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February 17, 2015
Mel's Kitchen Café
Beef and Sweet Potato Stew with Corn and Green Chiles (Slow Cooker)
by Melanie Gunnell

I love a good beef stew. And this smoky, flavorful version is deeeelicious. It kind of takes classic Beef Stew from traditional to Tex-Mex.

If you, like me, get confused by sweet potatoes (dude, are they orange or white or yams or what?), never fear. I’ve made this several times with every variety of “sweet potato” at my local grocery store and it is fabulous every single time. Those delicious little taters give just the right balance to the hearty, chili-like flavors. And adding in that splash of fresh lime juice at the end makes my life complete.

As far as slow cooker meals go, it does require a bit (a very, very small bit) of prep before tossing everything in the ol’ crockpot. I know lovers of crockpot meals sometimes cringe at any pre-cooking required in a recipe but I know if you take a deep breath and do it, you’ll be glad you did.

Ten minutes max and the step up in flavor and yumminess will be worth it. We’ve eaten it a handful of times over the past month and I just sigh in delight each time. It is so good. It’s also one of the meals I made last week and popped in the freezer for my husband to take to his parents while visiting/helping them this week. It makes a great and simple freezer meal.

Although the temps here have soared into the 40’s and 50’s (sometimes I don’t even know who I am and how I got here anymore after living the last half-decade in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin and Minnesota where temps are usually a balmy -18 in February), I’m hanging on to soup and stew season as long as possible even if my kids have been outside all week playing 4-square on the driveway in shorts and t-shirts and bare feet.

A discerning eye will notice in these pictures that the cilantro on top of the stew is actually parsley (due to a certain lovable and willing grocery-shopping husband who not for the first time accidentally came home with the wrong leafy green garnish) and I’m happy to report that it works just fine in a pinch (although cilantro lovers will definitely want to chase down cilantro — it completes the Mexican flavors perfectly).

Slow Cooker Beef and Sweet Potato Stew with Corn and Chiles
Yield: Serves 6

An alternative to cooking this on high for 4 hours is to cook the first step (the beef/broth/seasonings) on low for 8 hours, stir in the sweet potatoes and change the temperature to high for 1-2 hours to let them soften before stirring in the rest of the ingredients.

Basically you want the beef to get nice and tender before stirring in the potatoes (they'll get mushy and overcooked if they are in the stew the full cooking time).

If you prefer not to use canned green chiles, an alternative is to use 1-2 poblano or anaheim chiles: char them using a gas stove or broiler, peel and seed them and then chop them up to use in the stew.

To freeze, make the stew, let it cool, then portion into freezer zipper bags or freezer-safe containers. To serve, thaw in the refrigerator overnight, scoop into a slow cooker and heat on low for an hour or so until heated through.



  1. Season the beef with salt and pepper all over and place in a large zipper bag. Add the flour and toss in the bag until the beef is well coated with the flour.

  2. In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat until hot and rippling. Add the beef in a single layer and brown on all sides (don't cook it all the way through, just let it get a nice golden color on each side). Transfer the browned beef to a 6-quart slow cooker and repeat with the remaining oil and beef. Toss whatever flour is left in the bag over the beef in the slow cooker.

  3. Add the tomato paste to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about a minute so the tomato paste sizzles and darkens in color. Stir in the broth, scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of the skillet. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

  4. Pour the broth over the meat in the slow cooker. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, chili powder, oregano, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.

  5. Stir in the sweet potatoes, cover the slow cooker again and cook until they are tender, 1-2 hours on high. Stir in the chiles, corn, cilantro, lime juice and additional salt and pepper to taste. Let sit for just a minute or two to let the corn heat through (if using frozen).

  6. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Recipe Source: adapted from Cuisine at Home December 2014

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