Last Updated on October 5, 2021 by Anne-Marie
Easy slow cooker beef stew contains hardy root vegetables, celery, and peas and served on brown rice.
This delicious crock-pot beef stew is gluten free without sacrificing taste.
Why a slow cooker beef stew recipe?
The Hunger Games Trilogy books and movies inspired this easy crock-pot beef stew recipe.
I was tasked to create a recipe as part of this online blogger event. Called Cook the Books and Food 'n Flix, Heather from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen hosted it.
Rereading The Hunger Games Trilogy for this cooking project, I realized how fixated Katniss Everdeen was on food.
People who wonder where their next meal will come from – if it comes at all – usually are.
However, in The Hunger Games movie, it never seemed that Katniss or the kids from the poorer districts were starving. They all looked too healthy!
When deciding on this stew recipe, I took notes on the various dishes and foods mentioned in the book.
One dish described as “hot grain smothered in beef" or just hot grain and stew caught my eye.
So I decided to make a recipe for homemade beef stew.
What kind of beef should I use?
I used 4 pounds bottom round, trimmed of any excess fat, and cut into 2-inch chunks. (You can also cut the chunks of beef into smaller 1-inch cubes.)
However, you can make the beef cubes with other cuts of beef such as beef chuck roast, or beef chuck.
You can also buy stew meat already cut up at the store. (Time saver!)
Any type of beef used in stews will work in this slow cooker stew recipe.
What kind of vegetables can I use in a slow cooker stew?
I chose root veggies like carrots, parsnips, and onions as well as veggies like celery.
To save time I used baby carrots and frozen peas.
However, you have the option of adding veggies like:
- red or yellow onions
- medium carrots (if you don't mind the extra step of peeling and chopping)
- frozen green beans
- russet potatoes
- sweet potatoes
- butternut squash
- gold potatoes
Make sure to dice the potatoes into bite-sized pieces.
Can I add different seasonings?
Sure! You can add:
- garlic cloves (minced or crushed)
- chopped fresh parsley leaves
- bay leaves
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
An easy way to thicken up beef stew
Usually, beef stew recipes call for dredging the beef chunks in all-purpose flour.
To make this recipe gluten free, I substituted a gluten free all-purpose flour. My favorite gluten free flour is Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour, which cooks up just like regular flour.
While the gluten free flour thickens the homemade crockpot beef stew, it does add calories. Fine if you're Katniss and need some fattening up.
Pro tip: If you're watching your calorie intake, here's a healthier, gluten free way to thicken the stew.
1. Omit the flour. Instead, take the beef and season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat.
3. Brown the pieces of beef as directed. (Get a nice sear.)
4. Follow the rest of the recipe.
5. About 30 minutes before serving, mix 3 tablespoons of corn or rice starch with 3 tablespoons of liquid from the slow cooker.
6. Add the mixture to the stew and stir.
7. Put the lid back on the crockpot and turn up the heat to the High setting.
8. After 30 minutes, stir and serve the stew over rice.
Rice starch thickener:
If you need to avoid corn products and can't use a cornstarch slurry, I recommend using rice starch.
I love using it as it works just as well as corn starch in thickening stews and soups.
You can find rice starch at Asian markets or purchase it online.
Can I prepare this the night before?
Yes, you can brown the beef stew ingredients and cook the onion the night before.
Make the cooked beef stew meat and onions per the recipe.
Line your crockpot (or spray with cooking spray). Place the cooked beef stew meat, onions, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and celery in the crock.
Pour in the beef broth and add the seasonings. Cover the crock and place in the refrigerator overnight.
In the morning, get your slow cooker going on low heat for 6-7 hours or on high for 4 hours. Cook as directed.
Do I need to brown the beef?
Don't skip browning the beef chunks. Why? Because it adds amazing flavors to the stew.
Same with cooking up the onions and celery and deglazing the pan. (Adding the wine and removing the browned bits.)
It's worth the extra time to add those amazing flavor to your dish.
More tips for making easy slow cooker beef stew
Quick clean up:
For easy crockpot cleanup, use slow cooker liners. They're WONDERFUL. I like using them better than spraying the crock with cooking spray.
Now that I use them, I no longer have to soak my crockpot overnight and scrub it.
Food choppers save time:
To save time, dice onions using a hand food chopper.
I have a food chopper and LOVE IT. Not only does it save time, but my eyes don't water when chopping onions.
Use baby carrots and frozen veggies:
Make it easy on yourself and use baby carrots since they're already cleaned, peeled, and the perfect size.
For the same reason, use frozen veggies like peas in crockpot dishes.
You don't even have to defrost them. Just add them with plenty of time to heat up.
Check for gluten:
If you're gluten free, make sure you choose a gluten free beef broth or stock. (Either broth or stock is fine.) Check the label closely.
You can also use vegetable broth in a pinch, but beef broth is tastier.
If you don't drink wine, use more broth.
Use other grains:
While I've served this with brown rice, you can use white rice, quinoa, or wild rice.
Can I freeze leftover stew?
Sure! Freeze any leftover stew in freezer-safe containers.
The beef stew should keep for three to four months in the freezer.
Defrost the container overnight in the fridge and reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.
More hardy slow cooker recipes
If you’re looking filling stews, chilis and casseroles made in the crock-pot, check these out:
This Crock-Pot Baked Ziti recipe is gluten free and easily made with jarred pasta sauce.
Crock Pot Crack Chicken Recipe is an easy dump-and-go recipe that's low-carb and keto-friendly.
Slow Cooker Sauerkraut and Sausage Recipe with Apples and Potatoes can be quickly made with precooked chicken sausage and jarred sauerkraut.
- 4 pounds bottom round, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 cup gluten free all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced (2 cups)
- 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
- 1 pound baby potatoes, washed (not peeled)
- 1/2 pound baby carrots
- 4 parsnips, roughly diced
- 2 stalks celery, roughly diced
- 2 cups beef broth (gluten free)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 16 ounce package frozen peas
- cooked brown rice
- Coat the beef in the flour. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Brown the meat, a few pieces at a time, adding more oil as necessary. Throw out any unused flour.
- Transfer browned beef to a 6-quart slow cooker.
- Add the diced onions to the skillet. Cook over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and coat the onions.
- Transfer the onion and tomato mixture to the slow cooker.
- Pour the wine into the skillet and scrape up any browned bits.
- Pour the liquid into the slow cooker.
- Stir in the potatoes, carrots, parsnips, celery, beef broth, salt, black pepper, thyme, and bay leaf.
- Cover and cook on low heat for 6-7 hours or on high for 4 hours.
- About 15 minutes before serving, add the peas and cook until heated through.
- Serve on top of brown rice.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 359Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1113mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 8gSugar: 11gProtein: 9g
Nutritional information is automatically calculated per the ingredients list. Serving size may not be accurate. Please double-check with your preferred nutritional app for the most accurate information.
Originally published on January 24, 2013 and October 10, 2016. Updated with new pictures and information.