The 1 ingredient your beef stew is missing

We’ve recently discovered a secret — yet surprisingly common — ingredient that will take your basic beef stew to the next level.
Casey Barber

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By Casey Barber

Beef stew is one of the most comforting fall dishes around. There are also about a thousand (possibly infinite) ways to make it.

We’ve recently discovered a secret — yet surprisingly common — ingredient that will take your basic beef stew to the next level.

When it comes to comfort food, it turns out that burgers and meatloaf aren’t the only beefy dishes that benefit from a few squirts of ketchup. Yep — good old, store-bought ketchup. Beef stew, that classic fall dish, gets even better when you add french fries’ best friend to the mix.

Ketchup in stew might sound a little bizarre if you’ve never tried, it but the basic ingredients in ketchup have been hanging out with beef for a long time now. Ketchup is made from reduced, concentrated tomato paste, which caramelizes as it cooks to add umami flavor to whatever dish you’re making. It also usually has vinegar and sugar, two ingredients that play very well when it comes to flavor enhancement. They also help play off the traditional addition of red wine.

Many beef stew recipes already call for tomato paste, canned crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce. Ketchup works the same way: It makes the flavor of the stew richer and deeper.

Ready to try the best beef stew of your life? Our flavor-packed version is incredibly easy to make because it all comes together in one pot.

More of our best beef stew recipes:

Beef Stew with Dill

Beef Stew with Dill

Justin Chapple
Giada's Slow-Cooker Beef Stew