Cholent is a hearty beef stew with potatoes and beans. Perfect for Shabbat, this beef cholent cooks overnight in the slow cooker.
Updated 2019 with video
What is Cholent
Cholent is a Jewish stew created to comply with the Jewish law that prohibits cooking on Shabbat. Cholent works for Shabbat because it has a long cook time; you start the stew Friday before the Sabbath and it will cook through the night to be ready the following day. The low and slow cooking method makes cholent a great recipe for the slow cooker.
Slow Cooker Cholent VIDEO:
This is one of those recipes where no two versions are the same; there are tons of variations to this Shabbat stew. The ingredients used in cholent vary depending on a few things one being geographic area of ancestry. For example, Ashkenazi cholent usually includes meat, barley, beans, and potatoes while garbanzo beans, rice, and eggs are common ingredients in Sephardic cholent, also known as hamin.
Barley & Beans
This slow cooker cholent recipe has both barley and beans. While it’s common to use pearl barley, a white bean, and a red or pinto beans, you can absolutely use a different type of bean if you want to. Remember how I said cholent can be made a lot of different ways? This is one area where you have some leeway. Do you need to soak your beans? Nope. That’s another bonus to this recipe. The dry beans don’t need to be pre-soaked, just give them a good rinse. Trust me, I make this without soaking my beans and they are still tender after 10+ hours of cooking. Red kidney beans are the exception. Dried red kidney beans contain a particular lectin that is toxic to people when not cooked fully. To be on the safe side and to make the kidney beans more digestible, boil them for 20 minutes before adding them slow cooker. You can use canned beans. If so, drain and rinse them first.
What Type Of Beef To Use
Bring on the cheaper, tough cuts of beef! Because of the long low & slow cook time, this cholent recipe will turn even the toughest cuts of meat into tender, falling apart meat. Suggestions include brisket, short rib, chuck roast, round roast, stew meat, etc. The tougher the better. You can use cuts of meat with bones too. If your meat has bones like short ribs, leave the bones in.
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Sephardic versions of hamin/cholent often use eggs. Personally I like to include eggs in my stew. This is of course optional. I usually add between 2-4 raw eggs to my cholent. If you’re going to add eggs, dig a little hole in the cholent and gently push the egg down until it’s submerged under the liquid. The eggs go in raw. They will cook to hard-boiled along with the rest of the food in the slow cooker. When the stew is done cooking, carefully remove the eggs (they will be hot) and let them cool before peeling.
You can use your preferred potato. I like to use a waxy potatoes like red or yellow potatoes because compared to other potatoes, they hold their shape better during the long cook time.
I used a 6-quart slow cooker for this recipe.
- 2 pounds beef cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 lb potatoes, chopped
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
- 3/4 cup pearl barley, rinsed
- 1/3 cup red kidney beans, cooked
- 1/3 cup dried great northern beans, rinsed
- 1/3 cup dried pinto beans, rinsed
- 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 1–2 cups water (if needed)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2–4 eggs (optional)
- Add potatoes and onions to the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Add beef on top of the potatoes and onions. Sprinkle salt and pepper top of the beef.
- Scatter the pearl barley and the beans on top of beef. Pour broth on top of all the food.
- Top with paprika and honey.
- If all the food isn’t covered in liquid, add enough water until all ingredients are fully covered.
- Cook on low for 10-12 hours, stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary.
*For those who observe Shabbat, do not stir or add more water during the cooking.
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