Skinny Irish Pub Beef Stew

irish-stew 2

This peasant style stew is so delicious, hearty and perfect to make for St. Patrick’s Day or any day of the week. I’ve made this skinny version by using lean beef, carrots, onions and potatoes and adding healthy sweet potatoes. These potatoes add a lovely, natural sweetness to this savory stew. Adding beer and beef stock creates a rich tasting base. In addition, cooking beef in beer is similar to cooking beef in wine. It not only tenderizes the meat, it adds a rich, malty flavor.  One serving of this fiber rich, skinny stew has 316 calories, 5 grams fat and 6 Blue WW Freestyle SmartPoints and 6 Green.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 2¾ hours


Cooking Spray

1¼ pounds lean beef stew meat, trim any fat, cut into 1-inch cubes, see shopping tips

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

5 cups onions, chopped (about 3 onions)

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon tomato paste, see shopping tips

1 (24oz) container of Swanson’s reduced sodium beef stock or broth (3 cups)

1 (12 oz) bottle lite beer or 1 (11.2oz) bottle Guinness Draught beer (if using Guinness, it adds 1 more Weight Watchers POINTS PLUS per serving)

2 bay leaves

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

2 cups (~ 2 medium) baking potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch chunks

2 cups (~2 medium) sweet potatoes (yams), peeled and cut into ½ inch chunks

1½ cups carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch slices

2 tablespoons cornstarch

A little water


1. Coat a large nonstick pan, pot or Dutch oven with cooking spray.  Add beef cubes to pan and cook for 5 minutes, over medium-high heat. Turn to brown all sides.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the beef from pan.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in same pan. Add onions and cook for about 3 minutes.  Stir in garlic and continue to cook until onions are soft, about  2 more minutes.  Stir often.

3. Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute,  stirring often.

4. Stir in beef stock and beer, scraping down the sides to loosen the browned bits.

5. Add back browned beef and stir in bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.  Stir occasionally.

6. Add potatoes, sweet potatoes and bring to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for an additional 40 minutes.

7. Stir in carrots, cover and simmer for 30 more minutes.

8. In a small bowl, add cornstarch and a little water and using a whisk or fork, slowly mix to dissolve.  Add dissolved cornstarch to stew and mix well.   Cook uncovered over medium-high heat until stew is thickened, about 10 minutes.

9. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Makes 6 servings (each serving 1½ cups )

Food Facts

When Irish people came to America fleeing starvation from the potato famine, they brought their delicious, hearty food traditions.  Irish stew evolved to accommodate the ingredients that were available.  Sheep for one was not as available in America so other meats were used. What goes into this celebrated dish is a matter of dispute. Purist believe the only acceptable ingredients are mutton chops or lamb, potatoes, onions and water.  Others feel adding carrots, turnips and barley are the way to go. I hope you enjoy my skinny version!

Guinness Draught is one of the most successful beer brands sold worldwide.  When poured it has a thick creamy head from the beer being mixed with nitrogen.  Guinness is the best selling alcohol drink in Ireland.

Shopping Tips

I used the lean stew meat at Trader Joe’s.  It contains only 140 calories and 4 grams of fat for a 4 ounce serving.  Most supermarkets also sell lean stew meat. If you can’t find it, ask the butcher to prepare a package for you.

I found using a tube of tomato paste is a wonderful alternative to canned, especially when a recipe calls for just one tablespoon.  Look for these tubes in the tomato sauce section of the supermarket. Trader Joe’s sells them too. Store the remaining tomato paste tube in the refrigerator.

WW Freestyle SmartPoints
WW SmartPoints

SKINNY FACTS: for 1 serving (1½ cups each)
316 calories, 5g fat, 2g sat. fat, 58mg chol, 24g protein, 41g carbs, 6g fiber, 423mg sodium, 2g sugar
FACTS: for SmartPoints
259 calories, 2g sat. fat, 1g sugar, 22g protein


  1. Robin, I’m sure this recipe will be fine in an instant pot. I’ve never tried it but if you do, I’d love your feedback.
    Best of luck,

  2. In most all your recipes it calls for a huge amount of onions (for me). For example this recipe calls for 5 cups chopped onions! Why is this?

  3. Debbie, I love adding lots of onions since they add so much flavor to a variety of dishes. If you are not a fan, you can easily cut the amount in half or even more, if desired.

    My best,

  4. I used the dark Guinness and I just keep tasting the bitterness of it. Does it change as it keeps cooking ?

  5. Lucia, I’ve never noticed the bitterness so it will probably change as it continues to cook. I hope it ends up tasting ok for you!
    All the best,

If you make this recipe, let me know how you liked it. Leave me a comment below or give it a rating. Thanks so much. Happy Skinny Cooking!