Stew

38 Best Stew Recipes for Cold-Weather Comfort Food

These stews will nourish you on the coldest, darkest days.

October 28, 2021
Photo by Rocky Luten

The first stew recipe I ever made was about as ambitious as it gets—bouillabaisse, a French fish stew that involved pounds of fresh fish, including a whole live lobster that I killed with my bare hands. (Ok, well, my bare hands gripping a knife.) This was Valentine’s Day in 2018. At the time, I was working as a line cook at a French restaurant and felt equipped for the task. I went over the ins and outs of this dish with the executive chef for weeks leading up to February 14th. He even ordered live lobsters to teach me how to kill them.

But when Valentine’s Day came and I brought the lobster home like a newborn baby, swaddled in a thin plastic bag, the only knife available to me to use was a dull, mail-order Ginsu. Eventually, I succeeded in killing the lobster, but not without causing physical and emotional pain to both it and myself. When I showed the chef a video replaying the events, he told me it was the most violent thing he had ever witnessed and was slow to sing my praises. But I did it. And six hours later, dinner was served to my boyfriend, now fiancé. (I guess my plan to impress worked?)

Needless to say, not every stew recipe is nearly as complicated, expensive, or deadly as bouillabaisse. These 38 recipes are proof of that. A slow-cooker and Instant Pot are up for the task, as is a large enameled Dutch oven. You can gently simmer shrimp, slowly braise beef short ribs, and yes, cook bouillabaisse all with a little more grace than I demonstrated some four years ago.


Our Best Stew Recipes

1. Lentil and Sausage Stew

No lobsters were harmed in the making of this inexpensive stew recipe, which will feed a crowd. The main ingredients are green or brown lentils (your stew, your choice!), sausages (again, you pick!), a can of chopped tomatoes, and some veggies.

2. Crockpot Beef Stew

Before I get too far down the rabbit hole of Food52 stew recipes, I have to include the most classic stew of all—beef stew made in a slow-cooker. Like anything made in a Crockpot, it takes time to cook. A lot of time. Like eight to ten hours. But the result is fork-tender chuck roast and hearty vegetables floating in a shallow pool of rich gravy.

3. Jamie Oliver's Italian Bread and Cabbage Soup

While most stews can take hours and hours to cook, this one comes together in just an hour. In each bite, you’ll find a little bit of kale and cabbage, some bread, pancetta or bacon, two kinds of cheese (fontina and Parmesan), and herbs.

4. Chicken, Chard, and Cranberry Bean Stew

Wondering what to cook for your next dinner party? How about this economical stew, which is made with just a pound of chicken thighs, red chard, dried cranberry beans, and an assortment of spices? It will serve up to eight people and won’t break the bank. Win, win!

5. Alton Brown's Shrimp Gumbo

Our editors call this “the most soul-stirring gumbo you’ve tasted.”

6. Beef Bourguignon

The French version of an all-American beef stew isn’t as fussy as you may expect. The key is to use good-quality beef and make sure it’s well-seared before you braise it, which will bring out the caramelized flavor of the meat. Also? Use good French red wine, the kind you’d want to drink with such a cozy dish. Ideally, you’d make it a day in advance so that the flavors have time to bring out the best in each other, like a long friendship.

7. Traditional French Cassoulet

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but cassoulet IS as fussy as you may expect. You’ll need duck confit legs and duck fat and bacon and andouille sausage...but it’s worth it for a special occasion.

8. Vegan Slow-Cooker Tomatillo Stew

No meat here! Leave it to Assigning Editor Rebecca Firkser to find a way to create a heartier stew using only pinto beans, black beans, tomatillos, and chile peppers.

9. Martha Stewart's Instant Pot Beef Stew With Dijon & Tomato

The queen of literally everything has the perfect recipe for beef stew (why am I not surprised). It’s made in an Instant Pot rather than a slow-cooker or Dutch oven. Serve it with mashed potatoes, grits, polenta, crusty bread...or at the very least, some good wine.

10. Moqueca-Inspired Egg Stew

“This cozy vegetarian stew—laden with jammy-yolked eggs wrapped in a broth of coconut milk, tomatoes, and lime—is perfect for nights when you want something warming and comforting yet still light and bright in flavor,” writes recipe developer EmilyC. “It’s inspired by Bahian moqueca, a rich, coconut-based seafood stew that’s common in the northeastern part of Brazil.”

11. Barley & Root Vegetable Rainbow Stew

You can make this vegetarian stew your own by choosing any bright assortment of root vegetables, such as parsnip, carrot, sweet potato, white potato, or yellow beets.

12. Instant Pot Kimchi Beef Stew (Kimchi Jjigae)

Two cups of kimchi, a pound of beef, a cup of shiitake mushrooms, and two kinds of spicy Korean condiments are pressure cooked in an Instant Pot for just 15 minutes. The result is a fragrant stew that will leave every member of your family nourished.

13. Weeknight Cassoulet

You have Dawn Perry to thank for this quick, easy, and economical version of cassoulet that has all the flavor and comfort of the real deal, but with way less work and time required.

14. Sweet Potato Stew With Chickpeas & Hardy Greens

“This autumnal stew is warming and cozy, ready in under 30 minutes, and layered with rich, vivid flavors,” writes recipe developer EmilyC. Need we say more?

15. Bimpy's Giambotta

“Giambotta is a classic Italian vegetable stew. It’s a celebration of the end-of-season summer bounty of the garden, and welcomes any and all vegetables that you can get your hands on,” writes Dan Pelosi aka Grossy Pelosi. He recommends serving it with “olive oil-toasted hunks of bread, cheesy soft polenta, or creamy orzo pasta to keep things fresh.”

16. Chicken Stew With Potatoes, Carrots & Celery

If you love chicken pot pie, you’ll love this stew. It’s basically the pie without the crust and without the cream. It’s great for a speedy supper or when you’re feeling under the weather.

17. Tofu, Napa Cabbage & Delicata Squash Stew

“This stew is made from sweet Napa cabbage, pan-fried tofu, and tender Delicata squash. It’s also lightly seasoned with umami-rich sauces and a little heat from Thai chile,” writes recipe developer Woonheng Chia. Fortunately, the squash lends a sweet flavor to offset some of the spice.

18. Turkish Slow-Cooked Beef and Vegetable Stew (Güveç)

Looking for a hands-off stew that will deliver flavor that makes it seem like you spent all day and night in the kitchen? This Turkish-style recipe will do just that.

19. Chicken & Dumplings, Just Like Mom's

For a taste of something nostalgic, chicken and dumplings will hit the spot. It’s the absolute best version of chicken pot pie filling, but with tablespoon-sized pieces of dough added to the mixture in the last 15 minutes of cooking.

20. Pakistani Nihari (Slow-Cooked Spiced Lamb Stew)

A definitive Pakistani dish, this lamb stew is made with more than a dozen spices (everything from mace to black peppercorns to two kinds of cardamom). Use naan or roti to sop up every last bit of the stewing juices.

21. Oven-Braised Chicken Stew, Hungarian-Style

Three kinds of paprika (three!!!) give this earthy stew made with chicken thighs a smoky aroma and flavor.

22. George Cowan's Oyster Stew

Somewhere in between a soup and a stew is this oyster special that’s a staple in Kristen Miglore’s family on Christmas Eve. It only requires four ingredients (plus salt and pepper) and only a few minutes of prep work.

23. Corn, Bacon, and Clam Stew

Simmer away the cream sauce that you love so much in clam chowder and leave behind all the good stuff—littleneck clams, fresh corn shucked off the cob, and thick-cut bacon—for a summer stew that I’d eat 365 days a year.

24. Salmon Moqueca

This Brazilian fish stew combines salmon, whole peeled tomatoes, a bevy of vegetables, a chile-lime marinade, and coconut milk.

25. Italian-Texan White Bean Stew

Navy beans, bacon, and Swiss chard are the ultimate teammates in this Tex-Mex-inspired stew.

26. Filipino Chicken Porridge (Arroz Caldo)

Forget chicken breasts, we’re all about the thighs when it comes to stews. They’re fattier, so they’re nearly impossible to overcook and actually get better with time (especially when cooked in flavorful stew of chicken broth, fish sauce, ginger, and garlic).

27. Meaty Cabbage and Rice Stew

This is a family-favorite recipe come winter for recipe developer InPatsKitchen. Soon enough, it will be yours too.

28. Arthur Schwartz's Russian Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup

This stew recipe needs to cook for a few hours because it starts off with a couple of tough, somewhat tricky ingredients—flank steak and shredded cabbage, both of which transform into a silky, hearty stew when braised in a tomato stock for hours.

29. Heidi Swanson's Chickpea Stew with Saffron, Yogurt, and Garlic

I know I’ve gone on and on about how great stews are for fall and winter and they are! But they’re also great for spring, depending on the ingredients you use. Would I serve beef bourguignon on July 14th? Well, actually, yes, because that’s my birthday and Bastille Day. Would most other people do so though? Probably not. This light and creamy stew is a welcome way to celebrate warmer days.

30. Shrimp and Chorizo Stew

This stew recipe makes me want to host an intimate dinner party immediately. It’s warm and cozy, which is all I want to eat since the temperature seems to drop by five degrees every day. But it’s also elegant, unexpected, and low-maintenance—three adjectives that are the hallmarks of a meal for a good gathering.

31. Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff With Mushrooms

The thing about stews is, they’re generally not very pretty. Beef stroganoff is about as ugly as they get. This is not to dissuade you from making this, or any other stew recipe. It’s just a reminder that while we tend to eat with our eyes first, it’s better if you close your eyes and take a bite of the tender meat in a mushroom cream sauce and focus on how comforting and hearty it is.

32. Dad's Favorite Seafood Stew

My dad is great at washing dishes, telling me why my car is making funny noises, and falling asleep on the couch at 8pm. Recipe developer InPatsKitchen developed this seafood stew recipe inspired by her own dad, who was a pro at making this delicious tomato and fish stew.

33. Versatile Lentil Stew

For more flavorful lentils, follow this stew recipe and then use them however you please—stirred into a soup, sprinkled over a salad, used in place of beef for chili or bolognese sauce, or served with rice.

34. Smoky Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

Black beans and sweet potatoes are two of our go-to ingredients for a vegetarian (or in this case, vegan) chili because they are just as hearty and protein-packed as ground beef or ground turkey. Plus, they just as easily take on the flavors of smoked paprika, chili powder, chipotle in adobo, and tomatoes.

35. Spicy Korean Chicken & Potato Stew (Dakdoritang)

Chicken drumsticks go from an overlooked cut of poultry to the star of the show in this spicy stew. It gets a can’t-handle-it amount of heat from both gochujang and gochugaru, but don’t worry. It’s offset by the sweetness of a couple tablespoons of brown sugar.

36. Persian Zucchini Stew With Chicken (Khoresh Kadoo)

“Khoresh kadoo, or Persian zucchini stew, is a delicious summer stew made with fresh zucchini and tomatoes. This stew is served with white rice and has a savory, and a bit tart, flavor,” writes recipe developer Shadi Hasanzadenemati.

37. Stewed Cannellini Beans with Chorizo and Confit Rock Shrimp

Recipe developer Josh Cohen sings the praises of this stew not just because it’s his own, but because it’s the perfect thing to enjoy on a cold weather day, and uses a special combination of chorizo, rock shrimp, and stewed beans.

38. Bouillabaisse

Well, well, we meet again. Fortunately for you, me, and Sebastian (the lobster I killed), this bouillabaisse recipe does not call for lobster—only shrimp, mussels, clams, and white fish in the seafood department. Take a deep breath and dive into this fantastic fish stew.

What's your favorite type of stew to make during winter? Let us know in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • kk
    kk
  • Joanne Setlock
    Joanne Setlock
  • lakicker
    lakicker
Staff Writer, Food & SEO

3 Comments

kk January 13, 2022
Somehow causing intentional suffering to a living creature doesn't strike me as funny. Not to stake out the moral high ground here, but how about moving into the current century where humans are starting to reflect on their treatment of other beings?
 
Joanne S. January 10, 2022
I’m going to have nightmares picturing the horror of that poor lobster’s demise. :(
 
lakicker January 10, 2022
I make a soup/stew that has become so second nature, it takes no thought anymore. I believe it was originally a Weight Watchers recipe, but I've been making it so long I can't remember. My new husband likes things as spicy as possible, but I just can't do that. I have spiced this soup up as much as I can handle with hot italian sausage and fire-roasted Rotel tomatoes, which is the recipe that I will share.

Italian Sausage and Bean Stew

I large onion, coarsely chopped
5 or 6 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 lb ground turkey
1/2 lb hot Italian sausage
1-2 T Italian seasoning
Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 cans white (Northern or cannellini) beans, rinsed
1 can fire-roasted Rotel tomatoes
1 can basil & oregano flavored diced tomatoes
1 qt chicken broth/stock
1 package frozen California style vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots)

Saute the onions & garlic in a little olive oil until soft. Add the ground turkey & sausage to crumble & brown. Crush & scatter the Italian seasoning over the mixture in the pot. Add the rinsed beans, canned tomatoes & chicken broth. Stir well to combine. Add salt & pepper to taste. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Add frozen vegetables and cook for about 15 more minutes.

The recipe is endlessly riffable. Add celery, fennel, a leek -- whatever you want to saute at the beginning. The original recipe was for a provencal soup, so it used herbs de provence instead of the Italian seasoning. In that case, just use regular turkey sausage or even pork sausage. I have added fresh spinach at the end, or fresh kale. Use the ingredients that you have on hand and the spices you like & make it your own!