This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
The comforting blend of deep, rich, savory flavors, slow-cooked tenderness, and rustic simplicity makes this slow cooker Guinness beef stew a winning dish. This warm and nostalgic comfort meal is ideal for bringing the family together. Enjoy this hearty bowl of Irish stew on a chilly evening, fostering quality time, full bellies, and big smiles!
It's time to cozy up with a big bowl of slow cooker Guinness beef stew and some well-buttered bread. While anything simmering for hours is bound to be good, THIS stew boasts a divine, deep, and flavorful sauce, featuring two “secret” ingredients. First, the not-so-secret Guinness beer lends a rich and almost earthy flavor that perfectly complements the beef. Now, the truly secret ingredient: dark chocolate! As it melts into the gravy, it introduces an extra layer of complex richness and depth— just a hint goes a long way. Your guests will sense something special but won't quite pinpoint the magic.
This hearty Guinness slow cooker beef stew recipe is made with nourishing veggies, beef, and a sauce that turns into the richest gravy. This is what you need:
- Stewing beef: Chunks of beef will provide the heartiness and main protein source for the stew. Cut the beef into 2-inch pieces that become tender in the slow cooker. Smaller pieces will cook too fast, potentially falling apart in the stew before the rich flavors have a chance to develop.
- All-purpose flour: To coat the beef, making a beautiful sear and thickening the stew.
- Oil and butter: To sear the beef in.
- Onion, celery, carrot: Makes a flavorful base for the stew.
- Garlic: Adds a robust and savory depth.
- Tomato paste: Concentrated tomato flavor that's caramelized to add a sweet note.
- Gelatin: Enhances the mouthfeel and texture. Omit if using homemade beef bone broth.
- Beef stock: Use homemade or storebought.
- Worcestershire sauce: A umami-rich, slightly tangy element.
- Dark chocolate: The unsuspecting secret ingredient, the bitter notes of chocolate balance the sweetness from the caramelization of the onions and tomato paste.
- Potatoes: Soak up the delicious flavors of the stew for a satisfying bite. Yukon golds or russets work well.
- Guinness beer: Infuses a deep, malty flavor into the stew.
- Salt and pepper: Enhances and balances all the other flavors.
How to make slow cooker Guinness beef stew
Slow cookers are the best – just pop everything in and walk away, coming back to an insanely flavorful meal! This slow cooker Guinness beef stew takes just a little bit of prep before you let the slow cooker work its magic – here are the instructions:
- Prepare the beef: Coat the beef chunks with flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl before searing the beef – be mindful not to crowd the pan. Once the chunks are well browned on all sides, transfer them to the slow cooker.
- Sauté vegetables: Add the onion, celery, and garlic to the pan and sauté until the onion is browning. Add the tomato paste to let it caramelize, then transfer everything to your slow cooker.
- Fill the slow cooker: Mix the gelatin into the beef stock and then pour it into the slow cooker with the Worcestershire sauce, chocolate, carrots, potatoes, and Guinness. Set your slow cooker to cook on low. The stew is done when the meat is super tender and the potatoes are soft. Enjoy!
What type of beef to use in slow cooker Guinness beef stew
Stewing beef refers to cuts of beef that are best suited for slow cooking methods, allowing their toughness to transform into tender and rich flavor over extended cooking periods. When in doubt, you can always ask your butcher. Here are some cuts to look for:
- Chuck: From the shoulder area, it's well-marbled.
- Round: From the rear leg. It's less fatty than chuck but still great for stewing. It's a popular choice for its lower cost, too.
- Brisket: From the lower chest, brisket has lots of flavor but is tougher again. Slow cooking helps break it down and makes it tender.
- Shank: From the leg – it can contain connective tissues that add richness to stews when cooked slowly.
- Short ribs: Taken from the rib area, short ribs make for a flavorful and thicker stew.
- Stew meat: Sometimes you'll find beef labeled simply as “stew meat” which is made up of a mix of various cuts suitable for stewing.
Tips for making stews
Sure, you can throw some beef and liquid into your crock pot and it will come out a few hours later tasting pretty good. But the best beef stew has layers and layers of flavor. Here are our top tips:
- Sear the meat: While you can skip this step if you're short on time, it's worth the prep time as it adds a dimension of flavor.
- Use butter: Sear your beef in butter to brown it for a beautiful golden sear.
- Caramelize the onions: Onions turn sweet when they're well cooked, so keep them on the heat until they're tender.
- Caramelize the tomato paste: More sweetness, more depth, more layers! Allow the natural sugars in the tomato paste to caramelize, taking about 2-3 minutes for the paste to darken a bit and release that irresistible sweet aroma.
- Gelatin. Introducing gelatin into your stew may sound unconventional but unless you're working with homemade beef broth (major bonus points if you are!), gelatin brings richness and imparts a beautifully full texture to your stew. Gelatin is the secret ingredient that addressing the missing mouthfeel often found in store-bought stocks
- Be a boozy cook: Alcohol infuses an abundance of flavor into your stews. Just make sure you like the flavor of the beer you use as you will taste it. Other than Guiness, non-bitter stouts and porters work well for stews. Try a chocolate porter for double chocolate in this recipe. And remember that most of the alcohol burns off as the stew cooks so this is safe to serve to little ones.
- Sneak in some chocolate: A little dark chocolate to your beef stew is a surprising and delicious addition. Your guests won't quite be able to put their finger on what exactly it is, but they'll taste a rich and complex depth. It's the same trick we use in our popular braised pork ribs recipe.
What to serve with slow cooker Guinness beef stew
Can I store leftovers?
Yes, leftovers store well. Let the stew cool, then put leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Be careful not to boil the stew when reheating as it may reduce – you can add water to adjust the consistency as needed.
Can I use another beer?
While Guinness is ideal for this recipe, if you want to use another beer, look for other dark beers like a non-bitter stout or porters. Try a chocolate porter to highlight those chocolate notes!
I don't have a slow cooker, can I use a large dutch oven?
Sure! Let it simmer on low heat for several hours.
Can I make any variations?
Yes! Root vegetables, like turnips, should be added at the start of the slow cooking process. Frozen peas add a little burst of flavor – add them towards the end of the process so they thaw out but don't get too mushy. You can add some herbs, like thyme or fresh parsley.
- 2 lb stewing beef (cut into 2″ pieces)
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon EACH: salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon EACH: oil and butter
- 1 large onion (minced)
- 2 stalks celery (diced)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 5.5 ounce can tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon gelatin (omit if using homemade beef stock)
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 ounce dark chocolate (chopped)
- 3 medium carrots (chopped)
- 10 small potatoes
- 1 tall can of Guinness (440ml/ 14.8 oz)
- Place the beef into a bowl, sprinkle the flour, salt, and pepper, and mix so that the beef chunks are all coated. Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the beef, working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, and sear until well browned on all sides. Transfer the beef to your slow cooker.2 lb stewing beef, ⅓ cup all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon EACH: salt and pepper, 1 tablespoon EACH: oil and butter
- Add the onion, celery stalks, and garlic to the pan and saute until the onion is soft and starting to brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and let it caramelize for 2-3 minutes, or until is starts to darken and turn sweet smelling. Transfer to your slow cooker.1 large onion, 2 stalks celery, 4 cloves garlic, 5.5 ounce can tomato paste
- Mix the gelatin into the beef stock then pour that into your slow cooker along with the Worcestershire sauce, chocolate, carrots, potatoes, and Guinness. Set your slow cooker to cook on low for 8-10 hours. The stew is done when the meat is super tender and the potatoes are soft.1 tablespoon gelatin (omit if using homemade beef stock), 2 cups beef stock, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 ounce dark chocolate, 3 medium carrots, 10 small potatoes, 1 tall can of Guinness
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.