If you think of plants when you hear the word “succulent,” you’re not getting nearly enough braised beef in your diet. Slow Cooker Pot Roast is tender, juicy and yes, succulent. It’s a classic family favorite that pairs perfectly with potatoes and always leaves leftovers. And best of all, your Crockpot makes this easy pot roast recipe even easier.
- The Slow Cooker Wins for a Succulent Roast
- Yes, You Need to Sear The Roast First!
- More Tips for Not Good, But GREAT, Slow Cooker Pot Roast
- How to Make Pot Roast in the Slow Cooker
- Tough Cuts Make the Best Pot Roast
- Can I Add Potatoes?
- Can I Make this in the Instant Pot?
- More Succulent Slow Cooked Meats
Sometimes all you need is to feel seen. And other times, all you need is a foolproof, fail safe recipe. And sometimes those two things butt heads. But I promise, dear reader, I DO SEE YOU.
You see, I have a very popular recipe for red wine pot roast that y’all love. And I love it too. So much. Because this pot roast recipe has always been not only foolproof and fail safe, but it’s a cozy, comforting, absolutely delicious one-pot wonder. But as with any recipe, the stars have to align and conditions have to be right.
On occasion, I get perplexed responses from folks who’ve tried this beef pot roast in the oven but don’t feel it lived up to their expectations. The most common issue I hear is that “all the liquid evaporated” or “I had to cook it for an hour more than what was called for.”
Here’s the thing… it’s not you, but it may very well be your equipment.
If the braising liquid from your pot roast is evaporating, it probably means the seal between the pot and the lid on your Dutch oven isn’t as effective as it should be. If there are even microscopic cracks or chips along the rim, they won’t form a tight seal and moisture will escape.
And cook times, well they’re the bane of every creator’s existence. Ovens are like snowflakes and no two cook the same. Slow braising pot roast in the oven takes a LONG time (up to five hours) regardless, but everything from make and model to rack placement, elevation, and even cleanliness can impact cook times.
Thankfully, there’s a pot roast solution that doesn’t involve kicking your Dutch oven all the way to the curb.
The Slow Cooker Wins for a Succulent Roast
Cooking pot roast in a slow cooker can resolve both these issues – and more – while delivering the same big, bold flavor and absolutely succulent and tender shreds of beef we all know and love in a good pot roast recipe.
Slow cooker pot roast does not need to be babysat in the same way oven roast does. You’ll know immediately if your crockpot is leaking anything out. And slow cookers are designed to slow cook – time and temp are more likely to remain consistent and testing for doneness is certainly easier.
If you’re dedicated to perfecting a beloved dish according to your environment, there’s no greater reward. But in an absence of patience, time, or equipment, slow cooker pot roast will nestle its way right into your heart and taste buds.
Yes, You Need to Sear The Roast First!
I know – roasts are heavy and unwieldy. Before I invested in good quality tongs – and learned how to truss – I literally broke a cheap pair trying to navigate a pot roast into a skillet for browning. But the key lesson is that it didn’t stop me from browning the roast first.
Searing is a small step that adds big flavor to both the gravy/sauce and the meat itself. Leave your trussed roast alone to sear around 5-7 minutes on at least two sides, until the outside is golden, caramelized, and crispy. This is called the Maillard reaction and it creates tons and tons of flavor.
While you’re at it, give the garlic a short saute session to take the bite out of it, then deglaze the pan in order to absorb and transfer all those flavorful browned bits to the crockpot – they’ll infuse the braising liquid with savory, caramelly goodness.
More Tips for Not Good, But GREAT, Slow Cooker Pot Roast
- Truss your roast! The twine will hold your pot roast together – this makes it easier to turn when browning, and ensures even cooking right out of the gate. Trussing also means your slow cooker pot roast won’t fall apart towards the end, which makes for chunkier shreds.
- Season the HECK out of your roast. I’ve included my favorite simple pot roast rub ingredients below. You don’t need a ton of different spices, just plenty of the ones that are listed.
- Use both fresh and dried herbs. Remember, drying and cooking are two different processes. Though both will alter the flavor of herbs, cooking with fresh thyme and rosemary helps keep the sometimes overpowering flavor of these herbs bright.
How to Make Pot Roast in the Slow Cooker
Ditch the Dutch oven. Slow Cooker Pot roast starts with a stovetop sear, and finishes with the rich, fall-apart shreds of tender chuck roast you crave. Worcestershire, garlic, and balsamic punch up the flavor during the braise. This easy pot roast recipe is hands-free and foolproof – just don’t forget the mashed potatoes!
- Truss the roast, season, then sear in a 12″ skillet until a good crust forms on both sides.
- Saute the garlic in the same skillet, then deglaze with the balsamic vinegar.
- Arrange the onions in the bottom of the slow cooker; nestle the browned roast on top of the onions, then pour the garlic/balsamic mixture over the roast.
- Whisk 2 cups beef broth with tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. Pour into the slow cooker. Add more beef broth until the roast is halfway submerged in liquid.
- Place thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf into liquid, then arrange carrots and celery around the sides of the roast.
- Seal slow cooker and cook 4-5 hours high, or 8 hours low, until meat easily shreds using the tines of a fork.
- Remove the roast from the slow cooker using tongs; cut off the twine, then shred using two forks.
- Pluck out the herb stems and bay leaf from the liquids, then strain to separate the carrots and celery.
- Combine the strained liquids with cornstarch in a pot and whisk until well combined. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until thickened to your liking.
Tough Cuts Make the Best Pot Roast
Pot roast is one dish that definitely benefits from some “tough love.” Slow cooker pot roast can be made with any well-marbled cut of beef – a cut that has visible lines of fat throughout – but tougher roasts (from the more “active” parts of the animal) actually hold up better to braising and are more likely to result in those fall-apart, melt-in-your-mouth chunks.
Chuck roast is common and our favorite cut for slow cooker pot roast – it’s relatively economical for the size of the roast and packed with lots of fat and connective tissues that will render and flavor the gravy.
Other large roasts work well too – consider brisket, rump roast, or bottom round.
Can I Add Potatoes?
I typically do not add potatoes to my slow cooker pot roast for two reasons: (1) mashed potatoes are boss and (2) potatoes tend to get unappealingly soft and a bit mealy while braising in the slow cooker.
That being said, you CAN add potatoes, with caveats:
- Do not use russet potatoes – choose firmer new potatoes, red or gold, which will hold up better to a low and low cook.
- Keep the cut on the larger side – slice in half instead of quarters; you can even keep them whole if they’re 2″ or less in diameter.
- Do not add the potatoes with the carrots and celery – they’re guaranteed to turn to mush! Add them in the second half of slow cooking (after 2 hours on high, or after 4 hours on low) and arrange on top of the vegetables and roast so they steam, not simmer.
Can I Make this in the Instant Pot?
Yes! But with modifications – enough that I made a whole post about it! Click here to learn to cook Instant Pot Pot Roast.
More Succulent Slow Cooked Meats
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- Crockpot Buffalo Chicken
- Slow Cooker Korean Beef
- Crockpot Apple Cider Pulled Pork
- Easy Crockpot Salsa Chicken
Did you make this slow cooker pot roast? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
Slow Cooker Balsamic Pot RoastPrint Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- 3-4 lb chuck roast
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp ground pepper
- 2 tsp italian seasoning
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ c balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 3-4 c beef broth, divided
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 2” chunks
- 4 stalks celery, sliced into 2” chunks
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- Truss the roast using kitchen twine, then season all over with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
- Arrange the onion on the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Heat a 12” skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil and heat until it shimmers. Place the roast into the hot oil and sear 5-8 minutes, or until a golden brown crust forms; flip the roast and sear on the other side. Remove with tongs and nestle the roast on top of the onions in the slow cooker.
- Add the garlic to the skillet and cook until very fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour the balsamic vinegar into the skillet; deglaze by scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet with a wood spoon. Continue to cook and gently scrape until the vinegar stops bubbling and the bottom of the pan is clean. Pour the garlic/balsamic mixture over the roast in the slow cooker.
- Whisk the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and 2 cups of beef broth until very smooth; pour into the slow cooker. If needed, add more beef broth until the roast is halfway submerged in liquid (for a 4-pound roast we used 3 cups total).
- Place the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf into the cooking liquid, then arrange the carrots and celery around the sides of the roast.
- Seal the slow cooker and cook 4-5 hours high, or 8 hours low, or until the meat easily shreds using the tines of a fork.
- Remove the roast using tongs; remove the twine, then shred using two forks.
- Remove the herb stems and bay leaf and discard. Place a fine mesh strainer over a 2-quart saucepot and strain the liquids from the vegetables; set vegetables aside. Skim the fat from the liquids, then add the cornstarch and whisk until very smooth. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat and cook 5 minutes, whisking occasionally, or until the gravy is thickened to your liking.
- Pour the gravy over the beef shreds and serve with carrots and celery. Serve immediately and enjoy!