  Add all of the remaining ingredients—except the peas and starting with 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt—and gently stir to incorporate. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until the beef, carrots, and potatoes are tender.  Stir in the peas, and allow to cook for 5-10 more minutes. Adjust for seasonings, adding the remaining salt to taste, and sprinkle with fresh parsley, if desired.

    To make in an Instant Pot: Drizzle olive oil in the bowl the Instant Pot and turn on the sauté function. Wait until it’s hot, and then add the meat (you’ll need to do this in batches), browning on all sides. Add the remaining ingredients, seal the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes, then allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes. Vent to release any remaining pressure, and then carefully open the lid.

Helpful hints

When cooking in my slow cooker (the method I most often use for this stew), I never bother to sear the meat first, although you can. In that case, you’ll need a few tablespoons of olive oil to sear the beef cubes in batches on the stovetop before adding to the slow cooker—or right in the slow cooker if your model has that option.

If I’m home, I like to give everything a good stir one time, roughly in the middle of the cooking process.

I have cooked the stew on high for 3½ to 4 hours, but I find the meat to be slightly more tender when cooked using lower heat for a longer time.

I don’t thicken the gravy, but you may. Do note that it will naturally thicken somewhat as it rests.

My grandmother and mother would add a pinch or two of sugar at the end to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. I don’t do this anymore, but you may.

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