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Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Stew

  • Author: Emily
  • Total Time: 38 hours
  • Yield: 10 servings 1x


This hearty, make ahead Beef and Barley stew is the recipe you need to come home to after a long cold day. The Barley cooks down into a soft texture giving the stew added silkiness, while the various tomato flavors give a perfect tang and deep flavor to brighten the whole stew. Throw the ingredients into freezer bags for a make ahead, slow cooker meal.


  • 1 1/2 pounds blade (or flat iron) steak
  • 1 tablespoon steak seasoning (I recommend Weber Steak and Chop seasoning)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 small onions minced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup pearled barley
  • salt 


  1. Trim steak meat of excess fat and any layers of gristle. (If you purchased pre-packaged flat iron steak most of this work should already be done. If purchasing from the meat counter, the butcher may remove the layers of gristle for you if you ask very nicely.) Cut the meat into 1/2 inch by 2 inch strips and sprinkle steak seasoning over the meat. Set meat aside and continue with the recipe.
  2. In a 12 inch skillet set over medium heat, add vegetable oil, then minced onion, tomato paste and thyme. Sprinkle over a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom frequently, until the onions have softened and shrunk, about 8 minutes, and the tomato paste on the bottom of the pan begins to turn brown. Pour in the vinegar and scrape the tomato paste off the bottom of the pan. Let the vinegar simmer for about 2 or 3 minutes, then remove from heat.
  3. Empty the onion mixture into a slow cooker. Add the steak meat, can of tomato sauce, can of diced tomato, beef and chicken broths, carrots, soy sauce, and barley. Stir, cover and set to cook for 6 to 8 hours. When done, let cool for about 10 minutes and ladle any extra fat from the top. Serve with crusty bread.


To make ahead and freeze, simply follow the recipe through to the end of step 2. Instead of placing all ingredients into a slow cooker, place into a large mixing bowl. Ladle soup into freezer bags and freeze. Thaw in the microwave first before placing ingredients into a slow cooker and cook as directed.

  • Prep Time: 30 hours
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Category: dinner
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 276
  • Sugar: 5.9 g
  • Sodium: 858 mg
  • Fat: 13.4 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 14.4 g
  • Fiber: 3.2 g
  • Protein: 24 g
  • Cholesterol: 72 mg