Poor man's stew, also known as "Hobo Stew," is a dish that dates back to the Great Depression when people needed to make the most of inexpensive ingredients. This crock pot poor man's stew is a testament to resourcefulness, combining affordable ground beef with everyday vegetables and spices. The result is a heartwarming, filling meal that's stood the test of time and can easily be made in the crock pot. 

Making poor man's stew in the crock pot is super simple. Just brown the ground beef and toss it into your crock pot with onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes, and a flavor-packed mix of broth and seasonings. Set it and forget it, then, in the final stretch, thicken up the sauce with a simple cornstarch mixture. In just 5 hours, you've got a hearty, satisfying stew that practically cooks itself!

Serve it up on a chilly winter evening for a cozy family dinner. Bring a pot to your next potluck or cook it as a meal prep option for those busy days when you want a homemade dinner or work week lunches ready to go. So, whether you're feeding a hungry family or need easy comfort food, this crock pot stew checks all the boxes!

Crock Pot Poor Mans Stew


  • It's incredibly budget-friendly, allowing you to create a hearty and satisfying meal without breaking the bank.
  • The slow cooker does most of the work, making it a convenient choice for busy families.
  • The combination of tender ground beef, flavorful vegetables, and aromatic seasonings results in a comforting and delicious taste.
  • With its versatility, you can enjoy this stew for various occasions, from cozy family dinners to potlucks and meal prep.


  • Ground Beef¬†- Serves as the hearty protein base, adding richness and flavor to the stew.
  • Onion and Garlic¬†- These aromatic ingredients provide depth and savory notes to the dish.
  • Beef Broth¬†- Forms the savory liquid foundation, infusing the stew with a beefy essence.
  • Worcestershire Sauce¬†- Adds a tangy and umami kick, elevating the overall flavor profile of the stew.
  • Carrots¬†- Contribute a natural sweetness and crunch, balancing out the dish's texture and taste.
  • Russet Potato¬†- Offers a starchy element, helping to thicken the stew and creating a comforting, filling consistency.
  • Tomato Paste¬†- Provides a concentrated tomato flavor, adding depth and a hint of acidity to the stew's profile.
  • Seasonings¬†(salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves) - These seasonings combine a blend of flavors, from earthy and herbal to savory and aromatic.
  • Cornstarch Slurry¬†- This mixture of cornstarch and water serves as a thickening agent to make the dish even more hearty and satisfying.¬†


Prepare the ground beef: Add the ground beef to a large skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. Break up with a spatula and brown for 6-7 minutes until cooked. Drain the excess fat off, then add it to the crock pot. 

Add ingredients: To the cooked ground beef, add the onion, garlic, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, carrots, potatoes, tomato paste, black pepper, salt, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves. Stir to combine. 

Cover and cook: Add the lid to the top and cook on LOW for 8 to 9 hours or HIGH for 4 to 5 hours.

Thicken the stew: Make a cornstarch slurry by mixing cold water with the cornstarch until there are no lumps. Pour it into the stew and stir. Cook for an additional 10 minutes or until the stew thickens. 

Serve and enjoy: Remove the bay leaves. Ladle into soup bowls and serve while hot. Enjoy! 

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  • When browning the ground beef, break it into smaller crumbles for even cooking.
  • Make sure the vegetables are all cut roughly the same size so they cook all at once.¬†
  • Use lean ground beef to lower fat content and ensure the dish does not become greasy.¬†
  • Consider using a non-stick skillet when browning the beef to prevent sticking and ensure even cooking.
  • When adding the cornstarch slurry to thicken the stew, whisk it thoroughly to prevent lumps from forming.
  • If you prefer a thicker consistency, you can adjust the cornstarch-water ratio to achieve your desired thickness.


Storing: To store, allow it to cool to room temperature, then transfer it to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3-4 days. Reheat gently on the stovetop or in the microwave, adding a splash of broth or water to maintain the desired consistency.

Freezing: After it has cooled completely, ladle it into airtight freezer-safe containers, leaving some space for expansion. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it on the stovetop or microwave. 


Is beef stew better in a crock pot or stove?

Both methods can produce delicious beef stew, but it largely depends on your preferences and schedule. We prefer the crockpot because it offers convenience and allows for longer, slow cooking, resulting in tender meat and well-developed flavors. 

Do I have to brown the meat for beef stew for a slow cooker?

Browning the meat before adding it to the slow cooker is highly recommended. This extra step enhances the stew's flavor by creating a caramelized crust on the meat, adding depth and richness to the dish.

Should liquid cover stew in a crock pot?

The liquid in a crockpot beef stew should cover the ingredients, but don't need to submerge them completely. Ensure there's enough liquid to prevent the stew from drying out during the slow cooking process, typically around .5 to 1 inch of liquid above the ingredients.

Crock Pot Poor Man's Stew

Poor Mans Stew

This Crock Pot Poor Man’s Stew recipe is easy to make, with ground beef, veggies, and savory seasonings simmering to perfection in your slow cooker. It's a comfort food classic that's perfect for busy weeknights and is made with budget-friendly ingredients.

PREP TIME 19minutes 
COOK TIME 4hours 
TOTAL TIME 4hours  19minutes 
COURSE Main Course
CUISINE American
CALORIES 506 kcal


  • Your¬†Favorite¬†Crock Pot


  • 2¬†lb¬†ground beef
  • 1¬†medium¬†onion¬†(diced)
  • 3¬†tsp¬†garlic¬†(minced)
  • 3¬Ĺ¬†cups¬†beef broth
  • 1¬†tbsp¬†Worcestershire sauce
  • 5¬†carrots¬†(cut into bite size pieces)
  • 1¬†lb¬†russet potatoes¬†(washed, skinned and cut into bite-size pieces)
  • 6¬†oz¬†tomato paste
  • 1¬†tsp¬†black pepper
  • 1¬†tsp¬†salt
  • ¬Ĺ¬†tsp¬†dried rosemary
  • ¬Ĺ¬†tsp¬†dried thyme
  • 2¬†bay leaves
  • ¬ľ¬†cups¬†cold water
  • 3¬†tbsp¬†cornstarch


  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook ground beef until completely brown. It takes about 6-7 minutes. Drain and add to a 6-quart crock pot.
  • Add onion, garlic, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, carrots, potatoes, tomato paste, black pepper, salt, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves.
  • Cover and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours or high for 4 to 5 hours.
  • Whisk the cold water and cornstarch together until there are no lumps. Pour into the stew and mix. Continue to cook for 10 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken.
  • Remove bay leaves before serving and enjoy!

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 Chef Ryan Allen from Slow Cooker MealsIf you're tired of the same old dinner routine, you're in luck! Chef Ryan loves to create meals that are sure to impress your entire family. Whether you're a busy parent of just looking for an easy and delicious meal.

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