This easy-to-make Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot Beef Stew is the perfect cold weather comfort food. You can have this hearty stew on the table in just over 30 minutes when you make it in your electric pressure cooker, but it’ll taste like it simmered all day.
We’ve settled into cold, gray, January weather here. The kind of weather that basically begs for something warm and hearty and old-fashioned. This Instant Pot Beef Stew is a classic, old-fashioned recipe, based on a stovetop version my mom cooked for me growing up.
I took the original recipe and simplified it a little. I prefer to use small new potatoes so I can skip the peeling and dicing. (However, if you prefer to use russet potatoes, substitute 2 cups diced russet potatoes.) I like having bigger chunks of carrots and celery in my recipe. However, if you want to skip chopping all together, you can use a frozen mixed vegetable medley and just use a 12 minute cook time and a 10 minute natural pressure release.
This Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot Beef Stew will help remind you of the good side of winter—the cuddled in a blanket in front of a fire reading a book kind of winter.
How to Make Pressure Cooker Beef Stew in the Instant Pot
What Meat Is Best for Beef Stew?
I prefer to use chuck roast for beef stew, though I’ll also use a rump roast if it’s on sale. Chuck roast has a little higher fat content than rump roast, which gives you a more flavorful stew. Both cuts are fairly inexpensive, trim up easily, and result in tender beef .
If you want to cook beef stew with frozen beef, cube the beef and freeze flat. When cooking from frozen flat, I’d start by adding 5 minutes to the high pressure cook time. Then test a few cubes to ensure the temperature of the beef reaches 160°F. (Unfortunately, you’ll need to defrost frozen beef that is clumped together in a big bunch before pressure cooking to ensure it cooks evenly.)
How to Make a Flavorful Beef Stew in the Pressure Cooker
The #1 thing you can do for a flavorful stew is to brown the beef! Especially when you’re in a hurry, it can be tempting to just throw everything in the pot to cook. However, you miss out on so much flavor this way!
See all the browned bits in the picture below? We had just added the onions to the cooking pot after browning the beef. Once the onions are cooked, add the beef broth and then give the bottom of the pot a good stir to loosen all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. The more browned bits, the more flavorful the stew will be.
And be careful to add more oil or a little beef broth if the brown bits on the bottom of the pan look like they’re browning too quickly. You never want the browned bits to burn black. (If that happens, don’t add the beef or finish the recipe. Wash your pot, add a little oil, and saute a new batch of onions before adding the browned beef back to the pot.)
Should I Use Red Wine in Pressure Cooker / Instant Pot Beef Stew?
I went back and forth on whether to include red wine in this Instant Pot Beef Stew. Traditionally, the acidic red wine would flavor and help tenderize the stew meat during the hours it simmered on the stove.
However, Cook’s Illustrated did an experiment on cooking with red wine and found that, for best results, red wine “should be cooked just below a simmer with aromatics and not treated to a hot boil.” Since the wine would definitely boil inside the pressure cooking pot, I ultimately chose not to add it to this beef stew recipe. (Plus the addition of red wine kept it from tasting like Mom used to make it.)
If you do wish to add red wine to the beef stew, the Cook’s Illustrated article recommended a $10 bottle of Côtes du Rhône or another red wine made from a blend of grapes and that has medium body and very little oak flavor. (Do not use a traditional cooking wine in this recipe.) I would probably substitute ½ to 1 cup of red wine for the same amount of beef broth.
How to Thicken Beef Stew
You can choose a flour or cornstarch slurry to thicken your stew. Since I grew up eating stew thickened with flour, that’s what I wanted to use in this recipe.
In traditional stews, it’s common for the uncooked stew meat to be dredged in flour and browned before adding the liquid. However, that technique is a NO-NO for electric pressure cookers. Flouring the beef before cooking can lead to a thick, flour-y build up on the bottom of your pressure cooking pot—resulting in a Burn notice and a ruined stew.
For best results, you’ll need to add the flour after pressure cooking. To do this, make a slurry. Stir together ¼ cup flour with ¼ cup cold water. The cold water here is key—if you use warm water, the flour will clump. You want to stir the flour–cold water mixture until smooth. Then I like to add about a cup of the warm broth from the stew to the flour slurry and continue stirring until smooth. Then I’ll pour this flour mixture into the pressure cooking pot, stirring constantly.
If you’re looking for a gluten-free beef stew recipe, you can absolutely substitute cornstarch for the flour in this recipe. I’d start with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of cold water and then add to the pressure cooking pot. (Never add cornstarch to the pot without mixing it with water first.) Select Saute and simmer until the stew thickens.
I’d love to know—what are your favorite winter-time comfort foods?
- 2 pounds chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup diced frozen onion
- 2 cans (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium beef broth
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 10 small new potatoes, washed and quartered
- 3 large carrots, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 2 ribs celery, cut into ½-inch pieces
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup cold water
- 1 cup frozen corn*
- ½ cup frozen peas*
Season the beef generously with salt and pepper. Select Sauté and add the vegetable oil and butter to the pressure cooking pot. When the butter is melted, brown the meat in batches for about 5 minutes per batch until all the meat is browned—do not crowd the pot. Add more oil as needed. Transfer the browned meat to a plate.
Add the onion to the cooking pot. Sauté for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Stir in the beef broth to deglaze the pot, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, parsley, bay leaves, and browned beef with any accumulated juices. Lock the lid in place. Select High Pressure and 10 minutes cook time.
When the cook time ends, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes and finish with a quick pressure release. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid. Add the potatoes, carrots, and celery. Replace the lid and cook on High Pressure for 2 minutes more. When the cook time ends, turn off the pressure cooker. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes and finish with a quick pressure release. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
In a small bowl, whisk the flour and cold water until smooth. Add 1 cup hot broth to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Add the slurry to the pot. Select Sauté and bring the sauce to a boil, stirring constantly until it thickens. Stir in the corn and peas. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
If you prefer russet potatoes, substitute 2 cups peeled and diced into bite-sized pieces.
*If you want to skip chopping vegetables all together, you can use a frozen mixed vegetable medley with carrots, peas, and corn. I'd add about 2 cups. Use a 12 minute cook time and a 10 minute natural pressure release, then finish with a quick pressure release.
Looking for more pressure cooker comfort foods to fend of the winter blues?
If you like mushrooms, you have to try my Beef and Wild Mushroom Stew. This is my pressure cooker version of Deer Valley’s popular stew, and it features a rich sauce made with white wine, heavy cream, and mushroom stock.
Shepherd’s Pie is another meat-and-potatoes food I love in the winter time. I often use ground beef since it’s inexpensive and I generally have it on hand.
My Beef Stroganoff uses inexpensive round steak to create a flavorful gravy that I’ll serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.
Think you hate meatloaf? Then you haven’t tried my BBQ Bacon Meatloaf. Even my pickiest eaters will ask for seconds on this one. (I recently cooked it in the pressure cooker and finished it on the smoker—it was awesome!)