Beef Stew with a Secret Ingredient

Recipe for a delicious beef stew that is sure to warm you on a chilly day.

Now that it is officially November and the weather outside is turning cooler, my kitchen stove has been getting warmer from more use after a summer spent using the outdoor grill to make dinner. There is nothing better when it is cold outside to come home to the delicious smell of a pot of beef stew simmering on the stove. It adds the finishing touch to everything fall and creating the comfy cozy factor that affects all my senses.

Jumbo blue and white cup and saucer filled with beef stew. Spoon resting on saucer.

I don’t share many recipes, but when I do, they are the best of the best in my recipe box. The ones that have family and friends asking for more. This is the case with my mom’s beef stew.

My mom is no longer alive, but this recipe was one of her best. I remember as a child watching her make it and learning the secret ingredient she added that made it taste sooooo good! Even as kids, my siblings and I loved this stew and even ate the carrots without complaint!!!

white plate filled with Beef stew for dinner

When I got married, I began to make the recipe to serve for dinner and as the years went by it became a favorite of my daughters, too. I made it a lot and always on Halloween night.  It became a Halloween tradition. My daughters who live in the same town, called me on Tuesday night, (Halloween) as they were making the stew and had a few questions for me so they would make it just the way they remembered.

So what makes this beef stew the best, most delicious stew ever…

a bottle of Holland House Sherry Cooking Wine

… Sherry Cooking Wine… half a bottle of it or more.  I have always used this brand since it is what my mom used, but any brand of cooking sherry or even apéritif Sherry will add the flavor that makes the stew taste so good.

Another delicious aspect of making this stew for dinner when you are only serving 2 or 3 people for dinner is that you will have leftovers.

Best Beef Stew Recipe served for lunch in a Spode Italian Large cup and saucer.

The day after we had the beef stew for dinner, I heated it up and served the leftovers for my lunch in my Spode Blue Italian Jumbo Cup and Saucer. 

Beef stew being made in a pot on the stove.

On the third day when the meat, potatoes, and carrots were gone and all that was left was the juice. I used the juice leftovers to make one more meal.

Package of Anne's Flat Dumplings.

My mom used to make dumplings from scratch until she found these, Anne’s Old Fashioned Flat Dumplings at the supermarket. They are just as good as home-made dumplings.

To cook them all you need to do is drop them in boiling water. Cook until they float, drain and then put back in the empty pot with some melted butter and salt. Mix well.

A bowl of leftover stew on a table.

Place the dumplings in a bowl and then pour the leftover stew juice on top. Sprinkle some grated cheese on top and you have one more delicious meal from one pot of stew.

Beef Stew recipe that has a secret ingredient in it that makes it extra delicious and hearty for a cold winter's night meal.
Print Recipe
4.8 from 5 votes

Beef Stew With Secret Ingredient

Better than Grandma's Beef Stew and easy to make. Serve the stew by itself or spooned over dumplings.
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Beef Stew
Servings: 4
Calories: 400kcal
Author: In My Own Style

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds chuck loin cubes
  • 1/4 cup sifted flour
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup sliced onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 cups water
  • 8-12 ounces sherry cooking wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups potatoes, cubed
  • 1-1/2 cups carrots, chopped into chunks
  • 1 cup celery, sliced
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
  • Aunt Anne's Flat Dumplings optional

Instructions

  • Flour beef cubes and brown in butter in a Dutch Oven.
  • Cook onions and garlic in with the beef until tender.
  • Add water, sherry, parsley, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Cover and let simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Add potatoes, carrots, celery, green pepper; Cover again and simmer 15 minutes or longer until the veggies are soft.

Nutrition

Calories: 400kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 1930mg | Potassium: 846mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Calcium: 62mg

Do you have a family favorite recipe that you can make without even having to read it from a recipe card since you have made it so many times?

Beef Stew recipe that has a secret ingredient in it that makes it extra delicious and hearty for a cold winter's night meal.

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37 Comments

    1. Hi Leslie – This is such a good question as I have made the mistake of getting the wrong size when I have ordered them online without seeing them in person. I have gotten them way too large or small and had to return.

      The size that has worked best for me when I was cooking for a family of four and now just Ed and I is 4 quarts. It is my go when making stews and soups. I also have an 8 quart. It is too big for most of my recipes. I use it when making something for a crowd.

  1. I wasn’t sure about the sherry wine vinegar but made the recipe as posted. Delicious! It made two meals for my husband and me. And being from the South, cornbread was perfect for it. Thank you.

  2. I love beef stew, so I must try your recipe!
    I also love bean soup. I add carrots, celery, onion, garlic, basil etc. I also add a can of diced tomatoes, which gives such a delicious flavor! A big ham hock or a chunk of ham makes it even better!
    Growing up we always put a big spoon of my Granny’s chutney in our bowl of ham seasoned beans, so my version kind of duplicates it.
    I have never seen a chutney that comes close to my Granny Annie’s!

  3. My secret ingredient in beef stew is a turnip or two (small ones). I use burgundy wine and Worcestershire sauce also.

  4. Just tried it, 2 thumbs up, I think it will be perfect to throw in the cockpit with a full pork or beef roast too!

  5. I always add Sherry when I make turkey a la king over toast following Thanksgiving and it adds so much. thanks for the recipe, I will certainly make this stew.

  6. Diane, this recipe looks absolutely wonderful and I can’t wait to make it! I’ll check out “Anne’s” site and hope that one of the grocery stores in my area stock their products. Those flat dumplings in the stew broth also sound great.

  7. I’ve always used sherry in beef stroganoff, but I’ve never thought to use it in beef stew. And why not? Crazy me.

  8. Sounds delicious! I went to the site for Anne’s and it says I can find them at IGA. Yippee! I already promised a high school classmate I would make a recipe she gave me, but yours is next. And I already know yours is great, cause I also use Sherry in stews and soups. My recipe is like yours. I’d rather make yours, but my word is bond.

  9. I always put one star anise in my stew. No one ever knows what that flavor is, but it’s great. Works well in any kind of stew including a fish stew.

  10. This sounds and looks delicious. Have you ever tried it in a crock pot- Just wondering? My grandmother’s secret recipe for authentic Jewish Grandmother chicken noodle soup is parsnip. It adds such a wonderful rich, slightly sweet flavor. I also think that might contribute some of the curative properties of the soup, known affectionately as “Jewish Penicillan”!

    (Actually, I think her old-world recipe originally called for parsley root (which is related to parsnip), but that is almost impossible to find anymore in any stores- at least around here! )

    1. OOPS- I meant to write that parsnip was the secret INGREDIENT in her recipe for chicken noodle soup! Everything else in the soup is the usual ingredients (chicken, carrots, onion, celery, salt, pepper and parsley!

  11. Looks delish, thank you for sharing. When I want to add dumplings quick to a stew I pop open a small tube of pillsbury Grands biscuits , cut each biscuit into 8 wedges toss in the stew cover pot or croc pot turn it up for a bit and done and yumm. Now I need to make this stew.

  12. Those dumplings look like the Pennsylvania Dutch bott boi noodles they sell in the dry pasta aisle. Dumplings in my family are puffy carbohydrate clouds made with milk and Bisquick and cooked in a deep pot with stewed chicken and carrots. … will have to make chix and dumplings soon; it’s a favorite in my house. My no-recipe recipe is my grandmother’s bean soup, which is just beans, water, onion, carrots, ham, and a lot of simmering :D

    1. Hi Jan – The recipe that is the #1 favorite in my family growing up and is to this day is Bott Boi Pantry Shelf Dinner. We just call it Bott Boi now. :-) My mom started making it when I was in elementary school. You can see the recipe in my mom’s handwriting in this post I did about a recipe holder: https://inmyownstyle.com/2014/09/photo-frame-recipe-holder.html

      It calls for the noodles you mention, PA Dutch Brand Bott Boi noodles. It is hard to find these noodles anywhere but PA. When I make the recipe and even do it with the stew sometimes is use extra-wide egg noodles, but they are not the same. When I go back to PA to visit, I make sure to go to the supermarket to buy things they don’t sell in the south, like Bott Boi Noodles and Spiced Wafers. :-) Oh and Zeigler’s Apple Cider.

      The way you make dumplings sounds delish. I have never made Bean Soup. I see packages of it where you just need to add water or broth and then let in cook for a few hours. I will have to try it. I bet it hits the spot on a cold and chilly day.

  13. I just made some in the crockpot and was thinking “it’s missing something!” I will add some sherry to the leftovers! Thanks for the tip!!!

    1. Hi Cyndi – I think stew always tastes better as leftovers the next day. The juices have more time to really infuse the meat and veggies. I hope the addition of the sherry adds that something that was missing. :-)

  14. Absolutely sounds delicious … now I will have to check it out but does the cooking sherry have the ingrid as alcohol does ..like barley and just to name a few … I ask due to the fact I am sensitive to items in alcohol … bummer I know can not drink

    1. I am a fellow follower of Diane’s: no the cooking does not have alcohol. You can pick it up at your local grocery store in the aisle with oils. At least in my store in Newnan Georgia. I made this stew and it absolutely the best.

  15. Looks delicious and just in time for the chilly weather, I will give the sherry a try, and the ‘Juice’,[ we call beef tea] should have a nice ‘bite’ to it…thanks for sharing Diane..x

  16. This sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing this recipe from your mom. I know I cherish my mom’s recipes so much now that she’s passed. I have a couple that I know by heart….and they are family favorites! ;)

  17. I’ll check the stores here in Connecticut, but I’ve never noticed “Anne’s Dumplings”. I do remember my mom ordering chicken and dumplings somewhere and being very disappointed with the ‘noodles’ served. We expected dumplings – like biscuits – which was the way HER mother made dumplings. She also used the same dough to make apple dumplings – YUM!!

    1. Hi Pat – The dumplings are hard to find in stores. Some stores place them with the frozen pasta, others with frozen bread. I always scan for the red and yellow box to find them. They have a website where I think you can find stores listed in your area that sell them. It is http://www.annesdumplings.com/

  18. You don’t mention in the instructions,but I assume you add the sherry when you add the water and other ingredients mentioned at that time.
    I intend to use your recipe even though I make a good beef stew also. I’m always ready to try another version. Can’t wait to get to the grocery for supplies.

    1. Hi Pat – Thanks for telling me about the sherry. I had trouble with the tech that allows me to create printable recipes on my blog. I had to redo the recipe and forgot to all that. It is fixed now. :-) I agree it is fun to try different stews and even chili recipes, but this stew will always be my favorite.

  19. I developed a “Baked chicken in Sun-dried Tomato Dressing” that is a no-fail but it tastes (and looks) like a million bucks. :-) It’s one of those ‘invented’ recipes that you truly don’t have to have exact measurements for and it’ll still turn out great!

  20. Thanks for sharing the recipe!! I look forward to trying it. We make my dads chili every Halloween and always wonder why we don’t make it more often.