This classic, best pot roast recipe cooks low and slow in one pot and absolutely melts in your mouth. It yields a flavorful dinner that will feed the whole family (with leftovers to spare!) and is the perfect cold-weather food. Make it in the oven, slow cooker, or pressure cooker. Recipe includes a detailed how-to video tutorial!
A Classic (but better), Cozy Pot Roast Recipe
The humble pot roast.
While surely you must have a recipe for this simple American classic tucked away somewhere or dog-eared in an old cookbook, today I’m bringing you my family’s favorite and your new favorite version. It’s been carefully tweaked to perfection, delivers flavor you didn’t even know was possible with a pot roast (seriously!), and will have everyone asking for seconds (and for the recipe, too).
Why try THIS recipe:
- Adaptable. My recipe can be made in the oven, slow cooker, or Instant Pot. I prefer to use the oven though. It takes some time to cook and is an ideal Sunday supper!
- It actually melts in your mouth: the low and slow cooking method allows the tough connective tissues in the chuck roast to break down, yielding tender and flavorful meat.
- Versatile. Lighten it up by serving alongside a fresh green salad in the warmer months or serve with thick hunks of buttered sourdough bread — great for sopping up any leftover broth!
- Set it and forget it. A bit of effort in the beginning (don’t skip the searing, I beg you!) pays off tenfold. Once everything makes its way into the pot, you can check other things off your to-do list while the meat cooks to perfection.
- Minimal cleanup. The pot roast cooks in one pot. Since everything is made in advance hours before the dish can actually be served, you can clean up the few prep dishes and be left with barely any dishes in the sink once everyone’s been fed.
- Feeds the whole family. With leftovers to spare! Even if everyone goes for seconds (which they will).
My recipe uses a few key steps to evoke flavors and tenderness from a simple chuck roast and elevates the dish to new heights. It’s simple, it’s straightforward and it looks quite rustic, but every bite tastes absolutely gourmet.
What You Need
My pot roast recipe was carefully designed to deliver maximum flavor while still being simple, so you won’t see any fancy or hard to find ingredients in the list below. Instead, we’ll take the basics and slow-cook them into something immensely flavorful.
- Chuck roast. As with my beef ragu recipe, I recommend chuck roast here for its flavorful, fall-apart-tenderness and shredability after cooking. Look for a well-marbled hunk of meat; the connective tissue breaks down during the long cook time and lends itself to the melt-in-your-mouth-ness of the final dish. I recommend a 2-3 lb hunk of meat, but you can use up to 4lbs.
- Spices. I opt for basil, thyme, paprika, dried bay leaves, and black pepper. These add a lovely, almost Italian-inspired flavor to this pot roast recipe.
- Veggies. Including onions, garlic, carrots, and potatoes (all of which are also in my beef stew!). I talk more about what kind of potatoes you can use in the FAQ section below. Oh, and don’t cut your carrots too small or they’ll fall apart in the broth, keep them chunkier than you think you’d like them!
- Beef broth. If you have some homemade beef stock or broth, feel free to use it here! Otherwise, store-bought will work just fine.
- Red wine vinegar. Vinegar might seem like a questionable addition, but it helps tenderize the beef as it cooks and balances the richness of this dish. Make sure you cook it down until it no longer smells pungent though, or you could end up with a vinegary tasting pot roast. This is one of the key steps to a truly delectable final dish, and is one of the big reasons you’ll end up loving this recipe so much.
SAM’S TIP: I prefer and recommend an enameled Dutch oven for making this pot roast recipe, as it gives the best and most flavorful results. I do include notes and instructions for cooking this recipe in a slow cooker and instant pot below as well though.
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Pot Roast
Sear the Meat
- Pat the meat dry, then season on all sides with salt and pepper. Add oil to a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and heat until it’s shimmering.
- Sear the meat on all sides for about 2-3 minutes per side, then remove to a plate. Things can get smokey while you do this, so turn on your kitchen fan.
Make the Broth
- Reduce the heat to medium and add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pot. Once that’s nice and melty, add the onion and cook until they’re softened.
- Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, then stir in the spices.
- Drizzle the red wine vinegar into the pot and scrape the bottom to remove any browned bits (this is part of the “deglazing” process, which works all those flavorful bits into the broth of the pot roast and adds so much flavor!). Let this reduce and cook until it no longer smells pungent.
- Stir in the beef broth, then add the potatoes, carrots, and bay leaves.
SAM’S TIP: Searing the meat is key for truly great flavor–it locks in the juices and gives us a rich, caramelized crust that infuses flavor through the whole dish. I can’t stress how much of a difference it makes!
- Arrange the seared beef (and any juices) on top of the vegetables, making sure to gently nestle it into the broth (it won’t be completely submerged). Add a pat of butter on top, which melts over the roast during the cooking time and just adds a nice touch of flavor.
- Cover and cook in a 325F (160C) oven for 2 ½ to 3 hours (a larger roast will need more time), removing once the meat easily comes apart with a fork.
- Remove the beef to a plate, discard any large fatty pieces, and shred. Discard the bay leaves! Please don’t eat them! I once forgot to remove them while filming a video and could not believe the amount of harsh comments I received from people saying I was risking people’s health by not explicitly stating to remove the bay leaves. I just forgot. Just remove them.
- Return the beef to the pot, stir, and serve with the vegetables. I also like a sprinkle (or a mountain) of parmesan cheese and a dash of fresh parsley, if I have some on hand.
SAM’S TIP: Always taste test before serving! You may need to add a little (or a lot!) of salt, depending on how salty your beef broth is and how generously you salted the roast before cooking. If your pot roast tastes bland, it just needs more salt!
Frequently Asked Questions
I personally like to buy baby-sized gold or red potatoes and cut them in half. You could also use the larger size of these and cut them into smaller pieces. Russet potatoes will work in a pinch, but they do tend to fall apart, so I don’t typically go for those.
If you cook this pot roast recipe in the crockpot according to my “best way” instructions below, it will turn out almost as good as the oven method. However, if you try to compare the “rushed way” below to the oven method, the oven will win by a landslide every time. Don’t get me wrong, it will still taste good, but the flavor won’t knock your socks off like the oven method will.
If you use the right cut of meat and cook it properly, your pot roast should not be tough. Like most pot roast recipes, this recipe requires a low and slow cook time (unless you use an Instant Pot) to tenderize the meat. If you rush the process and take the meat out too soon, it may be tough. Remember that larger roasts will take longer to cook.
What to serve with pot roast
- Toppings. We opt for freshly grated parmesan cheese, but chopped fresh parsley adds a nice touch, too.
- Bread. Nearly any will do. You can serve this alongside dinner rolls, biscuits or quick drop biscuits or garlic knots or even buttermilk cornbread. Even plain old store-bought white bread works beautifully for soaking up the extra broth. My personal favorite, though, is sourdough.
- With a side dish. Pot roast is mostly a complete stand-alone dish, but add a side of risotto or, for something green, add steamed veggies or brussels sprouts or a side salad. You could also skip throwing the potatoes in the pot, and instead serve the dish over mashed potatoes.
- Don’t forget dessert. Opt for something easy like an ice cream-topped pizookie or my easy brownies from scratch. Or go more gourmet with chocolate mousse or my tiramisu recipe.
Pot Roast Recipe
- 2-3 lbs (1-1.4 kg) chuck roast
- Salt and ground black pepper for seasoning
- 2 Tablespoons avocado or olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons (42 g) butter divided (salted or unsalted)
- 1 large onion cut into thick wedges
- 1 ½ Tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ cup (60 ml) red wine vinegar
- 2 cups (473 ml) beef broth
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 ½ lbs (680 g) potatoes cut into 1 ½” pieces (see note)
- 1 lb (453 g) carrots cut into 2” sticks (or 1 lb baby carrots)
- Parmesan cheese and parsley for garnish optional
- Oven-safe Dutch oven with lid (5-6 qt)
- Preheat oven to 325F (160C) and arrange a rack to the center of the oven (make sure your covered Dutch oven will fit in there).
- Pat meat dry with paper towels then season all over with salt and pepper.2-3 lbs (1-1.4 kg) chuck roast, Salt and ground black pepper
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in Dutch oven. Once shimmering, add the beef and sear on all sides (about 2-3 minutes per side, while searing allow the meat to sit undisturbed, moving it while it cooks will diminish the sear).2 Tablespoons avocado or olive oil
- Once seared, remove to a plate. Reduce stovetop heat to medium and toss 2 Tablespoons of butter into the skillet. Once melted, add onion and cook until softened.3 Tablespoons (42 g) butter, 1 large onion
- Add garlic and cook until fragrant (30 seconds).1 ½ Tablespoons minced garlic
- Add basil, thyme, paprika, salt, and pepper and stir briefly.1 teaspoon dried basil, ½ teaspoon dried thyme, ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon table salt, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Drizzle in red wine vinegar, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits that may be on the bottom. Cook until vinegar is reduced and the steam is no longer pungent if you sniff it.¼ cup (60 ml) red wine vinegar
- Add beef broth and stir, then add baby potatoes and carrots. Add bay leaves and submerge them into the liquid. Add chuck roast over the veggies (and add any juices that may have pooled on the plate to the pot as well), nestling it gently into the liquid (it will not be submerged). Place remaining butter (1 Tbsp) on top of the roast.2 cups (473 ml) beef broth, 2 dried bay leaves, 1 ½ lbs (680 g) potatoes, 1 lb (453 g) carrots
- Cover with lid, transfer to center rack of oven, and cook for 2 ½ -3 hours. Check roast by piercing/tugging with a fork. If it doesn’t come apart easily with a fork, return to the oven and cook until tender (I check every 20-30 minutes).
- Once cooked, remove roast to a plate and shred, discarding any large pieces of fat. Remove bay leaf from pot then return the meat to the pot, stir and serve, garnished with parmesan cheese and parsley.Parmesan cheese and parsley for garnish
PotatoesI buy baby potatoes about 2” in width and cut them in half. You could alternatively use gold or red potatoes, cut into 1 ” pieces. Russet would also work but are a bit starchier and more likely to fall apart.
Slow Cooker InstructionsThe best way to make this in a slow cooker is to follow steps 1-7, then transfer contents to the slow cooker, add remaining ingredients to the slow cooker (following placement instructions) and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-5 hours, until roast shreds easily with a fork. The rushed way (not as flavorful, but it gets dinner on the table, ya know?): Eliminate oil and reduce vinegar to 1 Tablespoon but keep all other measurements the same. Add all ingredients to pot (placing roast on top of veggies and all of the butter on top of the roast) and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 5 hours or until roast shreds easily with a fork. It will not be as flavorful, but this is a great method for mornings when you have no time, and it’s still tasty.
Instant Pot InstructionsTo make in an instant pot, first sear the seasoned roast using the “saute” function. Remove the roast and deglaze the pot with the apple cider vinegar, allowing it to reduce until no longer pungent. Add vegetables and remaining ingredients, placing the roast on top with a thick pat of butter. Secure the lid and pressure cook on “high” for 40-50 minutes, followed by natural pressure release for 15 minutes.
StoringStore in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.