This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission. Full Disclosure Policy.
A delicious crock pot recipe using simple ingredients, this Poor Man’s Stew is a family favorite. It’s an easy dinner to make, budget friendly and delicious!
This dinner recipe is made with fresh vegetables and ground beef cooked low and slow all day in a crockpot.
Step by step photos and instructions below!
Update: This recipe was originally published in March of 2015. It was updated and republished in January of 2024.
Looking for an easy meal that you prep and then forget while it cooks all day? You are in the right place!!
CrockPot Poor Man’s Stew, also known as Hamburger or Ground Beef Stew, is a hearty stew and budget-friendly dish that is simple to make and absolutely delicious. It’s a perfect meal for any time of year, but especially comforting during the colder months.
Some of the biggest reasons to like this Poor Man’s Stew? it’s budget-friendly, delicious flavor and as a plus, it makes the house smell AMAZING. It’s actually pretty good for you, as it uses fresh ingredients like vegetables and ground beef.
The whole family will enjoy loves this stew. It’s great to pull out a random pound of ground beef from the freezer, cook up some fresh vegetables (onion, celery, carrots), brown ground beef then throw all the ingredients in the slow cooker and a few hours later, you will have yourself a yummy comfort food meal!
I make this in my crock pot for Fall and on cold winter nights. I prep it in the morning, and then set & forget. We all grab a bowl and a hunk of bread and snuggle up by the fire to eat together.
The slow and steady cooking process allows the flavors of the ingredients to meld together, resulting in a rich and delicious stew.
Additionally, it’s a convenient method as the crockpot does the work for you, and you can return to a ready-to-eat meal after a long day.
I own 3, in varying sizes. For this recipe, I used a 6-quart slow cooker. Big enough to allow me to stir occasionally without overflowing.
Why you’ll love this budget friendly recipe:
- Make ahead. Stew can be made this overnight, and packed into the fridge in the morning, or taken for lunch. This is helpful when you’ll be gone more than 7 hours from home!
- Inexpensive ingredients. Ones you probably already have on hand! It is considered a cheap meal due to its use of simple and affordable ingredients and its ability to feed a big pot for a low cost.
- Easy to make. Just cook some onions and garlic, brown some beef and throw it all in the crockpot with some veggies, stock, tomatoes and seasonings.
Frequently Asked Questions
Remove a little of the cooking liquid and blend with some cornstarch (a slurry), then add back into the crockpot and cook for another 20 – 30 minutes.
Well, because traditional beef stew calls for chunky stew meat, using ground beef cuts the cost down a little. You can call it Hamburger Stew if you prefer. Other names are Shipwreck Stew, or Normal Stew.
Add some fresh herbs, or a bay leaf to the pot while cooking. Add some smoked paprika or some ground cumin for a deep earthier flavor. 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce will add to the savory flavor. 1 tablespoon of tomato paste will boost the tomato flavor.
Sure can! This works great with anything like ground pork, turkey, chicken, beef or venison.
About 6 hours on low, 4 hours on high.
What to serve with Stew
This is a hearty meal on its own, but you could serve it over rice if you wanted to bulk the meal up a bit. Otherwise, grab a good chunk of crusty bread (try 30 minute dinner rolls, or Whole Wheat Rolls), and serve alongside a Garden Salad.
I have included step by step photos and instructions, as well as tips and tricks in the post. If you’d rather skip all that, scoot right on down to the full recipe card located at the bottom of the post.
What to do with leftovers
Allow the stew to cool to room temperature before storing. Do not leave it out for more than two hours to prevent bacterial growth.
Use airtight containers for storage. Glass containers are ideal as they don’t absorb flavors and are easy to clean. However, any food-grade airtight container will do.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat til piping hot.
Tomato soup will work in a pinch to replace the canned diced tomatoes.
Use ground turkey instead of beef to make it a bit healthier. You can also use half ground turkey and half beef if you want!
Add in some canned beans. Kidney beans, pinto beans or black beans are some simple ingredients to make your food budget go further.
Add frozen green beans to the last half hour of cooking!
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce will add to the savory flavor.
1 tablespoon of tomato paste will boost the tomato flavor.
For longer storage, freeze the stew. It can last in the freezer for up to 4 months. When freezing, leave some space at the top of the container as the stew will expand when frozen.
Thawing and Reheating: When you’re ready to eat the stew, thaw it in the refrigerator if it was frozen. Reheat it on the stove or in a microwave until it reaches 165°F (74°C), stirring occasionally to ensure even heating.
The full list of ingredients and quantities is found in the printable recipe card below.
- Ground beef. Ground beef is an essential and budget-friendly ingredient for Hamburger Stew. It provides heartiness and flavor to the dish, making it a staple for this recipe. However, any cut of beef or meat including ground chicken, turkey, or ground venison will work. Use what you have on hand.
- Potatoes. I don’t always peel, depends on the day. If you don’t peel be sure to scrub well. I use russet potatoes in this recipe, but also yukon gold potatoes or red potatoes if that is what I have.
- Carrots. Just like the potatoes, you can peel, or opt not to.
- Onion. Cut into chunks.
- Frozen Peas. I use whatever I have in the freezer. Green beans, corn, peas or broccoli. I don’t thaw them, just throw them straight in.
- Tomatoes. I use regular diced tomatoes or fire-roasted tomatoes. I sometimes bump up the flavor with some tomato paste.
- Beef Stock. If you are out of this, just use chicken stock – no big deal. Stock or broth, it makes no major difference in this recipe.
- Seasonings. Salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning. If you don’t have Italian seasoning, use some dried oregano and dried basil. Thyme if you have it.
- Crockpot (Slow Cooker)
How to make Hamburger Stew in the Slow Cooker
Scroll for Recipe
The full list of ingredients, quantities and instructions can be found in the printable recipe card below.
Prep the meat and veggies
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion until softened.
Add the garlic and cook 30 more seconds.
Brown the ground beef in a large skillet, then drain excess grease.
Mix together the liquid and seasonings
In a large bowl, mix together the tomatoes stock, onion powder, garlic powder and Italian seasoning (can sub dried thyme).
Combine and Cook
Add the cooked ground beef and onion mixture, and add the remaining ingredients except the flour (liquid and seasoning mixture, chopped celery, diced potatoes and carrots) to your slow cooker.
Mix well, cover and cook on low for 6 hours, or you can also cook on high for 4 hours or until the potatoes are tender.
Thicken the stew
Remove about half a cup of the cooking liquid, and mix flour into it until smooth, then stir the mixture into the pot.
Add the frozen peas (if using) at this point.
Cook 30 more minutes.
How to make this recipe in a Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot
Turn your instant pot onto sauté mode, and cook the onions and garlic. Then add the ground beef and remove excess fat.
Combine the liquid and seasonings in a bowl, and add them to the pressure cooker.
Seal the lid, and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. Do a natural release for 10 minutes, then a quick release for any remaining pressure.
Turn the pot back onto sauté mode, and mix the flour with some of the cooking liquid. Add it and the frozen peas back in, put on the lid and let them heat through for about 5 minutes.
Stir and serve.
Looking for more slow cooker recipes you’ll love?
- Crockpot Cowboy Casserole. Quick to prep, this is a real family pleaser!
- Beef Stew with Herbed Dumplings. This one makes the family run to the table, with the addition of Herbed Dumplings – it’s a total winter warmer!
- Chunky Crockpot Chili Recipe. A rich, tasty crockpot chili that is easy to prepare and slow cooked all day. No long list of ingredients, you probably have them all in your pantry already!
- Red Beans & Rice. Slow-cooked to perfection, this Red Beans and Rice recipe is smoky, hearty, and full of warm flavors. Perfect for Winter and Fall!
- Smothered Pork Chops. tender & juicy, covered in a flavorful onion gravy. Slow-cooked while you do other things.
- ALL SLOW COOKER/CROCKPOT RECIPES
Poor Man’s Stew
Liquid and Seasonings
- 2 medium potatoes (peeled and diced large)
- 2 medium carrots (roughly chopped)
- 2 celery stalks (diced)
- 1 cup frozen peas ((add these at the end of cooking time))
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Prep the meat and veggies
- Peel and chop the potatoes, carrots, onions and celery. Mince the garlic.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion until softened.
- Add the garlic and cook 30 more seconds.
- Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Drain excess fat.
Mix together the liquid and seasonings
- In a large bowl, mix together the tomatoes stock, onion powder, garlic powder and Italian seasoning (can sub dried thyme).
Combine and Cook
- Add the browned ground beef mixture, liquid mixture, and the potatoes, carrots and celery to your slow cooker.
- Mix well.
- Cover and cook on low for 6 hours, or 4 hours on high.
Thicken the stew
- Remove about half a cup of the cooking liquid, and mix flour into it until smooth, then stir the mixture into the pot.
- Add the frozen peas (if using) at this point.
- Cook 30 more minutes.
- Make this overnight, and pack into the fridge in the morning – helpful when you’ll be gone more than 7 hours from home!
- Add frozen green beans to the last half hour of cooking!
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce will add to the savory flavor.
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste will boost the tomato flavor.
- Use chicken stock if you don’t have beef broth.
- Tomato soup will work in a pinch to replace the canned diced tomatoes.
- Use a blend of turkey and beef to make it a bit healthier
Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.