How to Thicken Beef Stew in a Slow Cooker

Beef stew is a hearty meal. It is a great convenience for a busy family to mix the ingredients and leave them in a slow cooker for several hours. During the day, you are elsewhere while the meat and vegetables cook with the spices and herbs you have added. The problem is you never know what the consistency of the stew is going to be when you are ready to serve it up. A thin, watery stew is a disappointment at meal time. There must be a way to thicken the juices that surround the tender beef and vegetables. You actually have more than one choice for a stew thickener.

Things You'll Need

  • Flour

  • Gravy packet

  • Barley

  • Instant potato flakes

How to Thicken Beef Stew in a Slow Cooker

Step 1

Reduce 1 1/2 cups broth by half by simmering it on the stove the night before you plan to make the stew. Add this cooled broth to the contents when you prepare the slow cooker meal the next morning.

Step 2

Stir in 1/4 cup instant potato flakes to the watery juice when you get home after finding the stew that needs thickening. Stir again well after the flakes absorb the liquid.

Step 3

Add a 2-oz. packet of Au Jus gravy mix to the contents of the slow cooker beef stew and stir it into the raw ingredients before turning the appliance on. The gravy should mix with the meat juices and thicken while cooking.

Step 4

Mix 1 tbsp. flour with 2 tsp. water in a small bowl. Pour some of the juice out of the slow cooker into a 1-qt. sauce pan. Heat to a soft boil and add the flour and water mixture into the juice, stirring well. When the juice is thickened into a gravy, pour it back into the slow cooker and stir well.

Step 5

Add 1 heaping tbsp. barley pearls into the juice when you prepare the slow cooker ingredients. The tasty grain is a good thickener.


For a quick fix, you can cook a packet of instant beef gravy and add it into the slow cooker just before you eat the meal. Strain the gravy if there are lumps in it.