Do You Peel Potatoes for Beef Stew? A Closer Look at This Age-Old Debate

Beef stew is a beloved hearty dish that warms you up on chilly days. It’s also a great way to use up whatever vegetables you have on hand. But when it comes to potatoes there’s an ongoing debate – do you peel them or not?

As a home cook and beef stew enthusiast, I’ve made this dish countless times And I’ve tried it both ways – with peeled potatoes and with the skins left on Here’s my take on the pros and cons of each method.

The Case for Peeling Potatoes

Peeling potatoes for beef stew has some definite advantages:

###Smoother Texture
Leaving the skins on potatoes can give your stew a rustic, chunky texture. For some this is desirable, but if you prefer a silky smooth gravy, peeling is the way to go. It gives a more uniform consistency.

###Easier for Picky Eaters
Kids and finicky family members may complain about the texture of potato skins. Peeling them avoids this issue.

###More Refined Appearance
A beef stew with peeled, cubed potatoes simply looks more elegant. The potatoes blend in with the other ingredients. With unpeeled spuds, the skins stand out.

###Quicker Cooking Time
Since peeled potatoes are more exposed, they cook faster. This can shorten your overall stew cooking time by 30-60 minutes.

###Easier to Mash and Thicken
If you want to mash some of the potatoes into the gravy to thicken it, peeled potatoes mash up better. Skins can make the gravy lumpy.

So if you’re looking for a fuss-free beef stew with tender potatoes and a silky gravy, peeling is preferable.

The Argument for Leaving Potato Skins On

However, there are also some good reasons to leave those potato skins on:

Extra Fiber and Nutrients

Potato skins contain lots of fiber, iron, potassium, vitamin C and B-6. Leaving them on boosts the nutritional value of your stew.

Texture and Visual Appeal

The skins add appealing texture – a rustic heartiness that just feels “homier.” Irregular chunks with skins look charmingly homemade.

Deeper Flavor

The skins lend an earthy, potato-ey richness that balances the seasoning of the stew. More flavor dimension!

Less Work and Waste

You don’t have to stand there peeling pile after pile of potatoes, creating a mess of skins to discard or compost. Just wash the unpeeled potatoes and chop them up.

Lower Risk of Overcooking

Peeled potatoes absorb more liquid and break down faster. Leaving the skins on gives them added structure so they keep their shape better during the long simmer.

So if you want a hearty, chunky stew with old-fashioned appeal, leave those skins on and enjoy the extra nutrition and flavor.

My Personal Preference

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the virtues of both approaches. But if I had to choose one or the other, I now lean towards leaving the potato skins on for beef stew.

The extra bit of work is worth it for the added fiber, nutrients, and flavor. I don’t mind a chunkier texture, and I like the rustic look of variously-sized pieces of potato.

However, I do peel potatoes if I’m serving stew at a dinner party or to picky eaters. The elegance of peeled potatoes suits these occasions better.

For family meals though, chunky potato skins are my favorite. I think they make the stew even more satisfying and soul-warming on a dreary winter evening.

Tips for the Best Potatoes in Beef Stew

Whichever way you go, here are some tips for potato perfection in beef stew:

  • Choose starchy potatoes – Russets or Yukon golds work best since they hold their shape well when simmered.

  • Cut uniform pieces – Consistent 1-2 inch chunks cook evenly.

  • Parboil – Boiling potatoes 5 minutes before adding to stew helps them cook faster and retain shape.

  • Add toward end – Add potatoes in last 30-45 minutes so they don’t get mushy from overcooking.

  • Season well – Potatoes absorb surrounding flavors, so make sure stew base is well-seasoned.

  • Use broth – Cook potatoes in stew broth, not just water, for the most flavor infusion.

Final Thoughts

Part of the joy of beef stew is customizing it to your taste. The peeled vs. unpeeled potato debate has good arguments on both sides. With a few trials, you’ll discover your own personal preference.

For maximum fiber and nutrients, I suggest giving potato skins a chance. But whichever way you go, follow the tips above for tender, flavorful potatoes that make your stew special.

The next time a chilly day has you craving beef stew, don’t hesitate to leave those spud skins on. Enjoy the hearty flavor and rustic texture they bring to this comforting classic.

Homemade Beef Stew with Carrots & Potatoes


What type of potato is best for beef stew?

Yukon Golds have a creamy texture and slightly waxy consistency that holds up well in stews without becoming overly mushy. They add a nice richness to the stew. Red potatoes have a smooth, thin skin and a waxy texture, red potatoes hold their shape nicely during cooking.

Do you boil potatoes before putting them in stew?

Pre-cooking the potatoes is not necessary for most stew recipes. When added raw, the potatoes will absorb the flavors from the stew, creating a rich and delicious taste. However, if you prefer your potatoes to be softer and creamier, you can parboil them for a few minutes before adding them to the stew.

Should I leave potato skin on for soup?

The skins contain the best flavours and nutrients in potatoes. So I would suggest you leave skins on. If you don’t like that idea, you can cook potatoes whole in the soup, then pick them out and rub the skins off. Cut up the potatoes, and put them back.

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