Can You Freeze Beef Stew?

Beef stew is a warming, comforting dish. There are plenty of different recipes out there or you can make up your own, adding your favorite vegetables. You can turn it into a one-pot wonder by adding potatoes.

However, it does take some time and effort to make so why not make a big batch and freeze some of it? In fact, beef stew does freeze particularly well (see also How To Freeze Cooked Beef), and in this article, we will tell you how to freeze beef stew.

How To Freeze Beef Stew

It is fairly easy to freeze beef stew (see also Can You Freeze Beef Burgers?) and these are the steps you should follow.

1. Prepare the beef stew.

Use your favorite recipe. 

2. Cool down the stew.

The beef stew should be completely cold before you store it in the freezer otherwise it could bring up the temperature. This could lead to other food in the freezer starting to defrost and possibly spoiling.

However, you can’t leave the stew on the countertop for longer than two hours otherwise bacteria may start to develop. The best thing to do is to transfer the stew you want to freeze into a cold bowl and put this in a bigger bowl filled with ice-cold water. Leave it for about 10 minutes and then change the water. Do this until the beef stew is cold.

3. Put the beef stew in airtight containers. 

The containers need to be airtight otherwise freezer burn may occur. The food will still be edible but it will lose taste, texture, and color. It is a good idea to freeze it in meal-size portions so that you don’t defrost more than you need and end up throwing some of it away.

Don’t fill the containers right up to the top as the stew will expand. Put a label on the containers with the date you put them in the freezer and write down the contents if you are freezing different things. 

If you have used thickeners like flour or cornstarch in your beef stew, they will separate so you will need to give it a good stir while reheating. 

Can You Freeze Beef  Stew With Dumplings?

If you want to serve beef stew with dumplings, it is best to freeze the dumplings separately (see also Freezing Suet Dumplings) otherwise they can lose their texture and may stick together. It is best to flash freeze the dumplings by putting them on a baking tray, ensuring that they don’t touch each other.

Freeze for a couple of hours and then bag up in meal-size portions. You can defrost the dumplings in the microwave and then add them to the beef stew.

Tips For Freezing Beef Stew

  1. Make sure that the beef stew has cooled down completely before freezing.
  2. Divide the beef stew into meal-size portions so that you defrost only what you need. 
  3. It is best to add fresh herbs when you are reheating the beef stew. This adds freshness to the dish. Parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme are good herbs to add. They also help to hide the fact that the beef stew has been frozen.
  4. To get the best flavor, defrost the beef stew in the fridge overnight as this intensifies the flavor.

For How Long Can You Freeze Beef Stew?

You can freeze beef stew for up to six months and it will still retain almost all of the original flavor. It will still be safe to eat after this time but it will start to lose taste and texture.

How Do You Defrost Beef Stew?

The best way to defrost beef stew is to put it in the fridge the night before you want to eat it. Stews, casseroles, and curries are always the best eaten the day after they have been made and the same goes for frozen beef stew.

The flavor will be so much better if you defrost the stew slowly in the fridge. Don’t leave it out on the countertop as bacteria can start to form after two hours at room temperature.

However, if you suddenly decide that you want beef stew for dinner, don’t despair. You can defrost it quickly. There are two methods that you can use, either a saucepan or the microwave.

Whichever method you decide to use, the first step is to run the container under a hot water tap until the stew starts to loosen. If you decide to thaw the stew in a saucepan, heat it slowly at a low heat until it has defrosted, and then heat it all the way through. Beef needs to reach an internal temperature of 145 F. 

If you are thawing the beef stew in the microwave, put it in a microwave-safe container and put it in the microwave on defrost. Keep stopping the microwave to stir the stew so that it doesn’t clump together.  Once it has defrosted, you can microwave it on heat or heat it up in a saucepan.

Can You Refreeze Beef Stew?

It can be a problem refreezing meat as it can cause bacteria to grow. This is particularly true if you defrost your beef stew quickly in the microwave or in a saucepan. However, if you defrost it in the fridge, refreezing is safer.

You need to remember that every time you freeze, defrost, and refreeze, moisture will be lost and you will find that your stew isn’t as juicy as it was and it could even be dry. Because of this, we recommend that you freeze in meal-size portions so that you don’t have cause to refreeze.

Is It a Good Idea to Freeze Beef Stew?

Yes, it is. It freezes wel,l as long as you follow the instructions we have outlined. Don’t let any air get into the container and freeze in meal-size portions. Defrost carefully, preferably in the fridge, so that flavor and freshness are retained. It is a great dish to have on hand for those busy days. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Hopefully, you now know all there is to know about freezing beef stew but if you are still curious about freezing beef stew and beef stew in general, we have answered a few questions here.

Can you freeze beef stew made with any type of beef?

The good news is yes, you can so you can choose your favorite cut of meat be it chuck steak, beef cheeks, or short rib. 

Can you freeze beef stew with Guinness?

Alcohol has a tendency to go slushy when it is frozen but if you are cooking beef stew with an alcohol such as Guinness, the alcohol will reduce significantly so it won’t matter if you add it. You will get the taste of Guinness but you won’t get a slushy mess.

What are the best vegetables to use in a beef stew?

There are so many vegetables that go with beef and you, no doubt, have your favorites. A good base to start off with is a mixture of carrots, onions, and celery. Mushrooms pair well with beef and broccoli, green beans, peas, and corn are all good additions. Root vegetables, such as turnip, swede (see also How To Freeze Rutabaga), and parsnip work well, especially if you are having the beef stew as a winter warmer.

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