Crockpot Beef & Barley Stew

bowl of beef and barley stew

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5 from 2 reviews

A hearty and comforting Crockpot beef and barley stew made with ease in your slow cooker. Just dump all the ingredients right into the slow cooker!

*Cooking Note - For the most flavor, season your beef stew meat the night before. You can actually prep this entire recipe the night before - For more details, read the blog post above.


Units Scale
  • 1 to 2 pounds beef stew meat (or buy chuck and cut it into bite-sized pieces)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt (I like Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with your palm
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2/3 cup pearl barley
  • 3 fresh thyme or parsley sprigs
  • 6 cups water or beef broth*
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

*You can use all water or all broth, or a combination. If using only water, you'll need to add salt after the stew is cooked to boost the flavor.


Pre-Season the Beef Stew Meat: The night before, season the stew meat with salt, pepper, garlic powder and seasoning salt. Add the garlic cloves and put the meat and garlic in the refrigerator overnight. 

If you forget to season the meat the night before, just season it at the beginning of this recipe, before adding any other ingredients to the slow cooker. 

Make the Stew

  1. Pre-cook the onion (this step is optional - see blog post above for more details) by putting the chopped onion coated lightly with olive oil in a bowl. Microwave the chopped onion for 2 minute increments, stirring after each time to soften the onion before it goes in the slow cooker. Usually about 4 minutes is enough. 
  2. Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker: seasoned beef, garlic cloves, onion, celery, carrots, barley, thyme or parsley, water/broth, tomato paste. Mix well. 
  3. Cook on LOW for 7 to 8 hours. I prefer to cook stew on low because the low and slow cooking makes the meat more tender. But you could also cook this on HIGH for 3 to 5 hours. 
  4. Season as needed with more salt and pepper  


When cooked for the full amount of time, the barley becomes vey soft and creamy. It also releases starch into the water making this a thick, silky broth. If you prefer barley that is more firm and chewy, then wait to add it halfway through the cooking time.