This hamburger stew is loaded with beef, veggies, and rich layers of bold flavor. It’s simple, old-fashioned comforting food! It’s the perfect cold-weather recipe to satisfy hearty appetites.
When Jack Frost makes his presence known, nothing warms your soul like a hearty ground beef stew. Thaw that frostbitten nose inhaling the fragrant brew where savory ground beef and scrumptious veggies abound. And that little pile of shredded cheddar on top? Well, that’s just the icing on the cake!
This hamburger stew is no ordinary beef stew. It’s one of those stew recipes that calls to you, begging for a warm fluffy roll to sop up the thick tasty gravy. That soft fervent glow spreading through your body is just a warm cozy byproduct. Bring it on, Jack Frost!
Looking for more deliciousness? Here are more of my family’s favorite stew recipes. You won’t be disappointed!
Let’s make this stew!
- Ground Beef: I like to use 8o/20 rather than 90/10 ground beef. The higher fat content in the ground beef adds a lot of flavor to the stew and yields a more tender beef. Of course, you can use whichever you prefer. This is delicious even made with ground turkey.
- Onion: I like to use a yellow onion. It adds the best combo of astringency and sweet flavors. White onions are often more pungent, but can also work in this recipe if you like that stronger onion flavor.
- Garlic: I love to take shortcuts any time I can. That said, I have a strong preference for using fresh garlic, not the kind you can get crushed in a jar. I think the jar stuff has a fermented taste and really doesn’t bring the true flavor of garlic to a dish.
- Carrots: Cut into 1/2 inch cubes. A simple trick to add more nutritional value to the stew is to leave the carrots unpeeled. The carrots aren’t quite as pretty but they’re healthier.
- Beef Stock: When I need beef broth or beef stock, I use Swanson’s beef-flavored cooking stock. It’s easy to find and I think it gives you the best flavor. Here’s what Epicurious has to say about the best beef stock commercially available.
- Better Than Bouillon (Beef Flavor): This is the greatest stuff ever. I use it in most soups and stew to fortify the beef flavor in the dish.
- Potatoes: Russet potatoes are the best choice here. They’re creamy and delicious and since they’re a starchy variety, they contribute to thickening the delicious gravy in this stew.
- Pearl Onions – The sweetness you get with pearl onions is unmatched! I know, I know! They’re a pain to peel, the good news is the frozen ones come already peeled! YAY! Just make sure to drain them well because they tend to hold a lot of water.
- Sauteing Veggies – You’ll want to sauté your veggies in the pan drippings where you cooked your ground beef. Sautéing veggies is important to coax out all those sweeter characteristics. Plus, it adds so much incredible flavor to your stew.
- Fond – When you add your broth and other liquids, take a moment to scrape everything off the bottom of your pot. It’ll also add tons of great flavor and prevent burnt bottom bits from ruining your stew. Just make sure to simmer over low heat. You don’t want too much activity in the pot, or your veggies may get mushy and the beef can get tough.
Storing + Freezing + Make-Ahead
- How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge? This will stay fresh and ready to eat for up to4 days in the fridge. Plus, that awesome flavor will continue to develop as it sits, so it makes some awesome ready-made lunches. Just be sure to let it cool completely before putting it in the icebox.
- Can You Freeze This? Absolutely! This recipe makes a great freezer meal. However, I would recommend omitting the potatoes if it’s going in the freezer. They can be notoriously finicky in subfreezing temperatures. It’s easier to just add boiled potatoes right before serving.
- Generally, soups and stew with meat and vegetables last for 4-6 months in the freezer.
- Make-Ahead Tips: This does require just a little chopping due to garlic, onions, carrots, and potatoes. Luckily, that can all be done ahead of time. Almost everything else comes out of the freezer or a can. Super convenient.
- You could always go the freezer route with your hamburger stew. Sometimes I like to freeze this in single-serve portions. It’s great to pull out for a quick meal.
- Food Safety: Here’s an article on food safety.
The only thing that needs to possibly be served with this one-pot, meal-in-itself, is something to dunk into the delicious gravy and sop it up! My favorites are super quick and easy Bisquick biscuit, Olive Garden breadsticks, buttery, homemade crescent rolls, or beer bread. You really can’t go wrong with any of them!
Variations + Additions
Hamburger stew without potatoes: This is an easy variation to make if you’d like to reduce the carbs in this recipe. Just substitute with chopped cauliflower. The gravy won’t be quite as thick but it will still have all the layers of flavor.
Cheesy hamburger stew: If you’re craving a cheesy version of this stew, you can make it one of two ways. The first way is to stir in 1-2 cups of your favorite cheese at the end of its 2-hour simmer (end of step#4) and just let it melt before serving. Or the second way is just to top each individual serving with a generous handful of cheese!
What Can I Add To Beef Stew To Make It Taste Better?
As I mentioned above, Better Than Bouillon is the secret ingredient that really helps improve the beefy flavor of this stew. The other thing you can do to make it tastes even better is to make it a day ahead of serving and store it in the fridge. This really concentrates, marries, and mellows the flavors into something much greater than the sum of its parts.
What Liquid Do You Use For Beef Stew?
I use a combination of beef broth, condensed tomato soup, and the juice from the canned stewed tomatoes. This creates the base for a very delicious gravy.
Can I Make This Hamburger Stew In The Slow Cooker?
Yes! Just make the following changes:
- Follow the directions below through step #3. Add everything from the pot to a large slow cooker.
- Then continue to follow the instructions below at step #4 but add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker instead of the large pot on the stovetop.
- Cover the slow cooker and cook on Low 4-5 hours of High 8 hours.
How To Make Hamburger Stew (aka Poor Man’s Stew)
Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Crumble the ground chuck into large chunks in the hot pan, and cook until evenly browned. Transfer cooked beef to a paper towel-lined plate.
Add the onion, garlic, and carrots and saute, over medium heat, until soft.
Sprinkle flour over vegetables, stirring constantly, until the flour coats the vegetables. Cook to toast the flour. Remove skillet from heat.
Add beef stock.
Add stewed tomatoes with their juices, tomato soup, Better Than Bouillon, Worcestershire sauce, potatoes, Italian seasoning, thyme, bay leaf, salt, pepper, green beans, pearl onions, and browned beef; stir to blend then simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Adjust seasoning. Ladle into individual bowls and serve.
More Stew Recipes You’ll Love
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 medium carrots, cut into cubes
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups beef stock
- 1 (10.75 -ounce) can condensed tomato soup
- 1 heaping tablespoon beef flavor Better Than Bouillon
- 2 (14.5-ounces) cans stewed tomatoes, with juices
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/2 cups frozen green beans,
- 1 cup frozen pearl onions
- Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Crumble the ground chuck (2 pounds) into large chunks in the hot pan, and cook until evenly browned. Transfer cooked beef to a paper towel-lined plate. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of drippings from the pot. If you do not have that amount remaining, add vegetable oil to make up the difference.
- Add the onion (1), garlic (3 cloves), and carrots (4) and saute, over medium heat, until soft, about 5-6 minutes.
- Sprinkle flour (3 tablespoons) over vegetables, stirring constantly, until the flour coats the vegetables. Cook for 2-3 minutes to toast the flour. Remove skillet from heat.
- Add beef stock (3 cups), stewed tomatoes with their juices (2 (14.5-ounces) cans), tomato soup (1 (10.75 -ounce) can), Better Than Bouillon (1 heaping tablespoon), Worcestershire sauce (2 tablespoons), potatoes (3), Italian seasoning (1 teaspoon), thyme (1/4 teaspoon), bay leaf (1), salt (2 1/4 teaspoons), pepper (1 teaspoon), green beans (1 1/2 cups), pearl onions (1 cup), and browned beef; stir to blend then simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Adjust seasoning. Ladle into individual bowls and serve.
Fans Also Made:
- Sauteing Veggies - You’ll want to sauté your veggies in the pan drippings where you cooked your ground beef. Sautéing veggies is important to coax out all those sweeter characteristics. Plus, it adds so much incredible flavor to your stew.
- Fond - When you add your broth and other liquids, take a moment to scrape everything off the bottom of your pot. It’ll also add tons of great flavor and prevent burnt bottom bits from ruining your stew. Just make sure to simmer over low heat. You don’t want too much activity in the pot, or your veggies may get mushy and the beef can get tough.
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Christa Johnson says
This recipe is amazing! I didn’t have green beans so I swapped it for frozen peas. Delicious! Definitely going in the winter rotation! Thank you for sharing this with us!
I’m so happy you enjoyed this, Christa!
Do you cover the pot for the 2.5-hours? I would normally cover the stew during that long simmer, but now I’m wondering if covering it will result in a stew that doesn’t have the thicker consistency I’m looking for.
Hi, Susan. Cover it. Enjoy!
Sonya Heideman says
I am SO looking forward to making this! It’s perfect for that hamburger we have in the freezer!
I do want to make it in the slow cooker, but just wanted to confirm that the times were inadvertently switched. It said, “Cover the slow cooker and cook on Low 4-5 hours of High 8 hours.” I assume that the Low is eight hours and the High is 4-5 hours? (Likely obvious to most cooks, I know, but I’m timid when it comes to adjusting recipes.)
I made your AMAZING beer bread again last night! It’s our favorite, plus our neighbors love when I bring them a loaf. Cannot say enough about how awesome it is, and will definitely serve it with this stew!
Thank you for all your terrific recipes!
Hi Sonya. You are so right, I inverted those times. Ooops! So glad you like the beer bread to! I hope you find lots more recipes you enjoy on the site!
Sonya Heideman says
Oh, yes! Your site is amazing! In addition to great recipes, you talk us into and through them like a good friend would!
I made this stew the other night, and it was incredibly delicious! If this were offered at a restaurant, it would be a favorite order of mine — it’s that good! Just got butter so I can make the beer bread to go along with the leftovers tonight.
It is a perfect cold-weather meal that is highly satisfying. Thank you!
Hi, Sonya! That’s so amazing. Thank you so much for your positive feedback 🙂
As a novice cook, I started to worry the payoff would not equal the amount of steps and prep in this recipe. Boy was I wrong! This is one of the best hamburger stews I’ve ever had! Can’t believe I was able to make a stew with layers and layers of flavor like this. Glad I bought the better than bullion(just for this), I think it’s a wonderful ingredient. Thank you for this fantastic recipe.
Hi, Cookie! Wow, thank you so much. Yes, Better than Bouillon is the best. I’m glad you like this stew!
Made exactly how recipe states. Delicious!!!
Yaaay! Thanks, Patty 🙂
I don’t know what happened but the stew tasted very sour, I assume from the stewed tomatoes. I tried adding some honey to balance it out but it didn’t help much. It doesn’t look like your photos which looks like it’s in a nice brown gravy. Mine looks like it’s full of tomato sauce. I wish I had left them out. How can I salvage it? Thanks.
Hey Marianne. Wow that’s really weird! I often add a little granulated sugar when using canned tomatoes to balance their acidity, but in this recipe, it has canned tomato soup which has a good amount of sweetness. Sour? I’m wondering if you maybe got a weird onion, garlic, or beef broth? I can’t imagine what would cause sourness? I’m sorry Marianne, I’m truly stumped. Regarding, the thickening, maybe I simmered it at a slightly higher temp so it reduces the broth and thickens it? Also, I use russet potatoes which help thicken the stew slightly. I’m really sorry Marianne!
Thanks Kathleen. I don’t have a problem with the consistency of the broth. It’s nice and thick. I think it has to be the stewed tomatoes making it taste sour. I’m letting it sit in the refrigerator and I’ll give it a try tomorrow. It may have improved from sitting. I’ll let you know!
Thank you my friend! If it was too acidic I’d say add granulated sugar or sautéed minced or diced carrots. I’m truly so bummed out this wasn’t absolutely wonderful for you!!!
I’m having this for lunch right now and it did improve somewhat. I will definitely make this again because I love these kinds of soups. I will just either drain the tomatoes or use one can. And I will be sure use a better brand next time!
Oh I’m so happy it at least improved, Marianne!
Charles Borg says
Haven’t made this yet but looking at the numbers I noticed how high the sodium is in this recipe. Could it be the beef bouillon?
Hi, Charles. It’s the beef stock, condensed tomato soup, and stewed tomatoes. You can substitute a low sodium version for the said ingredients. Thank you!
Hi Charles. The Better Than Bouillon does contain a fair amount of salt. I believe it contains 700mg per serving. You can omit it but remember it adds a lot of beef flavor. You can also use low sodium beef stock, a low sodium condensed tomato soup, and omit the 2 1/4 teaspoons salt. Happy cooking!
Lemmer Jeanette says
Made this last night and received rave reviews from my husband. Great flavor and hearty stew!
Hi Jeanette! So glad you and Hubby enjoyed 🙂
Total comfort food indeed! This is mouthwatering…I love how loaded this stew is. Hearty and perfect for winter nights!
Thanks, Tammy! Hope you enjoy it! 😀
Our family enjoys stews and soup all winter and this one looks so substantial and filling! Yum!!
Totally! Hope you enjoy it, Vicky! 🙂
This was really good! Packed full of flavors! My family loved it!
Hi Toni. So happy to hear you and your fam loved it! It’s favorite in our house too <3
Roxana Begum says
That is such an easy, comforting and quick dish. So packed with flavor.
Soup looks delicious
Thank you, Cathy!
This one pot hamburger stew is such a helpful weeknight meal during the witner! I love that it is freezer friendly to!
I couldn’t agree more, Emily. Glad you think so too!