I first made a slow cooker beef and ale stew when I was gifted a Jamie Oliver cook book about 10 years ago – and I was hooked. This is my version that uses a slow cooker instead of an oven, and has been tweaked and perfected over the 100-or-so times I’ve made it! Once the weather turns, this is usually the first recipe we turn to for a hearty winter warmer.
My slow cooker beef and ale stew has a top secret ingredient – Worcestershire sauce! It adds an extra kick which sets this slow cooker stew apart from the rest. Let me know what you think in the comments!
What’s the best type of beef for a stew?
Stews work amazingly well in a slow cooker because it allows use of cheaper cuts of meat, which get better the longer they’re cooked. In fact, with beef – the cheaper the better when it comes to slow cooking!
Cheaper cuts of meat come from well-worked muscles, that tenderise as you cook them for long periods of time. Whatever you do, do not let your butcher sell you an expensive cut of meat. After hours of cooking it’ll be dry and horrible!
Our absolute favourite cut of beef to use for a stew is beef shin, but you need to buy a well-butchered piece or it can end up full of fat and sinew. The best place to buy it from is your local butcher.
A worthy alternative is supermarket bought “braising beef”. This is also known as “chuck steak” and comes from the shoulder of the cow.
What’s the best type of ale to use for Beef and Ale Stew?
An ale with a full, malty flavour works best – our favourite types to use are either ruby ales or porters.
They have an outstanding full flavour and add an element of sweetness to the dish. If you’re after a suggestion, then Adnams Broadside is an awesome beer to try.
You may see lots of people online recommending Guinness. Guinness is a stout, and in my opinion is best avoided for this recipe due to its bitterness.
Same goes for IPAs, you’ll get a hoppy twang in the stew which can be unpleasant.
Can I make Beef and Ale Stew with non-alcoholic beer?
Yes! The alcohol from the beer doesn’t add any flavour – it’s all burnt off during cooking.
A good non-alcoholic beer suggestion is Low Alcohol Old Speckled Hen.
Can I freeze leftovers?
Absolutely, and trust me, you’ll want to keep any leftovers! To reheat, defrost in the fridge overnight and ensure it’s piping hot all the way through before serving.
Can this be used to make a pie?
It’s really easy to adapt this beef and ale stew into a pie. Once cooked, divide the recipe into pie dishes and top with ready-made puff pastry. Cook per the pastry instructions.
You can check out our Slow Cooker Steak Pie for a guide.
Slow Cooker Beef and Ale Stew
- 500 g (1 lb) stewing or braising beef chopped into 3cm chunks
- 500 ml (2 cups) ale
- 200 ml (1 cups) beef stock
- 2 carrots sliced lengthways and roughly chopped
- 1 celery stick chopped
- 1 leek chopped
- 1 onion roughly chopped
- 150 g (1.5 cups) mushrooms chopped
- 4 tbsp flour
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 2 tsp thyme
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
- 4 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Sear the beef in a hot pan in a little oil. Season well with salt and pepper and coat in 1 tbsp of flour. Transfer to the slow cooker.
- Pour the ale into the same pan and cook for a few minutes on a high heat to cook off the alcohol then remove from the heat.
- Add all of the chopped vegetables into the slow cooker, then add the remaining 3tbsp of flour, garlic, thyme and sugar, and stir to ensure an even coating.
- Add the ale, beef stock, mustard, tomato puree and bay leaves, stir well and cook for 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low.
- Once cooked check the seasoning, and add a splash of Worcestershire sauce.