Our Slow Cooker Vegan Beef Stew and Dumplings recipe is home-cooking at its very best. Each bite provides a deeply savoury veggie stew enriched with sweet potatoes and the fluffiest, softest, melt-in-the-mouth, delicious dumplings. You have just got to try these easy dumplings as they are just little fluffy pillows of homely tastiness.
You can also prepare this stew on the stove-top and we include an easy guide within the recipe card.
📜 Brief history of stew and dumplings
A stew is essentially a mixture of ingredients such as vegetables, pulses, grains, meat, fish, herbs, and spices, all simmered in a flavourful liquid or gravy. People have been cooking stews for millennia. Each corner of the globe have their own unique, traditional stews.
Dumplings, too, have been around for many centuries, though their preparation varies widely depending on local traditions. In British home-cooking, dumplings are typically made from a mixture of flour and suet. For generations, these suet dumplings have been a frugal way to make a stew more hearty with just a few pantry staples. In times when meat was scarce or perhaps even unavailable, dumplings served as a filling and satisfying addition to a vegetable-based stew.
🍲 Our veggie 'beef' stew and dumplings
For this recipe, the dumplings are prepared with self-raising flour, vegan mayonnaise, plant-based milk, and a dash of dried thyme. You may think its odd using mayonnaise, but this combination is a winner! Interestingly. mayonnaise has been used in many traditional recipes for quick breads and even cake, as its an easy hack for replacing eggs and baking fat such as butter, margarine, or suet.
We make this veggie stew in a 3.5-litre (or 3-4 quart) slow cooker but you could always prepare a double batch of the stew as well as a double helping of dumplings if you use a larger slow cooker.
Instead of beef, we opted for Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) chunks as we find them so good for absorbing all the delicious flavours of the home-made veggie gravy. Plus, TVP is a budget-friendly option and has a long shelf life. For those in the US, soy curls are a great alternative.
We decided to add sweet potatoes for this veggie stew, as they bring a nice sweetness and creamy texture to the stew, along with the usual essentials: carrots, onions, and garlic. Although, if preferred you can use ordinary potatoes or even butternut squash.
As for the vegetable stock, if you can get your hands on the meat-free beef-flavour Oxo cubes, they're ideal for this meat-free stew. If not, any vegan beef-flavoured or vegetable stock or broth will do the job just fine.
🔪 How to prepare
This is an easy veggie stew as all the ingredients are simply added to the slow cooker and there is no need to saute the onions and garlic, nor pre-soak the textured vegetable protein chunks.
The dumplings are very simple too and just a case of mixing a few ingredients together - flour, mayonnaise, milk, herbs and seasoning - and then plonking them in the slow cooker!
Step 1: Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker- sweet potato, onions, garlic, celery, textured vegetable protein chunks, yeast extract [marmite], red wine vinegar, vegetable stock cubes [preferably vegan 'beef' flavour], garlic powder, onion powder, tomato paste, and water. The water can be either cold or hot - using hot water does help the stew cook faster.
Step 2: Mix everything together.
Step 3: Set the slow cooker dial low and cook for 6-7 hours, or medium and cook for 5 hours, or high for a 3-4 hours cook. Exact times depend on your slow cooker and how chunky your veggies are chopped. We tend to cook on medium for 5 hours before adding the dumplings.
Prepare the dumplings:
Step 4: Once the veggies are cooked turn the slow cooker to the high setting.
Step 5: Prepare the dumplings by mixing all the ingredients together - self-raising flour, vegan mayonnaise, plant-based milk, dried thyme or mixed herbs, and salt and pepper to season.
Step 6: Before adding the dumplings check the stew's seasoning and add salt and pepper if required.
Step 7: Scoop 8 balls of wet sticky dough and plonk them into the stew. Add the lid and cook for 20 minutes.
Step 8: Flip the dumplings over and cook for another 20-25 minutes.
Step 9: Dish up the homely tastiness!
***If you would like to prepare a stove-top vegan beef stew and dumplings we have a detailed method included below in the recipe card.***
📖 Recipe notes
Leftovers will keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Or frozen for 2-3 months.
Add leftovers to a saucepan and reheat over a medium heat until piping hot. A little more veggie stock may need to be added to reheat if the gravy has become very thick.
If you have eaten all the dumplings you can always make some more and pop them into the stew once it has been brought to a gentle boil. Although ensure that the stew has enough liquid to prevent sticking to the pan while the lid is placed over the pan to cook the dumplings and reheat the stew.
Yes, although you will need to make sure that your vegetable stock is gluten-free, and check that your red wine vinegar is also free from gluten ingredients.
As yeast extract, also known as Marmite or Vege-mite, is not gluten-free you will need to use a gluten-free brand or you can replace it with 1 tablespoon of gluten-free soy sauce such as Tamari soy sauce.
For a gluten-free dumpling recipe you can try this one over on Coeliac.org.uk. Or use our dumpling recipe and sub the flour for a gluten-free self-raising flour blend, although we have not tried this so can't be certain of the outcome.
Yes, you can. Follow the easy guide here or have a look at our recipe card below.
1. Add the stew ingredients to a large pot, increase the water to 1.9 litres [about 8 cups] and add an extra stock cube. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer for 40-45 minutes until the veggies are soft.
2. Once the veggies are soft, mix all the dumpling ingredients together. Use a small ice-cream scoop to add 8 dumplings to the top of the stew. Pop a lid on the pot and cook for 20 minutes, flipping the dumplings halfway through.
3. Optional step: If at the end of cooking you'd like to thicken up the stew you can use a cornflour or cornstarch slurry - which is 1-2 tablespoons of cornflour mixed with 1-2 tablespoons of water to a smooth runny paste, drizzle the slurry into the stew and stir well, and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently until the gravy has thickened. Alternatively, if your vegetable stock is not too salty you can thicken up the stew with some vegan-friendly gravy granules or powder.
Yes, for an easy vegetable suet dumpling recipe see our Traditional Vegetable Stew and Dumplings recipe.
Yes, the sweet potatoes can be switched out for any white potatoes that hold their shape well during stewing and boiling.
Parsnips or butternut squash are good switches but keep in mind that the flavour and texture of the finished stew will change slightly based on what you choose.
Feel free to add in additional vegetables like kale, peas, green beans, or sweetcorn for extra colour and texture. You could also add some vegan sausage, tempeh, or canned or cooked beans for a protein boost. Just remember to adjust the cooking time if needed.
For extra fresh flavours you can always chuck in a few sprigs of thyme, rosemary or a few sage leaves.
For this recipe you don't need to pre-soak the dried chunks as they cook nicely in the stew from dried.
Yes, just replace the textured vegetable protein with soy curls in the vegan beef stew recipe.
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) and soy curls both come from soybeans but differ in texture and processing. TVP is made from defatted soy flour and has a neutral, spongy texture, while soy curls are made from whole soybeans and have a more fibrous, meat-like texture.
Both may need to be rehydrated before cooking, although that depends on the recipe, and are great at absorbing flavours. They can often be used interchangeably in recipes, but the end texture will vary.
This hearty stew goes wonderfully with a slice of crusty bread such as our Irish Soda Bread or Australian Damper Bread or a side of steamed green vegetables like collards, cabbage, or kale.
For extra hungry appetites you can serve the stew over your favourite grain such cooked barley, rice, or Quinoa.
⭐ More vegan stew and dumpling recipes
We love budget-friendly vegetable stews so we have a few easy family recipes to share that we are sure you will love also. Our Traditional Vegetable Stew and Dumplings recipe uses suet to create traditional vegetable suet dumplings which are amazingly soft, airy and satisfying!
Our Vegan Chicken Stew and Dumplings also utilises the mayonnaise dumplings but of course you could use the suet dumpling recipe from the veggie stew.
And for another slow cooker recipe our Vegan Savoury Mince Cobbler features a scone like cheesy dumpling cobbler topping.
And while not technically a stew and dumplings our Vegan Scottish Teviotdale Pie has a suet crust with a savoury mince filling.
All our recipes are meat-free versions of traditional favourites and so are ideal for vegans, vegetarians, and plant-based diets, as well as those who love veggie meals and are trying to eat more veggies! For more stew and casserole recipes have a look at our Vegan Stews & Casseroles collection.
***please note: for US measurements click the 'US customary button' within the recipe and the measurements will switch to tablespoons, cups, and ounces.***
Slow Cooker Vegan Beef Stew and Dumplings
- slow cooker or crock-pot at least 3.5 litres (3.5 quarts)
- 1 medium onion [chopped]
- 4 whole garlic cloves [fine diced or minced]
- 220 grams carrots [2 medium, chopped into chunks]
- 460 grams sweet potatoes [1 large or 2 medium, chopped into chunks]
- 100 grams celery [2-3 stalks. chopped into chunks]
- 100 grams textured vegetable protein (TVP) [dried soya chunks, or soy curls]
- 1 teaspoon vegetable extract [or marmite/vege-mite]
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree [or paste]
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 vegetable stock cubes [use a vegan 'beef' flavour if available such as OXO meat-free beef flavour cubes]
- 1 litre water
For 8 fluffy dumplings:
- 165 grams self-raising flour
- 125 millilitre plant-based milk [such as soya or oat, or your usual milk]
- 2 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme [or mixed dried herbs, dried sage, etc]
Prepare the slow cooker stew:
- Add all the stew ingredients to the slow cooker and mix well.Push the textured vegetable protein chunks down below the stock as much as possible.(Half way through cooking if possible give the stew a little stir and push the chunks down if necessary. But don't worry if you can't do this step!)1 medium onion, 4 whole garlic cloves, 220 grams carrots, 460 grams sweet potatoes, 100 grams celery, 100 grams textured vegetable protein (TVP), 1 teaspoon vegetable extract, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon tomato puree, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 2 vegetable stock cubes, 1 litre water
- Set the slow cooker to low for 6-7 hours, medium for 5 hours, or high for 3-4 hours. Although exact times will depend on your slow cooker and how thick your veggie chunks have been cut.
- If cooking on the high setting check your vegetables after 3 hours as they may be cooked through, and then the dumplings can be added.
- Give the stew a good stir and add extra salt and pepper if required.
Prepare the dumplings:
- Once the veggies are soft prepare the dumplings. Turn the slow cooker to the high setting while making the dumplings.
- Mix the flour, milk, mayonnaise, thyme, and a few pinches of salt and pepper, together in a bowl. The mixture will be a thick sticky wet dough.165 grams self-raising flour, 125 millilitre plant-based milk, 2 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Using a tablespoon or small ice cream scoop to create 8-10 dumplings plonking each one gently into the stew. Try not to let each doughball stick to another to much but don't worry if they do as they will be fine.
- Place the lid on the slow cooker and leave for 20 minutes.Gently flip each doughball over.Cook for another 20-25 minutes with the lid on.
- Serve right away or use the keep warm setting for a short while.
Stove-top version: [use a large non-stick soup or stew pot]
- Add the stew ingredients [increase the water to 1.9 litres / about 8 cups] and add an extra stock cube] to a large pot, bring to a gentle boil, and simmer the stew for at least 40-45 minutes, the veggies should be nice and soft, before adding the dumplings. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.1 medium onion, 4 whole garlic cloves, 220 grams carrots, 460 grams sweet potatoes, 100 grams celery, 100 grams textured vegetable protein (TVP), 1 teaspoon vegetable extract, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon tomato puree, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 2 vegetable stock cubes, 1 litre water
- Keep a watch on the liquid levels for the stew as it cooks as you may need to add more if it becomes too thick or begins to stick to your pot.
Prepare the stove-top dumplings:
- Once the veggies are soft prepare the dumplings by mixing all the ingredients together, and seasoning with a few pinches of salt and pepper.165 grams self-raising flour, 125 millilitre plant-based milk, 2 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Use a small ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon to scoop up 8-10 dumplings and add to the top of the stew spacing them out so that they are in an even layer. Pop a lid over the pot and cook for 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid and flip the dumplings over, but don't worry if they are not flipped completely. Place the lid back on and gently boil for another 10 minutes.
- If at the end of cooking you'd like to thicken up the stew you can use a cornflour or cornstarch slurry - which is 1-2 tablespoons of cornflour mixed with 1-2 tablespoons of water to a smooth runny paste. Drizzle the slurry into the stew and stir well around the dumplings!
- Gently simmer for a few minutes, stirring frequently until the gravy has thickened. Alternatively, if your vegetable stock is not too salty you can thicken up the stew with some vegan-friendly instant gravy granules or powder.
- Nutritional information is provided for guidance only and is not a strict calculation as ingredients vary.
- Leftovers will keep fresh in the refrigerator, within a covered container, for up to 3 days.
- Or freeze for up to 2-3 months.
- Reheat by placing in a saucepan and gently reheating until piping hot. Extra stock may be required if the gravy has become very thick. Although as the gravy heats it will become thinner.
- We used meat-free beef flavour OXO cubes. If using vegan beef Oxo cubes you may need 3 as they are smaller than other stock cubes. Alternatively use a different beef flavour vegan stock or an ordinary vegetable stock. Using a vegan beef flavour stock does provide a rich, brown gravy colour and flavour.
- We used a 3.5 litre slow cooker which has a ceramic cooking pot.
Prepared our Vegan Beef Stew and Dumplings? Did you cook it in the slow cooker or stove-top? Do pop back and let us know how you got on with the recipe by dropping us a comment below and clicking the star ratings. Thanks so much, Jacq x