The Best Beef Stew You Will Ever Make

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No, really. I have tried to make beef stew for years and it always just tastes like liquified pot roast. I’m not a huge pot roast fan so obviously, a stew that tastes like it isn’t going to work for me. Then I discovered a beef and barley stew recipe that knocked my socks off!

Over the years I have adapted the original recipe to suit our tastes and the result is pretty amazing if I do say so myself! It is a fall comfort food favorite in our house that can be made in a dutch oven, slow cooker, or instant pot.

My whole family loves this beef stew and my husband, who has far more stew tasting experience than I do, also agrees that it’s the best stew he’s ever had. My teenaged son requests it often, too. 

How to make beef barley stew in a dutch oven

Cut the steak into chunks and dredge in flour.

The best beef stew #recipe ever

Once coated in flour brown the steak in a skillet. Be sure to add all of the flour to the pan as well since the flour will be a thickening agent for your stew. 

The best beef stew #recipe ever

Cut up all of your carrots, parsnip, celery, onion, and garlic. Add them in a warm pot coated in olive oil and cook until translucent. 

Add your meat and potatoes and give them a stir. Then add all of your remaining ingredients except the barley and balsamic vinegar and simmer for at least an hour. 

The best beef stew #recipe ever

After your beef barley stew has simmered then add the barley and balsamic vinegar (do not leave the vinegar out since this is what, I think, makes this the best beef stew ever!). Then simmer for another 45 minutes or until the barley has softened.

If you would like a thicker stew then add a spoonful of corn starch with water. 

The best beef stew #recipe ever

Beef stew in a slow cooker

Easily adapt this beef barley stew recipe to make in your crockpot by follow all of the instructions above but put them in the slow cooker instead.

First, add the vegetables, then the browned meat, and finally the liquids. Cook on low for at least six hours for a delicious, tender beef stew that your family will love.

Add the barley at the halfway point so it doesn’t get too soft. If you are going to be away from home you could add the barley at the beginning. If you find that it’s too soft for you, experiment with making barley ahead of time, leaving it in the refrigerator, then adding the cooked barley before serving.

Beef stew in the Instant Pot

This recipe as written will push your Instant Pot to the limit because it will be filled to the brim. It’s fine, just make sure that you allow enough time for the pressure cooker to pressurize.

Saute your beef as above either on the saute setting or in a seperate pan then add it to the bottom of the instant pot, followed with the vegetables, liquid, and barley.

Set your Instant Pot to the soup and stew setting and let it go. Allow about a half hour for the stew to come to pressure before cooking.

The Best Beef Stew Ever

The Best Beef Stew Ever

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes


  • 1½ - 2 pounds London Broil, cut into half inch pieces
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup sliced parsnips
  • 1½ cups chopped onion
  • 1½ cups sliced celery
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 cups chopped potatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1½ cups sherry cooking wine
  • 1½ cups beef broth
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ cup uncooked medium pearl barley
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar


  1. Add cubed meat and flour in a freezer bag and shake to coat
  2. In a Dutch oven, cook beef in oil until meat is no longer pink. Add the carrots, onion, celery, potatoes and garlic; cook for 5 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, water, sherry, broth, bay leaves, salt, thyme and pepper. Add Worcestershire sauce to taste.
  3. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add barley; cover and simmer 45 minutes longer or until barley and meat are tender.
  4. Remove from the heat. Discard bay leaves. Stir in balsamic vinegar just before serving. Sprinkle each serving with parsley if desired.


Do not leave out the balsamic vinegar! That is what makes this stew the best I've ever had.

Adapted from

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