Melt-in-your-mouth tender beef and root vegetables star in our classic beef stew recipe. Short ribs and generously sized chunks of marbled chuck roast are braised to perfection in a rich, flavorful sauce of red wine and beef broth. This slow simmering transforms the beef into incredibly tender morsels, practically falling apart with the touch of a fork.
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Key ingredients for beef stew
Let’s talk about the beef stew meat first since it is arguably the most important ingredient for beef stew. We keep our stew hearty and call for two cuts of meat:
- Bone-in short ribs: I love short ribs in this stew. After cooking for 3 hours, the meat falls away from the bone and almost melts into the sauce. The bones also add extra beefy flavor.
- Beef chuck: This classic stew meat is best when you can see white lines of fat running through the meat. The muscle fibers and fat melt and tenderize during cooking, transforming the beef into fork-tender perfection.
Beef is the star, but fresh, vibrant vegetables really make this stew recipe the one I come back to again and again. They also round out the dish, so there’s no need to serve anything else.
- Onions: A fundamental ingredient, their sweetness complements the savory flavors of the stew.
- Carrots and parsnips: Add a delightful color and sweetness.
- Potatoes: A classic ingredient with beef stew! We add them in the last hour of cooking so they don’t overcook.
Our intensely flavorful sauce is the magic behind this stew. Here’s what makes it so special:
- Beef stock: This provides a rich and savory base. Use homemade stock or your favorite store-bought brand. When using store-bought, I prefer bouillon mixes to the boxed options.
- Red wine: A whole bottle of dry red wine adds richness and flavor — look for dry French wine like Bordeaux, Côtes du Rhône, or use Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon. We recommend using the wine in this traditional French beef stew, but if you’d prefer to leave it out, you can substitute it with more beef stock for a slightly less rich but still delicious option. If you prefer beer, look at our Guinness beef stew recipe.
- Tomato paste: A few tablespoons of tomato paste adds richness and color to our stew.
- Bay leaves and fresh thyme: These aromatic herbs are classic.
With melt-in-your-mouth beef, perfectly tender vegetables, and a rich and flavorful sauce, this Dutch oven beef stew will surely become a family favorite.
How to make beef stew in 4 easy steps
- Using a Dutch oven, sear the beef in oil, creating a golden crust and rendering fat. Remove the browned beef and some excess fat (I remove about half the fat, but it is optional).
- Sauté onions, carrots, and parsnips in the remaining fat until starting to sweat. Set aside for later.
- Make the rich sauce with tomato paste, flour, wine, and stock. Add the browned beef and cook in the oven covered for 2 hours.
- Stir in the reserved vegetables, potatoes, and fresh thyme. Bake for another 30 minutes, or until the beef is fork-tender.
Searing the beef first in your Dutch oven helps to build flavor in your stew. You are not looking to cook the meat all the way through. We want to add a caramelized crust to the outside. This step also renders a good amount of fat, which helps when cooking the vegetables. I often remove and discard some of this fat since the beef releases plenty more as the stew slowly simmers in the oven.
When cutting your veggies for this, keep them on the larger side. It’s nice to see them in the stew. In the photo, I’ve got onions, carrots, parsnips, and garlic in my Dutch oven. Other root vegetables like celeriac, turnips, and rutabagas are also excellent.
Here’s a photo of the stew just as I’ve taken it out of the oven. It’s done cooking. You can see that the thyme is just sitting on top. That’s a trick I learned from Chef Richard. Since we cook our beef stew with the lid on for so long in the oven, all the aromas and flavors of the thyme penetrate the stew. Leaving them sitting right on top makes removing the stems easy. As you remove them, some leaves will fall into the stew, which is great.
Before serving the beef stew, I use a spoon to remove excess fat sitting on top. There will be quite a but, but don’t let that put you off. It’s very simple to remove with a spoon. I leave just enough on top to see lots of tiny fat droplets scattered around the beef and vegetables (shown below).
How to thicken beef stew
The sauce for our traditional beef stew is thickened, but still left a bit saucy. If you prefer a thicker sauce surrounding the beef and vegetables, you can thicken it. Mix 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch with 1 tablespoon cold water to form a smooth paste. Gradually whisk the slurry into the simmering stew until thickened. If it needs more thickening, use more cornstarch slurry.
To store leftover beef stew:
- Divide it between food-safe containers so that it cools quickly (the stew will stay hot if left in the Dutch oven).
- Refrigerate the stew within 2 hours of cooking.
- Keep leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.
Can you freeze beef stew?
Yes, you can freeze beef stew. Portion the stew into freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Classic Beef Stew (So Tender!)
Our homemade beef stew with potatoes and root vegetables will surely become a recipe you will make again and again. It certainly has for us. The beef is unapologetically melt-in-your-mouth tender, the potatoes and vegetables are perfectly tender, and the sauce is rich and flavorful.
Watch Us Make the Recipe
You Will Need
3 pounds (1360g) beef short ribs
1 ½ pounds (680g) well-marbled beef chuck
2 tablespoons (30ml) avocado oil or vegetable oil
4 medium carrots, chopped
1 large parsnip, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces (110g) shiitake mushrooms, sliced, stems removed and discarded
3 tablespoons (42g) butter
3 tablespoons (42g) tomato paste
1 (750ml) bottle dry red wine, see notes
5 tablespoons (45g) all-purpose flour
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, left whole
2 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh thyme
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Prepare the Beef
1Preheat the oven to 350 °F (177 °C) and arrange an oven rack so that a Dutch oven will fit nicely in the middle of the oven.
2Generously season the beef with salt.
3Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
4Brown the short ribs and beef chuck on all sides. Transfer them to a large bowl. You may need to do this in two batches to avoid overcrowding the pan.
- Prepare the Vegetables
1As an option, you can remove most of the rendered fat (leaving about 2 tablespoons) — this is what we do in our video.
2Add the onions, carrots, parsnips, and two-thirds of the minced garlic. Season with a pinch of salt, then cook until they start to sweat, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to another bowl and reserve them for later.
- Make the Sauce
1Melt the butter in the Dutch oven. Add the shiitake mushrooms and remaining garlic, and cook for one minute.
2Stir in the tomato paste and flour, stirring to break up clumps.
3Gradually pour in one-third of the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the browned bits and remove lumps. Don’t worry if some lumps remain, they will cook out in a minute.
4Add the remaining wine and bring to a simmer. Reduce by half.
- Cook the Stew
1Add the beef stock, return the browned beef, and add the bay leaves. Bring to a simmer.
2Cover the Dutch oven and cook in the preheated oven for 2 hours, stirring after the first hour.
3Ten minutes before the second hour of cooking ends, peel and cut the potatoes into 1-inch chunks.
4Stir the potatoes and reserved vegetables into the stew. Top with the bunch of thyme. Cover and cook in the oven for 30 more minutes or until the beef falls off the bones and the vegetables are tender.
- To Finish
1Discard the thyme stems. Skim off excess fat from the surface of the stew, leaving a small amount for flavor (depending on the beef used, I’ve removed up to 1 cup before).
2You can serve the beef in large chunks or pull it into bite-sized pieces before serving, removing any gristle or fat (this is what I prefer to do).
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Short ribs: Look for meaty, English-cut short ribs with bones, not thin, or Korean-style short ribs. The meat becomes incredibly soft and tender, and the bones fall into the stew, making them easy to remove after cooking.
- Wine for stew: Look for dry French wine like Bordeaux, Côtes du Rhône, or use Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon. We recommend using the wine, but you can substitute it with more beef stock for a slightly less rich but still delicious option.
- Leftover stew: Keep leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.