Pot of beef stew on the left with a bowl of beef stew in a white ceramic bowl. There is a brown floral tea towel in the background.

The Best Stovetop Beef Stew

4.5 from 4 votes

My family and I absolutely love this stovetop beef stew. I’ve been making it for years and making slight changes here and there to really perfect the recipe. This is a fully from-scratch way to make beef stew. You don’t need any pre-made broth and I don’t use cornstarch.

This is one of the first recipes that I will make as soon as the temperatures start to drop in the fall and I make it all winter long. You definitely have to make this on a day that you’re going to be home all day because it cooks for so many hours on the stove. Don’t be scared off by the length of cooking time. For three and a half hours of the cooking time, your stew will be covered and simmering on low and won’t need to be touched at all. I know that a lot of people like to make beef stew in the Crockpot, but I threw mine away after that episode of This is Us (if you’ve seen it, you know) and I never looked back.

I want to share some of my tips and suggestions that I’ve learned from making this so many times, in hopes that it will save someone from making the same mistake or mistakes that I’ve made. Be very careful when adding your stew beef to the pot with hot oil. I have had so many mishaps with this and I’m pretty experienced in the kitchen. I’ve dumped it in too fast and had the oil splash up and burn me several times. My other beef mishap is when I try and dump it into the pot directly off of the Styrofoam container and for some reason, I will manage to dump the absorbent pad that’s beneath the beef right into my pot and then it’s a disaster. So don’t do that. Gently add the beef in handfuls or spoonfuls even if you feel the urge to dump it and run.

Another live and learn lesson that I’ve lived and learned is that if you forget to take the Bay leaves out of the pot before adding your veggies, you will have a much harder time finding and removing them. So be sure to take them out after that first hour and a half simmer and before the veggies.

If you’re reading this recipe and feeling like it’s an overload of onions, just trust the process. It is a lot of onions, but they liquefy along with the garlic and become broth. You won’t be able to pick an onion out of this stew once it’s done. The onions and the garlic make for a flavorful broth so that you don’t need to use canned or boxed broth.

I hope that you try this and love it! If you like soup, but don’t have the time to dedicate to this one, try my roasted sausage soup, it’s really good too!

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The Best Stovetop Beef Stew

Recipe by Sarah
4.5 from 4 votes
Cuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




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This stovetop beef stew is so delicious and it’s worth the time. It’s a very hands-off recipe, so don’t be intimidated by the cook time.

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  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 1/4 lb lean stew beef

  • 4 large sweet onions, sliced

  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 4 c water

  • 1 oz Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 tsp salt (see notes)

  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar

  • 3/4 tsp black pepper

  • 1 tsp paprika

  • 1/8 tsp allspice

  • 3 whole bay leaves

  • 9 medium yellow potatoes (you want 1 1/2-1 3/4 lb), cubed

  • 4 large carrots, chopped

  • 4 ribs celery, chopped


  • Peel, trim and slice onions. I like to use sweet onions for this, but yellow or white onions work too. Don’t worry too much about how you cut them. I just halve and then slice them. The onions will cook down and become part of the broth.Sliced sweet onions on a white cutting board with a knife to the side and a brown floral tea towel in the background.
  • Peel and smash 4-6 cloves of garlic. Like the onions, these don’t need to be minced, as they become part of the broth after simmering for hours.Six garlic cloves on a pink flower shaped plate with a brown floral tea towel in the background.
  • Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Vegetable oil works here too if you don’t have EVOO.
  • Once the oil is hot, carefully add the stew beef to the pot. The oil can splash up, so do this gently. The stew beef that I use is lean, but does have some fat on it and it’s already cut when I buy it. It’s usually in chunks about 1 1/2-2 inches or so. It’s best to spread the beef across the bottom of your pan so that it’s in a single layer. Brown the beef on all sides. This will take about 5-10 minutes usually.Sliced onions on a yellow plate. 4 cloves of peeled garlic on a small, pink plate. 4 bay leaves in a small wooden dish. A plate of raw stew beef in the background.
  • Once all of the beef is brown on all sides, add the onions, garlic and the water. Give it a few good stirs. Then add the salt, sugar, pepper, paprika, allspice, bay leaves and Worcestershire sauce. Stir gently so that you don’t break up the bay leaves. Continue to stir from time to time until you’ve got a good simmer. Once the pot is simmering, stir it and try to pat everything on the surface down with the back of your spoon or spatula so that mostly everything is about level with the surface of the water. You don’t want everything submerged, you want it all about even and 4 cups of water should be sufficient for that.
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover and allow it to cook for 1 1/2 hours. As long as the heat is on low, you really don’t need to uncover it, check it, or stir it. It should be doing a very low simmer under the lid and it’s fine to be left alone.
  • After about an hour, I like to start to prep my vegetables so that at the hour and a half mark, I can just add them to the pot. Wash and peel 8-9 medium potatoes (about 1 1/2-1 3/4 lb). Peeling them is actually personal preference. I have done this stew with them peeled and unpeeled, either way is fine. Wash and peel 4 large carrots. Wash 4 ribs of celery. If you love celery, you might want to add more. I do 4 ribs because I don’t love celery and it’s not very noticeable in the stew with only 4 ribs.Celery, potatoes and carrots on a brown floral tea towel.
  • Chop your vegetables. I usually chop the potatoes into cubes of about one inch. I halve and then slice the carrots. And for the celery I chop it up pretty small.Yellow potatoes peeled and chopped for beef stew on a white cutting board with carrots in the background.Carrots chopped on a white cutting board with celery and a knife in the background.Chopped celery on a white cutting board with a knife to the side and a brown floral tea towel in the background.
  • Once it’s been an hour and a half since you covered the stew, uncover it and give it a stir. Remove the bay leaves. You want to remember to remove them before adding the vegetables, or it’s much harder to find them. Once the bay leaves are out, add the vegetables. Add them gently so you don’t splash the stew all over the place. Then stir and increase the heat to medium so that you can bring the pot back to a simmer.
  • When the pot is simmering again, cover it and reduce the heat to low. Just like last time, you will leave the pot covered, on a very low simmer for at least another hour and a half. It can go up to 2 hours here. You can leave it be and not worry about it. It doesn’t need to be checked or stirred.
  • After an hour and a half, uncover the pot and taste the broth. This is where you will add more seasonings if you think it needs them. Sometimes I might add a bit more Worcestershire or pepper, but usually it’s pretty flavorful. You can also try a carrot and a potato at this time to make sure they are soft. If they aren’t as soft as you want them to be, cover again and let it simmer for another 30 minutes. Check it again after 30 minutes to see if everything is to your liking. Then turn off the heat and serve. The stew will be very hot! I usually ladle out bowls for the girls and then leave them out on the counter for at least 5 minutes before I actually serve them. Some of the meat may still be in larger chunks, but you can easily break it apart at this point with a spoon.
  • Serve and enjoy on a cold day! I like to serve this stew with little biscuits for dipping. This makes a big pot and I store leftovers in a big bowl in the fridge. It will be good for several days. You can also freeze it and thaw when you’re ready!


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  • I use Better Call Sal for salt in this and many of my cooking recipes, but sea salt, Kosher salt, pink salt, or table salt will all work!

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