Beef and ale stew

Beef and ale stew in gray bowls with spoons on a marble table.

Beef and ale stew

Beef and ale stew is British food tradition at its best. Chunks of beef and vegetables are cooked in ale and beef stock, creating a lovely flavourful stew. This recipe features hearty autumn vegetables, and can be made either on the stove top, or in a slow cooker.

Beef and ale stew in the slow cooker on a marble table, with gray bowls and forks in front.

How to make beef and ale stew

This recipe is very easy, and the beef and ale stew pretty much makes itself. Following this recipe step by step ensures a great stew, but it’s also adaptable to your preferences. You could easily add or substitute the vegetables with others, like sweet potatoes, parsnips, peas, green beans or peppers. I recommend chopping and dicing all the vegetables before starting, as this is the main part of the job.

You want to dice the onion and garlic finely. You are not looking for large chunks of either, but we add them to add flavour to the stew. With the remaining vegetables, I prefer to dice them in equal sized chunks. Any leafy greens, like kale, or frozen vegetables like peas or sweetcorn, should be added towards the end of the cooking time as they don’t require much time in the stew.

Infographic showing how to make beef and ale stew.

How to thicken beef stew

We want our stew to be thick, hearty and all around yummy. In this recipe, we use cornflour mixed with some water to thicken the stew shortly before serving. You can also use gravy granulates (these exist in every UK household – super convenient!) or mashed potato flakes to achieve the same result. Traditionally, most Britons would use gravy granulates in any beef stew. That’s what beef stews often are – beef and some vegetables cooked in brown, thick gravy. However, as gravy granulates are not commonly found elsewhere in the world, we will stick to cornflour for the sake of this recipe. If you are looking for a really authentic beef and ale stew, you will definitely want to look for that gravy.

Beef and ale stew in gray bowls.

What to serve with beef and ale stew

Beef and ale stew is often served as is. If you want a side dish, I recommend bread, garlic bread, or maybe some mashed potatoes or green beans. Beef and ale stew is typically served as a main. If you’re looking for a complimentary starter, try apple and parsnip soup or potato and carrot soup.

Beef and ale stew in a gar bowl. A fork is lifting some of the stew out of the bowl.

Can you freeze beef stew?

This beef stew can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw and reheat until piping hot in a pot or in the microwave. You can also store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Only reheat leftovers once. This recipe is perfect for make ahead freezer meals, or to prepare lunches for work or school.

Other hearty stews and soups

Beef and ale stew

Beef and ale stew is British food tradition at its best. Chunks of beef and vegetables are cooked in ale and beef stock, creating a lovely flavourful stew. This recipe features hearty autumn vegetables, and can be made either on the stove top, or in a slow cooker.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time4 hrs
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: British
Keyword: beef, carrots, celery, mushroom, potatoes
Servings: 4
Calories: 404kcal
Cost: Cheap

Ingredients

  • 500 g lean diced beef
  • 200 g mushroom
  • 300 ml ale
  • 400 ml beef stock or water + 2 stock cubes
  • 1 tbsp Worcester sauce
  • 350 g carrots
  • 550 g potatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 celery sticks

To thicken

  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 200 ml beef stock or water

Optional

  • 2 tbsp gravy granulates
  • 1 tbsp gravy browning liquid
  • salt, pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Prepare your ingredients. You want to dice the onion and garlic finely. With the remaining vegetables and the beef, dice them in equal sized chunks.

Slow cooker method

  • Brown the diced beef in a pan on medium heat. You don’t have to cook the meat all the way through, just make sure that it’s mostly browned on the outside. Add the beef to the slow cooker.
  • To the same pan, add finely minced onion and garlic, and cook until the onion is soft and translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add it to the slow cooker. Lastly, cook the mushrooms in the same pan until they have slightly reduced in size, then move them to the slow cooker as well.
  • Add all the other ingredients to the slow cooker, and cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours. Avoid opening the lid while cooking.
  • 30 minutes before serving, whisk water or stock with cornflour, then stir the mixture into the stew. Cover with the lid, and cook for another 20-30 minutes to allow the stew to thicken.
  • Optionally, add gravy granulates, salt, pepper and/or gravy browning liquid before serving.

Stove top method

  • If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can use a large pot on the stove top to cook your beef and ale stew. Add diced beef and finely minced garlic and onion to a pot, and cook until the onion is soft and the beef is browned. Add mushrooms, and cook until they have reduced slightly in size. Add the other ingredients to the pot, and place the lid on top.
  • Allow the stew to simmer on medium heat until the vegetables have cooked through. Depending on the size of your vegetable chunks, this takes 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • 15 minutes before serving, whisk together water or stock and cornflour, then stir the mixture into the stew. Cover with the lid, and cook for another 10-15 minutes to allow the stew to thicken.
  • Before serving, you can optionally add some gravy granulates. This will thicken the stew further, add more flavour and some colour. You can also optionally add some browning liquid to give the stew it’s typical deep brown colour. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

This recipe makes 4 very large servings, or 6 smaller servings. The nutritional information assumes that the dish is portioned out in 4 large servings.

How to thicken beef stew

We want our stew to be thick, hearty and all around yummy. In this recipe, we use cornflour mixed with some water to thicken the stew shortly before serving. You can also use gravy granulates (you'll find these in every UK household – super convenient!) or mashed potato flakes to achieve the same result. Traditionally, most Britons would use gravy granulates in any beef stew. That’s what beef stews often are – beef and some vegetables cooked in brown, thick gravy. However, as gravy granulates are not commonly found elsewhere in the world, we will stick to cornflour for the sake. If you are looking for a really authentic beef and ale stew, you will definitely want to look for that gravy.

What to serve with beef and ale stew

Beef and ale stew is often served as is. If you want a side dish, I recommend bread, garlic bread, or maybe some mashed potatoes or green beans. Beef and ale stew is typically served as a main. If you’re looking for a complimentary starter, try apple and parsnip soup or potato and carrot soup.

Can you freeze beef stew?

This beef stew can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw and reheat until piping hot in a pot or in the microwave. You can also store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Only reheat leftovers once. This recipe is perfect for make ahead freezer meals, or to prepare lunches for work or school.

Beef and ale stew - substitutions

This recipe is very easy, and the beef and ale stew pretty much makes itself. Following this recipe step by step ensures a great stew, but it’s also adaptable to your preferences. You could easily add or substitute the vegetables with others, like sweet potatoes, parsnips, peas, green beans or peppers. 
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