This Chinese 5-spice beef stew is a super easy and delicious slow cooker recipe. It requires less than 30 minutes of hands-on prep work and is full of warm and comforting flavors.

two bowls of beef stew with mung bean sprouts on top

Why We Love This Recipe For Slow Cooker Chinese Beef Stew with 5 Spice

Come colder and shorter days, I feel like I’m not alone when I say that all I want to eat is warm, brothy and soul-warming foods. Nothing is better than cuddling up on the couch with a good rom-com and a big bowl of soup or stew. Are you with me?

One of my favorite things about a stew (and basically all other slow cooker recipes) is that it almost always tastes better the next day. Which means that it’s a great make-ahead recipe or double-batch recipe (if your slow cooker can handle it of course). And seriously, I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like a stew so it’s the perfect thing to serve guests and/or family.

I’m sure you’ve all had beef stew at some point in your life (if you’ve ended up here, at least) but this one is different. And different in a great way, that is. It’s full of classic stew flavors such as brothy onions and carrots, but also new flavors such as Chinese 5-spice, scallions and sesame.

The 5-spice is a little sweet and spicy and is utterly sublime with the tender chunks of beef and vegetables. If you love 5-spice, I’d also recommend trying this Clean Eating Beef Stir-fry or 5-Spice Meatloaf with Apricot Ginger Glaze.

You can play around with the garnishes depending on what you do and don’t like. And I promise you that even the pickiest of eaters at the table will enjoy the broth and vegetables as the Chinese 5-spice isn’t too overpowering.

Key Ingredients For This Recipe

Stew Beef

Look for beef chuck or shoulder and cut it into 1-inch chunks or you can purchase “stew meat” that is already cut. If you can find it I’d recommend getting grass-fed beef.

Chinese 5-spice

This spice is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a mixture of 5 different well-known spices such as cinnamon (more specifically, Chinese cinnamon), fennel, star anise, cloves and ginger. 5-spice can be found in the spice aisle but you can also easily make your own.

Dry sherry or Shaoxing wine

Shaoxing wine is a type of Chinese cooking wine (pronounced shou shing) that’s made from rice. You can look for it in the Asian cooking aisle or use a dry sherry instead.

Arrowroot powder

Arrowroot powder is a type of gluten and grain-free starch that has a similar thickening component to cornstarch. You can use cornstarch for this recipe instead if you can’t find arrowroot powder.

Additional Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or avocado oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, large dice
  • 4-ounces sliced fresh mushrooms, such as shiitake or white
  • 1 32 ounce box chicken broth
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 stalks celery, cut into chunks
  • 1 large russet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or pure dark maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Optional Garnishes

  • Toasted sesame seeds, chopped scallions, mung bean sprouts

Step-by-Step Instructions To Make 5-Spice Beef Stew

Step 1: Sear beef

Pat meat dry with clean paper towels. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add meat in a single layer, and cook, undisturbed, until seared and browned on the bottom, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn beef pieces over with tongs and sear well on a second side, about 4 minutes.

Stir beef and continue cooking until mostly browned and the pan is starting to darken with fond, 2 to 4 minutes more. Scrape the beef into the slow cooker and return the skillet to the heat.

Step 2: Cook onions & mushrooms

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add onion, mushrooms and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often until the mushrooms and onions are browning, and starting to soften, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add 5-spice powder and stir to coat. Cook, stirring until fragrant. Add sherry (or shaoxing) and stir up any browned bits from the skillet. Add broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a simmer. Pour the mushroom mixture into the slow cooker.

Step 3: Add all ingredients to slow cooker

Add carrots, celery, potato, coconut sugar and crushed red pepper to the slow cooker, stir and cover. Plug in the slow cooker and set to low for about 4 ½ hours.

Step 4: Add arrowroot powder

30 minutes before timer goes off, stir together ¼ cup cold water and arrowroot in a small dish. Stir arrowroot slurry into the stew, stirring constantly. Cover and allow to finish cooking the remaining 30 minutes.

Step 5: Garnish & serve

Serve Chinese beef stew in bowls with optional garnishes on top.

closeup into the bowl from overhead. The stew is topped with scallions, sprouts and sesame seeds.

FAQs and Expert Tips

How to make this recipe ahead:

You can prep the beef stew in the morning and enjoy it for dinner that same night! Since stew is one of the best left-over foods on earth you can also make it the day before and chill until ready to serve. Just garnish right before serving.

Which temperature is best to cook the stew on:

Grass-fed beef has less marbling or intramuscular fat than corn-fed beef, so it can dry out if cooked too long or too hot. It’s best to use the low setting if your slow cooker has two temperatures. That way it will simmer, not boil.

Why is it important to sear the beef first:

Searing the meat will help it develop a rich caramel flavor. Make sure your skillet is hot and the meat is dry before searing. If meat was vacuum sealed (cryovac) and thawed, drain and pat dry with paper towels first.

Storing instructions:

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. It’ll stay good for about 3 to 4 days and can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop. Freeze leftover stew for up to 2 months.

a dark wooden table with hand-thrown ceramic bowls with beef stew topped with mung bean sprouts

Additional Recipes to Try

Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter where I share weeknight meal plans delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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one bowl of beef stew with mung bean sprouts on top

Chinese 5 Spice Slow Cooker Beef Stew


  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Total Time: 4 hours 55 minutes
  • Yield: 10 cups 1x

Description

Slow cooker beef stew with carrots, potatoes and onions. This hearty stew has the addition of shiitake mushrooms and Chinese 5-spice powder. Top bowls with fresh mung bean sprouts, scallions and sesame seeds for garnish.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 pound beef stew meat (1-inch chunks), preferably grass-fed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or avocado oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, large dice
  • 4-ounces sliced fresh mushrooms, such as shiitake or white
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese 5-spice
  • ½ cup dry sherry or shaoxing wine
  • 1 32 ounce box chicken broth
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 stalks celery, cut into chunks
  • 1 large russet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or pure dark maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder

Optional Garnishes

  • Toasted sesame seeds, chopped scallions, mung bean sprouts

Instructions

  1. Pat meat dry with clean paper towels. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meat in a single layer, and cook, undisturbed, until seared and brown on the bottom, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn beef pieces over with tongs and sear well on a second side, about 4 minutes. Stir beef and continue cooking until mostly browned, and the pan is starting to darken with fond, 2 to 4 minutes more. Scrape the beef into the slow cooker and return the skillet to the heat.
  2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add onion, mushrooms and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often until the mushrooms and onions are browning, and starting to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 5-spice powder and stir to coat. Cook, stirring until fragrant. Add sherry (or shaoxing) and stir up any browned bits from the skillet. Add broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a simmer. Pour the mushroom mixture into the slow cooker.
  3. Add carrots, celery, potato, coconut sugar and crushed red pepper to the slow cooker, stir and cover. Plug in slow cooker and set to low 4 ½ hours.
  4. 30 minutes before timer goes off, stir ¼ cup cold water and arrowroot in a small dish. Stir arrowroot slurry into the stew, stirring constantly. Cover and allow to finish cooking the remaining 30 minutes.
  5. Serve stew in bowls with optional garnishes on top.

Notes

Cooking Tip:

Grass-fed beef has less marbling or intramuscular fat than corn-fed beef, so it can dry out if cooked too long or too hot. It’s best to use the low setting if your slow cooker has two temperatures. That way it will simmer, not boil.

Make Ahead, Freezing and Leftovers

You can prep the beef stew in the morning and enjoy it for dinner that same night! Since stew is one of the best left-over foods on earth you can also make it the day before and chill until ready to serve. Just garnish right before serving. For leftovers, keep them in an airtight container in the fridge. It’ll stay good for about 3 to 4 days and can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop. Freeze leftover stew for up to 2 months.

  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
  • Calories: 300
  • Sugar: 8 g
  • Sodium: 690 mg
  • Fat: 13 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 21 g
  • Fiber: 2.5 g
  • Protein: 26 g

Keywords: slow cooker Chinese beef stew, Chinese beef stew,5-spice Beef Stew,Asian Beef Stew,Asian Beef Stew Slow Cooker