Pot Roast: Back to Basics

This post may contain affiliate links which means I get commissions for purchases. Sponsored posts will always be clearly disclosed. Privacy Policy

Pot roasting beef is a great way to get a tender dish from a fairly tough cut of meat. Pot roast typically refers to tougher cuts of beef: chuck, rump, or brisket cooked by braising. Braising simply means a wet, slow cook. Slow cookers and Crock-Pots® work well for this type of cooking, but the oven is my favorite method. While this isn’t a meal that can be finished in a hurry, the amount of actual hands-on cooking is minimal.


Remember, the amounts of each ingredient will vary depending on the size of your roast, the size of your pan, and how much you enjoy vegetables and potatoes. We like our pot roast with rice or served over mashed potatoes.

Basic Ingredients:

  • beef roast – chuck, shoulder, bottom round or rump. Brisket works, too, but we generally smoke those cuts
  • oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic cloves – sliced
  • herbs such as – thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves (at your discretion)
  • vegetables – carrots, celery
  • water or beef stock, a splash of red wine, if you like


Crock-Pot ® / slow cooker adjustments will follow.


Heat a small amount of olive or vegetable oil over medium heat in a large skillet*, Dutch oven, or oven-safe pot. While the oil is heating, sprinkle the meat with salt.

Sear the meat by placing it in the hot pan and allowing it to cook two or three minutes per side. If you add lots of other ingredients, such as cream soups, this step may be unnecessary. I prefer the flavor development caused by the Maillard reaction. (This is what causes the browning of meat at higher temperatures.)

Remove the pan from heat.

Preheat the oven to 325°F.


If you are a huge garlic fan, you can take the sharp point of a knife, poke holes in the roast and insert slivers of garlic. If this seems like too much work, toss the sliced garlic on top of the roast. It is not necessary to spend a lot of time prepping your vegetables. Celery leaves provide lots of flavors. Just chop the tops roughly and the stalks into lengths of a couple of inches. It is not necessary to peel carrots in this recipe. Just chop into reasonable lengths. If your carrots are really fat, cut them in half lengthwise. Leave the onions in fairly large chunks, so there will be something left at the end of the lengthy cooking process. Cover the roast with the vegetables. Sprinkle the vegetables with pepper and the herbs of your choice. We enjoy just a little thyme.

Add just enough stock or water to cover the bottom of the pan. The roast and vegetables will add to the liquid as they slowly cook. When the roast is done, be sure to use the liquid for gravy.

Cover the pot and place it in the oven for three to three and a half hours at 325°F. The roast should be fork-tender. If it isn’t, don’t freak out. Just recover and put it back in for another 30 minutes. It could take up to an hour. Every cow is different, and some were just tough old broads, and you don’t really know what you are going to get until you are cooking.

Slowcooker adjustments:

Remove the roast from the skillet and place it in the crock. Add the onions and just enough liquid to cover the bottom of the pot. Cook on low for 3 – 4 hours. Add the vegetables and herbs and cook for another 1 – 2 hours. If you use potatoes, add them with the vegetables.

**Edit** Remember that slow cookers vary widely by brand and model.  You’ll need to experiment with the one you own and adjust guidelines accordingly.


Now, if you are ready to take it up a notch, here’s a next-level pot roast recipe

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Sharing is caring!

8 thoughts on “Pot Roast: Back to Basics”

  1. I’ve tried to do potatoes w/pot roast in the crock pot and 1-2 hours wasn’t enough.. they were still really hard. Am I not cutting them up small enough? Should I zap them in the microwave first?

  2. Chele,
    One of the reasons I’m not a huge fan of slow cookers is their wide variances. I would try both cutting the potatoes smaller and increasing the cook time. I should add a disclaimer.

  3. I often just scrub carrots without peeling them for longer-cooking recipes, but I’ve found that when I do that with a crock pot, I sometimes get very unaesthetic grey carrots. The insides are fine, but the skins darken to a pretty gross colour. I’m not sure why that is, but just a heads-up for anyone who cares. 🙂

  4. Just in time for lunch! That post roast looks delicious. I’ll have to pass this recipe on to my wife to see if she’ll give me permission to try and cook it! She might think it’s a little to complicated for me, but I’ll underline the SIMPLE and see what happens. thanks

  5. goood job 🙂
    Just in time for lunch! That post roast looks delicious. I’ll have to pass this recipe on to my wife to see if she’ll give me permission to try and cook it!

  6. Maybe it is my imagination, but it seems that if I add water or vegetables to the pot I cook the roast in, the water or steam toughen the meat a little, making it come out more like boiled meat. If I leave them out and pour some juice off the pot roast into a saucepan and add water and veggies to cook them separately, the roast cooks in its juices and fats and comes out more buttery and melts in your mouth. I like the flavor of the veggies better when cooked with the roast but, not the effect it has on the meat. I don’t add liquid to the crockpot or to the dutch oven I bake a pot roast in. I cut the roast into big chunks for more even cooking and it also speeds the cooking time, brown all sides well in a little bacon fat, salt, pepper, season salt. Then cover the pot tightly with foil after putting a lid on over the foil. Seal edges well. Bake in 300 to 325 oven 2 to 3 hours until tender enough for you. Don’t over cook. I have made it in a slower oven also, 275 or so. If I don’t over cook it, it will be buttery and will melt in your mouth.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.