Beef Stew in the Pressure Cooker

I’m just going to say it – I love my pressure cooker. So there. I know there are lots of people who are scared of them. They have visions of them exploding all over the kitchen. I guess I understand that. I mean, after all, I’ve seen it happen. Once. I remember it well, too.

It was a Sunday morning and Mama was trying to get me and my sisters dressed and ready for church. Preparations for attending church in our household were something of a three-ring circus. We each had to have our Sunday socks and shoes, Sunday dress probably with crinolines underneath (raise your hand if you know what a crinoline is), clean white gloves and sometimes a hat. She’d get one or two of us ready and by the time she was finished with the third one, either the first or second had messed up her hair, taken her shoes and socks off or rolled around outside on the grass in her nice clean Sunday dress and Mama would have to start all over. Sometimes I wonder how in the world we ever got anywhere. And it wasn’t like we’d ever leave the house looking a mess either. Oh, no. When we stepped out the door and headed for the car we all, Mama included, were as near to perfect as possible.


Anyway, it was one of those Sunday mornings when the three of us were behaving like, well, like little girls. Besides getting everyone dressed and ready for church, Mama also had to have dinner ready when we returned. So, before she started getting us dressed, she had put some chicken on to cook in her pressure cooker. I imagine she had plans to make something like Chicken a la King, one of my personal retro favorites, out of that chicken when we got back home. I also imagine that she was distracted beyond belief by the three squirming little handfuls that were me and my sisters when all of a sudden we heard the loudest boom coming from the direction of the kitchen. Well, this was during the era of the Cuban Missile Crisis and me, being the biggest ‘fraidy-cat on the planet, thought for sure that the “bad guys” were coming to get us. Really…all that practicing we did at school getting under our desks and covering our heads in case of a bomb attack. It made an impression on us little kids. Especially the ‘fraidy-cats.

Mama went running toward the kitchen into what I was sure would be her (and our) certain annihilation by an atomic bomb only to find the pressure cooker blown to bits and chicken covering every possible surface. And I do mean every surface – even the ceiling. Needless to say, we did not make it to church that particular Sunday.

I know I’m not doing much to allay your fears of using a pressure cooker, but honestly the technology has come a long, long way since those days. There are multiple safety features built into modern pressure cookers. Relief valves that trip if the pressure gets too high. I tried to tell my sister, Miss P, that the other night when she called and I told her I was making this beef stew in the pressure cooker. I could hear the fear and trepidation in her voice right through the phone line. That chicken-on-the-ceiling episode really scarred her for life :-)

This recipe came from an old cookbook that was included with the first pressure cooker I ever owned. I have no idea where the cookbook is these days and the pressure cooker was worn out and tossed a long time ago, but I still use this recipe. If you just can’t bring yourself to use the pressure cooker you can, of course, cook this on the stovetop. It’ll just take you about 10 times as long.

1 1/2 lbs. beef stew meat
3 tblsp. oil
2 large potatoes
4-5 large carrots
1 large onion
1 can green beans with liquid
2 cans diced tomatoes with liquid
2 tblsp. cornstarch
1/3 cup cold water

Beef Stew

Cut the beef stew meat into bite size pieces.

Beef Stew

Do the same with the potatoes,

Beef Stew

the carrots,

Beef Stew

and onions.

Beef Stew

Heat the pressure cooker over medium high heat. Add the oil and stew meat. Stir and cook until the meat is well browned all over.

Beef Stew

Add the potatoes, carrots, onion, and beans with their liquid.

Beef Stew

Add the tomatoes with their liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste. I use at least a teaspoon of salt in this recipe. That’s a lot of stew to season, you know!

Beef Stew

Close the lid and place the weight (regulator) on the pressure cooker according to your manufacturer’s instructions. Heat on medium high setting until pressure is achieved (weight begins to rock back and forth). Continue cooking for 15 minutes. Keep the heat regulated so that the weight rocks gently and steadily throughout cooking.

Beef Stew

At the end of the 15 minutes cooking time, reduce the pressure immediately by running cold water on the top of the pressure cooker. Do not remove the weight until the cooker has completely vented. When the pressure releases, open the cooker and place it back on the stove.

Beef Stew

Combine the cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl. Bring the stew back up to the boil, add the cornstarch and water and stir until thickened.

Beef Stew

Serve over rice or noodles. I like to stir a teaspoon of prepared horseradish into my serving.


Beef Stew in the Pressure Cooker
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Classic beef stew made quick and easy in the pressure cooker.
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 1 1/2 lbs. beef stew meat
  • 3 tblsp. oil
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 4-5 large carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 can green beans with liquid
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with liquid
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tblsp. cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  1. Cut the beef stew meat into bite size pieces. Do the same with the potatoes, carrots and onions.
  2. Heat the pressure cooker over medium high heat. Add the oil and stew meat. Stir and cook until the meat is well browned all over. Add the potatoes, carrots, onion, beans with their liquid, and tomatoes with their liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Place the lid and weight on the pressure cooker according to your manufacturer’s instruction. Heat on medium high setting until pressure is achieved (weight begins to rock gently and steadily). Continue cooking for 15 minutes.
  4. At the end of the 15 minutes cooking time, reduce the pressure immediately by running cold water on the top of the pressure cooker. When pressure releases, open the top of the cooker and place it back on the stove.
  5. Combine the cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl. Bring the stew back up to the boil, add the cornstarch and water and stir until thickened.
  6. Serve over rice or noodles.
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  1. Happier Than A Pig in Mud says

    I have two PC’s, an 8qt stove top model and a 4qt electronic one, both from QVC. I’m glad I have them and keep the 4qt on the counter! Great for dried beans and stock, pea soup in 12 minutes! I haven’t tried stew yet (made that in my 6qt roaster oven a couple weekends ago… I may have too many kitchen toys, is that possible? :@)

  2. Peg says

    Thanks so much for posting this story & recipe! I’m not sure which delighted me more: the story of you three girls, or the recipe itself. But I’ll be preparing this stew one evening this week.

    I hope you post some more pressure cooker recipes. I, too, love my pressure cooker (my mama showed me how wonderful it can be), but I need new recipes. I only have a few that I actually use and would love to have more.

    Thanks again, and keep up the great work!

  3. says

    Lovely story, delicious recipe and beautiful photos — hey, how many cutting boards do you have, anyway?!?!

    Please post more of your favorite pressure cooker recipes… let’s inspire those who do not yet know the flavor, speed and health of this cooking method!


    making pressure cookers hip again, one recipe at a time!

    • says

      I have quite a few cutting boards actually. I have a plastic one that I use for meats because it can go in the dishwasher. I have a small wooden one that is only for onions and garlic and I have a 4’x3′ bamboo one that I use for everything else!

  4. says

    I could swear you were describing my family here. Same Sunday morning get-ready-for-church turmoil and, yes, with white gloves, huge crinolines, special Mary Janes, and hat (usually only reserved for Easter). We had no pressure cooker, thank goodness, but we more often than not had a similar pot roast on the stove too, which I still make and love often when it’s cool outside. Really, is there anything more satisfying to eat than a pot roast like this? I don’t think so. Great post, Lana!

    • says

      Thanks, Barbara. Sometimes I really enjoy telling a story along with the recipe and sometimes it’s just about the food. Glad you enjoyed the story in this one.

  5. says

    similar cooker experience happened in our family too, thank goodness it wasn’t the Russians… love the story and the stew, so quick is the pressure cooker… dinner in no-time-flat

  6. says

    I loved this post!
    Great story! Love the pic. Which one is you? I think I know but……
    I’ve never used a pressure cooker.
    Not because I’m afraid of it but because the only thing I remember my mom making with it is Swiss Steak. I hated Swiss Steak!
    I forgot about how fast it cooks though. 15 min for stew, Yikes!
    I just might see what kind of shape mom’s is in next time I’m over there.
    Thanks for making my day!

  7. says

    Great story, Lana, and I love the picture of you and your sisters. I have been thinking of getting a pressure cooker, particularly for Indian food. It looks as though it does a great job of cooking beef stew, too.

    • says

      It does do a great job, Dara. It’s interesting to me that the meat is perfectly tender yet the veggies are not too soft. I’m thinking of possibly posting a few more pressure cooker recipes.

  8. says

    Wow that’s quite a story, and I LOVE that picture of you girls, so cute! I love my pressure cooker. I actually used it to cook my sugar pumpkins last year and my butternut squash this year. This stew looks awesome!

    • says

      Yes, I know the tomatoes are unusual. But we really like the addition of them. You could leave them out if you wanted, but you’d need to add a little beef stock or other liquid before pressure cooking.

  9. Neena says

    Yes, the explosion was scary, but the clean-up was worse. Since you were all little, you didn’t get involved in the clean-up process. I scraped chicken off of everything for a whole Sunday. I lost my religion. The next Sunday, I probably NEEDED to go to church!!!

  10. Miss P says

    I’m sorry, but it would take an act of Congress and a very large cannon for me to use a pressure cooker. Some events are just too momentous to forget. This is one.

    But it looks wonderful. I would certainly enjoy sitting down and partaking with you.

    Miss P

  11. Alison says

    you inspired me to try out my pressure cooker. My mom bought me one about a year ago and I havent had the guts to use it. I made the stew tonight and it was GREAT!!! and so FAST! thanks!
    I hope to see more PC posts in the future. now that it is getting cold and PC season.

  12. says

    I just bought an electric pressure cooker and was searching for suitable recipes when I found your site. My hubby dears a hearty beef stew and due to the nature of our job, I guess I’m gonna cook up a big batch and freeze them in the freezer. Ready to eat in minutes whenever we get back home! :) Thank you so much for this recipe! :D

  13. says

    love our pressure cooker, but like your charming tale, horror stories of pressure cooked meals gone bad abound. My mother actually had to pawn her wedding ring in order to have the kitchen window mended after her pressure cooker went pop one week night in the mid-seventies. I’m so happy they’ve improved otherwise we’d almost never eat stews – we just aren’t organized enough to start long enough in advance!

    • says

      Lisa – With all pressure cookers you may have to adjust your recipe according to your manufacturer’s directions. Generally, no matter the size you never fill a pressure cooker more than 3/4 full.

  14. Bill says

    Dear Lana,
    I’m planning on making beef stew in my pressure cooker tomorrow. Since it’s been awhile since I did, I thought I would check the internet for instructions to refresh my memory. Your recipe is very much like mine that I remember. I sometimes put in the tomatoes, sometimes I leave them out. Either way is great.
    Love your intro. My Mom used the PC a lot and I still have it and use it.
    Works fine.

  15. Terri says

    Loved the wonderful story and the recipe. I received a new 6qt. electric pressure cooker for my birthday and I LOVE IT! I’m going to make your recipe tonight for my hubby! There’s snow in our California forecast and a nice stew will be yummy and cozy!

  16. Corinna says

    Hi Lana,
    I’ve stumbled across your blog via Pinterest & have thoroughly enjoyed hearing the story of your Mother’s mishap with her Pressure Cooker. I too have vivid memories – my Mum would yell out “stay out of the way” as she’d run out to the front porch and then allow the steam to escape. I could really understand the danger but clearly there was some!

    I’ve just invested in a new modern day safer version myself & we love it. I look forward to trying your recipe soon. Thanks for sharing it!


  17. ct says

    hi there. tried this out today. it turned out marvelous (i used stove) and looked exactly like your picture above. thank you for the recipe. am definitely keeping it :)


  18. Tina says

    Thank you so much for the recipe and instructions for the pressure cooker!
    I told my daughter I would teacher how to make beef stew. Our time was cut short, I pulled out the pressure cooker and no instructions any where. Its been so long, I forgot how to use it ; ( You’ve saved the day!

    Thank you, Tina

  19. Linda says

    First let me say thank you for sharing one of your memories with us. My husband bought me a Wolfgang Puck Pressure Cooker against my wishes because I don’t know very much about them and was kind of scared of them. This recipe looks easy enough to try for my first trial with the pressure cooker. Thanks again for posting both the recipe and your memories.

  20. Charles says

    I am a male; 50 years old; I do most of the cooking in our home. I purchased a Khun Rikon Duromatic pressure cooker from Amazon last week. This stew recipe was the first I tried in my new device and it turned out to be very good; most excellent !!! I cooked my stew for 20 minutes and I could not believe the flavor! My wife said the stew tasted old fashion just like her grandmothers. If she (grandma) was still alive she would be 110 years old. Thank you for sharing this recipe as it is now a staple in my cookbook!

  21. JoAnn says

    Just got my pressure cooker today! And made this! It looked just like the picture! And was great! Ready to try something else even tho stew is still in the pot!

  22. says

    Just made this for dinner when I realized that I didn’t have the 1 1/2 hours to do a pressure cooker roast. Turned out so tender and yummy. My husband said it did need a pinch of spices, so we added a bit of salt and a spice mix called berber. I’m a vegetarian, so I will have to take the family’s word for it, but it appears to be a hit!

  23. William Williams says

    I’ve been interested in pressure cooking for a number of years now…..because when I was growing up pressure cooking was the in thing….when microwaves came in, pressure cooking went out. I finally found the pressure cooker I wanted….made by TEFL a 7.4ltr cooker….I bought it and it’s been like night and day now to prepare great meals in unbelievable times…..stews in 15min, baked beans in 35min. Just today my wife and I tried your beef stew recipe…it was unbelievable. Took me back to 1958 when my mother used an antique version and we were limited to just certain recipes, stews, chicken and soups. For the last two weeks we have been making meals unbelievable meals in no time at all…..your Boston baked beans recipe, bean soup recipe, pork roast, beef roast and now beef stew….is fantastic. I’m now looking for a recipe for spaghetti sauce.


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