Beef, Beer and Butter Bean Stew

This beef, beer and butter bean stew is a healthy alternative to a beef and ale pie. Replacing some of the beef with butter beans and giving the pastry a miss saves a good deal of fat as well as time. It's still hearty and comforting.

Stews like this are brilliant at turning inexpensive cuts of meat into a feast. As the beef is slow cooked in alcohol it becomes soft and tender. Don't worry about giving this to kids as all the alcohol in the beer evaporates during the cooking.

There's loads of gravy in this stew which makes it perfect for dumplings. Try making healthy dumplings with olive oil instead of suet. You could also serve with boiled or mashed potatoes or crusty bread. You can thicken it with a teaspoon of corn flour dissolved in water if you like at the end, just make sure you bring it to the boil again before serving to ensure the flour is cooked out.

Beef, Beer and Butter Bean Stew

  • Serves: 4-6

  • Time: 20 mins prep + 2-3 hours cooking

  • Cost: £1.83 per serving (based on 4 servings)

  • Calories: 440 per serving (based on 4 servings)


  • 2 tablespoons sunflower or vegetable oil

  • 600g stewing steak or casserole steak, diced

  • 1 large onion, diced

  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced

  • 2 sticks celery, diced

  • 400ml dark beer or stout (or replace with stock)

  • 400ml strong beef stock

  • 1 teaspoon each of dried thyme & rosemary

  • 1 tablespoon Worcester sauce

  • 1 teaspoon English mustard

  • 150g button mushrooms, quartered

  • 400g tin of butter beans, drained

  • 1 tablespoon cornflour dissolved in 100ml water (optional)

  • Fresh parsley to garnish (optional)

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish with a lid. Brown the beef all over in batches (if the pan becomes too crowded). Remove from the pan and place in a bowl. Put to one side.

  2. Heat the remaining oil in the pan and fry the onions for a few minutes until soft. Add the carrot and celery and fry for another couple of minutes until slightly soft.

  3. Pour the beer into the pan and turn the heat up. Give everything a really good stir, making sure you scrape the bottom of the pan well to release any meaty bits. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer.

  4. Return the beef to the pan. Add the stock, herbs, Worcester sauce, mustard and mushrooms. Season to taste. If necessary, pour over enough boiling water to just cover the contents of the pan.

  5. Bring to a gentle simmer and pop the lid on the pan. Leave the stew on the hob and simmer for 2 - 3 hours until the meat is falling apart, stirring every now and again so it doesn't catch on the bottom. Alternatively (and I think this is better as it cooks more evenly) pop the stew in a pre-heated oven at 160 C / gas mark 3 for the same amount of time.

  6. When the stew is ready, add the butter beans and cook for a further 10 - 15 minutes until they are heated through. You can thicken the gravy by adding the cornflour mix to the stew and stirring it well over a high heat until it thickens. This stew tastes better if eaten the day after it's cooked. Sprinkle over fresh parsley before serving if you like.