Life Changing Instant Pot Beef Stew Recipe - Skillful Cook
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Life Changing Instant Pot Beef Stew

159 reviews / 4.6 average

Beef Stew made in an Instant Pot! 6 ingredients, 45 minutes, SO EASY. The perfect, comforting meal for all those chilly fall and winter days.

Why I Love This Beef Stew

Introducing my newest comfort food love: BEEF STEW. That can be made in an Instant Pot. As in Instant Pot Beef Stew. The meal that will change your life.

To answer your questions: YES, I’ve become a new person since this stew was introduced into my life. I am a non-beef-loving-part-time-vegetarian who now adores beef stew. I attribute my newfound love of beef stew to two things – 1) how easy it is to make, and 2) how truly, awesomely, gravy-loving delicious beef stew actually is. I guess I was just being judgy about it for a minute there.

I grew up in a small town in Minnesota (hello, Cambridge!), along with my husband Bjork. When we both sat down to eat this and took our first bites of this beef stew as delivered by our friends Tyler and Heidi, we literally said, almost at the same time, “This tastes like Cambridge.” For both of us, beef stew tastes like dinner with grandma and grandpa on Sundays. It tastes like love. It tastes like home.

Which is why it’s perfect for our Feeding a Broken Heart series. Food, love, home. 100% on brand.

How To Make This Instant Pot Beef Stew

1

Cube beef and add to the Instant Pot.

Cut up a chuck roast into chunks, trim the fat, and add to the Instant Pot.

2

Add sliced onion.

My favorite way to slice the onions for this is really thinly using a mandoline. Just the perfect texture!

3

Add the vegetables.

Carrots and celery joining the party! I like to cut these nice and thick so that they're a similar size to the meat.

4

Add salt, sugar, and tapioca.

You heard that right - tapioca! This is what will get the stew to just the right thickness. Salt and sugar are bringing the flavor and sweetness.

5

Pour in tomato juice and cook.

Add a little bit of tomato juice, set the Instant Pot to cook, and then just walk away! Everything will cook together for about 35 minutes.

6

Finish in the oven for coziness.

This step isn't necessary but I highly recommend it! Transfer the cooked stew to a homey casserole dish and pop it in the oven for a few minutes before serving, uncovered.

Watch How To Make This Beef Stew

A pot of stew on a blue tablecloth.
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Beef Stew in a pot.

Life Changing Instant Pot Beef Stew


  • Author: Lindsay
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 5-6 servings 1x

Description

Beef Stew made in an Instant Pot! 6 ingredients, 45 minutes, SO EASY. The perfect, comforting meal for all those chilly fall and winter days.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 lbs. beef, chuck roast, fat trimmed, cut into 1-2-inch chunks
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced diagonally in thick pieces
  • 6 carrots, sliced diagonally in thick pieces
  • 2 tablespoons small tapioca (affiliate link)- see notes
  • 1/2 cup tomato juice
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Instructions

Instant Pot Instructions: Place everything in the Instant Pot. Select the stew/meat setting (about 35 minutes, high pressure). After it's done, let everything mellow out for about 10 minutes before releasing the steam. Technically at this point, it's done. But I recommend finishing with a quick browning session in the oven (see notes below).

Traditional Oven Instructions: Preheat oven to 320 degrees. Place all ingredients in a baking dish - it can be glass or ceramic (we use a round casserole dish - something between 8×8 and 9×13). Cover with foil and bake for 3-4 hours. If the gravy dries out, you can add a little water to the gravy to loosen it up before serving. See notes below for additional modifications/instructions.

Slow Cooker Instructions: Place everything in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4 hours until tender and cooked through. Technically at this point, it's done. But I recommend finishing with a quick browning session in the oven (see notes below).

Finishing in the Oven: Whether you make this in the oven or in the Instant Pot, I recommend finishing by giving it about 10-20 minutes in a hot oven (400-ish degrees), uncovered, before serving. It gets the meat nice and caramelized on top and helps the gravy thicken up.

Equipment

Notes

Alternatives to Tapioca Pearls for thickening:

  1. Just leave em out. Your gravy may be a little less thick, but it will still be delicious.
  2. Toss the beef in 1/3 cup flour, shake off excess and add to the Instant Pot as normal. If you do this and you have a newer Instant Pot, you will likely need additional liquid (I'll often do a second can of tomato juice) to avoid the burn warning on the Instant Pot.
  3. Make a slurry of 2 tablespoons corn starch and 1/4 cup water. Add the slurry to everything in the Instant Pot after it's cooked.

As written, this is more like a traditional saucy beef stew. If you want it to be more like a soup, just add a second can of tomato juice and an extra pinch of salt and sugar. The biggest challenge people have when baking this in the oven is that the sauce/gravy dries out. I would suggest adding a little bit of water (1/4 cup or so) before baking, and then periodically throughout baking as needed. The browned gravy will be really delicious, and a little water mixed in will easily bring it back to life. Another comment we often get is that the tapioca can sometimes still be visible in very small specks, which is okay. It's so small and it should be extremely soft after cooking in the Instant Pot, so it's never interfered with my love of this beef stew. It just looks like part of the gravy. But if that bothers you, just try one of our other tapioca-less methods listed above.

Freezer Meal Version

  1. Freeze Together:
    2 lbs. beef chuck, fat trimmed, cut in small-ish pieces
    1 medium onion, sliced thinly
    6 stalks celery, sliced diagonally
    6 carrots, sliced diagonally
    2 teaspoons salt
    1 tablespoon sugar
    2 cans tomato juice (about 1 cup)
  2. Instant Pot Instructions: High pressure 30 mins + 10 mins natural release
  3. Slow Cooker Instructions: High setting 6 hours (thaw ingredients first)
  4. Final Step: After cooking, add a cornstarch slurry to the stew (2-3 tbsp cornstarch + 1-2 tbsp water). Transfer to a baking dish and broil for 5-10 minutes to get everything browned and thickened, or let it rest in the pot until thickened.
  5. Check out our full freezer meal posts with all recipes and instructions here!
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: instant pot beef stew, beef stew recipe, easy beef stew

Frequently Asked Questions For This Beef Stew

Can I make this recipe in the oven?

Preheat oven to 320 degrees. Place all ingredients in a baking dish – it can be glass or ceramic (we use a round casserole dish – something between 8×8 and 9×13). Cover with foil and bake for 3-4 hours. If the gravy dries out, you can add a little water to the gravy to loosen it up before serving.

Can I make this recipe in a slow cooker?

Place everything in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4 hours until tender and cooked through. Technically at this point, it’s done. But I recommend finishing with a quick browning session in the oven.

How long does this beef stew take to cook in the Instant Pot?

In total, about 50 minutes. Thankfully, the majority of that time is all hands off! You’ll add all your ingredients to the Instant Pot and then set it to cook – it will take about 10 minutes or so to pressurize, 35 minutes to cook, and then 10 mins to de-pressurize. And voila!

How do you thicken this beef stew?

In this recipe, you’ll cook tapioca pearls right in the stew which will thicken the gravy. However, if you don’t have those on hand, there are other options as well for thickening the stew.

You could toss the beef in 1/3 cup flour, shake off excess, and add to the Instant Pot as normal. If you do this and you have a newer Instant Pot, you will likely need additional liquid (I’ll often do a second can of tomato juice) to avoid the burn warning on the Instant Pot. Or lastly, you could make a slurry of 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/4 cup water and add that slurry to everything in the Instant Pot after it’s cooked to thicken things up.

Can I add potatoes to this stew?

Absolutely! Just throw some cubed potatoes in with everything else and you should be good to go. This is also delicious ladled on top of some creamy, buttery mashed potatoes.

How can I freeze beef stew?

You could freeze this stew before or after it cooks. If you’ve cooked the recipe and want to freeze leftovers, just store it in a freezer-safe container or sealed bad with as little air as possible. It should keep for up to 6 months!

Alternatively, if you want to freeze this before cooking to pop into the Instant Pot sometime in the future, you can follow the instructions in the recipe card below for how to make this a freezer meal.

What can I serve with beef stew?

This stew is all you need on its own (meat, potatoes, veggies, done!), but there are some extras you could have to make it really sing. Most importantly, please serve this with lots of hot, crusty, buttery bread to mop up that gravy. Then on the side, a simple green salad to feel like total domestic royalty. To finish, a glass of delicious, rich red wine that pairs just too perfectly with it all.

Three Other Instant Pot Soup Favorites

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606 Comments

  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Lindsay! This stew looks amazing. One question: can I make on the stove? I don’t have a slow cooker, and the oven uses a lot of energy, which means bigger electricity bills. So….you know, right? Also, try listening to “Steady My Heart” by Kari Jobes. I’ve found that music does a great deal more healing than people give it credit for. That song helped me a lot when I was going through difficult times. I’m looking forward to making this stew for myself. Don’t blame me, it looks MOUTHWATERING 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Kayla, you can get a nice slow cooker for about ten dollars. The cost alone you’d save in energy costs by not using your electric range.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Go and get a induction hot Plate at Costco there’ about $ 48 get one with 1800wats .They use 115 amps not 220 like your stop burners. AND THEY boil water quicker than your 220 amp stove will , you save your cost of buying in a year or so ,I have three of them and
        Never use stove top burners any more

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      Kayla, What does the 5th-ish sentence mean? “So….you know, right?” What does that mean?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Yep! It’s a thick, gravy-like consistency when it’s done (not like a soup). But you could definitely add broth to make it more like a soup.

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      I took like a thick, chunky stew. However, my Instant Pot indicated “burn” when I used recipe as stated (with the corn starch slurry). I took out what wasn’t burned, washed the pot, and added everything back with 1 cup of beef broth. It was quite soupy, so I’d probably only do 1/2 cup broth and add more flour / corn starch next time. Perhaps it will also firm up in the oven!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Add the corn starch slurry when it is done cooking and use saute to stir it in until thickened.

      2. Skillful Cook Logo

        This recipe is great! But I also keep getting “burn” showing up on my instant pot. I have made it twice with the same results. I just press cancel, wait about a minute, and press stew again. But i end up doing it several times before it finally gets to the timer. Any suggestions on what I’m doing wrong?

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          I second ladybugbates — I read on the InstantPot instructions to always add cornstarch thickener after pressure cooking as it can sink to the bottom and interfere with the temperature regulator during pressure cooking. Actually, I just made it last night (delicious!!) and didn’t even end up adding thickener. Putting it in the oven for those last 20 minutes really thickened it up nicely.

        2. Skillful Cook Logo

          The instant pot requires a minimum of 1 cup of loose liquid. Anything less with give you a burn notice. I thought that was strange when I read the recipe, so I came to the comments and see a lot of people had this issue. I used the 1/2 cup tomato sauce with 3/4 cup broth. It worked out well. Just added a bit of cornstarch and water at the end and put it on saute for a couple minutes to thicken it a tad more. For those who can get away with just the sauce, kudos to you! I am never that lucky. Haha

        3. Skillful Cook Logo

          I’m making it for the first time right now. I increased the liquid volume because I added more veggies. I did just get the “burn” notice as it was heating up. I opened it up and it seems that the tapioca pearls were stuck on the bottom. I scraped those up and started it again. It seems fine now. When I added everything to the pot, I stirred it, but now I’m wonder if I should have left the tapioca pearls on the top so they don’t stick?

        4. Skillful Cook Logo

          I have been making this recipe for about seven years. I have never (ever) gotten a burn indicator (on this recipe). I use Bloody Mary Mix instead of the tomato juice. My family loves this stew!

      3. Skillful Cook Logo

        The Instant Pot recipe book that came with my Instant Pot tells you not to thicken sauces prior to cooking. The cornstarch, flour or arrow-root may deposit to the bottom of the inner pot and be burnt to block heat dissipation. This could cause the cooker to overheat.

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          The instructions say: “Make a slurry of 2 tablespoons corn starch and 1/4 cup water. Add the slurry to everything in the Instant Pot AFTER it’s cooked.”

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Looks AMAZING! Although I’m vegan, I could totally substitute the beef for portobello mushrooms, mmm! 🙂

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Looking gorgeous, rich and flavoursome! (I cook a very similar beef stew with addition of mushrooms and garlic.) You’re right Lindsay, simple beef stews are what comfort food is made of and is what home tastes like:) Take care my love x

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Mushrooms would be great! I have mine in right now and just added a little more juice. I’m also going to try roasting it in the oven under the broiler afterwards!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      When I make beef stew in the Insta Pot I coat the meat in flour and brown on saute in the Insta Pot then add the liquid scraping the bottom it both thickens because of the flour and adds flavor because browning the meat in the pot.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    This looks devine! Nothing takes away the bitterness of winter like beef stew. Love the Afton necklace 🙂

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    This looks amazing! Do you have any suggestions for an alternative if we don’t have any tapioca on hand? Thanks for sharing this!

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          Add thickeners at the end!
          This recipe has little fluid. Adding thickener at the beginning means the beef is cooking in thickened gravy and it will burn. Flour on meat breaks down when used to sear/brown the beef cubes and does not thicken the fluids as quickly as cornstarch.

        2. Skillful Cook Logo

          I know this is an old recipe but here to say still delicious. I avoided the burn by layering the onions on the bottom with celery and carrots then putting meat on top. Finishing in the oven takes this over the top.

          1. Skillful Cook Logo

            After getting two “food burn” notices tonight, I finally bailed and put it in the oven for 3-4 hours, where it is now. Fingers crossed.

            Thank you, Afton, for the tip about layering. I’d stirred everything together and the tapioca was indeed sticking to the bottom.

            If there is a next time, I’ll try layering the tomato juice, onions, celery, and carrots before placing the meat and tapioca on top to avoid this issue.

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    This looks INCREDIBLE! Can’t wait to make this before spring really shows up.

    And I can hear/read a little uplifting/healing happening. Happy to see it.

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Looks yummers, I often make an almost identical recipe.
    – Tips: tomato paste, about 2 tbs, adds umami depth; I’d use it over tomato juice. Besides, you are more likely to have tomato paste in the pantry, right?
    -Mucho better if you brown the beef chunks first. Maillard reaction, oui?
    – A few glugs of red wine adds acidity.
    – 2 tbs cornstarch with 3 tbs water subs for tapioca.
    – Unless you really enjoy washing TWO huge pots with stew residue (insert sarcasm font) If you do choose to brown it in the oven, keep it in the original pot.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Beef stew is the ultimate comfort meal, but I’ve kind of bombed it in the past. I always thought it was because I wasn’t adding enough ingredients and now I’m leaning toward….I overthink it and add too much This ingredient list is super simple. The tapioca surprised me a bit. And all you used was a chuck roast, nothing too fancy or pricey. I’m hoping my family will give me another shot at beef stew. I keep looking for potatoes, but don’t see any. Hmmmm.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Would more liquid be needed with the potatoes added? Also, would you leave the tapioca out seeing that potatoes have a natural thickening element. TIA

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          Looks great! I’d like to add potatoes too. Thoughts on if anything would need to be changed with potatoes? In regular stew they can be slow to cook, but I suspect they’ll be okay in the Instant Pot…

          1. Skillful Cook Logo

            They cook just fine in the IP, in fact I made mashed potatoes for the first time in it at thanksgiving, I was amazed! But I always put them in my stew as well and it’s come out great in the IP.

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    I have been trying to find a good stew recipe for a while and this one looks delicious. I notice it doesn’t have any potatoes – would it be okay to add a potato?

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Just got in my instapot this week, and this will be the second recipe I try! (The first one was alright, but I’m still learning :/) Would love to add some potatoes and mushrooms, but would I need to add extra liquids to compensate for the added ingredients?

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Looks amazing, but WHERE ARE THE POTATOS? LOL! I think I’ll add some red potatos quartered….5 or 6? Whaddaya think? Anyone please feel free to chime in! 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Love the idea! When I was eating it, I thought that it would be good with potatoes. 🙂 I think you can get by with or without.

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          Has anyone tried potatoes? Do you add any liquids?
          Just made it, my first recipe in the IP! The meat is incredible!
          However, does anyone else feel the need to add additional salt, pepper, or garlic? (my Cajun roots are showing) =P

          1. Skillful Cook Logo

            Yes! I was thinking this needs some seasoning… salt isn’t going to cut it alone 🙂

          2. Skillful Cook Logo

            I’m adding the following spices:
            1/2 t. salt
            1/2 t. black pepper
            1 clove minced garlic
            1 bay leaf
            1 t. paprika
            1 t. Worcestershire sauce

            I’m hoping it turns out YUM!

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          I added potatoes (3 medium) when I made it and used an extra 1/2 c water. Although I used tomato sauce (didn’t have any tomato juice) so maybe the juice alone would be fine since it’s thinner than tomato sauce?

        2. Skillful Cook Logo

          I added baby red potatoes and used two cans of diced tomatoes instead of juice. I only added 1/4 cup of water and after cooking and looking at it I think it would have been fine with no extra water added.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Never thought of mashed potatoes! Thank You. I don’t care for potatoes & hubby doesn’t care for yams, so I’ll “side” those. 😄

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Chicken would make it a different thing altogether but I’m guessing still pretty tasty! 🙂 LMK how it works out!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      It is for thickening, so I would maybe just coat your meat with some flour? TBH I am not a stew expert but most stew recipes do include 1-2 tablespoons flour so that’s my best guess.

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Sounds delicisou – love the additions of mushrooms and potatoes – wondering about doing this in a crock pot? Mine has a saute option so could saute the beef and onions first?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      sure! I didn’t saute my meat before putting it all in the instant pot so I would think you could get by without it, but it would be yummy for sure!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    tried this in our dutch oven, ended up burnt and fused to all sides of the pot. followed the recipe 100%, might need more liquid for the oven method?

    love all your recipes, but this one didn’t work out in our favor. at least it the house smell good!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Same. Definitely needs liquid for the oven. Lesson learned – never plan to take friends a meal you are cooking for the first time.

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi Kevin! Sorry to hear that. That happened to Lindsay and Bjork the first time they made it because it was left uncovered, but it should help if the cover is on. Either way, they found it helped to add some water at the end to re-loosen up the gravy again!

    3. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi Kevin! I’m so sorry. We have been trying to figure this out all day and finally figured it out – it’s because of the Dutch Oven. This recipe needs to be made in a glass or ceramic baking dish (covered with foil) as the cast iron gets too hot. Again, so sorry about the mix-up! Thanks for helping us get it right.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        And what Jenna said about the water at the end 👆🏼 – that’s how we salvaged ours when we accidentally left the foil off the first time. 🙂

      2. Skillful Cook Logo

        hey thanks for the reply! pumped to try it again before it starts getting too warm out

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          I’ve always made pot roast and beef stew in a Dutch oven, covered. Try roasting at a lower temp, 275°-300° for about 3 hours, checking occasionally. Uncover for the last 20 minutes or so. I rarely use glass in the oven — had

      3. Skillful Cook Logo

        Ah ha! I’ll have to try it again in a different dish. Really interesting about the heat factor with the dutch oven…I did leave the top on but it must have been the high heat in that dish. Thank you for the update! 🙂

    4. Skillful Cook Logo

      Ah! Really wish I had seen the suggestion specifically to not use a dutch oven (or reduce temp if doing so). I made this yesterday (in the oven) and while it was good, the beef was tough and there was hardly any liquid/gravy left. I suppose next time I’d try a lower temp and more liquid (still in the dutch oven, as I do not have a ceramic/glass baking dish that would work here). We served this over French onion mashed potatoes (holy yum) with a side salad and both still enjoyed it (my husband loved it and proclaimed over and over how delicious it was), but I know it would be 10x better if the meat was more tender and there was more gravy!

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    It warms my heart to hear about this series and how you are using it for healing and also facilitating the healing of others. What a beautiful thing to come of such a tragic event, but also, what a legacy you are creating in the name of your son.

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you for sharing the meals that are helping you heal small bit by small bit. I’m making this tonight for a friend who has the flu, her family could use a little help and this is a good pot of food to help them survive not having mom available to cook. I used tomato sauce instead of juice and I’m hoping for the best!

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    This is so apt! Cooler weather here and took out some beef to make a stew! I’ve never used tapioca as a thickener though so keen to try! Sadly, I’ll only eat mine 4hrs later tonight =(

    Love your strength in getting back into your routine things! Hang in there & take care!

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh no no no no!! Been cooking this for four hours in a Dutch oven and the “gravy” is completely burnt, but nothing else is. Hopefully I can try to salvage this 😣

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi Caroline! Sorry to hear that. That happened to Lindsay and Bjork the first time they made it because it was left uncovered, but it should help if the cover is on. Either way, they found it helped to add some water at the end to re-loosen up the gravy again!

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Caroline! I’m so sorry. That was totally my mistake. I think we figured it out – this needs to be made in a glass or ceramic pan, not a Dutch Oven, and I wrote that incorrectly in the original recipe. So sorry! Thank you for the feedback so we could get to the bottom of the issue.