Beef and Barley Stew with Mushrooms

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Hearty beef and barley stew with mushrooms and root vegetables. Perfect cold weather stew!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Although the days are getting longer, the sun just beginning to ride a little higher in the sky, the nights are still bone-chilling. Honestly, I never look forward to winter. But when I’m smack in the middle of it, I do appreciate its comforts—warm clothes, thick blankets, an excuse to use the fireplace, and a big pot of stew.

And I mean a big pot.

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Heck, if you are going to go through all that trouble, you may as well make enough for plenty of meals during the week. This is one such stew, a hearty cousin of beef barley soup, but bulked up with carrots, celery root, and lots of mushrooms.

Beef Barley Stew

It’s a riff off a stew that Hank likes to make with goose, inspired by Russian stews he’s encountered over the years. The stew is served topped with sour cream, which when mixed in, gives a wonderfully creamy consistency to the stew with just a touch of tang.

Beef and Barley Stew with Mushrooms Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8-10

If you can't find celery root, you can substitute turnips, rutabagas or potatoes. Just be sure to adjust your cooking times—potatoes cook faster than celery root. Save time in the prep work by prepping the onions and mushrooms while the beef is browning.


  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2-3 pounds beef chuck, cut into chunks
  • Salt
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 1 pound button or cremini mushrooms, quartered if small or 1/4-inch sliced
  • 1 quart beef or chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 cup roughly chopped carrot
  • 3 cups celery root, peeled and chopped into 3/4-inch to 1-inch chunks
  • Black pepper
  • About 1/2 cup sour cream (around 1 Tbsp sour cream per serving)
  • Dill for garnish


1 Sear the beef: In a large, thick-bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add enough pieces of the beef to sear in the pot without crowding.

You will need to brown the meat in several batches. Salt the beef as it cooks, and set aside browned pieces in a bowl.

2 Sauté the onions: When all the beef has browned, add the onions. As the onions release some of their water, use a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot.

Sprinkle a little salt over the onions as they cook. Lower the heat to medium and cook the onions until they begin to brown, 5-6 minutes.

3 Add the mushrooms: When the onions have lightly browned, mix in the mushrooms and increase the heat to high. Cook the mushrooms until they release their water, about 2-3 minutes.

3 Add back beef, add marjoram, stock, water, then simmer: Add the beef back to the pot and sprinkle with marjoram.

Add 1 cup of the stock and use the wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the rest of the stock and water and bring to a simmer.

Cover the pot, lower the heat to low and simmer very gently for 1 hour.

4 Add barley, celery root, carrots, continue to simmer: Add the barley, celery root and carrots, stir well and recover the pot. Simmer gently until the barley and celery root are tender, between 40 minutes and an hour.

5 Serve with sour cream and dill: Ladle servings into bowls, then top with a dollop of sour cream and a few sprigs of dill. Grind a little black pepper over right before you serve. To eat, stir in the sour cream.

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Beef, Leek and Barley Soup - from Smitten Kitchen

Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup - from Andrea's Recipes

Goose and Barley Stew - from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

28 Comments / Reviews

No ImageBeef and Barley Stew with Mushrooms

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Nat

    Is it really 3 cups of chopped onions?

  2. Nat

    Are you sure it’s 3 cups of chopped onions??

    Show Replies (1)
  3. Camille

    I have made this a few times and my husband loves it. I have a comment for Michelle. I too had anxiety about burning the meat. So, the next time I prepared the stew, I preheated Dutch oven to medium-low, instead of medium and sprayed pan with a canola oil each time I added a batch of meat to brown. Worked great. Keeping heat lower once the pan was hot did the trick. All scrapings came up nicely without being burned.

  4. Michelle

    I’ve made this stew many times-it is extremely delicious and not easily messed up :). A few things I always have trouble with though:
    1. There’s no way I can chop the onions, wash the mushrooms and then chop them while browning the meat- it’s just too crazy and I’m worrying about the meat burning etc. so I’d suggest for the novice cook to chop all that beforehand.
    2. Two tbsp of butter never seems enough for my enameled Dutch oven- I always end up adding more oil to prevent burning.
    3. Simmer very gently. You can’t hurry this stew or the meat will be tough and sad. Dedicate sufficient time.
    4. Perhaps the celery root I bought was very old and tough, but it was a battle to peel and cut. I also don’t care much for the taste of celery. I usually use red or gold potatoes instead and it’s still tasty.
    5. I always have trouble scraping the pan of the browned bits… They’re really burned on and it’s hard to clean later.

    Any tips for the above would be greatly appreciated- I love this stew, but the browning meat step is kind of scary and stressful!

  5. Jeff Berman

    I just made this with some baby fingerling potatoes, a rutabaga, a turnip, a parsnip and some celery to replace the celery root. Also added a little leftover red wine to replace some water. Possibly the tastiest thing I have ever made. Thank you!

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