4 Tips for Making a Better Beef Stew in Your Instant Pot

updated Dec 8, 2019
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Brett Regot/Kitchn

Of all the things you can make in your Instant Pot this winter, I urge you to put classic beef stew at the top of the list. It’s a comfort-food essential and one of the coziest meals to dig into on those extra cold, dark nights. Best of all, this version comes together in record speed, so you can still make it on a weeknight.

Even if you’ve made beef stew in your Dutch oven or slow cooker, there are a couple of things you’ll want to do differently with the Instant Pot or another electric pressure cooker. Here are four smart and simple tips to help you make really great beef stew in your Instant Pot every single time.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Brett Regot/Kitchn

1. Skip the stew meat and start with boneless beef chuck.

I know pre-cut stew meat seems convenient, but starting with a two- to three-pound boneless beef chuck roast simply makes for a better stew. Stew meat is often cut into irregularly shaped pieces, which won’t cook evenly and the pieces can be smaller than you want when making stew in your Instant Pot. Additionally stew meat tends to have more tough gristle, which will never get tender.

Using a large piece of boneless chuck allows you to easily trim off all the unwanted parts first, then cut the beef into uniform 1 1/2-inch pieces that will cook more evenly in the pressure cooker.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Brett Regot/Kitchn

2. Cut the carrots and potatoes into large pieces.

While bite-sized vegetables are ideal for stovetop stew, you’ll want to think bigger when using your Instant Pot. Part of making a really good stew is cooking everything together in the same amount of time. You want to make sure the carrots and potatoes don’t overcook and totally fall apart. The simple way to do that is cutting them into pieces that are at least as large as the beef cubes.

3. You only need 1/2 cup of broth.

Yes, really! That’s not a typo, and there’s no need to add more liquid (it would only result in a thinner gravy). Just one half cup of beef broth is all you need for a pot of stew with plenty of rich brown gravy. The veggies and meat will let out extra liquid as they cook, and since this stew is cooked in a sealed environment, moisture gets locked in, and doesn’t evaporate as it would with stovetop cooking or in the slow cooker.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Brett Regot/Kitchn

4. Save the peas for the very end.

No need to add the peas to the Instant Pot before sealing the lid for pressure cooking. That would seriously overcook the peas, leaving them totally mushy. Instead, all you need to do is stir them in at the very end, right before serving. A minute or two in the piping-hot gravy and they will be plenty warm — trust us.

Get the recipe: How To Make the Absolute Best Instant Pot Beef Stew