Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Mushrooms and Olives

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Want a dinner you can set and forget? Stir up a batch of this Slow Cooker Beef Stew for a hearty, flavorful supper any night of the week. 

Slow Cooker Beef Stew | Good Cheap Eats

We all have busy days, don’t we? Or days when we just don’t want to do anything. Lazy days, jam-packed days, it doesn’t really matter. It’s always nice when dinner is ready without a lot of work and hassle. That’s when the slow cooker can come in super handy.

Now, I’m kind of a slow cooker snob. I prefer to saute the meats and aromatics before I add them to the crock. I don’t like those dump freezer meals that look like science experiments floating in formaldehyde. I don’t like soggy vegetables.

But, I still love my slow cooker. This Slow Cooker Beef Stew is only one of the many reasons.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew is one of the easiest techniques to master but it has an infinite number of variations and twists that you can add in order to make it something new and fun every time.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew | Good Cheap Eats

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Here are my basic rules to making great slow cooker beef stew:

1. Use a chuck roast that you trim and cut yourself. Don’t buy anything labeled, “stew meat”. It usually doesn’t work out right. Buy a roast and cut into cubes yourself. A sharp knife helps.

2. Brown the meat in a bit of fat. In a hot pan sizzle the meat cubes in some fat, oil, butter, bacon drippings. This helps caramelize the meat and increase the depth of flavor. (Yes, it’s worth washing the pan for.)

3. Saute the aromatics. But before you wash that pan, toss in a sliced onion and some mushrooms or other aromatics and saute them in the drippings. This ups the flavor and helps the texture of your onions. No crunchy onions, please.

4. Add spices, herbs, and a bit of liquid. Here’s where you can get all creative and switch up the flavor profile. You don’t need to make it the same way every time, unless you want to. You’ve got a whole range of herbs and spices to draw from (think southwestern, Italian, classic American, or Indian) and you can mix things up by using a variety of different liquids and combinations thereof: wine, beer, ale, water, broth, juice, or tomato sauce.

5. Add vegetables according to their cooking times. Potatoes take longer to cook than zucchini. If you add them at the same time, one is going to be rather mushy and your picky kid won’t eat it. Ask me how I know. Either cook the veg separately and add it at the end, or choose vegetables that can hold up to long simmering.

So, that’s basically, how I approach slow cooker beef stew. I have several favorite versions, like this one doused in Guinness and this one just like Saint Patrick would have eaten.

Today, I’m laying a new one on you. This one’s got a little Provencal twist to it: tomatoes, mushrooms, salty black olives, and my homemade herbes de Provence blend. I love it served over mashed potatoes, but it’s also super tasty over rice, hot cooked noodles, boiled potatoes, cauliflower rice, or zoodles. The stew is naturally gluten- and dairy-free so it fits a number of food styles. Leftovers stretch really well into soup.

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Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Mushrooms and Kalamata Olives
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
6 hrs
Total Time
6 hrs 15 mins
Want a dinner you can set and forget? Stir up a batch of this Slow Cooker Beef Stew for a hearty, flavorful supper any night of the week.
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: beef stew, slow cooker
Servings: 8
Calories: 271 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds boneless chuck roast trimmed and cubed
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 5 cloves garlic halved
  • 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
  • 15- ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup Kalamata or other salty black olives
  1. In a large nonstick skillet heat the oil until shimmering. Add the beef cubes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Brown the meat on all sides and remove to the crock of a 5 quart slow cooker.
  2. In the drippings left in the pan, sauté the onion, mushrooms, and garlic until the onions are clear and the mushrooms start to brown, about 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in the herbes de Provence and season with salt and pepper. Transfer this mixture to the crock.
  3. Add the tomato sauce, water, and bay leaf to the crock, stirring gently to combine. Cook on LOW heat for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 4 hours. Right before serving, stir in the olives. Serve hot.
Recipe Notes

Nutritional values are approximate and are based on 1/8 of the recipe. Refrigerate leftovers promptly and use within 4 days.

Nutrition Facts
Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Mushrooms and Kalamata Olives
Amount Per Serving
Calories 271 Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value*
Fat 18g28%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 78mg26%
Sodium 462mg20%
Potassium 670mg19%
Carbohydrates 6g2%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 24g48%
Vitamin A 277IU6%
Vitamin C 6mg7%
Calcium 40mg4%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew | Good Cheap Eats

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Danise says


    Have you ever tried the Instant Pot? You can saute your meat right in the pot and then set it to cook on the slow cooker setting. Only one pot to clean and it’s dishwasher safe.

    • I have a Power Cooker (which is the same thing), but I haven’t used its slow cook setting yet. I use it for perfect rice, though. Thanks for the reminder!

      • El says

        I am an Instant Pot devotee! Although I found that it doesn’t do the rice as well as a proper rice cooker, the sauté function is glorious. Fry up the good stuff, and let t go! It’s great when I’ve forgotten dinner and I only have 30mins to get dinner on; the pressure cooker makes me so happy : D

        Jessica, I’d love your ideas on how to adapt your slow cooker meals for an electric pressure cooker. Any tips? Thanks a mill!

        • I have not played with the pressure cooker setting very much. It’s something I need to work on.

  2. Looks good! I love using my slow cooker. There are a few meals that turn out great but so often they are mushy and tasteless.

    • I find that you really can’t let them go all day. Some recipes, like chicken, need much less time. I rarely do vegetable dishes because of the mush factor.

  3. Jeanne says

    Made this in my crockpot – could only find a 2 3/4 pound chuck roast so went ahead and used it and this turned out fantastic. Will use the left overs for nachos. Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe !

  4. Audra Taylor says

    Jessica, I just love these recipes. I have Good Cheap Eats and was reading it this morning over breakfast! I am going to try the stew next week, so hearty and excellent tips to make it tasty.

  5. Danielle L Zecher says

    What is the issue with stew meat? I’ve been trying to make Irish beef stew for years, always using stew meat, and it’s always terrible. Now I wonder if that’s part of the problem.

    • I’ve read that meat packaged as “stew meat” is just random bits that may or may not do well in an actual stew. I prefer chuck for my stews.

  6. Julie says

    I made this tonight as part of one of the protein meal plans. Served over cauliflower rice. Delicious! (no mushrooms and olives for me.)

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