Healthy Instant Pot Beef Stew (or Slow Cooker)

Healthy Instant Pot Beef Stew tastes just like the classic beef stew but is ready in under an hour with the power of pressure cooking from the Instant Pot.

304 CAL 29g CARBS 8g FAT 30g PROTEIN

Everyone's favorite comfort meal made in under an hour. This Instant Pot Beef Stew is healthy, delicious, and couldn't be easier.

I had a love/hate relationship with beef stew until I broke down and bought an Instant Pot. Now that I can cook it in under an hour, it's all love. My problem with beef stew in the past was that it took hours to cook and whenever the craving struck, it was already too late to start the process. You know the kind of day I mean. You come home from work and really crave something comforting like beef stew, only to realize there is no way that you can make it unless you want to eat at midnight. Luckily the Instant Pot solved that problem.

Now when it comes to the beef stew, I am a bit of a traditionalist and like to stick to the basics - beef, carrots, potatoes, celery, and onion. Now you could definitely jazz things up and throw in some mushrooms, peas, parsnips, sweet potatoes, or any other hearty vegetable you like. I also stick to a pretty traditional spice blend but you could definitely kick that up as well. Add some allspice, cinnamon, curry powder, or chili powder to take your stew in a different direction.

What Goes in Instant Pot Beef Stew?

What you find in a beef stew will vary with regional preference, with some making it very thick and having it on rice, while still others add peppers to spice it up.

This particular beef stew recipe is just about as traditional as it comes though. It has stewing beef, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, bay leaves, paprika, pepper, thyme, carrots, potatoes, onion, celery, salt, and sugar. Vegetable oil and flour are also used in the recipe to help with cooking the meat.

Where does Beef Stew Come From?

The origins of Beef Stew are a little bit hard to pin down, partly due to its culturally ubiquitous nature. The oldest evidence of stew hails from 16,000 years ago, from the Jōmon period in Japan.

However, for the origins of our beef stew, we most likely need to turn our gaze towards Ireland and their Irish Stew. Irish stew shares a composition base with beef stew, using lamb or mutton in place of beef. Knowing that, it makes it quite likely that just similar to corned beef and cabbage, beef stew evolved in the United States in the Irish immigrant population. French influence can be felt in the dish, thanks to the  use of wine, and the presence of Mirepoix, a flavor base consisting of onions, carrots, and celery.

With this little lesson in traditional tracing, you can see it’s difficult to draw a straight line to any one country. In my opinion, it could be argued that due to its French and Irish heritage, it is a uniquely American dish!

How to Sear Your Meat

There is one small step in making beef stew that is completely optional, but doing it will give your stew more flavor and give your beef a wonderful texture.

What might that step be, you ask?

Browning your beef chunks. Now, not everyone does this, and I’ll admit that even I don’t do it all the time –

But, if I have time and I’m feeling a little bit fancy I’ll spend the extra few minutes it will take.

Simply cook the edges of your beef in a pan until they are brown. Do this for all the sides of your beef. When done, throw all the beef into the instant pot along with any of the juices from the beef that are in the pan. That’s all flavor and you don’t want to throw that away.

You can also sear your meat in your Instant Pot if you like – instructions for that are in the recipe below.

Vegetables That Are Great in Beef Stew

If you’re looking to bulk out your beef stew – or you just want to get some more vegetables in your diet – here is a list of some (potentially un)usual vegetables that would work wonderfully in beef stew:

  • Acorn Squash
  • Butternut Squash
  • Cauliflower
  • Celeriac
  • Collard Greens
  • Corn
  • Mushrooms
  • Parsnips
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Swiss Chard
  • Turnips

Can Beef Stew Be Frozen?

One of my favorite things to do when I’m making beef stew is doubling the recipe to freeze half of it for some point in the future when I'm low on energy and the will to cook. Stew is incredibly easy to freeze and easy to heat. To freeze beef stew, first cool it to room temperature, then put it in a freezer safe container and pop it in the freezer. Remember, only fill the container part of the way because the fluid in the stew will expand when it freezes!

My favorite is putting it in a Ziploc bag so the stew can freeze in a single sheet and it’s easy to stack.

However, as a caution, if I’m going to do this then I will absolutely double up the Ziploc bags, just in case the inner one bursts.

What to Pair with Beef Stew

You can easily eat beef stew completely on its own and feel satisfied, but if you're like me, then you like to have a choice of side. So, knowing that, I’ve put together a list of foods that go wonderfully with this beef stew recipe:

  • Serve it with some Mashed Cauliflower for a light side dish that is delicious with beef stew. Mashed butternut squash is another delicious option.
  • Serve the beef stew with some roasted vegetables as a light and healthy side dish. 
  • Lighten things up with a green salad on the side. Include crispy vegetables like Romaine lettuce, cucumbers, and carrots to add some texture and crunch to the meal.

More Instant Pot Recipes

The Recipe
Instant pot beef stew with tender beef, carrots, and potatoes in two bowls with fresh herbs.

Healthy Instant Pot Beef Stew (or Slow Cooker)

304 CAL 29g CARBS 8g FAT 30g PROTEIN
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  • 1 1/2 lb lean stewing beef, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 lb carrots, chopped
  • 1 lb potatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped

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Season the beef with salt and pepper. Toss with flour.


Place the oil in the Instant Pot and turn on to the "Saute" mode. Once the oil is hot, add the beef and brown all on sides, letting the meat caramelize and brown before turning it.


Add the beef broth to the pot and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Then add the Worcestershire sauce, garlic cloves, bay leaves, salt, sugar, paprika, pepper, and thyme. Stir so that the spices are incorporated into the broth.


Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Add the lid and close the steam valve. Press the "meat/stew" button or set the timer to 35 minutes on high pressure. After the 35 minutes, let the pressure release naturally. Once the pressure is released, release the steam valve and open the lid carefully. Season with salt and pepper if needed.


Slow Cooker: Add everything to the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 1.5 cups
Amount Per Serving
Calories 304
Calories from Fat 74
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8g
Saturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 72mg
Sodium 845mg
Total Carbohydrate 29g
Dietary Fiber 5g
Sugars 7g
Protein 30g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
On Healthy Instant Pot Beef Stew (or Slow Cooker)
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Kevin Facey
November 21, 2022 - 11:54
Add a Rating:
This was delicious! I ad reservations about putting paprika in a beef stew but I did anyways and I'm happy I did! So good! I cut up a chuck roast I had instead of using stew beef. I also roasted the cubed potatoes seperately in the oven and sauteed the onions, celery and carrots and added all of that to the instant pot after I did the pressure release and let all that simmer for another 20 minutes with the lid off (I don't like how potatoes get so mushy in the instant pot). I did end up having to make a slurry to thicken the stew a bit more as well.
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January 10, 2019 - 10:11
Add a Rating:
Made this last night, but with a few changes. Instead of 3 cups broth I did 2 3/4 cup broth and a 1/4 cup of red wine, added 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 2 tbsp of tomato paste, forgot the onions and did not add sugar, paprika or thyme. At the end I put it back on saute and added a slurry of 2 tbsp cornstarch and a bit of water to thicken the gravy a bit. It was fantastic, and my family loved it!!!
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November 6, 2018 - 14:09
Can I add mushrooms to this? Maybe high pressure 30 minutes, QR, add mushrooms, high pressure 5-10 mins & NPR a bit before final QR?
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Carol Allison
February 15, 2018 - 07:52
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A really good stew! One tip though - if you are going to freeze the left overs - do the potatoes separately. I found that the potatoes didn’t freeze well. Beyond that, I absolutely loved this stew.
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Tamara DeAngelis
October 29, 2017 - 16:10
Add a Rating:
This came out great! Just as good as a stew that simmered on the stove all day long.
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