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Cranberry Cider Braised Beef Stew with Rosemary Polenta. Slow cooked beef stew with cider, wine, fresh herbs, and sweet cranberries. If there’s one cozy autumn meal you need to be making, it’s this beef stew. It’s such a simple dinner to throw together, even kind of festive, and totally delicious. Serve this stew over a bed of creamy rosemary polenta and you’ll have the perfect dinner for a cold night in with family and friends.

overhead photo of Cranberry Cider Braised Beef Stew with Rosemary Polenta

Is anyone else in a bit of disbelief that we are already six days into November? It’s weird because on one hand, it feels like November, the temperatures are cold, the leaves have fallen, and Thanksgiving is my current focus (well, and the new cookbook, of course). On the other hand, it feels like it should still be September. Where did October go? How are we entering into the final days of 2019? Soon it’s going to be onto Christmas, my mind is just in complete shock.

I know that everyone says this, but how is time flying by so quickly? I’m currently on a plane headed to LA, but by the time this post goes live on Wednesday I’ll be finishing up my LA trip and already be heading back that night on a plane home – wow!

It is supposed to be a nice eighty-ish degrees in LA. I’m sure the next few days will be a little confusing to me weather-wise. Especially since I’m in full-on cozy fall mode…as you can tell from pretty much every recipe I’ll be sharing this month…but I’ll take it!

raw cranberries

So what’s my point in all this crazy airplane rambling? Well, it’s November, and with November comes the arrival of fresh cranberries.

Most of the time we all only think to use cranberries in our Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. Maybe sometimes we’ll incorporate them into a cocktail, but rarely do we think to use cranberries in other ways.

Thankfully that’s why I’m here. I love using cranberries in savory ways throughout the months of November and December. Not only are cranberries festive and pretty…they can also be a sweet yet tart addition to savory recipes when used correctly. Enter this beef stew. It’s classic beef stew, but with a twist. And it’s just as delicious as you can imagine.

Cranberry Cider Braised Beef Stew with Rosemary Polenta in instant pot before cooking

Here are the stewy details.

Start with the beef. The wonderful thing about beef stew is that you can use a cheaper cut of meat, but make it taste incredible. Cooking the beef low and slow helps to tenderize it and rid the beef of any toughness.

No time for low and slow? No worries, I also tested this recipe out in the instant pot. I was pleasantly surprised with just how mouth-wateringly good the beef turned out.

As with most meat-based recipes, I like to brown the beef before adding any kind of liquid. I know it’s an additional step, but I find it makes for an even more flavorful stew.

Brown the beef, then simply add in sweet cider, a touch of red wine, plenty of carrots, shallots, herbs, and all the other delicious workings of a great beef stew. The key to this stew is the use of fresh apple cider and tart cranberries. The cider spices up the sauce and balances out the tartness from the cranberries. And I know cranberries may seem odd, but trust me, beef and cranberries are such a delicious combination.

If you tried last year’s cranberry braised short ribs, you’ll love this beef stew.

Of course, if you’re truly not a fan, you can easily omit the cranberries from the recipe.

Cranberry Cider Braised Beef Stew in instant pot after cooking

Now, onto that rosemary polenta.

Just before you’re ready to eat, you should start making the polenta. You could also do something like mashed potatoes or egg noodles, but I’ve found that rosemary polenta is particularly delicious.

To give the polenta a really delicious flavor, I started off by frying the rosemary in a little olive with a few cloves of garlic. This infuses the oil but doesn’t leave you with an overpowering rosemary flavor. Once the rosemary is crisp just add water, then stir in the instant polenta.

If you’re new to instant polenta, it only takes five minutes to make but leaves you with the creamiest, butteriest polenta. This is one of my go-to (and gluten free) side dishes throughout the colder days of the year. It’s healthy, easy to make, and so delicious.

overhead close up photo of Cranberry Cider Braised Beef Stew with Rosemary Polenta

Finish it up.

Once the beef is tender and the stew sauce has thickened into a loose gravy, spoon the beef over plates of steaming polenta.

Then top with that crisped rosemary and enjoy with a side of crusty bread…and maybe a glass of wine too.

I know it’s only Wednesday, but I don’t see why we can’t make it just as special as a Saturday. Right?

So let’s do it!

side angled photo of Cranberry Cider Braised Beef Stew with Rosemary Polenta

PS. How amazing would it be if I actually came home to this cooking away tonight? Unfortunately, I don’t get in until later, and then have to make the hour and a half trek home…ugh. Not my favorite.

BUT that leaves me with a thought. If you know someone who needs a little cheering up. Or you’d just like to do something nice for someone you love…make this beef.

It’s sure to be a win!

overhead photo of Cranberry Cider Braised Beef Stew with Rosemary Polenta with fork in bowl

If you make this cranberry cider braised beef stew with rosemary polenta, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Cranberry Cider Braised Beef Stew with Rosemary Polenta.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories Per Serving: 693 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Slow Cooker

  • 1. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, sear the beef on both sides. Remove the beef and transfer to the slow cooker. 
    2. To the slow cooker, add the shallots and carrots. Add the cider, wine, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, brown sugar (or honey), thyme, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper, gently stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. During the last 2 hours of cooking, add the cranberries. 
    3. To make the polenta. Heat the butter, garlic, and rosemary in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the garlic is golden and the rosemary is crisp and "fried", about 3 minutes. Remove the rosemary and reserve. To the pan, add 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta, stirring until the polenta is soft and thick, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. If the polenta thickens too much, thin with additional water or cream for an extra luscious polenta.
    4. To serve, remove the thyme and bay leaves from the stew. Serve the stew and gravy over the polenta. Top with crisped rosemary. Enjoy!


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
    2. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large oven-safe braiser, sear the beef on both sides. Remove the beef to a plate. Add the shallots and carrots, cook 5 minutes or until the shallots begin to caramelize. Add back the beef. Add the cider, wine, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, brown sugar (or honey), thyme, and bay leaves. Sprinkle the cranberries overtop. Season with salt and pepper, gently stir to combine. Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours or until the beef is tender.
    3. Make the polenta and finish as directed above.

Instant Pot

  • 1. Switch the instant pot to sauté. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Sear the beef on both sides until browned. Turn the instant pot off.
    2. To the instant pot, add the shallots and carrots. Add the cider, wine, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, brown sugar (or honey), thyme, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper, gently stir to combine. Seal the instant pot and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes.
    3. Switch the instant pot to sauté. Add the cranberries and bring the sauce to a boil. Boil 8-10 minutes until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens slightly.
    4. Make the polenta and finish as directed above.
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  1. 5 stars
    This was super delicious. The cider brown sugar and cranberries add a festive twist to a traditional beef stew. Sauce is wonderful over polenta.

    1. Hey Liane,
      Wonderful!! Thanks a lot for making this recipe, I am so glad to hear it was enjoyed. Have a great Saturday! xTieghan

  2. 5 stars
    I just made this again this season and it did not disappoint! What made it even better, was I made it the day before so the flavours really had time to come together. We had friends over for a mid-week get together and they loved it! Served it with creamy garlic mashed potatoes and your Autumn Harvest Honey-crisp Apple and Feta Salad. Which was also phenomenal! Both are 5 star! ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  3. 5 stars
    I made this using a chuck roast I had found on sale in May and was saving for a “special” recipe, and it was delicious! However, I cooked it in the oven for three hours as directed, and as another reviewer said, there was literally no sauce left in the pot, so I had to add a good amount of cider and wine before serving for at least a little bit of liquid. I also followed the directions and chopped the carrots in the food processor, but I saw too late in the pictures that they were supposed to be sliced (which I think would have helped with the sauce). Finally, I couldn’t find any instant polenta anywhere (although I know I’ve bought it in the past) so used instant garlic mashed potatoes, and they were perfect.

  4. This tasted good, but i went the insta pot route and it was really watery. Anything to thicken or halves the liquid. It was soup…

    1. Hey Amanda,
      So sorry to hear this, was there anything you adjusted in the recipe? Please let me know how I can help! xTieghan

  5. I wanted to make this and thought I had beef for pot roast, I do have a boneless ribeye roast would this work? Or should I go get the right cut of beef? Thank you

    1. Hey Annie,
      I’ve not tried this with a boneless ribeye roast, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for you. Please let me know if you give the recipe a try! xTieghan

  6. This was sooooo good! But a bit to sweet for my taste. Next time I’ll drop the apple juice to 1/2 cup. I also subbed beef broth with red wine for the straight red wine. And I subbed bison and venison for the beef. I also added celery.

    I should have read the polenta package instructions instead of the recipe but nothing some extra milk couldn’t handle.

    8/10 Would definitely make again with some tweaks!!

    1. Hey Alex,
      Thanks a lot for giving this recipe a try, I am so glad to hear it was enjoyed! Have the best day! xTieghan

  7. 5 stars
    I made this recipe last night for my sister her husband and and a friend. Everyone raved about how fabulous the dinner was. My sister said it was the best meal she had in months. The favors in the recipe are outstanding. The cranberry really makes the dish. A true winner!

    1. Hey Judith,
      Thanks a lot for giving this recipe a try, I am so glad to hear it was enjoyed! Have the best day! xTieghan

  8. 5 stars
    New favorite in our house! I was hesitant of the cranberries, but they almost disappear after cooking, and add a delicious flavor to the sauce. I cooked it in my cast iron Dutch oven, and it was perfect after 2 1/2 hours. Other reviews talked about it being watery so I only added 1/2 c of water before putting it in the oven. It turned out super thick (in a delicious way!) so I added the rest of the water and then let it rest while I finished up cooking the rest of the meal. Can’t wait to make it again!

    1. Hey Crystal! I really appreciate you taking the time to give this recipe a try! I hope you loved it 🙂 xTieghan

  9. 5 stars
    Amazing! I have just done it for tonight’s dinner and it is a big success. We love it and I will definitely make it again such a great dish for the winter.

    1. Hey there! Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try, I hope it was delish! Have a great week 🙂 xTieghan

  10. I just made this recipe for the first time – finally feels like fall! I loved the flavors but had some texture/consistency issues: the beef was too dry, and the sauce was too watery. I think I have done some troubleshooting but wanted to confirm – I ended up having to leave the slow cooker on for 10 hours instead of 6-8 – would that have dried out the meat? Also would larger chunks of meat help? I realized when preparing the dish I was out of tomato paste so I omitted it – was that enough to make the sauce not gravy-like? Anything else to do to cook it down/thicken? I love the polenta but have tons of leftover – what’s the best way to reheat/repurpose? It got a little gummy when it cooled. Thanks!

    1. Hi there! I am so sorry that you had some issues with this recipe! As far as the cook time, that could have dried the meat out a bit, and larger chunks of meat would definitely help so it doesn’t cook as quickly! Omitting the tomato pasta also could’ve contributed to the lack of sauce and also the lack of moisture in the meat. I hope this recipe was still enjoyed! xTieghan

  11. 5 stars
    Finally a beef stew recipe with some flavor! Very unique and quite simple to put together. The gravy part did reduce quite a bit using the oven method. I think next time (and there will be a next time) I will place some foil over my Dutch oven before I cover it, maybe about halfway through the cooking process. Another keeper.

  12. 5 stars
    Wow! This was delicious. I’m usually not a beef stew fan, but we had stew meat to use up and this recipe seemed like a fun twist. I used dried cranberries since fresh were not available and it was still delightful. I loved the flavor that the apple cider and dried cranberries brought to this dish. So unique and the husband loved it too!