My slow cooker beef and vegetable stew comes together so quickly. It's gluten free, paleo and totally family-approved! This is the perfect winter weeknight dinner.
What do you think of when you think of comfort food? Do you have a certain dish that makes you feel cozy just thinking about it? Maybe something your mom or dad made when you were sick as a kid or something you loved to eat after a day of sledding and building snowmen?
For me, beef and vegetable stew is definitely one of those meals. We don't have a lot of sledding down here in Texas, but somehow when I smell this simmering away in the crockpot, I get all of the winter warm and fuzzies, regardless of what the thermostat says.
And unlike a lot of winter comfort food, this healthy beef stew recipe won't leave you feeling ready to hibernate. It's full of protein and veggie-packed nutrition so you'll actually feel good after eating it.
I hope this beef and vegetable stew makes it onto your dinner table this season…stay warm!
Slow Cooker Beef & Vegetable Stew
- 2 large carrots
- 3 celery stalks
- 1/2 # parsnips
- 1 large yellow onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 # grass-fed beef stew meat
- 14 1/2 oz can of diced tomatoes*
- 1 cup red wine (or sub with beef broth or water)
- 3 T Italian seasoning*
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/4 # mini red potatoes
- 4-6 cups beef broth*
- Chop 2 carrots, 3 stalks celery, ½# parsnips & 1 yellow onion.
- Cut potatoes in half if larger than a ping pong ball.
- Finely chop 2 garlic cloves.
- Cut 1½# beef stew meat into 1” cubes if not pre-cut. Set aside.
- Season stew meat with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
- Add all ingredients to the slow cooker.
- Cook on low for ~8-10 hours or high for 4-6 hours.
What Makes This a Healthy Beef Stew Recipe?
Homemade beef stew is healthy for lots of reasons. For starters, it doesn't have any additives or excess salt you'll find in canned soups and stews.
Furthermore, each and every ingredient provides something valuable nutritionally speaking.
Here are some of the nutritional highlights from this healthy beef stew recipe:
Carrots (Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Potassium, Vitamin B6)
Both budget and kid-friendly, carrots are full of fiber and vitamins. Carrots also contain carotenoids, an antioxidant. As a result, they’re great for eye health, lowering cholesterol, and reducing cancer risk. Both cooking carrots and eating them alongside a source of fat, like the beef in this recipe, can help your body absorb more of the carrots' beta carotene. Beta carotene can then be converted into vitamin A.
Celery (Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Beta Carotene, Antioxidants)
It's probably most famous for being a low-calorie food, but celery is so much more than that! It offers many vitamins and plenty of antioxidants. Celery also may reduce inflammation and support the digestive tract. Make sure to eat the leaves too, they're full of vitamins!
Parsnips (Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Zinc)
If you haven't cooked with parsnips before, they basically look like white carrots. They have their own unique flavor though that adds a little something extra to this beef and vegetable stew.
In addition to their excellent vitamin content, parsnips also contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Just one cup of parsnips gives you more than a quarter of your daily fiber needs! Fiber is good for digestion as well as blood sugar control. Parsnips also offer more than 25% of your daily vitamin C needs.
Yellow Onion (Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Folate, Antioxidants)
Did you know that the humble onion is actually packed with antioxidants? Onions also have vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate and potassium. Yellow onions may have more than 10 times as many antioxidants as white onions so make sure to go for yellow!
Garlic Cloves (Beneficial Sulfur Compounds, Manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Selenium)
Garlic has been used in homeopathic remedies for thousands of years and is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol and some types of cancer. Eating garlic may also help prevent colds and other minor illnesses. Scientists believe these substantial health benefits may stem primarily from garlic's sulfur compounds such as ailicin, diallyl disulfide and sallyl cysteine.
Grass-Fed Beef (Iron, Zinc, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Selenium, Niacin, Phosphorous)
Particularly high in iron and zinc, beef is also, of course, a source of high quality protein. While it can be more expensive, buying grass-fed beef is worth it nutritionally, if it's within your budget. It's up to 500% higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA may help reduce the risk for some types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. Grass-fed beef also contains up to 5 times as many Omega-3s as conventional beef.
Tomatoes (Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Folate, Potassium, Antioxidants)
Packed with antioxidants, tomatoes may help reduce the risk of several kinds of cancer. In addition to their vitamin content, tomatoes contain several beneficial plant compounds, including lycopene. Interestingly, eating tomatoes can even help protect you from getting sunburn!
Bonus tip? Combining tomatoes with healthy fats boosts absorption of tomatoes' phytochemicals!
Potatoes (Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Manganese, Antioxidants)
They get a bad rap sometimes, but the reason potatoes are considered unhealthy by some has much more to do with preparation than nutritional content. Sure french fries won't make the cut for superfoods, but neither would deep-fried brussels sprouts…. Cooked in a healthy way, potatoes can be quite a nutritious side. Much of the vitamin content is in the peel, so make sure to leave the skin on!
Tips for Making Healthy Beef Stew in the Crockpot
Making this healthy beef stew in the crockpot couldn't be simpler. You can literally just throw everything in and it will taste delicious.
If you want to take it to the next level though, here are a few tips for success:
- Sear the beef: If you have a few extra minutes, sear the beef cubes before adding to the slow cooker. This adds a depth of flavor and gives the stew more complexity. All you need to do is season the beef with salt and pepper and cook in a hot skillet for 2-3 minutes.
- Go longer: While you can cook for 4-6 hours on high, this beef stew will be even tastier if you cook for 8-10 hours on low heat. This gives the beef and vegetable stew more time to develop flavor and also results in super tender meat.
How to Make Beef Stew in the Instant Pot
Want to know how to make beef stew in the instant pot instead of the slow cooker? We've got you covered!
Sear meat and add all other ingredients to your Instant Pot.
Cook on high pressure for 35 minutes with a natural pressure release. You do not need to add additional time for frozen stew meat but the Instant Pot will take longer to come to pressure if you're cooking from frozen.
If you like your vegetables more firm, do a quick release after 25-30 minutes of cooking, add vegetables and cook on high pressure for the last 5-10 minutes.
Want more tips on Instant Pot cooking and how to convert slow cooker recipes for the Instant Pot? Check out our conversion guide here!
How to Make Beef Stew Thicker
Want to know how to make beef stew thicker? You have a few options if you're looking to thicken your stew.
To imitate the effect of simmering your stew on the stovetop, try propping the lid to your slow cooker open a tiny bit to allow liquid to evaporate.
If you're using the Instant Pot, you obviously can't prop the lid, but you can turn your Instant Pot to saute after it's done pressure cooking. Continue cooking until you're satisfied with the thickness of your stew.
Finally, you can puree some of the broth and vegetable portion and then stir it back into the stew to add thickness.
Making Homemade Beef Broth
I am a huge fan of making homemade broth, for three reasons.
One, homemade broth is healthier. It doesn't have any preservatives and you completely control the amount of salt.
Two, it is SO delicious. Homemade broth is a completely different food than store-bought. Once you experience the depth of flavor, it's hard to go back to store-bought.
Three, homemade broth is incredibly easy to make. You basically just use items you already have on-hand like veggie scraps, chicken bones or, for homemade beef broth, beef bones, to make a delicious broth that adds a complex depth of flavor to anything it touches.
I talk about how to make homemade broth an easy part of your weekly meal prep routine in my podcast, Meal Prep Monday, here.
Homemade Beef Stew Variations
Want to mix it up? Here are some ideas for making our homemade beef stew perfect for your unique family:
- Add fresh herbs – Sprinkle on some fresh parsley after the beef stew is done cooking for a note of brightness. Fresh rosemary or fresh thyme are also delicious additions.
- Swap seasoning – Swap a different seasoning for the Italian seasoning. Herbes de Provence are delicious here.
- Sprinkle parmesan – Sprinkle some freshly grated parmesan cheese on top of your bowl of stew just before serving.
- Try vinegar – Stir in a dash of red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar when your stew finishes cooking for a little extra acidity.
How to Meal Prep Beef Stew
Crockpot Beef Stew is perfect for meal prep. If you chop everything ahead of time, pretty much all you have to do is add everything to the crockpot and turn it on.
The only thing you'll want to do right before you cook is halve any larger potatoes. If you buy the really small mini potatoes, you won't even have to do that!
More Healthy Slow Cooker Recipes
Looking for more healthy slow cooker recipes? Here are a few of my favorites!