How to Freeze Beef Stew
Are you time-poor? Do you dream about coming home from work on a cold day to a homemade stew bubbling away on the stove? Me too! And while I have no magic formula to give you more time in your day, I can teach you how to freeze lamb and beef stew, so you’ll always have a freezer full of batch-cooked meals for those busy days, just waiting to be reheated at a moment’s notice, saving you A LOT OF TIME.
A big batch of beef stew can be worth its weight in gold in the cooler months of the year. It’s classic comfort food, plus who doesn’t love a bowl of delicious beef stew and a glass of red wine when it’s cold out? Here’s how I think about turning leftover stew into homemade freezer meals… It generally takes the same amount of time to make a stew with 2kg of meat as it does with 1kg of meat. So why not save yourself some time in the kitchen and make a big hearty meal that you can enjoy again, and again, and again?
Can you freeze beef stew?
Yes! Most slow-cooked stews, soups, and casseroles freeze quite well. The beef broth or sauce seals the beef chunks to prevent freezer burn when frozen for future use.
Equipment you’ll need
Freezeable airtight containers are a must. I have also used reusable, freezer bags (or pouches) before. Bonus points if it’s a microwave-safe container – Easier for reheating small amounts in the microwave. You can also use lidded foil trays. All options work equally as well freezing leftover beef stew. I also make sure there is the ability to write on the container (or be able to attach labels) so I can keep track of what’s inside.
Here are a few simple steps to freeze stew
- The first step is to let your cooked beef stew cool completely to room temperature.
- Divide it into practical portions in airtight containers, leaving a little room for expansion and the lid to secure.
- Label each container with the name and date to ensure you can keep track of when a frozen stew is nearing its best before date. Don’t have labels? A handy roll of masking tape and black markers make easy labels for the deep freeze.
- Pop your containers into the freezer until you need them!
Ok, now here is the defrosting process…
I find that the best way to defrost frozen beef stew is by moving it from the freezer to the fridge and letting it defrost in the fridge overnight before consuming it. If you’re in a hurry, another great way, providing you have used the right containers for a microwave, is to use the defrost setting and microwave the freezer container until defrosted.
As a general rule, I reheat my frozen stews and soups in a cast iron French oven on low heat on top of the stove. If you find it needs a little more liquid when you are reheating, add a little beef stock or water to bring the reheated stew back to life.
How long can you freeze cooked beef stew?
For best results, a stew can easily stay frozen for up to 2-3 months in the freezer. While I’ve seen some slow-cooked dinners last longer, however, the longer a product is frozen, the flavor will deteriorate over time.
If I defrost beef stew, can I refreeze it?
I don’t recommend it as a matter of food safety. My rule of thumb is once it’s defrosted, food should be consumed within a day or two.
How long will it last in the fridge?
A cooked casserole or stew has a shelf life of 3-4 days in the fridge. Beef stew tastes better the next day after cooking, so don’t be afraid to cook a big batch and rehash it into multiple lunches and dinners. Personally, when I batch cook stews to be frozen, Is to always freeze the following day after cooking to allow all the flavors to develop.
Do I really need to let it come to room temperature before placing it in the fridge?
The cooler it is when it goes into the fridge the less chance of affecting the internal fridge temperature, resulting in other refrigerated foods risking becoming contaminated. However, this does not mean that you leave it on the bench for days on end. While I appreciate many have grown up leaving a stew on the bench for days (I constantly have to tell the Irishman that we live in Australia and it goes in the fridge!) Doing this will only lead to bacterial growth.
Should I thicken my stew before freezing?
No. It’s best to add a thickening agent right before serving.
Can you freeze beef stew with potatoes in it?
You totally can. Root vegetables in stews and soups generally freeze really well. What I don’t freeze in soups and stews is dumplings. They tend to fall apart and become a bit of a mess on reheating.
Want to get started on batch cooking? Here are a few soup and stew recipes that make a great frozen meal …
- Slow-cooked rigatoni bolognese
- An Irishman’s Wife’s Irish Stew
- Slow Cooked Mexican Shredded Beef Cheeks (Mexican pulled beef)
- Butternut squash (pumpkin) chipotle soup
What’s your favorite recipe to batch cook and freeze? Let me know in the comments