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Grandpa Henderson’s Beef Stew

My grandpa made the BEST beef stew! This hearty recipe is perfect family comfort food. It tastes even better the next day and freezes beautifully.

2 bowls of beef stew with bread and butter.

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I spent a lot of time with my grandparents as a child. It was in their kitchen in Indiana that I learned to cook and bake by doing it alongside them.

My grandma did most of the cooking and all of the baking, but there were a few things that he made regularly that I absolutely loved, and beef stew was one of those things.

Overhead view of a bowl of beef stew with bread and butter.

This recipe is one that I learned from him and then tweaked a bit to make it for my family. The main differences between my version and his are that he added cabbage and sometimes corn to his stew, and I add peas to mine.

My husband absolutely LOVES this beef stew. He said it reminds him of the one that his grandma used to make.

When prepping this beef stew, I like to do one of 2 things. I’ll either prep everything the day before or chop my veggies while the meat is browning.

If I’m prepping the day before I plan to cook, I’ll go ahead and cut the beef into smaller chunks. I find that the stew meat cubes from the store are often fairly large, and I like getting a little bit of beef in each bite of stew. So I’ll cut them into bite-sized pieces, trying to get them all approximately the same size.

Overhead view of 2 bowls of beef stew with bread and butter.

I then put the beef into a container, pop the lid on, and put it into the fridge. I cut up all the veggies and put them in a sealed container in the fridge, too, keeping the potatoes separate since they go in at a later point in the recipe.

If you cut up your potatoes ahead of time, be sure to put them in a container and cover them with cold water before refrigerating them. This will ensure they don’t get brown and funky before you get around to using them.

When you add them to your pot of stew, be sure to drain the water off first.

I find that this prep in advance method really helps when it comes to saving time. This beef stew recipe isn’t super involved, but the chopping takes a bit of time, and I’m all about making things easier on myself whenever possible.

This makes a great meal to bring to new parents, too! I like making a big batch and dividing it up so they can have some fresh and then they have leftovers for the week and some to stock their freezer if they want.

I like bringing it over with 2 loaves of bread, too, so they can freeze one of those as well. It’s always a hit!

If I’m prepping and cooking at the same time, I find that chopping the veggies while the meat is browning in the pan gives me just the right amount of time.

You don’t have to get your meat super brown – I don’t get finicky and do it in batches or anything. Just a few stirs until the outer edges are mostly browned before adding the other ingredients.


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I haven’t prepared this recipe in my Instant Pot yet. Since it makes such a large batch, I end up using the largest stock pot that I have at home when I make this beef stew. My Instant Pot is only 6 quarts so I don’t think that’d be big enough, especially since you need to leave some room in the top of the pot for the pressure to build.

There’s also something about smelling that beautiful beef stew simmering away on the stovetop for hours that brings me comfort. If I were to try doing it in a pressure cooker, I’d likely end up cutting the recipe in half.

If you like stocking your freezer, this beef stew recipe is a great meal to make. Not only does it make a TON of stew (OK, I’m estimating it at 8-10 hearty servings – it may be even more than that), but it freezes beautifully.

I like freezing it in 4-serving batches so I can thaw one out and have enough for 4 of us to enjoy (or 2, with leftovers).

Overhead view of 2 bowls of beef stew with bread and butter.

To truly enjoy this beef stew the way my grandpa did, you’re gonna want to have plenty of bread and butter handy for dipping. He always went with plain ol’ white bread, but any type of bread that your family likes is perfect.

My family enjoys a warm loaf of crusty bread with this beef stew and most recently we started going with pumpernickel.

Any way you choose to enjoy this soup, I hope it warms you up and brings you comfort like it does for me and my family.

What’s your favorite comfort food meal? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!

Looking for more of our favorite soups and stews? Check out these 5-star recipes:

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Recipe for Grandpa Henderson’s Beef Stew

If you try out this recipe, please come back and give it a star rating and comment below. I’d love to know what you think of it!

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2 bowls of beef stew with bread and butter.

Grandpa Henderson’s Beef Stew

  • Author: Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen - Ashley Covelli (Adapted from Roy Henderson)
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 servings 1x
  • Category: Soups & Stews
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


My grandpa made the BEST beef stew! This hearty recipe is perfect family comfort food. It tastes even better the next day and freezes beautifully.




  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until brown on all sides.
  2. Add ingredients through parsley, lower heat, and simmer, covered for 2 hours.
  3. Add potatoes and barley and simmer, covered for 45 minutes. Add peas and cook for another 15 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.


I like to cut the veggies while the beef is browning.

If prepping in advance, cut all your veggies and put them in closed containers in the fridge until ready to cook. Make sure to cover cut potatoes with cold water, and drain the water out before adding them to your stew.

This beef stew tastes even better the next day. It also freezes really well, making it a great candidate for future comfort food meals without additional cooking!


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 428
  • Sugar: 15.5 g
  • Sodium: 870.2 mg
  • Fat: 9.2 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 55.9 g
  • Fiber: 10.3 g
  • Protein: 33.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 74.8 mg

Keywords: comfort food, beef stew, family recipes

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Grandpa Henderson's Beef Stew

Ashley Covelli is a food photographer, recipe developer, and culinary instructor based in Ossining, New York. She loves helping people become enthusiastic and adventurous in the kitchen so that they can build skills and confidence to cook for themselves and their loved ones. She can almost always be found with at least 3 different beverages within arm's reach.


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