How Much Beef Stew Per Person Should You Make? The Ultimate Guide

Beef stew is a hearty, comforting meal that is perfect for feeding a crowd. But how much beef stew should you make per person? It can be tricky to determine the right amount so that you make enough without having a ton of leftovers. In this ultimate guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know to figure out the ideal beef stew recipe measurements.

How Many Ounces of Beef Stew Meat Per Person?

When making beef stew, the key is getting the ratio of meat to vegetables and broth correct. Here are some general guidelines for how much beef stew meat to use per person

  • For adults, plan on 4-6 ounces of raw stew meat per person. This comes out to about 1⁄2 pound of meat per adult.
  • For kids, allow 2-3 ounces of raw stew meat per child.

So for example if you were making beef stew for 4 adults and 2 kids. you would need

  • 4 adults x 5 ounces stew meat = 20 ounces
  • 2 kids x 2.5 ounces stew meat = 5 ounces
  • Total stew meat needed = 25 ounces (about 1 1⁄2 pounds)

Of course, the exact amount can vary based on the appetites of your crowd and how meat-centric you want the stew to be. But the above measurements give you a good starting point.

How Much Stew Meat for Stews vs. Other Dishes

It’s worth noting that if you’re making beef stew, you often need less stew meat than you would for other dishes. That’s because the meat gets stretched by all the chunky vegetables and broth in the stew.

However, if you’re making something like beef tacos, skewers, or pot pie where the meat itself is the star of the show, plan on using the full 1⁄2 pound of stew meat per adult.

How Much Beef to Buy for Stew for a Group

Figuring out how much stew meat to cook is just the first step. You also need to know how much raw beef to actually purchase from the store.

Here are some tips for getting the right amount of raw meat for stew:

  • Buy 25-30% more beef than you think you’ll need. This gives you a cushion in case some meat is unusable or your portions end up being larger.

  • Plan for 1⁄2 pound of raw stew meat per adult and 1⁄4 pound per child.

  • Remember that raw meat shrinks by about 1⁄4 when cooking. So 5 ounces of raw beef becomes about 4 ounces cooked.

  • Stewing beef usually costs $3-$5 per pound. Look for sales to save money!

  • Consider buying a larger roast and cutting it into stew meat yourself to potentially save money.

So for example, if you were making stew for 8 adults and 4 kids based on the guidelines above:

  • 8 adults x 1⁄2 pound raw meat = 4 pounds
  • 4 kids x 1⁄4 pound raw meat = 1 pound
  • Total raw meat = 5 pounds
  • Add 25% extra = 1 1⁄4 pounds additional
  • Grand total raw meat to buy = About 6 1⁄4 pounds

This gives you flexibility in case some meat doesn’t get used or your portions are larger, while still having some leftovers. Modify the amounts based on your specific needs.

How Much Beef Stew Per Batch?

When making beef stew, you typically want to cook it in large batches that will feed multiple people. Here are some guidelines for batch sizes:

  • For 4-6 people, make a 5-6 quart batch
  • For 6-10 people, make a 10 quart batch
  • For 10-15 people, make a 12-15 quart batch

The stew will reduce down as it cooks, concentrating the flavors. Making big pots of hearty beef stew is part of the fun and will leave you with delicious leftovers.

Tips for Stretching Your Stew

Looking for ways to make your beef stew ingredients go further? Here are some tips:

  • Add extra vegetables like potatoes, carrots, peas, corn, etc. The veggies soak up the delicious flavors.

  • Use beef broth or stock as part of the stew liquid. This adds meaty taste without extra meat.

  • Serve the stew over rice, pasta, or with crusty bread to help fill people up.

  • Include beans or lentils to add protein and fiber. They absorb flavors well.

  • Use a slow cooker or pressure cooker to draw out flavors from less meat.

  • Mix in tender pieces of meat with tougher/fattier cuts. The combo works great.

  • Make bone-in beef shank or short ribs part of the stew meat. The bones add flavor.

With a few small tweaks, you can stretch a little meat into a very hearty, filling family meal.

What Cuts to Use for Beef Stew Meat

When it comes to cuts of beef for stew, you want meat that has a good balance of fat and connective tissue. This allows the meat to become meltingly tender when braised for hours. Here are some top cuts to look for:

  • Chuck roast: A fabulously flavorful cut from the shoulder. Look for good marbling.

  • Bottom round or rump roast: Very flavorful with decent marbling throughout.

  • Brisket: A nicely marbled cut that is perfect for stews when trimmed. Go for the fattier point cut.

  • Short ribs: full of collagen for rich flavor, just cut them into pieces. Opt for bone-in for extra taste.

  • Sirloin tip: A leaner cut that holds up well to long cooking times. Works great when mixed with fattier cuts.

For the best results, buy good quality beef with nice white marbling throughout. This adds juiciness and flavor as the stew cooks down.

Should You Use Bone-In Beef Cuts for Stew?

Bones add tons of flavor and body to beef stew as they cook. Short ribs, shank, and other bone-in beef cuts are fantastic for stew. That said, it can make portioning trickier.

Here are a few options if you want bones but need easy serving sizes:

  • Use half bone-in and half boneless cuts in your stew so bones aren’t in every portion.

  • Remove the meat from around the bones after cooking and serve the bone-free meat in portions.

  • Cut bone-in pieces smaller or into individual portions before cooking.

  • Prepare stew meat using boneless cuts but add a few marrow bones for flavor.

Getting the rich taste bones provide doesn’t have to mean bones end up on every dinner plate. With a little prep, you can get the best of both worlds.

How Should You Cook Beef Stew Meat?

To transform the inexpensive, tough cuts used for beef stew into fork-tender deliciousness requires some special cooking techniques:

  • Sear the meat: First, sear the beef stew cubes on all sides in batches in hot oil. This caramelizes the outside for amazing flavor.

  • Slow and low: Simmer the meat at a bare bubble for at least 1 1⁄2 hours, ideally 2-3 hours. This allows the collagen to gradually break down into luscious gelatin.

  • Moist heat: Keep the stew meat completely submerged in liquid the entire time so it braises rather than drying out. Add extra water or broth as needed.

  • Lots of flavor: Season aggressively with spices and herbs. The long cook time allows the meat to fully absorb all the flavors.

Taking the time to cook beef stew the right way results in incredibly tender, succulent meat in a rich homemade gravy. The work is well worth it!

FAQs About Making Beef Stew for a Group

How can I tell when the beef stew meat is fully cooked?
Look for meat so tender it falls apart when pierced with a fork. Beef stew meat is fully cooked and safe to eat once it reaches 145°F internally.

Can I prepare beef stew in advance?
Absolutely! Make the stew up to 3 days before serving. Cool completely before refrigerating. Reheat gently on the stovetop or in the oven before serving.

What’s the best way to thicken my stew?
For rich thickness without added calories or weird gums, mash up a few tablespoons of the cooked potatoes and stir them back into the stew. Sprinkle with a little flour at the end if needed.

Should I add the vegetables at the beginning or end?
Harder veggies like potatoes go in first and cook the longest. More delicate veggies like peas can be added in the last 30 minutes so they don’t get mushy.

Help – my stew meat is tough and chewy!
Don’t panic. Pop it back on the stove and simmer for another hour or two until the meat fully softens and becomes pull-apart tender. Bonus flavor!

Tips for Leftover Beef Stew

Cooked beef stew will keep well in the fridge for 3-4 days. Here are tips for enjoying the leftovers:

  • Serve as is, or thicken slightly before reheating for more of a gravy-like texture.

  • Transfer to a baking dish, top with biscuits or mashed potatoes, and bake until hot and bubbly.

  • Fill halved small potatoes with stew and top with cheese for twice-baked potatoes.

  • Stuff into peppers, tomatoes, or zucchini boats for a fun presentation.

  • Use as a filling for tacos, sandwiches, omelets, or quesadillas.

  • Stir in cooked egg noodles or rice to transform it into a hearty casserole.

With endless possibilities, delicious beef stew makes great planned leftovers. A little can go a long way for creative reuses.


When cooking beef stew for a family, party, or potluck, start with 1⁄2 pound of stew meat per adult and 1⁄4 pound per child. Cook low and slow, add lots of vegetables, and flavor aggressively. Making beef stew does take some time, but the satisfaction of creating this from-scratch comfort food is priceless. Now get out there and start stewing!

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