How To Make Better-than-Takeout Beef and Broccoli in the Slow Cooker

How To Make Better-than-Takeout Beef and Broccoli in the Slow Cooker

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Meghan Splawn
Oct 12, 2018
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Beef and broccoli ranks high on my list of takeout favorites. The savory combination of tender beef, sweet broccoli, and vibrant carrots cooked in an umami-rich garlicky sauce is pure comfort in a bowl — especially if I can eat it in my pajamas on the couch.

Homemade beef and broccoli from the slow cooker gives me the exact same satisfaction, as well as the ability to customize the sauce to my liking and use up beef and veggies that might be languishing in the fridge or freezer. Plus, the slow cooker does all the work of cooking the beef and vegetables for you, either while you cozy up on the couch or run errands. Here's how you can make beef and broccoli at home that I promise you is even better than takeout.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn)

Easy Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

In my opinion, the only time it's worth making a takeout-style recipe at home is when you can make the most of cheap pantry staples to create a super easy (yet cozy and comforting) version. This slow cooker beef and broccoli delivers on both, using supermarket beef and a few flavor-boosters I bet you already have on hand.

First, we'll build a sauce that relies mostly on pantry staples. Then beef and sweet carrots will cook low and slow until tender. And finally, just before serving, you'll add the broccoli and a quick cornstarch slurry, resulting in the most perfect savory beef and broccoli at home.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn)

3 Key Steps for Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

Beef choice and prep matters. The goal with beef and broccoli is tender, rich beef. To that end, flank steak and sirloin are our preference. You'll need two pounds, and you'll want to slice them across the grain into three-inch-long pieces before adding to the slow cooker.

Read more: Shopping for Steak? Here Are the 4 Cuts You Should Know

Make a sauce that can do double duty as a marinade. The takeout-style sauce is a simple combination of beef broth, soy sauce, and oyster sauce, flavored with garlic and a little brown sugar. You'll add these to the slow cooker at the beginning of the cook time with the beef and carrots, and thicken them later. The beef and carrots will cook the longest in this sauce.

Tip: You can also marinate the beef in this same sauce mixture. Combine the sauce ingredients in a large zip-top bag and add the sliced beef and carrots. Let sit in the marinade overnight, or store in the freezer for up to three months.

Thicken with cornstarch at the end. When the beef is tender (after about four hours of cooking on high), you'll add the broccoli and a cornstarch slurry. A slurry is a simple mixture of cornstarch and water that will prevent the cornstarch from clumping when added to the warm sauce. The cornstarch will thicken the sauce and the broccoli will steam to tenderness in just 30 more minutes in the slow cooker.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn)

Holding and Serving Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

If you need to keep the slow cooker beef and broccoli warm for little while (say, while you get into comfy clothes and queue up Netflix), turn the slow cooker to warm to avoid overcooking the beef. Serve the finished beef and broccoli over rice with a spoonful or two of the gorgeous sauce for coating each and every grain.

How To Make Better-than-Takeout Beef and Broccoli in the Slow Cooker

Serves 6 to 8

Prep time: 25 minutes ; cooking time: 5 hours

What You Need

Ingredients

  • 1 cup

    low-sodium beef broth

  • 1/2 cup

    low-sodium soy sauce

  • 1/2 cup

    oyster sauce

  • 1/4 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons

    toasted sesame oil

  • 4 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • 2 pounds

    flank or sirloin steak, thinly sliced across the grain and cut into 3-inch pieces

  • 3

    medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick coins

  • 1/2 cup

    water

  • 1/4 cup

    cornstarch

  • 2

    large heads broccoli, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 pound chopped florets)

  • 6 cups

    cooked rice, for serving

  • Equipment
  • 6-quart slow cooker

  • Small bowl

Instructions

  1. Make the sauce and preheat the slow cooker. Combine the broth, soy sauce, oyster sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, and garlic in the crock of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Stir to dissolve the sugar and set the slow cooker to the HIGH setting.

  2. Add the beef and carrots, cover, and cook on high for 4 to 5 hours. Add the sliced beef and carrots and use tongs to coat with the soy mixture. Cover and cook until the beef is cooked through and tender, 3 1/2 to 5 hours on the HIGH setting. Start checking at 3 1/2 to 4 hours, as flank steak tends to cook faster and may be tender at 4 hours.

  3. Add the slurry and broccoli and cook for 30 minutes more. Whisk the water and cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth (this is your "slurry"). Add to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Add the chopped broccoli and stir to coat the broccoli in the sauce. Cover and cook until the sauce is thickened and the broccoli is tender, about 30 minutes more.

  4. Serve over rice. Serve the finished beef and broccoli over rice.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

(Image credit: Samantha Bolton)
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