Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli with Quinoa

I genuinely believe there is an art to slow cooking. You can make flavorful, creative, and exciting dishes in your slow cooker—all without a hint of overcooked vegetables. If you’re trying to get into from-scratch cooking, I believe a great slow cooker is vital to your kitchen arsenal.

In this case, using the slow cooker results in beef that is so fall-apart tender it feels buttery (something you’d be hard-pressed to get using any other cooking method) and broccoli that is fresh, tender, and just a little bit crisp. All smothered in a silky smooth sauce. Who needs takeout?

Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli with Quinoa

How do you make slow cooker beef and broccoli?

Okay, here we go. Four steps to crockpot beef and broccoli:

  1. Cut the steak into strips and sear for a few minutes per side. You can do this on the stovetop or with the Brown/Sauté setting on your slow cooker. If it isn’t already there, move the beef to the slow cooker.
  2. Whisk the sauce ingredients together, and pour over the steak. Cook on low for 2-4 hours, or on high for 1-2 hours.
  3. In the last 30 minutes of cooking time, prepare quinoa, rice, or whatever you want to serve with your beef and broccoli. 
  4. Whisk 1/2 cup of the sauce with cornstarch to create a slurry (this will help thicken the sauce!). Add the cornstarch slurry and the broccoli to the slow cooker and cook for 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!

Can you put raw beef directly in the slow cooker?

Technically, you can, but the cooked beef won’t be as flavorful as if you brown it first.

If you’ve ever noticed all the condensation on the lid of your slow cooker after it’s been going for a while, you know that slow cooking is a very moist method of cooking. That’s great for tenderizing food and adding moisture; it isn’t so good for getting a good sear on meat.

Before you put meat in to slow cook, sear it over high heat to add lots of yummy flavors. You can do this in a skillet, but I actually do it on the Brown/Sauté setting in my Crock-Pot® 5-in-1 Multi-Cooker. Fewer dishes = happier me.

Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli with Quinoa

Is it OK to cook beef on high in slow cooker?

Sure is! If you need to speed up your cooking process a bit, cooking on high is just fine in the slow cooker. Your results might not be quite as fall-apart tender as it would if you had done the cooking over low, but the final dish will still be absolutely delicious!

Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli with Quinoa

Can you overcook meat in a slow cooker?

Yep. I know part of the appeal of a slow cooker is that you can turn it on before work and come home to dinner ready—and that really does the job for some dishes, but not all.

Take this recipe, for example. It cooks in the slow cooker in just a few hours. Any more than that, and you’ll get shredded meat and mushy broccoli. Sometimes your slow cooker is a precision tool instead of a wrecking ball that you use to beat your dinner into submission while you’re at your office, k?

Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli with Quinoa
Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli with Quinoa

How do you thicken beef and broccoli?

Towards the end of cooking, scoop out a bit of the sauce into a small bowl and whisk it with cornstarch to create a slurry. Add the cornstarch mixture back to the slow cooker and stir it in to give the sauce a silky smooth texture.

Can I use frozen broccoli?

We love a frozen vegetable, but this is one situation where you can’t rely on the freezer. Frozen broccoli will get overly soft in the slow cooker. Stick with the fresh stuff for this recipe!

Does broccoli go soggy in the slow cooker?

It can if you cook it too long! That’s why we only add it right at the end for this beef and broccoli.

Tossing everything in the slow cooker and letting it do its thing for eight hours has its place, but if you’re really looking to elevate your slow cooking, you’ll want to play with timing. The meat will take the longest to get nice and tender. Harder veggies like potatoes and carrots can head in next. And then, right before serving, you’ll want to add things like pasta, rice, and other grains, or tender veggies like the broccoli florets in this recipe.

Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli with Quinoa

What do I serve with slow-cooker beef and broccoli?

I served my slow cooker beef and broccoli over fluffy quinoa. I love adding quinoa to dishes like this because it gives you the same “feeling” as standard white rice but a ton more nutrition. Quinoa is packed with protein and whole grains! If you prefer, you can serve this over white or brown rice, farro, or any other whole grain.

How do I store the leftovers?

Leftover beef and broccoli can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli Recipe

Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli Recipe

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Elevate your slow cooking with Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli with Quinoa. A few simple tricks will result in fall-apart tender beef and just-crisp broccoli, all smothered in a silky smooth sauce.


  • 2 pounds steak, cut into strips
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce (see note for gluten-free)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 heads fresh broccoli, cut into florets
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • Sesame seeds, to garnish


  1. Set your slow cooker to the Brown/Sauté setting (see the note below if you don’t have this option), and put the steak into the basin of the slow cooker. Sear for a few minutes per side, just until the outsides of the meat are browned.
  2. Whisk the beef broth, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, rice vinegar, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl. Pour over the beef.
  3. Cover the crock pot, and cook for 2-4 hours on low, or 1-2 hours on high.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa in the chicken broth in a medium saucepan. To do so, cover and bring to a boil, then remove the lid and simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Scoop 1/2 cup of the sauce out of the slow cooker, and whisk it with the cornstarch to create a slurry.
  6. Add the cornstarch slurry and the broccoli to the slow cooker, and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the broccoli is tender.
  7. Serve the beef and broccoli over the cooked quinoa. Garnish with sesame seeds.


If you don’t have a slow cooker with a Brown/Sauté setting, do this to sear your meat: Heat a stainless steel or cast iron skillet over high. Add the steak to the pan in a single layer (you may need to do this in batches). Cook for 1-2 minutes per side, just so that the outside of the meat gets browned and a bit caramelized. Transfer the beef to the basin of the slow cooker.

To keep this recipe gluten-free, swap the soy sauce for gluten-free tamari soy sauce.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 719Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 150mgSodium: 1649mgCarbohydrates: 46gFiber: 11gSugar: 14gProtein: 53g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

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  1. Coming from someone with celiac disease, it sounds like what made you sick was maybe the gluten in the soy. Many people don’t know that there is gluten in soy which can definitely give you a headache and upset stomach if you have sensitively to gluten. I can’t wait to make this with gluten free soy. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I’ve never had a reaction to gluten before (I’ve done two elimination diets in solidarity with my husband), but I do know that it can be a real struggle for a lot of folks!

    1. Slow cookers vary pretty wildly in their “slowness”. You won’t hurt anything by going all the way to 4 hours, but it might be ready as early as 2 hours, depending on your slow cooker. 🙂

  2. I’m sorry, but your story is incorrect and you are spreading false information. MSG had nothing to do with your issue. You may have just gotten over your food hang ups, but there is not a single shred of scientific accuracy that MSG causes any problems, let alone headaches. It is one of the most abundant amino acids in nature and in many foods we eat. If you got headaches from MSG in chinese food you would have gotten them from things like tomatoes and cheese which are also full of natural MSG. Needless to say I won’t be trying your recipe and you should stop spreading false information.

    1. Goodness, Jeremy, lighten up! I love Chinese food but I often do not like the way I feel afterwards. I found a great little Chinese restaurant a few years ago that uses no MSG both places use soy sauce (which I avoid when cooking and substitute with coconut aminos) so its not the soy sauce; truly the difference is the absence of MSG. I don’t feel bad when I eat there. Some people do not have a sensitivity to MSG but some do. My poor niece looks like a blow fish after eating MSG and is a great indicator of false advertisement.

  3. Wait what? You can brown things in that slow cooker? That’s a total game changer if you ask me. So cool!

    1. I used ribeye, because it’s all my grocery store had in grass-fed—but you could honestly use just about anything. The slow cooker does such a great job of cooking beef, you can even use lower quality cuts of beef, and still get great results.

  4. I am totally with you on the MSG! UGH, hate the way I feel after eating “chinese” but I’ve always loved the flavors. I just didn’t get the connection between MSG and takeout (because my moms stir frys never made me ill).Luckily, there is a local place near where I live that has a totally MSG free menu and their takeout is BOMBBBBB. Plus, as an added bonus, they have a “light” sauce option which is less sugar and less salt (they make their sauces from scratch per order!

    Glad you have grown to love Chinese food!