When it comes to choosing the right cut of meat for slow cooker stews, you’ll want to look for cuts that are tough and contain a lot of collagen. These cuts will become fork-tender and succulent after several hours of low and slow cooking. Here are some of the best options to consider:
Chuck roast comes from the shoulder of the cow. It’s a well-exercised area, so the meat is quite tough. But this makes it perfect for braising in a slow cooker. The connective tissue will break down over time, leaving you with melt-in-your-mouth tender beef.
Beef Short Ribs
Short ribs are cut from the belly primal of the cow. They contain a high ratio of fat to meat, which translates to rich flavor and tenderness. The collagen will transform into gelatin during the long cooking time, giving your stew luxurious body.
The shank comes from the leg, which gets a serious workout. This means the meat is abundantly marbled with connective tissue. After slow cooking, the result is incredibly tender beef that shreds easily. Scoop it into your bowl and the meat will fall right off the bone.
Oxtail is the tail of a cow, as the name suggests. It contains a concentration of bones, fat, and collagen-rich meat. Simmered for hours in a flavorful liquid, oxtail becomes succulent and tender. The bones lend even more body and flavor to the broth.
Brisket is cut from the breast region, so it’s quite tough and sinewy. But it shines when braised in a slow cooker until ultra tender. Sliced brisket makes for hearty, satisfying chunks of meat in your finished stew.
This underrated cut comes from the chuck primal. It’s very similar to chuck roast, with abundant connective tissue. The meat shreds easily after hours of moist heat cooking. Plus, blade roast is often cheaper than other stewing cuts.
When shopping for the perfect cut to use in slow cooker beef stew, look for affordable cuts that come from well-worked areas of the cow. Chuck roast, short ribs, shank, oxtail, brisket, and blade roast all fit the bill. Their high collagen content will melt into succulent, spoon-tender chunks after a long braise. With so many excellent options, you really can’t go wrong!
Nutrition Information Per Serving
The nutrition information for beef stew will vary depending on the exact ingredients and quantities used. However, here are some general nutrition facts for a serving of classic beef stew:
As you can see, beef stew is a nutrient-dense dish. It provides a good amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals. The fat content comes mainly from the beef and cooking oil. Stew is also relatively low in carbs, since it typically contains minimal starchy vegetables. The exact nutrition will depend on your recipe, but this provides a general overview.
Which Vegetables Work Best?
When making beef stew in the slow cooker, you’ll want to include a medley of vegetables to add flavor, texture, nutrients, and bulk. Here are some of the best options to use:
- Potatoes – Russet or red potatoes hold their shape well when simmered for hours.
- Carrots – Tender but not mushy after slow cooking.
- Celery – Provides aromatic flavor.
- Onions – An essential stew vegetable for flavor and texture.
- Mushrooms – Meaty, umami-rich addition.
- Green beans – Bright, verdant contrast.
- Peas – A touch of sweetness and color.
- Corn – Juicy kernels pair well with stewed meat.
- Tomatoes – Provides tangy flavor and thickness.
- Garlic – Fundamental for seasoning.
Aim for a selection of vegetables that offer a variety of flavors, colors, and textures. Hearty root vegetables, onions, and mushrooms make excellent stew companions. Quick-cooking veggies like peas and spinach can be added near the end.
Tips for the Best Slow Cooker Stew
Follow these tips for maximum flavor and ease when making beef stew in a slow cooker:
- Cut meat and vegetables into uniform pieces for even cooking.
- Sear the beef first to enhance flavor.
- Use a flavorful cooking liquid like beef broth.
- Add some tomato paste or ketchup for sweetness.
- Layer ingredients don’t stir for maximum texture.
- Add tender vegetables in the last hour of cooking.
- Let the stew rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
- Skim the fat from the surface for lower calories.
- Add cornstarch to thicken and enrich the broth.
- Serve stew over mashed potatoes, rice, or biscuits.
- 2 lbs beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 3 stalks celery, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 lb potatoes, cubed
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Pat beef dry and season with salt and pepper. In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches if needed, brown beef on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to slow cooker.
- Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to skillet. Add onion, carrots, celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook 1 minute more. Transfer to slow cooker.
- Add beef broth, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce and potatoes to slow cooker. Cover and cook 8-10 hours on low or 5-6 hours on high.
- About 30 minutes before ready to serve, stir in peas. Whisk cornstarch with 1/4 cup water in a small bowl. Stir into stew to thicken. Discard bay leaf.
- Serve stew garnished with parsley.
This easy slow cooker beef stew turns tough cuts into fall-off-the-bone tender pieces drenched in a savory gravy. The vegetables soak up all the delicious flavors. Enjoy this hearty meal with crusty bread or biscuits!