You’re going to love the rich and robust flavors of this Slow Cooker Beef and Tomato Stew, a timeless classic that has been slow-simmered to what tastes like perfection! This tomato-rich stew is true comfort food and the ideal dish to savor on a snug evening.
I love the idea of a tomato-based beef stew, as it’s beyond the traditional ‘brown’ stew flavor profile we’re all familiar with. And this version, full of tomato-beef flavor always exceeds my expectations. It’s almost a guaranteed, unanimous thumbs-up whenever this stew is served.
Related: Beef Irish Stew
The meat turns out exceptionally tender. I will say, I do invest some extra time trimming away all the fat from the roast, and it’s absolutely worth it. Also, opting for a beef chuck roast rather than stew meat undoubtedly contributes to the stew’s heightened flavor. If you’re fortunate enough to have a butcher who will expertly cut a roast into 1-inch pieces for you, I’d highly recommend taking advantage of that service.
Slow Cooker Beef and Tomato Stew
While the ingredients themselves may be humble, the end result is nothing short of sheer deliciousness. I consider this stew the ultimate cozy-weather supper, that never gets old. This recipe is everything I love about good, home-cooked food. It’s simple, comforting, and packed with flavor.
This type of stew draws inspiration from my own eastern European roots as it resembles traditional Polish classics like “Bigos” (Hunter’s Stew) or “Kapuśniak” (Sauerkraut Soup).
Just like in traditional Polish cooking, where ‘Bigos’ is a staple dish for celebrations and ‘Kapuśniak’ is known for its unique blend of sauerkraut and meats, this stew captures those flavors, but in an easy-to-make, slow-cooker recipe. The tender beef and tomatoes come together with a medley of vegetables, which remind me so much of a homemade meal straight from a Polish kitchen. I’m pretty sure you’ll love it.
Why I Love This Recipe
- Flavorful Simplicity: It transforms everyday ingredients into something extraordinary.
- Comfort in a Bowl: This stew is the epitome of comfort food.
- Cold-Weather Cure: During the colder months, it’s my go-to recipe.
- Tender Perfection: The beef in this recipe turns out incredibly tender, thanks to the slow-cooking process.
Olive Oil: Used to sauté the veggies.
Yellow Onion: Adds a sweet and savory base flavor.
Carrots: Adds natural sweetness, texture and color.
Celery: Gives that subtle earthy flavor and crunch to the finished dish.
Beef Chuck Roast: The star of the show!
Crushed Tomatoes: The tomato base for the stew and its acidity.
Chicken Broth: Infuses the stew with savory, umami notes and serves as the liquid base for the dish.
Garlic: The savory kick to the stew.
Salt and Pepper: Brings out the taste of other ingredients.
How to Make Beef and Tomato Stew in the Slow Cooker
Here is a very condensed version of this recipe’s instructions. You can find the full, printable recipe at the end of this post.
- Prepare and sauté vegetables.
- Combine ingredients in the slow cooker.
- Slow cook until tender.
- Season to taste and serve.
Secret Ingredient: Red Wine
It’s absolutely not necessary, but consider adding a splash of red wine to your stew. The wine adds depth, richness, and a subtle complexity to the flavors. It complements the tomatoes and beef, while adding a sophisticated and gourmet taste. The alcohol in the wine will evaporate during the cooking process, leaving behind a really good depth of flavor without the alcohol content.
Here’s how to incorporate it:
After sautéing the onions, carrots, and celery in the skillet, deglaze the pan with about half a cup of red wine. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan as the wine simmers and reduces slightly. Then, add this mixture to the slow cooker along with the rest of the ingredients.
Customizations and Expert Tips
Spice it Up: Add spiciness with chili flakes, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, or diced jalapeños.
Mushroom Medley: Create an umami flavor by adding a variety of mushrooms like shiitake, cremini, or oyster mushrooms. Sauté them before adding to the slow cooker for extra depth of flavor.
Grains Swap: Substitute brown rice with other grains like quinoa, barley, or farro for added variety and nutrition.
Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free broth.
Low-Carb: For a lower-carb version, serve final dish over cauliflower rice.
Dairy-Free: Skip the sour cream garnish or replace it with dairy-free alternatives like coconut yogurt or cashew cream for a creamy finish.
Stove top or Instant Pot: This recipe is easily adaptable for an Instant Pot if you’re short on time (cooking time will be significantly shorter, typically around 20-30 minutes under pressure) or the stove if you’ve got all the time in the world.
Choose the Right Cut: Again, opt for beef chuck roast for the best results. This cut is well-suited for slow cooking, becoming tender and flavorful over the cooking process.
Don’t Overfill: Avoid overfilling the slow cooker, which is why a 6-7 quart slow cooker is necessary. You want space at the top to allow room for the stew to simmer and prevent it from overflowing when you intermittently give it a stir.
Stirring: Since we’re cooking this stew on high for six hours, you want to give it a stir a few times during the cooking process for even cooking.
- Can I use other cuts of beef for this stew? While beef chuck roast is the BEST option for its tenderness and flavor, beef round roast would be my only other suggestion. Just be aware that cooking time may vary to become tender.
- How can I make the stew thicker? I find this stew is thick enough, but if you prefer thicker, you can create a slurry by mixing equal parts cold water and flour or cornstarch. Stir this mixture into the stew and allow it to simmer for a little longer to thicken.
- Can I make this stew ahead of time? Yes, it’s an excellent make-ahead dish. In fact, it often tastes even better the next day as the flavors have had more time to meld. Store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container and reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave.
- Can I freeze leftovers? This stew freezes well. Store cooled leftovers in airtight containers or freezer bags. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
- What are some good side dishes to serve with this stew? Consider options like crusty bread, dinner rolls, popovers, instant pot mashed potatoes, or a simple green salad.
More Slow Cooker Beef Recipes
- Slow Cooker Barbecue Beef
- Slow Cooker Creole Style Brisket
- Slow Cooker Red Chili
- Slow Cooker Chile Colorado
- Slow Cooker Tangy Brisket
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Slow Cooker Beef and Tomato Stew
Slow Cooker Beef and Tomato Stew Ingredients:
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced small
- 3 medium carrots, sliced into coins
- 3 celery stalks, sliced into 1/4" pieces
- 2 lbs. beef chuck roast, fat well-trimmed, cut into 1" pieces
- 1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- brown or white rice
- sour cream
- minced parsley
How to Make Slow Cooker Beef and Tomato Stew:
- In a large skillet, warm the oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery, and sauté them, stirring regularly, until the vegetables become tender, which should take about 10 minutes.1 tbsp. olive oil, 1 large yellow onion, diced small, 3 medium carrots, sliced into coins, 3 celery stalks, sliced into 1/4" pieces
- Transfer this mixture into a 6 – 7 quart slow-cooker, and combine it with the beef, tomatoes, broth, garlic, salt, and pepper.2 lbs. beef chuck roast, fat well-trimmed, cut into 1" pieces, 1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes, 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth, 3 cloves garlic, minced, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
- Cover the slow-cooker and set it to cook on high for 6 hours, giving it a gentle stir every 1-1/2 hours. (This dish benefits from the stirring.)
- When it's time to serve, portion out brown rice and ladle the stew into six bowls, then finish each with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of minced parsley.sour cream, minced parsley
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