This unique beef stew recipe slow cooks cranberries, sage and thyme with the stewing meat for a sweet and super flavorful beef stew! This dish makes for a great cozy holiday meal, or easy weeknight dinner. Serve it with buttery mashed potatoes, and you’ve got yourself a delicious slow cooked dinner, ready to be devoured by your family!
Adding cranberries to this beef recipe not only brings a bright and beautiful color to the otherwise mostly ‘brown’ dish, but it also contributes greatly to its flavor. We all know and love beef stew as an easy weeknight dinner idea, because everything is pretty much thrown in a pot and left. All of the flavors kind of muddle together, and it’s hard to distinguish one from the other. Adding sweet and tangy fresh cranberries to this winter beef stew recipe gives each bite a unique POP of flavor! It tastes sweet and tangy, without giving it that ‘I’m eating meat and fruit’ kind of feel. Trust me, I HATE meat and fruit combined (It just doesn’t seem right!), but I LOVE this meal!
Okay, so this is NOT the slow cooker I have, but I kind of wish it was! Look at that color!
How To Make Cranberry Braised Beef Stew:
To ‘braise’ means to sear the food first to release complex flavors, and then to slow cook it in liquid to further enhance the flavors and to tenderize the meat. It sounds complicated, but it is really easy!
First, heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Toss in the meat, and sear it on 2 sides for about 2 minutes per side. Add the onions, mushrooms and carrots and continue to sear the ingredients, stirring occasionally. After about 3 minutes, Pour in the red wine, and let it simmer down for another 3-4 minutes.
Now add the beef stock, brown sugar and tomato paste, season generously with salt, and stir! Pour it into your slow cooker, and slow cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours. 2 hours before it’s done, remove some of the liquid to a bowl, mix with the cornstarch, then add it back to the pot. Add the cranberries, stir and continue to cook for 1 hour longer! Enjoy!
What To Serve With Beef Stew:
This beef stew with wine recipe goes GREAT with some creamy and buttery mashed potatoes! It would also be great with roasted potatoes. When I made this recipe, I had leftovers. I re-heated the left overs and served them over egg noodles, similar to a beef stroganoff! Since this is a slow cooked beef stew recipe, you have plenty of time to think of a base! Here are a few more suggestions:
- Mashed Potatoes
- Roasted Potatoes
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Frequently Asked Questions:
|If I’m in a rush, do I still need to sear the ingredients first?||Kind of! So you don’t have to actually sear them, but when you add the wine, it needs to be added to a hot pot and simmered down for about 5 minutes. If you skip this step, the wine flavor will be very strong. Searing the beef and vegetables adds to the development of the flavor once slow cooked. But if you are in a rush, just toss all of the ingredients (minus the cranberries, beef stock and corn starch, see recipe) in a hot pot and immediately add the wine. Allow it to reduce before adding the beef stock.|
|Can I make this ahead of time?||Honestly, not really. I’ve tried to think of how this could be prepared the night before, but it would be very difficult considering the wine needs to be simmered down a bit. So you can’t really just add all of the ingredients to a bag and toss it in the slow cooker, you know? I mean, you CAN do this, but it will definitely change the flavor of the dish.|
|Is it okay to just throw in the thyme and sage with their stems?||ABSOLUTELY! This is a little trick, and such a time saver. When slow cooked, the thyme leaves will slowly begin to fall off of their stems. The more you stir the stew, the more you will see the thyme leaves fall off. When the dish is done cooking just remove the thyme stems and sage leaves, and it will be perfectly flavored!|
|How long are the beef stew leftovers good for?||Beef stew leftovers are good in a refrigerated air tight container for 3-4 days! I recommend serving the leftovers over egg noodles, similar to a beef stroganoff! It tastes AMAZING, trust me!|
Cranberry Braised Beef Stew
- Slow Cooker or Crock Pot
- 2 pounds stew beef, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 small yellow onions, chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 8 ounces mushrooms (any kind)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1.5 cups dry red wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon)
- 2 cups beef stock
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- a pinch of thyme sprigs (about 20) and a pinch of sage leaves (about 10)
- 1.5 cups fresh cranberries
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 1 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp black pepper (more to taste)
- Heat olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven. Toss in the stew meat, and let one side sear for about 2 minutes until light brown color forms. Stir the meat, and let a second side of the beef sear for 2-3 minutes.
- Toss in the onions, carrots and mushrooms, stirring to combine. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Pour in the red wine. At this point, the heat of the pot should be high, and the red wine should come to a simmer quickly. Simmer for about 3 minutes to reduce slightly.
- Pour in the beef stock and add the tomato paste and brown sugar to the pot. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, and add the thyme and sage to the pot.
- Transfer the contents of the pot to the slow cooker and place the lid on. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 6-8 hours. NOTE: see next step.
- 2 hours before the stew is done, spoon about 1/2 a cup of liquid out of the slow cooker into a bowl. Add the cornstarch to the bowl, and mix until there are no clumps. Pour this mixture into the slow cooker along with the cranberries, and stir well. Continue to cook for 2 hours.
- When done cooking, remove the thyme sprigs and sage leaves. Serve over a base such as mashed potatoes, and enjoy!
Did you like this Cranberry Braised Beef Stew recipe?! If so, go check out my Korean Crispy Fried Chicken Breasts recipe!