Beef Stew with a Secret Ingredient

A family favorite recipe for a delicious beef stew that is sure to warm you on a chilly day.

Now that 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 beef stew 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 so 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.

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

a bottle of Holland House Sherry Cooking Wine

Sherry Cooking Wine and not just a splash, but half a bottle of it. 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 which means comfort food for a few meals.

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. 

Leftover Stew Broth & Dumplings

Beef stew being made in a pot on the stove.

On the third day after I made the stew when the meat, potatoes, and carrots were gone and all that was left was the broth. I used the broth 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, bring a pot of water to boil. Then drop the frozen dumplings into the 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 broth on top. Sprinkle some grated cheese on top, pour a glass of red wine and you have one more delicious meal from one pot of stew.

If you don’t like dumplings, the stew leftovers also taste good over rice.

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
4.80 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


  • 1-1/2 pounds chuck loin cubes or stew meat
  • 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 tablespoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black 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


  • Flour beef cubes and brown in butter in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat.
  • Cook onions and garlic in with the beef until tender. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pot to mix all the brown bits that may stick to the bottom of the pot.
  • 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 vegetables are soft.


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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I just found your blog, and am so happy I did! I’ve read multiple posts and I keep thinking it’s like you can read my mind or we were twins separated at birth-lol. We are also empty nesters (Charleston, SC), and recently moved from our home of 37 years to a larger home, because of the lovely water view. I do many of the same things as you in my own home. I even change up my more feminine guest room bedding and decor with the seasons, while leaving the more often used neutral, masculine guest room essentially unchanged—it just makes sense! Then I saw you have the same Spode Italian china set that I have, even the jumbo cups (my faves!). Jumbo or ‘breakfast’ cups are so underrated. I buy them with any china set I purchase that offers them. I am making your mouthwatering stew recipe for our Sunday dinner this weekend. I’ve had a wonderful time perusing your blog, sipping chamomile tea, and watching the sunset, and look forward to catching up on your older posts as well as your new ones. Thank you for all the hard work you do with your blog. It’s a breath of fresh air!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Nancy – Thank you so much for telling me about yourself and enjoying my blog. You made my day. Looking forward to connecting with you more.

  2. Diane, our family loves loves this recipe that I got right here on your blog some years back. Seeing this makes me want to make some now!!! Thanks for sharing 💕. Delish

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Gail – So happy to hear. I remember as a kid growing up and coming home from school to see and smell the stew simmering on the stove, I got excited for dinner. XO

  3. Looks AmAzing ! Is it necessary to the cubes?? I remember this sherry.. wonder if there is a healthier version of this? Going to try!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Patti – I am sure there is a healthier version of the sherry. Maybe straight sherrt you can buy at the liquor store. I will have to do some sleuthing. If you don’t want to use the beef cubes the stew is still delicious!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I made this beef stew the last time you posted the recipe and it is delicious!
    Somehow I lost the recipe after that, so thank you for posting it again!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      That is so nice to hear – glad I posted the recipe again. Enjoy.

  5. With colder weather approaching…this looks delicious. I plan on trying it soon. I also wanted to wish you well on your upcoming hip replacement surgery. My husband is 6 weeks out from his hip surgery, and doing quite well. Enjoy your day! ;)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thank you Donnamae – Going in to have it replaced tomorrow. Good to hear your husband is doing well after his. I am hoping for the same outcome. XO

  6. Looks delish! I eat mostly vegan as well – I cook half and half as my husband eats meat. I may try making this half and half – make the base and cook half with beef for my husband and the other half with mushrooms for mine using vegetable broth for added flavor. I’m looking forward to browsing the rest of your recipes! Best wishes on your upcoming hip surgery 💕

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Deb – I think that is a great idea to make the stew with mushrooms. Thanks for the idea, I think I am going try that myself now. YUM

  7. This was exceptional! I wasn’t sure how it would turn out without the tomato paste and the beef broth but it turned out one of the tastiest beef stews I’ve made.

    The things I did differently:
    Simmered the beef for about 45 longer (1:45), because that’s how long it took the beef to start becoming tender.
    Added a teaspoon of Worcestershire.


    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Roman – I love when readers share how they tweaked something I made. It is great getting inspiration, but life is better when you take the idea and put your own style on it. Thanks for sharing the tweaks you made to the recipe.

  8. Hello! Can you please recommend the best size Dutch oven to own? Thank you!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      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. Thanks so much, that helps a lot!!

  9. 4 stars
    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.

  10. Debbie Klausing says:

    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!

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

  12. Shelley Williams says:

    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!

  13. 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.

  14. 5 stars
    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.

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

  16. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    5 stars
    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.

  17. Catpainter says:

    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.

  18. 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!

  19. Gail Vernali says:

    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.

    1. Gail Vernali says:

      Add biscuits cook an additional 30 min.

  20. Ricki Jill Treleaven says:

    Just in time for cooler, rainier weather….thanks for sharing the secret ingredient and the rest of the recipe! It looks so good!

  21. 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. Diane Henkler says:

      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:

      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.

  22. 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. Diane Henkler says:

      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. :-)

  23. Norma Rolader says:

    5 stars
    Absolutely sounds delicious … now I will have to check it out but does the cooking sherry have the ingrid as alcohol does 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’d like to know too!

    2. Karen McCarty says:

      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.

  24. Janette Deans says:

    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

  25. Julia@Cuckoo4Design says:

    Oh my gosh I was just thinking yesterday that I’m craving beef stew. Yours looks so good.

  26. 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! ;)

  27. Pat DonBrosky says:

    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. Diane Henkler says:

      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

  28. 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. Diane Henkler says:

      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.

  29. 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!

    1. Would love that recipe too!

    2. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Connie – I love the taste of sun-dried tomatoes. The recipe sounds delish. I bet the chicken comes out very tender if it baked in the dressing.

    3. Peggy Christopherson says:

      Sounds really good. Where can I find this chicken recipe? Thanks

  30. 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.