Healthy Slow Cooker Beef Stew – Perfect Make Ahead Dinner Idea!

This healthy slow cooker beef stew is the perfect easy weeknight dinner that you can prep ahead! Learn how to make slow cooker beef stew healthy and delicious!

Healthy Slow Cooker Beef Stew - Perfect slow cooker recipe for easy weeknight dinner meal prep! | A Sweet Pea Chef

It’s getting chilly outside.

This means exactly two very important and exciting things:

  1. it’s time to break out your slow cooker and
  2.  it’s beef stew time!

I’ve shared my Hearty Beef Stew before, which is amaze-balls good, but it does take quite a bit of time and effort from start to finish. Like most delicious stew meat recipes.

Enter the all-amazing slow cooker.

Using a slow cooker to do all the hard work for you is totally what I’m about right now.  I’ve got things to do, people!  Soccer practice to be at. Spelling words to help learn. New recipes to test. I need all the help I can get on these busy weeknights to get a healthy, delicious, and family-approved dinner on the table.

Luckily, this crock pot beef stew is just that thing.  It’ll feed you all week, is super easy, and is exactly what slow cookers and cold months were made for. So go grab your slow cooker and the necessary ingredients and make your life easier, healthier, and tastier with this healthy beef stew recipe for an easy dinner tonight!

Bonus: you’ll get the answers to the most asked beef stew questions including how to make beef stew, is beef stew healthy, what is stew meat, how long to cook beef stew, how to thicken beef stew, can you freeze beef stew plus easy tips to make the most delicious healthy stew.

Skillet with beef searing that has been coated with garbanzo bean flour and almond meal and is ready to be added to the slow cooker for the slow cooker beef stew.

HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY SLOW COOKER BEEF STEW

The cooking part for this healthy beef stew is super easy – you just have to let the slow cooker work its magic. And, thankfully, the prepping part is just as easy. Here’s how to make beef stew:

  1. mix chickpea flour, sea salt, and ground pepper in a large mixing bowl;
  2. add the meat and toss to coat;
  3. brown the meat in a skillet with a little bit of olive oil to get a crispy crust;
  4. remove the meat from the skillet and transfer to slow cooker;
  5. in the same skillet, cook onion for about 2-3 minutes;
  6. add garlic and cook for another minute;
  7. transfer the onion-garlic mix to the slow cooker;
  8. add the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker and stir to combine;
  9. cook;
  10. garnish the healthy stew with fresh thyme if you want.

Bowl of slow cooker filled with uncooked sweet potatoes, cubed yukon potatoes, sliced celery, seared beef, and spices, ready to be mixed and cooked to make the slow cooker beef stew.

IS BEEF STEW HEALTHY?

My stew recipe is definitely a healthy stew recipe. However, not all beef stew recipes are created equal in the healthy department.  Many beef stew recipes contain a lot of refined flours and oils.

To make this slow cooker beef stew healthy, I made the following changes:

  • replaced all-purpose flour with chickpea flour to coat the beef
  • replaced all-purpose flour with arrowroot starch to thicken the stew
  • used a leaner cut of beef to reduce the overall fat in the stew
  • used a slow cooker to cook over a long period to create more flavor

So, how healthy is this slow cooker beef stew?  Well, one bowl (which is all you’ll need to fill you up!) contains just 383 calories, 44 grams of protein, and 4.5 grams of fiber.  That makes this meal well-balanced, filling, and easy on the waistline.

WHAT IS STEW MEAT?

One of the most awesome things about beef stew is that the best cuts of beef for the stew are shockingly inexpensive. That means you don’t have to spend a ton of money on the top cuts to ensure the meat is tender.  Instead, you should look for lean, tough cuts of meat that will break down and become tender over time in the slow cooker.

Look for the following cuts which are the best types of meat for beef stew:

  • chuck roasts
  • bottom round roast
  • rump roast
  • top round
  • pot roasts

If you’re having trouble, the butcher can also cut you special cubed stew meat from one of these cuts as well.

Bowl of slow cooker with a ladle stirring the cooked stew meat, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, and other seasonings.

HOW LONG TO COOK BEEF STEW

This crock pot beef stew should be cooked until the meat and the potatoes are tender. When the meat falls apart and the potatoes are soft when you poke them with a fork, the healthy beef stew is ready.

As for the exact time, you have 2 options:

  • you can set the slow cooker on low and cook the beef stew for 6-7 hours;
  • or set the slow cooker on high and cook the healthy stew for 3-4 hours.

It’s entirely up to you and your schedule.  The slower it cooks (on Low), the more flavor will develop, but it will still be tasty using the High method.

HOW TO THICKEN BEEF STEW

Thick stew is a thing of beauty so it can be a big bummer if you don’t wind up with that thick, luscious stew.  If you find yourself with this issue, just combine a few tablespoons of beef broth or the juices from the slow cooker with 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch, and whisk together.  Once that mixture is smooth, add it into the beef stew and it should thicken it within a minute or so.  You can repeat as needed to reach your desired thickness.

Another way to thicken beef stew is to blend some of the contents into a puree.  To do this, remove the meat from the slow cooker and puree about 1/3 of the cooked veggies using a kitchen blender or immersion blender.  This will naturally thicken the broth.

Bowl of slow cooker beef stew, filled with cooked yukon potatoes, sliced carrots, beef chunks, and sweet potatoes, with a spoon in it and ready to eat.

CAN YOU FREEZE BEEF STEW?

Since this slow cooker recipe makes quite a lot of beef stew, you’ll likely find yourself with plenty of leftovers.  Good news: You can easily freeze leftover beef stew for later.   Here are some tips for how to freeze slow cooker beef stew:

Allow the soup to cool completely. Since slow cookers retain heat very well, you may want to transfer to a large bowl and place in the refrigerator to cool more quickly.

For easy thawing and storage, freeze in either…

To freeze the slow cooker beef stew:

  1. leave enough space at the top of the bag to allow for expansion during freezing.
  2. squeeze as much air as possible out of the top of the bag and seal securely.
  3. place the soup-filled freezer bags in the freezer, in a single, flat layer (using a rimmed baking sheet is helpful).
  4. allow to freeze completely.
  5. then, stack them on top of each other or standing side by side.

When ready to eat, thaw bags of frozen beef stew in the refrigerator overnight.

Close up of white bowl filled with healthy slow cooker beef stew that has been topped with fresh thyme and is ready to eat.

3 MORE HEALTHY SLOW COOKER RECIPES

I love my healthy beef recipes a lot. Especially when I can use the slow cooker to make them. But, aside from healthy beef recipes, there are numerous other recipes you can make in the slow cooker including chicken recipes, soups, and even curry. So here are other healthy slow cooker recipes that are some big hits in my house:

SLOW COOKER CHICKEN BURRITO BOWLS

Let’s start with these Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls. Who doesn’t love burritos, right? Well, this burrito bowl recipe is a healthier alternative to burritos.

Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls | Delicious, healthy, and clean burrito bowls that use slow cooker shredded chicken and cauliflower rice | www.asweetpeachef.com

You don’t have to ignore your burrito cravings. I don’t believe in ignoring cravings, I do believe in making them healthier and clean though. But the taste has to stay delicious. Healthy, clean and delicious is exactly what you can expect from these Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls made with chicken, beans, tomato, and cauliflower. So skip the tortilla and make your burritos into a bowl. Get the recipe.

SLOW COOKER HOT AND SOUR SOUP

You can make all kinds of soups in the slow cooker. And, no doubt, all of them can be healthy and flavorful. This Slow Cooker Hot and Sour Soup is no exception. It’s basically guilt-free comfort food with a little bit of heat.

Slow Cooker Hot And Sour Soup | It takes just 10 minutes to prep this flavorful and healthy slow cooker hot and sour soup. With just 206 calories and only 14g of carbs per serving you can enjoy this comfort food without any guilt. | A Sweet Pea Chef

As any slow cooker recipe, this soup does not require a lot of effort. In fact, the prep time is only 10 minutes. But the result is totes amazing and you get the mix of flavors and textures you would normally expect from a hot and sour soup but none of the guilt and bad ingredients. Get the recipe.

SLOW COOKER CHICKEN CAULIFLOWER CURRY

Ending this post with a delicious Slow Cooker Chicken Cauliflower Curry that is paleo, clean eating, and gluten-free.

Close up of slow cooker chicken cauliflower curry with peas and topped with fresh cilantro.

With only 313 calories, this filling and flavorful Chicken Cauliflower Curry is packed with protein, it contains fiber, and it makes a yummy weeknight dinner. Get the recipe.

Healthy Slow Cooker Beef Stew

5 from 2 votes
Slow Cooker Beef Stew Square Recipe Preview Image
Healthy Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
6 hrs
Total Time
6 hrs 20 mins
 

This healthy slow cooker beef stew is the perfect easy weeknight dinner that you can prep ahead! Learn how to make slow cooker beef stew healthy and delicious!

Categories: Clean Eating, Crock Pot, gluten free, Paleo, Slow Cooker, Soup
Difficulty: Easy
Keyword: healthy beef stew, healthy beef stew recipe, low calorie beef stew
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 383 kcal
Author: Lacey Baier
Ingredients
  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 lbs. stew meat*, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 2 large yukon potatoes, diced
  • 1 medium sweet potato, diced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp. arrowroot, as needed, for thickening
  • fresh thyme leaves, for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the chickpea flour, sea salt, and ground pepper. Stir to combine.

  2. Add the cubed meat to the chickpea flour mixture and toss to coat well.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and add the coated meat. Brown the meat on all sides, in batches. (We’re not looking to cook the meat all the way through here - just to get a golden, crispy crust which will add a ton of flavor to the stew.)

  4. Transfer the browned meat into the slow cooker.

  5. In the same pan, add the diced yellow onion, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Then add the minced garlic and cook for one minute, until fragrant.

  7. Transfer this into the slow cooker, over the meat.
  8. Add the balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, low sodium beef broth, dried thyme, sea salt, dried rosemary, cubed yukon gold potatoes, cubed sweet potato, sliced carrots, and sliced celery.
  9. Stir to combine, and then add the bay leaf.
  10. Set the slow cooker to the Low setting for 6 to 7 hours* or on high for 3 to 4 hours, stirring about half way through.  The stew is ready when the meat is tender and falls apart and the potatoes are tender when poked with a fork.
  11. If you’d like to make the stew a little thicker, you can combine add a little arrowroot starch with beef broth or the juices from the stew, and then stir to incorporate. The stew will thicken within about 1-2 minutes after adding the arrowroot starch.
  12. Garnish with fresh thyme, if desired.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

* Great cuts of beef for this stew include: Chuck Roasts, Bottom Round Roast, Rump Roast, Top Round, or Pot Roasts. Look for lean, tough cuts of meat that will break down and become tender over time in the slow cooker. 

* While you don’t have to brown the beef before adding it into the slow cooker, it really does add a ton of flavor and thickness to the stew.

* I've found the meat to be the most tender when cooked on Low compared to the High setting.

Nutrition Facts
Healthy Slow Cooker Beef Stew
Amount Per Serving (1 bowl)
Calories 383 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 3.8g19%
Cholesterol 107.2mg36%
Sodium 788.1mg33%
Carbohydrates 28.1g9%
Fiber 4.5g18%
Sugar 6.5g7%
Protein 44g88%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This post contains affiliate links for products I use regularly and highly recommend.

Lacey Baier

Hey y’all, I’m Lacey Baier and I’m so glad you’re here! I’m a healthy lifestyle influencer and the creator of this clean-eating blog and YouTube channel, A Sweet Pea Chef. My recipes have been published on Food Network, Good Morning America, FoxNews, Tastemade, Fitness Magazine, and much more. I live in Dallas, Texas with my husband and four kiddos. Let’s get started!

6 thoughts on “Healthy Slow Cooker Beef Stew – Perfect Make Ahead Dinner Idea!

  1. 5 stars
    I followed this exact recipe and added in some peas. It was fantastic. It was flavoursome, making it again next week.

  2. I did the exact same stew yesterday but used lean pork. It was delicious. Yes, 5 hrs on high seems to work well. I like to add a bit of hot pepper sauce to my stews. Gives them a kick. Lovely for this autumnal weather. Gosh, I absolutely love this season. Cosy, cosy, cosy!

  3. Hi, Lacey. Your recipe for beef stew sounds wonderful. I have so far not been impressed with any of the recipes I have tried in my slow cooker. However, I plan on trying this one. Do you have a variation of this recipe for making Irish stew? In Ireland a few years ago I was served a dish of vegetables and lamb cubes floating in a d bowl that appeared to be filled with water. I was so disappointed until I tasted a spoonful and it was delicious. Your beef stew recipe sounds as if it would produce a similar dish (without the thickening). I would love to taste an authentic Irish stew again. Thanks.

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