How to make slow cooker beef and barley stew (video)

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Beef and barley is a match made in culinary heaven, and they come together in this hearty stew that's sure to warm up any chilly day. Everything is in this stew — beef, barley, potatoes and tons of other veggies — and it's all covered in a savory gravy that's perfect for picking up with bits of crusty bread.
Typically, chuck roast or bottom round roast are used, two cuts that benefit from a long, slow cooking time. I like to use pearl barley rather than hulled barley, which can still have a very tough texture after hours in the slow cooker. Just be sure you don't use instant pearl barley, as it will turn to mush long before the stew is ready.
Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Stew
Cooktop Cove
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 8 hours
Serves: 6 to 8
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds boneless round roast or chuck roast, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
4 medium-sized yellow-fleshed potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups beef broth
1 cup pearl barley
1 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/2 cup green beans, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup frozen corn
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
2 teaspoons cornstarch, mixed with 1/4 cup water
1. In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Quickly sear the beef, then place in a 6-quart slow cooker.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the cornstarch mixture, to the slow cooker. Stir to thoroughly mix all ingredients, then pour in the cornstarch mixture and stir to mix again.
3. Cover the slow cooker cook on low for 7 to 8 hours, until the beef is fork-tender and the potatoes and barley are tender. Stir the stew occasionally during the cooking time, but try not to leave the lid off for too long, as this will allow precious heat to escape.
4. Remove the bay leaf before serving, then taste and add more salt and pepper as necessary.
Pro tip: Searing the beef beforehand gives it a bit more texture and some more caramelized flavors. But to save time, you can add the beef directly into the slow cooker.
Note: All slow cookers are a little bit different in temperature and calibration. This recipe was tested in Cooktop Cove's Test Kitchen using this slow cooker, which is available for purchase here.
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