Make the long winter days enjoyable with this hearty Dutch Oven Beef Stew. It’s a healthy, stick-to-your-ribs meal made with juicy chuck roast, fall-off-the-bone short ribs, potatoes, and carrots. Extra hearty and easy to make gluten free.
Beef stew is a classic warming winter meal. It’s deliciously beefy and hearty, with slow roasted meat, tender root vegetables, and a luscious braising liquid. I’ve played with the recipe over the years; my Brazilian Beef Stew, Beef Stew with Polenta, and Keto Beef Stew are all easy to make and incredibly comforting!
But when you want to stick with a classic, you’ll love this Dutch Oven Beef Stew the most. The recipe begins by searing stew meat and short ribs in a dutch oven on the stove, smothering them in a beef broth braising liquid, and, lastly, stirring in hearty root vegetables.
Leaving the stew to slowly braise in the oven is the pièce de résistance. Over 2 hours, the marbled fat in the meat will tenderize the chuck, ribs, potatoes, and carrots. The braising liquid becomes thick and gravy-like, while filling your house with rich and savory aromas.
Every bite is incredible. You’ll never settle for anything less again!
What is the best beef for beef stew?
Chuck roast is the most common cut used in stews because it has a rich flavor and becomes more tender as it cooks, making it perfect for braising and slow cooking. You can buy pre-cut stew meat or a whole chuck roast. I prefer to buy the whole roast because it’s more cost-effective and you know exactly what cut of beef you’re working with.
Ingredients and substitutions
The ingredients in this stew recipe give it that warm and comforting feeling, making it the perfect cold weather meal. There are several substitutions you can make to help this flexible meal be as family-friendly as possible:
- Stew meat – Look for a well-marbled whole chuck roast with consistent fat ribbons.
- Bone-in short ribs – By using chuck roast and beef short ribs, every bite is guaranteed to feel extra hearty while filling you up. If you love short ribs as much as I do, then you’ll want to try my Balsamic Braised Short Ribs as well.
- Aromatics – Onion, carrots, and garlic give the stew a savory baseline of flavor. If you have leeks, celery, or mushrooms around, feel free to throw them in as well!
- Red wine – To deglaze the dutch oven and stir up the rich, rendered browned bits. Choose a dry red wine or a burgundy, like Merlot, Cabernet, or Pinot Noir.
- Braising liquid – Water will work, but a good quality beef broth or homemade bone broth adds additional flavor and nutrients.
- Flour – It helps thicken the broth into a silky brown gravy. All purpose flour is a great choice or, for gluten free beef stew, use gluten free all purpose flour instead.
- Herbs - Fresh bay leaves and thyme will do the trick! To enhance the presentation, sprinkle chopped chives or parsley over the top before serving.
- Yellow potatoes and carrots – These are classic beef stew veggies. You can use another type of potato, but avoid starchy Russet potatoes as they tend to disintegrate during the lengthy cook time.
How to make beef stew in a dutch oven
Let’s break down the basics of how to braise beef stew in a dutch oven:
Step 1: While you wait for the oil to heat up in the dutch oven, season the stew meat and short ribs with salt and pepper. Once the oil is hot, add the beef and brown on all sides (work in batches if your pot is too small). Using tongs, remove the pieces, and set them aside on a clean plate.
Step 2: Add the onions and diced carrots to the pot and saute until softened. Then, add the garlic and give the aromatic ingredients a good stir.
Step 3: When the garlicky aromas hit your nose, that’s your cue to deglaze the pot with the red wine. Scrape up the browned bits stuck on the bottom. Let the wine reduce, then add the tomato paste and stir well.
Step 4: Add the browned pieces of beef back to the pot. Next, add your braising liquid and bring it to a simmer.
Step 5: Whisk the flour into 1 cup of your preferred braising liquid. Pour the slurry into the pot and stir well. The stew should thicken slightly.
Step 6: Add the bay leaf and herbs, followed by the potatoes and carrot chunks. Cover and cook in the oven until the stew meat and short ribs are fall-apart tender.
Tips and tricks
- Properly browning the beef makes a big difference. The crispy, caramelized crust on the outside of the meat seals in the juices and provides the stew with a rich flavor.
- Sear the meat in batches if you have to. Overcrowding will lead to steaming, which will make it harder to achieve an even brown crust around the beef.
- Feel free to add more hearty vegetables to the stew, like quartered onions, pearl onions, parsnips, turnips, peas, and rutabaga.
- Chop the veggies into even sizes to help them cook evenly. Also, place them on top of the beef so the weight of the meat doesn’t make them mushy.
- Have patience! Time is of the essence with dutch oven beef stew, so don’t rush it. The chuck roast and short ribs need a few hours to break down and tenderize.
The beauty of beef stew is its flexibility. This one is made with mainly real food ingredients, so adapting it for special diets and food sensitivities is a breeze:
- Alcohol free: Instead of red wine, deglaze the bottom of the pot with a splash of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire, or beef broth.
- Gluten free stew: You can use gluten free all purpose flour as a thickening agent, or, if you’d like to avoid flour altogether, use an immersion blender to puree the sauteed aromatics (onions, carrots, and garlic) with 1 cup of broth until smooth. This creates a thicker stew base and sauce.
- Whole30 stew: Deglaze the pot with a splash of unsweetened 100% grape juice or coconut aminos, and use arrowroot or tapioca starch instead of flour as your thickening agent.
Serve each bowl of classic beef stew next to starchy sides, like crusty dinner rolls, cornbread, creamy polenta, egg noodles, or buttery mashed potatoes. This way, you’ll soak up every drop of the beefy gravy.
Frequently asked questions
Do you need a dutch oven to make this?
Nope! You can assemble the stew in an oven-proof stock pot or soup pot instead.
Can you make it in a slow cooker?
Yes, and it’s really easy. Sear the beef as usual, then place it and the rest of the ingredients into a slow cooker. Cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours on low or on High 4 hours.
How do you thicken beef stew?
Adding a flour slurry to the stew before it goes into the oven will transform the base and braising liquid into a beef gravy. Be sure to keep the pot covered, and it should be a perfect consistency by the time it's finished.
How do you know when stew meat is done?
The meat will be fall-apart tender and have an internal temperature between 190ºF to 200°F. A high internal temperature like this is necessary for marbled fat to melt throughout the meat, making it extra soft and tender.
Storing and freezing
Storing: Let the leftovers cool completely before storing them in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
Freezing: You can also freeze beef stew in a freezer-safe container for 2 to 3 months. Let the leftovers thaw in the fridge before reheating.
Reheating: When you go in for leftovers, don’t be alarmed by the solidified layer of fat. It will melt back down when reheated, but you can remove it ahead of time if you want. Reheat the stew in a covered pot over low heat on the stove or in the microwave in 30-second intervals.
Looking for more classic family dinner favorites?
Hearty Dutch Oven Beef Stew
- Dutch Oven
- 2 lb chuck roast
- 1 ½ lb bone-in short ribs
- 1 large onion chopped
- 6 carrots 2 diced small, 4 whole
- 4 potatoes quartered
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- ½ cup red wine
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour (sub GF flour)
- 4 cups water or beef broth or a mix of both
- 1 tablespoon dried or fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- Season beef and short ribs with salt and pepper on all sides.
- In a dutch oven pot add in oil. When hot brown the beef and short ribs on all sides (about 10 minutes). Transfer to a plate.
- Add onions and 2 diced carrots to the dutch oven, scraping down the browned bits from the meat. saute for 5-7 minutes stirring often.
- Add minced garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add wine and allow it to reduce 3-5 for minutes. Add tomato paste and stir
- Add stew beef and short ribs to the pot and stir well to coat with fragrant base.
- Meanwhile whisk to dissolve the all-purpose flour in 1 cup of hot water or heated beef broth, whichever you are using for this recipe. Then add in remaining 3 cups of liquid (water or both, or both) and pour into the pot. Stir well
- Add thyme and bay leaves. Add the potatoes and remaining 4 carrots cut into chunks. Cover.
- Transfer to pre-heated oven at 350F degrees for 2 hours.