Slow Cooker Beef Barley Stew

A nice warm filling frugal meal for a cold winters night. Mmmmm… This is one recipe I love because its a throw-together-in-the-crockpot in the morning type I don’t have to think about. Plus it turns out perfectly every time. Enjoy!

Best beef stew hands down. Slow cooker and freezer meal too.


This recipe also works well for a quick freezer meal. Typically I add all the cold ingredients (except carrots and water – these need to be added day of) into a ziploc freezer bag. Freeze. Then night before I take this bag to thaw in fridge. In the morning I add it to the crockpot with carrots and water. Saves me a lot of measuring time.

5 from 5 votes
Slow Cooker Beef Barley Stew
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
5 hr
Total Time
5 hr 20 mins
Author: Karrie
  • 1 lb Beef Stew Meat *diced small*
  • 1 1/4 cups sliced or chopped carrot
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 5 Cups Water
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 TBSP Beef Bouillon powder
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  1. Place all ingredients in a 5 quart slow cooker or Crock-pot.
  2. Stir it up.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours on low or 4-5 hours on High.

—> See ALL of my Freezer Meals recipes here.

Oh and make sure and subscribe to my email e-newsletter so you can read when I post new freezer meals along with all kinds of great money saving deals each day.



Slow Cooker Beef Barley Stew was last modified: November 2nd, 2016 by Karrie

Subscribe and never miss a thing

Receive free email updates!

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Your support keeps this blog running and is greatly appreciated. AMAZON DISCLOSURE: The owner of this website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to,,,,, or DISCLAIMER: The content on the blog Happy Money Saver is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. I am not a medical professional and the information contained on this blog should not be used to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease or health illness. Please consult with a qualified healthcare professional before acting on any information presented here.


  1. Deanna Dappen says:

    Hi Karrie!

    This recipe sounds wonderful for the fall. I love hearty, warm soups.
    I am living in Germany right now–I know, super wonderful, but I do not have a crock pot available, so I would have to make this on an electric stovepot or perhaps on low in the oven.

    Have you tried this without the crockpot? Can you give me some guidance on any changes I would have to make to have success on the stove with this recipe?

    Thanks so much!

    • I think you could slow cook this in the oven for sure = I would suggest like 300-350 degrees for 2-3 hours maybe. Let me know if you make it and how you do it without a crockpot. Good luck.

    • Just cook in a pot on simmer for a few hours. I do it all the time with a similar version of stew. Just watch it and add enough liquid to seasoning ratio to not burn off liquid too quickly and so it’s not under seasoned. And stir frequently to prevent burning or sticking.

  2. This does sound delicious. Do you have any ideas for something I could use other than celery? I’m allergic to celery and it tends to be in most stew and soup recipes.


    • thecandiedmango says:

      Amy, I know this response is late but if you can’t eat celery just leave it out. I can’t think of anything that can exactly duplicate the taste, but I’m sure the soup wouldn’t suffer without it. You could try replacing it with a totally different taste like garlic or mushroom if you want that extra whap of flavor.

  3. We are expecting our 4th child in January and I am anxiously pre preparing freezer meals in expectation. With this (and other crock pot meals) stew, do you pre chop all of the ingredients and freeze them? If you do pre-prepare and freeze, do you freeze the barley too?

  4. I do freeze the barley with it all. And I do prechop all the ingredients (except the carrots…those I have to do the day of because they never get super soft if I just freeze them raw – even after cooking in a slow cooker all day.

  5. So If I make a great big pot of stew can I freeze the left overs or do I need to make a seperate batch to freeze. Do I freeze everything before I cook it then put it in the crook pot and cook when I am ready.

    • [email protected] says:

      Hello! I wanted to ask the same question. Can I triple this recipe then freeze?

      • Heather and dbrenna, yes you can freeze this into ziploc bags after you cook. My rule personally is to only freeze items once. So if you cook it all day, then cool and bag to freeze so all you have to do is reheat is great. Or do like I do and just freeze all the uncooked ingredients so that all I have to do is dump it all in a crockpot in the morning. Either way is great. Thanks for the questions!

  6. I feel like I’m getting a little too particular but do you put the tomato sauce in the bag to freeze as well? I have never made freezer meals and decided to start. Do you just dump everything in the bag and don’t worry about mixing it up? Thanks in advance!

  7. Heather says:

    In the crock pot right now! Thanks!

  8. Making this for a cool fall day tomorrow. Have no barley, but I do have wheat berries. Can I sub? Do I need to cook them first? (Or the barley, for that matter?)

    Looking forward to it. Thanks!

  9. Amber Wilkey says:

    Could I use frozen carrots and add them into the main bag of stew then freeze or will they still get yucky?!

  10. Teresa Zellner says:

    Do you know if it would be okay to substitute quinoa for the barley? I’ve just began using quinoa & am looking for some different recipes to use it in.

  11. Christina Rzemieniecki says:

    Hi there! How many servings do you think this would make?

    Thanks! 🙂

  12. I am trying to cook meals to bring to a tournament so my celiac family can be fed – my question is can I make this meal and THEN freeze when it’s cooked? ps – I won’t be using the barley as we cannot eat it, but have always successfully substituted quinoa for barley in soups/stews before.

  13. How much is one cube of beef bouillon? Best guess maybe one tablespoon so I would use two? For those of you that have made it both ways is it best to make and freeze or freeze and then cook?


  14. Karrie! I have to tell you that this is my FAVORITE crock pot recipe. My husband could eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner if only I could keep the slow cooker from being emptied.. Thank you so much for having such an interesting life and sharing it with us!

  15. Its in slow cooker right now but seems really ‘soupy’ as opposed to thick like stew. Do you thicken it with anything before you eat it?

    • Happy.MoneySaver says:

      I love this stew! The texture seems good to me but if you want to thicken it try a little cornstarch and water to make a slurry and stir it in! That should make it thicker without altering the taste! 🙂

  16. I made this today. I made three meals—one we had for dinner tonight and two for the freezer. I did your recipe exactly as you described and it turned out wonderfully! Thanks!

  17. I’m so new to freezer meals. Do I need to thaw them out before crockpotting/baking them? Or do I just throw them in?

    • Happy.MoneySaver says:

      If they are straight from the freezer they will take longer to cook. If you would like them to cook in a shorter amount of time you can put them in your fridge and then cook them later! Good luck! 🙂

  18. KentuckyKaren says:

    It’s a cool, rainy fall day here in the bluegrass state. My hubbs and I had this tonight. Delicious! 5 stars for ease of preparation and short ingredient list. My only little glitch was the barley “disappeared” near the end of cooking…broke apart. However, maybe because I used quick cooking barley (all the store had). No problem though. Added more during the last 20 minutes of cooking. Perfect. Also needed some cornstarch/water to thicken. I plan on making freezer batches now that I know how yummy it is. Thanks for recipe!

    • hello I noticed you said you added Cornstarch to thicken this, I am brand new to freezer cooking and am wondering would this be added in the crockpot or can it be added to the main batch before cooking?

      thanks ,


      • I would wait to see how thick it is when it cooks up, and add it as a slurry towards the end only if needed (meaning, mix the cornstarch with a cold liquid first, then add to that to the stew).

  19. do I cook the beef first, if not how would you suggest freezing this meal with already left over beef for this soup??

    • Happy.MoneySaver says:

      You can cook it first or just add it in with the other ingredients to freeze. It will have time to cook in the crockpot. If you have leftover meat I would chop it up to size and add it with my other ingredients for the stew. It may not need as long to cook but the flavors would need time to meld together.

  20. Love this recipe!! It uses ingredients we always have on hand and my finicky husband finds it delicious! Thanks for sharing this!

  21. wondering why you don’t add the carrots to the freezer bag? Don’t they freeze well?

    • Happy.MoneySaver says:

      I have to do the carrots the day of because they never get super soft if I just freeze them raw – even after cooking in a slow cooker all day! 🙂

  22. I absolutely loved this recipe! I always use baby carrots in soups and never had any issues with softening after freezing. I added one chopped potato to the recipe. It’s so easy and tasty!

  23. hello All I am just getting started on making Freezer meals for a couple of reasons but mainly to help my husband and daughter out while my youngest Daughter has Back Surgery as she will be in the hospital for a week and I do not leave her side any while she is there. so I have a couple of Quick Questions.
    1:) I noticed many saying this stew seems thin and that I can use Corn startch thicken it up but When Exactly would I add that? do I add to the bag or is that done towards the end of Cooking?

    2:) Has anyone made this using Frozen carrots from the store and if so how did it turn out?

    3:) can I add Potatoes to this and them freeze ok? I read someplace where Potatoes don’t freeze well.

    thank you for taking the time to read this and help this newbie to freezer cooking out.

    • 1.) Not sure, I don’t find it to thin…
      2.) Yes, you can use frozen carrots, they will be fine.
      3.) You would have to blanch the potatoes first or they will be brown and mushy.

      Good luck!

  24. Hi there
    Looks great. Quick question. Do I put All UNCOOKED ingredients in a freezer bag, freeze and take out when ready, add carrots the cook in slow cooker or must I pre-cook the meals first. Thanks

  25. Chris McFadgen says:

    want to freeze, uncooked…do I have to defrost ingredients before putting them in crockpot?

  26. Valerie says:

    Hello from NC. I read all the comment’s and had a thought… a few people commented that the stew was a little watery for them. Have you thought about flouring the raw beef when preparing the stew as a freezer meal? Wouldn’t that in theory help to thicken the stew once dumped in to crock pot to cook? Just an idea, it’s all new to me 🙂 Thanks, Valerie

  27. Katie McGrath says:

    I have a smaller slow cooker 2.5-3 ( for 1-3 persons ) Any suggestion for the recipe alterations. Find most slow cooker recipes are for the big crock-pots ?

    • I would mix all the ingredients well, then split this meal in half. Freeze one half and use the slow cooker for the other half. Same time to cook.

Speak Your Mind


Follow me over to the blog for more homemade goodness . . .