How To Make the Absolute Best Instant Pot Beef Stew

updated Aug 31, 2023

Tender beef stew made in the Instant Pot in less than an hour.


Prep5 minutes

Cook55 minutes to 1 hour 5 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Cold weather means stew weather, and there truly isn’t a dish that’s much more comforting than beef stew. When cubes of beef, sweet carrots, and potatoes cook slowly together in a savory sauce, the resulting stew just makes you want to grab a hunk of crusty bread and dig in. But when you’re stuck for time, you forgot to thaw your meat, or you simply can’t be bothered with an all-day cooking fest, Instant pot beef stew is the way to go.

While there’s no denying that a pot of classic beef stew bubbling away for a few hours on the stovetop makes for an amazing-smelling kitchen, using an Instant Pot instead makes for a beef stew that can go from pulling ingredients out of the refrigerator to sitting down at the dinner table in just about an hour. Here’s how to do it.

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

How to Make Sure Your Beef Gets Super Tender in the Instant Pot

The best way to ensure your beef is tender in your Instant Pot stew is to braise it (aka pan sear it first, then let it stew). Braising turns tough cuts of beef into tender, fall-apart bites. But skip the pre-cut stew beef.

Oftentimes, stew beef is cut into irregularly shaped pieces and can have a lot of tough gristle that will never get tender. Picking up a piece of boneless beef chuck instead means that you can easily trim off all the unwanted parts first. Once you’ve trimmed the meat, make sure the pieces are cut into uniform 1 1/2-inch pieces that will cook evenly and quickly in the pressure cooker.

Searing the beef cubes first creates all those tasty browned bits that make the finished sauce that much more delicious, but you don’t have to spend a lot of time searing the cubes all over. Searing just one side saves you time, so be patient with the process, working in two batches, and letting one side of the beef get really nice and dark.

Should I Use the Stew Setting on My Instant Pot?

All of the settings on an Instant pot are just pre-timed, so there’s nothing inherently special about them. For this recipe, it’s not necessary to use the stew button for a beef stew recipe. Instead, follow the instructions for the specific cook times.

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

Which Is Better for Beef Stew: Instant Pot or Slower Cooker?

When it comes to deciding where to cook your beef stew (in an Instant pot versus a slow cooker), the winner really comes down to time. If you are a person who often forgets to thaw out meat, or who gets nervous about the idea of leaving on a slow cooker all day while you’re at work, an Instant pot is the way to go. (This also goes for other beef-based dishes like beef chili.)

However, if you like the aroma of a dish cooking all day long (and sneaking small tastes of the broth), then a slow-cooker beef stew is the better choice. It really comes down to how much time you want to dedicate to the task of cooking.

What Ingredients Do You Need for Beef Stew?

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for Instant pot beef stew:

  • Boneless beef chuck: Using boneless beef chuck over stew meat ensures a more tender, evenly cooked meat.
  • Beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, and cornstarch: This trio of ingredients turns the beef stew into a thick gravy that gives it the stick-to-your-ribs quality.
  • Carrots: I like them peeled first, but you can leave the peels on if you wish.
  • Potatoes: Use Yukon Gold potatoes, which are the perfect blend of starchy and waxy.
  • Frozen peas: These add a bright spot of color, sweetness, and some fresh flavor after the beef stew is ready.
  • Onion and garlic: The classic combination of onion and garlic becomes the background flavor in the beef stew.
  • Herbs: Dried thyme and optional sprigs of parsley add an earthy, fresh flavor to the stew.

Because this beef stew is made in the Instant Pot and we want everything to cook in the same amount of time, the carrots and potatoes should be cut into large pieces so that they don’t overcook and fall apart. Go with chunks that are the same size as the beef cubes, with the exception of the onion and garlic, which can be cut smaller since we want those to cook down as much as possible.

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

How to Thicken Beef Stew in an Instant Pot

We all know that one of the best parts of beef stew is the rich brown gravy. Since this stew is cooked in a sealed environment (and therefore the moisture gets locked in), you only need half a cup of broth and some Worcestershire sauce to get things going.

  • Cook the stew for 25 minutes (yes, it’s that quick!) under high pressure and the veggies and meat will let out more liquid as they cook.
  • Once everything’s done cooking, add a slurry made with cornstarch and water and simmer with the Sauté function for a few minutes to thicken the sauce into a gravy.

Using cornstarch keeps this beef stew gluten-free, and I find it’s easier to thicken the sauce at the end rather than start by searing beef that’s been tossed in flour (which usually requires more oil and introduces the risk of the flour burning during searing).

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

How to Serve Beef Stew

A big handful of frozen peas stirred into the beef stew at the end adds a note of sweetness and a bright pop of color to the otherwise deep, savory flavors. For some freshness, garnish with chopped parsley if you’d like. Here are some options for what to serve with the beef stew so that not a drop of that delicious sauce is left behind:

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

Absolute Best Instant Pot Beef Stew Recipe

Tender beef stew made in the Instant Pot in less than an hour.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 55 minutes to 1 hour 5 minutes


Nutritional Info


  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 2 cloves


  • 2 1/2 pounds

    boneless beef chuck

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

  • 2 tablespoons

    vegetable oil, divided

  • 3

    medium carrots (about 12 ounces total)

  • 3

    medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 12 ounces total)

  • 1 tablespoon

    tomato paste

  • 1 teaspoon

    dried thyme

  • 1/2 cup

    beef broth

  • 2 tablespoons

    Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 tablespoon


  • 1 tablespoon


  • 3/4 cup

    frozen peas

  • Fresh parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)



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  1. Cut the aromatics and beef. Dice 1 medium yellow onion, mince 2 garlic cloves, and place both in a medium bowl. Trim 2 1/2 pounds beef chuck and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces.

  2. Season and sear the beef in two batches. Season the beef with 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker on the Sauté setting until shimmering. Add half of the beef and sear undisturbed until browned on the bottom, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer with tongs to a large plate. Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and beef. Place all the beef on the plate.

  3. Soften the aromatics. Add the onion and garlic to the cooker and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the vegetables.

  4. Cut the vegetables. Peel 3 medium carrots and cut on a slight diagonal into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Quarter 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 1/2-inch chunks).

  5. Add the seasonings and liquid. Add 1 tablespoon tomato paste and 1 teaspoon dried thyme to the onions and cook until the tomato paste is darkened in color, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup beef broth and 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits.

  6. Add the vegetables and seared beef. Add the carrots, potatoes, seared beef, and any accumulated juices from the beef, and stir to combine.

  7. Cook on HIGH pressure for 25 minutes. Lock the lid on and check that the valve is set to seal. Set to cook for 25 minutes on HIGH pressure. It will take 7 to 10 minutes to come up to pressure.

  8. Natural release pressure for 10 minutes and make the cornstarch slurry. When the cook time is up, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water together. Coarsely chop some fresh parsley leaves for garnish if desired.

  9. Release the remaining pressure and thicken the sauce. Quick release any remaining pressure. Carefully open the pressure cooker and turn on the Sauté function. Stir in 3/4 cup frozen peas and the cornstarch mixture and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.

  10. Season and serve. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Serve garnished with the parsley if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

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