Beef Stew represents the ultimate in winter food. After all, it’s warm and filling, and rich and meaty. Stew is easy because it cooks on the stove or in a slow cooker all day. But, what if you didn’t have all day to make a beef stew? That’s where pressure cooking comes in. And, you’ll need this Instant Pot Beef Stew recipe.Jump to Recipe
Slow Cooking vs. Pressure Cooking
- Slow cooking cooks food to the simmer point in an electric pot, like a Crock Pot. The Crock Pot was introduced in the 1970s. It began an era of “fix it and forget it” cooking. Slow cookers have low and high functions, and some have browning features on them. But, a slow cooker’s high heat is nothing like a pressure cooker. It simply brings food to the simmer point quicker than the low heat setting.
- Pressure cooking has been around for more than a century. Early stove top pressure cookers delivered inconsistent results like chewy meat and burned foods. Electronic pressure cookers, though, like Instant Pot (the most well-known brand) have modernized pressure cooking. Their different functions and cooking modes mean perfectly cooked foods. You can control the amount of pressure and heat, and how quickly the pressure releases.
Although slow cooking has its niche, it takes more planning. It’s perfect for when you want to come home to a good meal. Or when you’re busy and don’t have time to oversee meal preparation.
The Instant Pot, on the other hand, is ideal for when you didn’t plan ahead. Maybe you ran out the door and forgot to defrost the chicken breasts. Or you need a big meal in a hurry. Whatever the reason, with an Instant Pot you can take frozen chicken or beef straight from freezer to pot.
Beef Stew Quick & Easy
Beef stew is easily made in either a slow cooker or Instant Pot. Slow cooking tenderizer tougher cuts by cooking at low heat. Pressure cooking just speeds up the process while stewing the meat at the same time. I find that pressure cooked meat is a little more flavorful.
A tip for those of you who like making soups and stews: keep frozen stewing vegetable mixes in your freezer. They keep for months and it’s great to have them on hand.
With this recipe, the beef and onions are browned on the sauté mode of the Instant Pot. The sauté mode is my favorite feature. Not only does it give color to the meat and vegetables by browning them, but it adds flavor to the dish.
Browning meats and vegetables leaves a flavorful fond (or residue) on the bottom of the pan. When liquids are added, it releases the fond. That’s called deglazing and it adds flavor to the food. So, there’s a lot more reasoning to browning meats than just “browning” them.
Instant Pot Beef Stew
Who says you need to simmer beef stew on the stove top or in the slow cooker. Make quick work of beef stew in the Instant Pot any night of the week.
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into 1" cubes
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 oz tomato paste
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 cup beef broth, low sodium
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 lb carrots, sliced 1"
- 1 cup celery, sliced 1"
- 1 cup frozen peas
Set the Instant Pot to saute for 30 minutes. Add the olive oil. Once the pot reaches temperature, add the stew meat and brown for 2 minutes on each side. Push the browned beef to one side and saute the onions for 5 minutes.
Stir beef and onion together and sprinkle flour on top. Add tomato paste and thyme, saute 1 minute. Whisk in beef broth and soy sauce, stiring until smooth. Add carrots and celery. Twist on lid, close sealing valve, press cancel, and set for 25 minutes at high pressure.
At the end of the pressure cycle, allow pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes. Then quick release any remaining pressure. Wait until all pressure has escaped and the pressure button has dropped before opening pot.
Are You New to the Instant Pot?
Read your owner’s manual before using your pressure cooker! And, read my post that highlights the features of the Instant Pot.
Pressure cooking safety tip: one of the biggest risks with pressure cooking comes from overfilling the pot. Pay close attention to the marks in the pot to keep from overfilling it. And, when making soups allow the pressure to naturally release for at least 5 minutes before initiating a quick release.