Perfect pot roast is hard to beat. It’s rich and flavorful, filled with soft root vegetables and ultra-tender shreds of meat that basically melt in your mouth. And the gravy—made by thickening the cooking liquid—is so good, I could smother just about anything in the stuff. Put it all together, and this meaty one-pot meal is one of our favorite comfort foods.
A lot of people swear that pot roast is impossible to mess up, but I hate to admit that I’ve made a few versions that turned out chewy, stringy, and tough.
What’s the solution? The slow cooker, a temperature-controlled method that ensures your pot roast will turn out perfect, every time. Our easy pot roast Crock-Pot recipe is super simple to make, and you get to walk into your house after work to the incredible aroma of a ready-to-eat dinner. Win, win!
In the market for a new appliance? You may be surprised to find out what the best slow cooker brand is according to our Test Kitchen.
What’s the Best Roast for Pot Roast?
Any type of beef roast that contains a lot of connective tissue is a good candidate for pot roast. At low-and-slow cooking temperatures, connective tissue releases gelatin, infusing both the meat and the cooking liquid with rich, juicy flavor. Our go-to choice is chuck roast (also called chuck-eye roast or chuck shoulder), followed by round roast (also called rump roast). The chuck contains slightly more connective tissue than the round, so we find it results in a moister-tasting pot roast. You could also use brisket, but this cut contains a lot more fat, which some people find unpleasant.
Do You Have to Brown a Roast Before Putting It in a Crock-Pot?
Do you have to brown a roast? No. Browning the roast has nothing to do with making it juicy and tender, so your pot roast will turn out just fine if you don’t feel like dirtying a second pot or you’re running short of time. That said, you definitely should brown a roast before cooking it in a slow cooker. Searing all the sides goes a long way to making a more flavorful pot roast, caramelizing the meat’s exterior and infusing extra-savory flavor into the braising liquid. It takes about five minutes per side, but it’s totally worth it in the end.
How to Make Easy Crock-Pot Pot Roast
Taste of Home
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 boneless beef rump or chuck roast (3 to 3-1/2 pounds)
- 1/4 cup red wine, beer, beef broth or water, for deglazing
- 6 medium carrots, cut into thirds
- 6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 3 teaspoons Montreal steak seasoning
- 1 (32-ounce) box beef broth
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons water
Yield: 10 servings
Step 1: Brown the roast
If you’re running short on time, you can skip this step, but we recommend browning the roast to make the pot roast more flavorful. Start by heating the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the roast and brown it on all sides, about five minutes per side. When it’s finished, remove the roast to a platter and deglaze the pan with the wine, beer, broth or water, using a spoon to release any burnt bits.
Step 2: Prepare the slow cooker and cook
While the meat is browning, place the carrots, potatoes and onion in the bowl of a 6-quart slow cooker. Place the roast on top of the vegetables and sprinkle it with the steak seasoning. Add the deglazing liquid and the broth and cook, covered, on low for 10 to 12 hours, until the beef and vegetables are tender.
Editor’s Tip: Since we’ve cut the vegetables into such large chunks, they should be able to stand up to this long, low-and-slow cooking time. If you’re using smaller cut vegetables, you’ll want to add them during the last three hours.
Step 3: Make the gravy
Transfer the roast and vegetables to a serving platter and keep warm by tenting them with aluminum foil. Pour the cooking juices through a fine-mesh strainer into a fat separator. (If you don’t have one, use one of these tricks for removing extra fat.) Skim off the excess fat, pour the juices into a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the juices are boiling.
Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Stir the cornstarch slurry into the juices and return the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook until the mixture is thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes. Serve the gravy over top of the roast.
Why Is My Crock-Pot Roast Tough?
It’s possible that your roast is tough because it’s undercooked. The pot roast is done when a fork goes in easily and twists of tender threads of meat. If it can’t twist easily, it needs extra cook time. That said, the main reason that most pot roasts turn out tough has to do with cooking temperature.
The tough muscle fibers and connective tissue in the roast require low temperatures and long periods of time to break down. If you try to speed up the cooking process by blasting the roast with high temperatures, the muscle fibers will seize up and become extra tough. On the low setting of a slow cooker, this roast takes anywhere from eight to twelve hours, but it’s totally worth the wait.
Does the Pot Roast Need to Be Covered in Liquid?
Pot roast is a braised dish, so the roast doesn’t need to be covered in liquid. You only need enough to come up about halfway up the side of the roast. As the pot roast cooks, it’s important to peek in from time to time, ensuring that all the liquid hasn’t evaporated. If the liquid level drops below a quarter of the way up the roast, the roast can turn out dry, so you’ll want to add more. Plus, you want to make sure there’s enough liquid to make that tasty gravy!