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Beef, Barley, and Vegetable Stew

Some slow cookers have a stovetop-safe insert, so you can do all the cooking in one pot. If yours doesn’t, use a skillet and then transfer the ingredients to the slow cooker.

  • prep: 20 mins
    total time: 4 hours 20 mins
  • servings: 6
Photography: Andrew Purcell


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Coarse salt and pepper
  • 1 pound beef chuck, cut into 3 pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 4 cups chicken or beef broth, divided
  • 1/2 pound small potatoes, halved
  • 1/2 medium butternut squash (1 pound), peeled and diced medium (2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley

Cook's Note

Cold Comfort
Freeze leftovers as individual servings for quick lunches or dinners later.


  1. Step 1

    In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Season beef with salt and cook until pieces are browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker.

  2. Step 2

    To the skillet, add remaining tablespoon oil, the garlic, and thyme and saute until fragrant, 1 minute. Add 2 cups broth and cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Transfer mixture to slow cooker.

  3. Step 3

    Add potatoes, squash, barley, 2 cups water, and remaining 2 cups broth to slow cooker, cover, and cook on high until meat is very tender, 4 hours (or 8 hours on low). Using two forks, shred beef. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Everyday Food, October 2013

Reviews (6)

  • 2 Jan, 2014

    I think the flavor was pretty good, but it is more of a soup than a stew. I added an onion, think I would add more veggies if I make it again. I think either less liquid or more barley to absorb some of the liquid. I didn't have quite enough broth so I added some white wine, I think it was a nice addition. I would also like more meat in it.

  • 27 Oct, 2013

    My family loved it and ask for it instead of traditional beef stew. Go figure. It is really starchy...

  • 22 Oct, 2013

    I did not care for the taste at all. However, my husband had two bowls. Tasted like I was eating fat. Removed a lot of the fat before cooking. Strange taste.

  • 16 Oct, 2013

    This really should be called Beef and Starch Stew. It isn't very flavorful and is great need of some non-strachy vegetables. I love most MS recipes, but this one needs work.

  • 10 Oct, 2013

    Easy to make and delicious!

  • 10 Oct, 2013

    very good, everyone in family liked it!