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Based on a traditional English beef and ale stew, this simplified, easy beef stew recipe features tender beef and vegetables in a thick, rich, and hearty gravy. And it only takes 1 hour to make!

meal of british beef and ale stew with mug of ale

Is there any meal that’s cozier than a bowl of beef stew on a cold winter night?

I grew up eating my mom’s stew, which was pretty fantastic. (My sister and I always got excited when it was on the menu!) But this beef and ale stew is a bit different.

This recipe was inspired by a meal I had in a London pub a few years back. It was mid-February then too, and I couldn’t seem to warm up. In classic pub food form, a hearty bowl of stew eaten at a heavy wooden table with a fire crackling on the hearth behind me was the best remedy.

That stew had chunks of tender beef, carrot, and potato in a nuanced gravy with layers of flavor. It was thicker than the stew I was used to, and heartier as well. It was served on a cloud of mashed potatoes along with thick-sliced bread slathered with butter. They called it steak and ale stew, and recommended a porter to go along with it.

This beef and ale stew is the easy version of that classic pub recipe. But I share a couple tricks to save time without sacrificing flavor. This recipe whips up in just an hour from start to finish, which means it’s doable even on a weeknight.

Take a trip to London for dinner in your own kitchen with this English inspired beef stew!

front view of bowl of english easy beef stew with mashed potatoes

Why You’ll Love This Easy Beef Stew Recipe

  • Fast. Rich and hearty traditional beef stew in just an hour? Done and done.
  • Flavorful. It has all the flavor of a classic English beef stew! Fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme, aromatics like onion and garlic, and seasonings like Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and soy sauce (or Marmite or Vegemite) create depth of flavor and result in a well-balanced dish.
  • Leftovers. They are even better! Yeah, you might want to make a double batch, lol.
bowl of beef and ale stew with mashed potatoes and peas

How Do You Speed Up Beef Stew?

Using an Instant Pot is a good answer, but it isn’t the only answer.

It’s possible to make a quick and easy beef stew in just one hour on the stovetop. And have it taste like it slow-simmered all day long!

Here’s how to make a classic beef stew in an hour without sacrificing flavor:

  1. Cut the meat into smaller pieces than you normally would. About 1/4-inch cubes are perfect for quick-cooking.
  2. Don’t add tons of liquid that has to evaporate off so the stew can thicken. Here the only liquid we add is 1 cup of ale because the meat and vegetables also release liquid as they cook down.

With these cooking tips in mind, you’ll be able to whip up an incredible weeknight-friendly simple beef stew in just an hour!

Absolutely Delicious British Beef and Ale Stew Recipe in Just 1 Hour

Beef Stew Ingredients

easy beef stew recipe ingredients
  • Vegetable oil – to sauté the vegetables and sear the meat
  • Mushrooms – I used cremini, but white button mushrooms work well too
  • Onion and garlic – these savory vegetables add tons of aroma and layers of flavor
  • Fresh rosemary and thyme – elevates this slow cooking stew
  • Carrots – this is a classic addition to a hearty stew
  • Ale – you can substitute with beef stock if you prefer
  • Tomato paste – adds body to the broth and another layer of flavor
  • Worcestershire sauce – a classic flavoring in British beef stew; growing up, I remember my mom always added it to her stews!
  • Dijon mustard – you won’t be able to pull out the taste of this, but it helps create a lovely depth of flavor
  • Soy sauce – you can substitute Marmite or Vegemite instead if you have either of them on hand
  • Salt and black pepper – these simple seasonings enhance the flavor
  • Bay leaf – this won’t make or break the recipe; don’t worry if you don’t have it in your pantry, but go ahead and add it if you have it on hand
  • Cornstarch – dissolved in water to form a slurry to thicken the stew

How to Make Beef Stew

how to make easy beef stew with ale
  1. Heat the oil in a 5-quart pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the mushrooms and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside for now.
  2. Turn the heat up to medium-high. To the same pot, add the beef stew meat in a single layer. Let it sear on both sides, about 3 minutes total (don’t stir it until it starts to caramelize on the first side; this takes about 90 seconds).
  3. Stir in the onion and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the sautéed mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, carrot, ale, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, salt, black pepper, and bay leaf. Give it a good stir.
  5. Bring up to a boil, and then cover the pot. Turn the heat down slightly so it’s at a gentle boil, and cook until the meat is tender and the liquid is evaporated, about 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and cook until thickened, about 30 seconds.
pot of hearty beef stew cooked in dutch oven

The resulting stew is quite thick and hearty; serve it on a bed of fluffy garlic-mashed potatoes!

Beef Stew with Potatoes

If you like your beef stew with potatoes, you can easily add them to this recipe! I have to admit, beef stew with carrots and potatoes is a favorite of mine too.

To add potato to this steak and ale stew:

  1. You will need 1 large potato (about 1 pound), but you can add up to 2 large potatoes if you really want to stretch it to serve more people, or if you really like potatoes.
  2. Rinse and peel the potato, and then chop it into 1/2-inch cubes.
  3. Add it to the stew at the same time that you add the carrot.

Storage and Reheating

Store leftover steak and ale stew covered in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can reheat this on the stovetop or in the microwave, adding a splash of water if necessary to thin it out.

Tips for Success

  • Cut the meat small. One of the reasons we can get away with a relatively short cooking time for this stew recipe is because we cut the meat very small. One-quarter-inch pieces are perfect.
  • The ale. You can use whatever type of ale you like. Porter, stout, or dark ale are all good options. Go with Guinness if you like!
  • Don’t be tempted to add more liquid. You’ll notice there is no water or stock added to this recipe! That’s not a mistake. There is liquid in the meat and in the vegetables, and the only additional liquid we need is 1 cup of ale. Using less liquid means less cooking time and more highly concentrated flavor, which is characteristic of British beef ale stew.
close up top view of hands holding bowl of beef stew

Beef Stew Recipe FAQs

What is the Best Ale for Stew?

Because beef stew is rich and robust, we want a beer that stands up well to that flavor profile. Dark ales, porters, and stouts are all good choices because their malty, roasted flavor notes enhance the dish well.

On the other hand, lighter-colored beers, such as pale lagers and pilsners, are mild-flavored and crisp, and they tend to get lost in a full-bodied dish such as a meaty stew.

Do I Have to Use Ale in Beef Stew?

No! If you don’t want to use ale or beer to make this. You can simply use water or beef stock instead.

What is the Secret to Tender Stew Meat?

The real key to tender stew meat is to make sure the meat is cooked long enough to become tender. Braising (cooking the meat in liquid) is a good cooking method for stew meat because it keeps the meat moist as it cooks.

Because stew meat is typically a cheaper cut of meat, cooking it low and slow is usually your best bet.

But don’t despair; there is a trick to avoid a super long cooking time that still results in tender stew meat and a delicious dish overall.

The secret is to cut the meat small!

Smaller than you would normally cut beef for stew, anyway. Typically when I make a classic beef stew that will cook low and slow, I cut the meat into 1-inch cubes. For this quick and easy beef stew recipe, we cut the meat into 1/4-inch cubes. This lets us reduce the cooking time and still get tender meat!

english beef stew in bowl with peas and mashed potatoes

More Stew Meat Recipes to Make

beef and beer stew

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The Best Easy Beef Stew Recipe (Inspired by British Beef and Ale Stew)

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Based on a traditional English beef and ale stew, this simplified, easy beef stew recipe features tender beef and vegetables in a thick, rich, and hearty gravy. And it only takes 1 hour to make!

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Ingredients
 

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or avocado oil or light olive oil
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms rinsed and quartered
  • 1 pound beef stew meat cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 4 large cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 2 medium carrots peeled and diced
  • 1 cup ale or beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard see Note
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce see Note
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup cold water to form a slurry

Instructions
 

  • Heat the oil in a 5-quart pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the mushrooms and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside for now.
  • Turn the heat up to medium-high. To the same pot, add the beef stew meat in a single layer. Let it sear on both sides, about 3 minutes total (don’t stir it until it starts to caramelize on the first side; this takes about 90 seconds). Stir in the onion and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  • Add the sautéed mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, carrot, ale, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, salt, black pepper, and bay leaf. Give it a good stir.
  • Bring up to a boil, and then cover the pot. Turn the heat down slightly so it’s at a gentle boil, and cook until the meat is tender and the liquid is evaporated, about 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Stir in the cornstarch slurry and cook until thickened, about 30 seconds.
  • Serve.

Notes

  • Storage and Reheating: Store leftover steak and ale stew covered in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can reheat this on the stovetop or in the microwave, adding a splash of water if necessary to thin it out.
  • Don’t Be Tempted to Add More Liquid: You’ll notice there is no water or stock added to this recipe! That’s not a mistake. There is liquid in the meat and in the vegetables, and the only additional liquid we need is 1 cup of ale. Using less liquid means less cooking time and more highly concentrated flavor, which is characteristic of British beef ale stew.
  • Dijon Mustard: Or use 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder instead.
  • Soy Sauce: Or use 3/4 teaspoon Marmite or Vegemite instead.

What is the Best Ale for Stew?

Because beef stew is rich and robust, we want a beer that stands up well to that flavor profile. Dark ales, porters, and stouts are all good choices because their malty, roasted flavor notes enhance the dish well. (You can’t go wrong with Guinness.) However, if you don’t want to use ale or beer to make this beef stew, you can use beef stock (or water in a pinch) instead.

To Add Potato to This Steak and Ale Stew:

  1. You will need 1 large potato (about 1 pound), but you can add up to 2 large potatoes if you really want to stretch it or if you really like potatoes.
  2. Rinse and peel the potato, and then chop it into 1/2-inch thick cubes.
  3. Add it to the stew at the same time that you add the carrot.

Nutrition

Calories: 309kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 551mg | Potassium: 884mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 5212IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: British

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Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. Just have to say that I made this again (as a pie) and wow, it’s so good! We added chicken livers to give it even more savory flavor.

  2. 5 stars
    My dad (who was English) made a similar stew and he would have loved this!

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