If you own a slow cooker, then you’re in luck because today I’m grabbing mine and making a rich and robust beef barley stew. This recipe is as delicious as it is straightforward — just add browned meat and sauteed garlic to your machine, along with butternut squash, potatoes, and barley. Then set your cooker and forget about it for eight hours until the meat is shreddable and the vegetables are tender. Enjoy a bowl tonight, but be sure to freeze some for a rainy day, too!
Sarah’s Tip of the Day:
Veg Out: Swap in other sweet root vegetables, like carrots or sweet potatoes, for butternut squash in this recipe.
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PREP: 20 MINS
TOTAL TIME: 4 HOURS 20 MINS
SERVINGS:6
INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Coarse salt and pepper
1 pound beef chuck, cut into 3 pieces
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 thyme sprigs
4 cups chicken or beef broth, divided
1/2 pound small potatoes, halved
1/2 medium butternut squash (1 pound), peeled and diced medium (2 cups)
1/2 cup pearl barley
COOK’S NOTE
Cold Comfort
Freeze leftovers as individual servings for quick lunches or dinners later.
DIRECTIONS
STEP 1
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Season beef with salt and cook until pieces are browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker.
STEP 2
To the skillet, add remaining tablespoon oil, the garlic, and thyme and saute until fragrant, 1 minute. Add 2 cups broth and cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Transfer mixture to slow cooker.
STEP 3
Add potatoes, squash, barley, 2 cups water, and remaining 2 cups broth to slow cooker, cover, and cook on high until meat is very tender, 4 hours (or 8 hours on low). Using two forks, shred beef. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
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Sarah Carey is the editor of Everyday Food magazine and her job is to come up with the best ways to make fast, delicious food at home. But she’s also a mom to two hungry kids, so the question “What’s for dinner?” is never far from her mind — or theirs, it seems! Her days can get crazy busy (whose don’t?), so these videos are all about her favorite fast, fresh meals — and the tricks she uses to make it all SO much easier.
Beef and Barley Stew – Everyday Food with Sarah Carey

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