Slow Cooker Beef Barley Stew
Slow Cooker Beef Barley Stew is a hearty, flavorful soup with tender beef and vegetables, plus plump barley. It’s an easy crockpot recipe that’s comfort in a bowl! Watch the video!
A Hearty Beef Barley Soup Recipe Made in a Slow Cooker!
Hearty and flavorful, this Slow Cooker Beef Barley Stew just couldn’t be any easier. Enjoy this recipe that’s sure to take the chill out of your winter-weary bones!
I counted it out on the calendar. Just a little more than 10 weeks until the first day of spring!
Besides that being the birthday of both my dad and our first born daughter (I LOVE that they share this day together!), I’m so looking forward to springtime’s warmer temps. This subzero cold spell here in the Midwest is getting mighty old!
So in the meantime, to help us get through the lingering cold, let’s talk about this comforting stew!
“Made this last night, thought I would have leftovers for today, my family had multiple bowls and finished the stew!!! My husband said it was the best I ever made, so thank you!”– Lynn
Ingredients You’ll Need
This stew gathers its rich flavor from a variety of fresh + pantry ingredients. If you enjoy comfort food, this recipe is a real treat.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- olive oil – Used for sautéing.
- boneless beef chuck roast – This inexpensive, flavorful cut cooks up super tender in a slow cooker!
- salt & pepper
- fresh veggies: mushrooms, carrots, garlic, yellow potatoes, and yellow onion
- beef broth – I always use a low sodium variety, so I can control the salt.
- dry red wine – This adds a huge amount of flavor depth to the finished stew.
- tomato paste – I love what a little bit of tomato paste does for this recipe!
- Dijon mustard – Another ingredient that packs a ton of flavor.
- dried thyme
- pearl barley – Also called “pearled barley”, usually found by the rice and grains at the grocery store.
- bay leaf
- fresh parsley – For a sprinkling of fresh green flavor when serving.
How to Make Beef Barley Soup
This is such an easy recipe. After browning the beef, all you do is stir in the remaining ingredients, put on the cover, and let the slow cooker do the rest of the work!
- Brown the beef: If you own a slow cooker with a browning option, like this slow cooker (affiliate link), brown the seasoned beef in the olive oil, right in the slow cooker. Otherwise use a large skillet (affiliate link) on the stovetop to brown, and then transfer the browned beef to the slow cooker.
- Add remaining ingredients: Then add everything else (except the fresh parsley – that’s for sprinkling over individual bowls when serving) and stir well to incorporate.
- Cook: Cover and cook on high for 4 hours. Then turn heat to low and cook for 2 hours more, or until beef is absolutely fork tender.
Here are more slow cooker recipes for you!
What Kind of Barley to use for Soup?
I don’t use barley very much in my cooking, but Blake always liked his Mom’s ground beef and barley soup when he was growing up. So this recipe has been all about recreating that familiar combination of flavors.
I often get questions about what kind of barley to use. For this recipe, look for “pearl barley” (affiliate link) or “pearled barley”. It’s similar in size and texture to brown rice, and is especially popular in soups and stews.
This is a very common ingredient, usually found by the rice and grains at the grocery store. But if you don’t find it there, be sure to ask a store clerk, because I bet they stock it in another area!
Pearl barley is chewy and nutritious, and takes about an hour or so to fully cook. My recipe instructs you to add it after browning the beef, which will give you a very soft barley because it cooks for 6 hours.
If you prefer a firmer, chewier bite to the barley, then add the barley to the slow cooker 1 to 2 hours before the stew is done.
If you want to use quick barley, which only takes about 15 minutes to fully cook (because it has been pre-steamed), then add it to the slow cooker 15 to 30 minutes before the stew is done.
Do I Have to Use Wine?
I get this question A LOT!
And while I can’t force anyone to use red wine, I do strongly recommend it for this recipe.
The red wine adds depth to the recipe as a whole, when everything is left to slow cook for hours. And I promise, you won’t be able to detect any kind of wine flavor once the stew is finished cooking.
Beef + tomato (I use tomato paste in this recipe) + red wine are such an excellent flavor combination!
If you are set on not using the wine, however, the stew will still be very good.
Tips for the Best Beef Barley Stew
Use a flavorful cut of beef. An inexpensive cut is best – beef chuck is my preference. It’s full of flavor and the slow cooker will magically transform this otherwise tough cut of meat into irresistible, fork-tender bites of beefy heaven. If you can’t find chuck, top round would be my second choice. Just know that the overall flavor and texture will not be as good as chuck.
Get a good sear on the beef. This creates enormous flavor. Also be sure to give each piece of beef enough room to get truly browned. If you pile all the beef pieces on top of each other, they’ll just steam instead of brown.
Cut the veggies somewhat thick. They cook for a long time in the slow cooker. So if you cut them small, they’ll end up mushy. If you prefer smaller pieces of veggies, I would suggest adding them a bit later in the process.
Don’t skimp on the cook time. The slow cooking process produces a stew with fabulously tender chunks of beef. Don’t cut the cook time short if the beef isn’t absolutely tender.
But don’t overcook it, either! Yes, it is possible to overcook a beef stew. When it comes to soups and stews, there’s nothing I dislike more than when vegetables are cooked to a mushy mess.
This hearty stew just begs to be sopped up by some warm, crusty bread. Or how about steaming hot popovers? Try my traditional Popovers recipe – or if you have sourdough starter or discard, these heartier Sourdough Popovers are AMAZING!
A fresh side salad would also be good. Dress simple fresh greens with my Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing – our family loves it!
I might also suggest, as my photo depicts, a glass of dry, robust red wine for sipping. So very lovely.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Beef stew recipes always make great leftovers!
This homemade stew recipe will keep very well for a few days when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Simply reheat single or multiple servings in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stovetop.
Can I Freeze Beef Barley Stew?
This recipe freezes perfectly!
Use either larger freezer-safe containers or smaller single-serving freezer containers, and then thaw them in the fridge overnight before reheating. It’s so wonderful to have these on hand for quick, delicious homemade meals!
More Slow Cooker Soup Recipes
- Slow Cooker Beef and Sweet Potato Soup
- Slow Cooker Chili
- Crockpot Italian Beef Stew
- Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash
- Lasagna Soup (with slow cooker instructions)
Like this recipe? Save it to Pinterest!
Slow Cooker Beef Barley Stew
Simple ingredients are left to mingle in the slow cooker, resulting in a rich and flavorful stew of tender beef and vegetables with barley. Total comfort!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 1" cubes
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces mushrooms, cut into thin slices
- 8 large carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally into 1/2" pieces
- 6 large cloves garlic, minced
- 4 medium-large yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 6 cup low sodium beef broth
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3/4 cup pearl barley
- 1 bay leaf
- chopped fresh parsley
- Sprinkle beef fairly generously with kosher salt and pepper. If you own this awesome slow cooker, where you can brown meat right in the slow cooker - add the oil to the slow cooker and then brown the beef right in the slow cooker, searing beef on all sides. Otherwise use a large skillet over medium-high heat to heat the oil and then brown the beef. Drain off fat. If using a skillet, transfer beef to slow cooker. You will need a large slow cooker for this recipe, as it makes a big quantity (ours is a 7-qt. size).
- Add mushrooms, carrots, garlic, potatoes, onion, beef broth, wine, tomato paste, mustard, and thyme, and stir well to incorporate. Then stir in barley and add the bay leaf. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours. Then turn heat to low and cook for 2 hours more, or until beef is tender. Serve hot, with fresh parsley sprinkled over the top. A good, crusty bread for dipping is always welcome.
from a farmgirl's dabbles
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 353Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 556mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 4gSugar: 4gProtein: 27g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
This post was originally published in 2015. Photographs and some of the text were updated in 2018 and 2021.
This is the next recipe going in my slow cooker! I think my whole family will love it, looks delicious!
Wonderful! We just enjoyed it again yesterday!
Your recipe is in my slow cooker right now. I’m planning to package it up and freeze it so we’ll have some yummy heat’n’eat meals while I’m recovering from eye surgery.
I hope you liked this stew, Deborah. Just a note – the soup may thicken up after being frozen. If that happens, just add a bit more beef broth when warming up the soup on the stovetop.
I’m wondering what I could use as a substitute for the wine. The recipe looks delicious but when I see wine I shy away. Can you recommend something different?
Hi Allison – I would just eliminate the wine and make the recipe without a substitute. If you don’t want to use wine because of the alcohol, I completely understand. But if you’re just leary to use wine, I encourage you to give it a try. It adds beautiful depth of flavor to a slow simmering soup. You can’t taste that it has wine once it has finished cooking. Please let me know how it goes – hope you like it!
I am prepping this tonight to put into the slow cooker tomorrow and I can hardly wait to eat it already when I get home from work tomorrow!
Wonderful! Hope you liked it!
Amazing stew! I’ve tried a lot of different stew recipes and this one by far is the best. Super flavorful, love the barley addition. I used organic stew meat and cooked on high for 1 hour and then on low for about 5 hours and it was perfect. We were so anxious to dig in that I totally forgot the fresh parsley. This one is a keeper for sure! Thanks!!
Hi Laura – thank you for coming back to let me know you made this. I’m so happy you liked it! :)
Oh this is just the perfect thing to have waiting for you when you return from work on these freezing cold winter days! Looks delicious!
My neighbor went on the gaps diet and gave me a bunch of food she wanted out of her house. Many of those groceries have left me scratching my head trying to figure out what to do with it.
Cross the barley off the “what the heck am I supposed to do with this” list!
Excellent. Enjoy the soup!
It is such a cold night here, this sounds perfect!
This meal is perfect for us in Buffalo NY right now. It has been absolutely freezing outside and am looking for a good bowl of stew to heat my system. Looks nice and hearty!
Excellent! Stay warm!!
I just spent this weekend stockpiling a bunch of slow cooker recipes because I have one ten hour work day during the week! This made it to the list :)
Wonderful! Hope you like it!
The count down is ON!!! In the meantime, I’ll be hunkering down with soup. Stay warm Brenda!
My family would love this Brenda!! I don’t make stew often. The slow cooker is calling my name for this one!
Gotta make a pot of this for Eric. Total comfort food and it’s perfect for the weather we’ve been having.
Total comfort food! This looks perfect!
Dangit! We just had this for dinner last night (but not your recipe). I wish I would have looked on here first! Although I didn’t have any pearl barley and I really wanted some :(
I live in Colorado, and I am always so happy when it gets above 40 degrees! It feels so warm!
Hi Melissa – please let me know if you give this recipe a try. And here’s to spring and warmer temps!
Looks DELICIOUS! I just bought everything and will be making it tomorrow morning! One question: the picture shows mushrooms…but there aren’t any listed in the recipe. Did you just saute them and throw them in the pot with the beef? Thanks!
My apologies! I just updated the recipe. Thanks for letting me know. I hope you like this stew!
Now this is my kind of dinner! Love this comfort food!!
This stew looks so cozy! It’s been unseasonably warm here in Utah, but I think I’m going to have to give this recipe a try while the evenings are still cozy.
This is such a cozy dish, Brenda! I’m sure it doesn’t compare to Minnesota, but we have been getting some snow in Colorado this week and this would be the perfect meal! :)
This stew looks delicious and I have a feeling this is destined to become a favorite!!!! I could use a big bowl of this after being outside for 10 minutes. Stay warm Brenda and here’s hoping the ground hog was seriously wrong!!!