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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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Ingredients

Instructions

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!

Oven

  • 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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Comments

  1. I made this for dinner tonight and it was an absolute hit! I was wondering if anyone has tried using a pork roast instead of beef? I think the natural sweetness of the meat would pair wonderfully with the apple/cranberry flavor.

    1. Hey Cecilia,
      Fantastic!! I love that this recipe turned out tasty for you, thanks so much for giving it a try! I bet pork would be delicious! xx

    1. Hey Alyssa,
      Sure, I would cook on high for 3-4 hours. I hope this recipe turns out well for you, please let me know if you give it a try! xx

  2. Hi – this looks amazing, we are going to make it tonight! Question if using the instant pot, do you suggest doing slow or quick release?

    Thanks!

    1. Hey Jill,
      Quick release is just fine for you to use! I hope this recipe turns out well, please let me know if you give it a try! xT

  3. 5 stars
    I have made this a handful of times already. I started making it in the summer when I could not find cranberries, so I just omitted them. We love it as a simple protein. I also don’t make the polenta – ONLY because of the kids. My husband and I love it, but the kids won’t eat it. So we make mashed potatoes instead. 🤷🏻‍♀️
    The meat is so tender and just falls apart. We all love it. I’m making it again today and this time I will make it in the oven since I have time and will add cranberries.
    Thanks for another great recipe Tieghan

    1. Hi Gabrijela,
      Happy Friday!! I am thrilled to hear that this recipe was a winner, thanks so much for making it and sharing your review:)

    1. Hey Jean Anne,
      Cauliflower would be great to use and baby potatoes! Please let me know if you give this recipe a try, I hope you love it! xT

  4. My liquid did not thicken up by itself. I took some liquid out and thickened it with cornstarch.

    Any thoughts on how I can get it to thicken?

    Thanks Jean

    1. Hi Jean Anne,
      Which cooking method did you use? Sounds like the sauce just needed some time to simmer longer. I hope this helps! xT

  5. 5 stars
    Made this last night and it was delicious! I put the chuck in whole and shredded at the end. The cider and cranberries paired perfectly and everything was so tasty. I would add more carrots as I felt there weren’t enough but that’s just a personal preference. I love these cozy autumnal meals!

  6. Made this once before and it was DELISH!!! Any chance you know if I doubled the recipe would it be the same cook time in the instapot??

    1. Hey Ash,
      Awesome!! Thanks so much for making this recipe and sharing your feedback, I am thrilled to hear that it was enjoyed! You will want to double the cook time if you double the recipe and just make sure your pot is large enough to handle all of the ingredients! xx

  7. 5 stars
    this was absolutely delicous. did it in the Instant pot and followed the recipe to a T. the meat was falling apart tender and that rosemary polenta was….*chef’s kiss* good.

    if I did it again, I’d probably omit the cranberries simply because I’m not a huge fan of them and I think I would like it better without them, but that’s personal preference.

    10/10 (again!) Tieghan!

    1. Hey Addi,
      Fantastic!! So glad to hear that you enjoyed this recipe, thanks so much for trying it out! Thanks so much for your kind message🤍 Have a great weekend! xx

    2. Made this on Sunday for a cozy weekend meal. I used 1 cup of dried cranberries instead since I could not find fresh. Next time, I would reduce this to 1/2 cup or omit entirely as it lended just a little more sweetness than I would have liked. Other than that, it was a hit!

    1. Hey Samantha,
      Mashed potatoes would also be delicious! Please let me know if you give this recipe a try, I hope you love it! xT

    1. Hey Chelsea,
      Spiced cider is great to use! I hope this recipe turns out amazing for you, please let me know if you give it a try! xT

  8. Dude – this is the first recipe I have tried from you, and it blew me tf away. This was seriously one of the most delicious and satisfying meals I have had in a long time. Thank youuuuu! Even my 8 yr old loved it and begged for seconds and thirds! Truly a thing of beauty. The colors and tastes and textures are all so exquisite and satisfying. I’m nearly in tears, seriously. Bravo!

    1. Hey there,
      Happy Monday!! LOL I am delighted to hear that this recipe was tasty for you! Thanks for making it:) xx

  9. Hi this recipe looks amazing. We have a family member with a tomato sensitivity – do you think the recipe would work if I omit the tomato paste?

    1. Hi Sue,
      Sure, that would be okay for you to do! I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xT

  10. My very picky daughter loves this – is there anything I can replace the cranberries with to make now – I can’t even find frozen ones!

    1. Hey Jennifer,
      Happy Friday! Thanks a bunch for trying this recipe out and sharing your feedback, I love to hear that it was a hit! How about cherries? xTieghan