Winter Squash Beef Stew is a rich and hearty beef stew made with a delicately sweet Kabocha squash and Italian herbs. This stew is perfect for a cold night when you need to warm up with a comforting meal.
Something about beef stew just makes me want to sit down, relax and slow down a little. It is one of my favorite comfort foods because my mom would often make us a big crockpot full of Vegetable Beef Stew on cold winter days. This Winter Squash Beef Stew is a recipe I keep coming back to make whenever the colder weather starts to brew and I love that I can make it in a crockpot or an instant pot!
I used Kabocha squash in this recipe, but other winter squash varieties will work. If you can find the Kabocha squash it is the best in this! Never heard of it? I hadn’t heard of it either, but it was easy to find at my local asian market. I also found it at several other grocery stores after that because I knew what to look for. There are two common colors of Kabocha squash; red and green. It’s also commonly referred to as a Japanese pumpkin.
Kabocha squash tastes amazing! It’s most like a butternut squash in taste and texture, but even more tasty to me. It’s also pretty sweet like a butternut squash. The redder the Kabocha the sweeter it is because the green ones will eventually turn red as they ripen. I used a green Kabocha and so I can only speak to the taste of Kabocha in it’s less ripe stage. Kabocha squash cooked really well in this Winter Squash and Beef Stew and had a sweet potato like texture. I love potatoes in beef stew, but the squash was even better for this recipe!
Varieties of Winter Squash that will work well in this Winter Squash Beef Stew:
- Kabocha Squash. This is my top pick for the stew because of the texture and taste. The other varieties I am suggesting come in close, though, so don’t feel like you have to go out of your way to find it. Find out more about Kabocha squash here.
- Acorn Squash. This squash looks like a big green acorn with yellow/orange flesh and is found in most grocers in the fall/winter.
- Butternut Squash. Long squash with a light brown exterior and with yellow flesh. Butternut squash is an easy option because grocers often sell butternut squash pre diced and frozen.
- Buttercup Squash. Buttercup squash is very similar to Kabocha squash, but has a distinct bottom ridge and pale striations. This one is a close second because of how similar it is to the Kabocha. In fact, it’s said most Kabocha is a variety of buttercup squash.
The next important part of this stew is of course the beef! I like using stew meat that’s already cut for me and already trimmed, but there are cheaper ways of buying stew meat. You can always use boneless chuck roast or your favorite tough cut of meat that is perfect for stews.
Top Tips for buying beef stew meat:
- Buy a tough cut of beef. Your stew will cook all day in the crockpot or over a few hours on the stovetop so choose a beef that can stand the test of time. Tender beef cuts will dry out with such a long cooking time, but tougher cuts of meat are up for the challenge and tenderize over time.
- Buy pre-cut stew meat. I like buying the pre-cut stew meat because I know that the cut of beef I am getting is perfect for stew. It’s also trimmed of most fat so that you can just add it into the pot.
This Winter Squash Beef Stew is everything I love about Fall cooking; it’s warming, comforting and filling. I made mine in the crockpot, but I am sure you could also slow cook it on the stove for a couple of hours too. I have also included instructions for using an instant pot! Either way just get the squash nice and soft and it will be amazing! Perfect cold weather food.
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- 1 to 2 pounds stew beef
- 4 to 5 cups beef broth (enough to cover meat and squash, use one cup for the skillet see instructions*
- 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
- 4 cups diced Kabocha or butternut squash
- 1 cup spaghetti sauce
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 cup minced fresh onions or 1/2 cup dried minced onions
- salt to taste
- optional fresh herbs for topping
Browning the Beef:
- Brown the meat first. Before putting the beef in you'll want to brown the meat. It's quick and easy to do with a sizzling hot skillet. Just heat up the skillet and put some cooking spray or a thin layer of oil on it. Take your beef and put it all on the skillet and turn the sides once one side is becoming browned. You don't want to cook the meat through so turn every minute or two until all sides are browned and then add it to the crockpot, instant pot or stovetop (whichever method you want to use).
- Add flour to the skillet for a thicker/meatier stew. Once you've browned your meat add the meat to the pot you will be cooking the whole stew in, but put the skillet back on the stove on a medium heat. Add two Tbsp. of flour to the skillet and cook that with the meat juices that are left in the pan. When the flour starts turning brown add 1 cup of beef broth and scrape up as many browned bits from the bottom of the skillet as you can. Then add the cooked broth to the pot for cooking.
Cooking in the crockpot:
- Place browned beef, the cooked broth and all other ingredients except the fresh herbs into the crockpot. Cook on low for at least 7 hours or high for 4 to 5. Everything will be ready when meat is tender and squash is soft. Add the fresh herbs to the stew once you've dished it out into individual serving sizes. Just sprinkle a little on top.
Instant Pot Instructions:
- Cooking in the instant pot will be similar to the crockpot, but instead of browning the meat on the stove you will brown your meat in the instant pot before adding the rest of the ingredients. Follow the directions for browning the beef in the instructions above, but use the sauté setting on the instant pot to do this and remove the beef from the instant pot into a temporary bowl until you've finished adding the flour and beef broth from the instructions above. Next add the rest of the ingredients except herbs (making sure not to overfill - refer to your instant pot manual). You'll want to cook on the stew function of the instant pot and let it naturally release. Add the herbs to each bowl before serving.
Serving Size1 grams
Amount Per Serving Unsaturated Fat 0g