Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli
Published Sep 07, 2023
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Beef and Broccoli isn’t just for stir-frying. Try cooking it hands-off with this Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli. You’ll have tender pieces of beef in a sweet and savory sauce in time for dinner.
I love an Asian stir-fry or bowl on a busy weeknight, but cooking this saucy take-out dish low and slow has its advantages. Come home at dinnertime and finish the sweet and savory beef with steamed broccoli stirred right in. It’s a complete and super easy meal with all the heavy lifting done ahead of time.
Ingredients for Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli
- Beef – You can use boneless beef chuck roast and slice it into cubes or use large cubes of beef stew meat (I buy large bags of beef stew meat at Costco and divide it up into 1 and 2 pound portions to freeze). Just be sure to use cubes of meat that are about 3-inches. These are fairly large pieces of meat but they will shrink as they cook.
- Ginger and Garlic – Fresh ginger and garlic help to build flavor in the sauce.
- Low-Sodium Beef Stock – Be sure to get low-sodium stock to avoid the sauce becoming too salty. Any other type of low-sodium stock would work – chicken or vegetable.
- Low-Sodium Soy Sauce – I use low sodium soy sauce for testing all of my recipes. It makes a larger quantity of sauce without making the sauce too salty. Use Tamari for a gluten-free version of this recipe.
- Brown Sugar – Brown sugar gives the sauce that delicious sweet / savory balance.
- Rice Vinegar – Rice vinegar gives this dish a nice tangy flavor that balances out those sweet and savory ingredients.
- Toasted Sesame Oil – Stir the sesame oil in after cooking for maximum flavor. This is a pantry staple that can be found in the international aisle at most grocery stores and gives the dish a really authentic taste.
- Red Pepper Flakes – Only if you want spice, and feel free to add as much or as little as you like. You can use any other hot sauce here as well. I love the Korean chili sauce called Gochujang (it’s my favorite hot sauce for it’s subtle smoky flavor and a bit of sweetness and is great with beef as in this Instant Pot Korean Beef and Brown Rice).
How to Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli
- Brown Beef – Give the beef a nice golden brown color on all sides by browning it in some oil in a skillet for 6 to 8 minutes. If you have a slow cooker that allows you to brown in the machine, use that.
- Add Sauce – Add the ginger, garlic, stock, soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar to the slow cooker with the beef. These flavorful ingredients will cook with the beef, infusing it with flavor.
- Slow Cook – Slow cook the beef on low for 6 to 7 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours. I find that cooking on low helps to keep the beef super tender. I found that you can cook the beef for as long as 8 hours on low, but beyond 6 to 7 hours, it starts to fall apart and has a shredded consistency rather than cubes (it’s good this way too!). After the cook time, you can leave the machine on the warm setting for up to 3 hours.
- Add Cornstarch, Toasted Sesame Oil and Red Pepper Flakes – Whisk cornstarch with water. Stir in cornstarch mixture, toasted sesame oil, and red pepper flakes (or other hot sauce, if using). Cook everything on high for 15 minutes more. The cornstarch will help to thicken the sauce just a bit.
- Add Broccoli – Feel free to skip the broccoli or use another vegetable if you want. Just make sure to pre-cook it before adding it to the dish. I love the steam-in-bag broccoli. Just follow the instructions to steam it in the microwave and stir it right in.
- Serve – Enjoy over rice!
Do I Need to Brown the Beef First?
I do not like telling you (or making myself) do the extra work to brown meat in a skillet unless it’s absolutely necessary. This recipe was noticeably improved by including the browning step. I found that browning the meat first helped it to hold its cubed shape (instead of shredding) while cooking and added a noticeable depth to the flavor. That said, we all really liked the version made without browning the meat. It wasn’t *quite* as good, but if you’re in a rush, I say go for it and skip the browning.
Freeze This Meal
To freeze: Combine the browned meat ginger, garlic, stock, soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar in a freezer-safe bag or container. Freeze for 4 to 6 months.
To reheat: Defrost in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours. Transfer to the slow cooker and cook as directed.
Printable Freezer Label
Print and attach the label below so cooking instructions are ready when you are!
Other Asian-Inspired Favorites
- Slow Cooker Hoisin Turkey Meatballs – These tender turkey meatballs in a sweet and savory Hoisin-flavor sauce are easy to love. I take a total shortcut and buy store-bought meatballs because the sauce here is really the star. Great over noodles or rice with steamed vegetables on the side.
- Korean Chicken Lettuce Cups – I love this fast take on lettuce cups. It uses ground beef, so there’s hardly any chopping required. Just cook the meat and sauce in a wok or skillet, steam some rice, tear off some lettuce leaves and dinner is done.
- Instant Pot Korean Beef and Brown Rice – This is a similar recipe, done in the Instant Pot with spicy Gochujang sauce. Brown rice is cooked in the Instant Pot at the same time, using the pot-in-pot method for a true one pot meal.
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Slow Cooker Sesame Beef and Broccoli
- 4-quart or 6-quart Slow Cooker
- Large Skillet
Combine in the Slow Cooker:
- 2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cubed (about 3” each; or use large cubes of beef stew meat)
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 cup low-sodium beef stock
- 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- 10 ounces steam-in-bag broccoli florets
- 3 stalks green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons white sesame seeds
- cooked rice, for serving
- Optional Browning (this step improves the flavor and helps the beef to hold its shape as it cooks, but can be skipped in a pinch): Heat 2 Tbsp cooking oil (not in ingredients list) in a large skillet or saute pan over medium meat. Pat the beef dry and season it lightly with some salt and pepper. Add the beef to the skillet and cook on all sides until brown. It does not need to be cooked through since it will finish cooking in the slow cooker.
- Combine beef, ginger, garlic, stock, soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar in the bowl of a slow cooker. (Note: If you want to make this a freezer meal, combine all of these ingredients in a freezer-safe plastic bag or other container.)
- Cook until beef is tender, low for 6 to 7 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours. (I prefer the low setting for the most tender beef.) After cooking, you can leave the slow cooker on the warm setting for up to 3 hours.
- When you’re about ready to serve, turn the slow cooker up to high. Whisk together the cornstarch, water, toasted sesame oil, and red pepper flakes (if using). Pour into the slow cooker and stir gently to combine.
- Cover the slow cooker and continue to cook for 15 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, steam the broccoli according to package instructions.
- Just before serving, stir the broccoli and green onions into the beef. (Stir gently as the beef is likely very tender and will have a tendency to break apart.)
- Top with sesame seeds. Serve over rice.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.