Slow Cooker Pot Roast
This easy, classic pot roast recipe cooked in the slow cooker is fall-apart tender and full of so much flavor. Do all the prep work in the morning to make dinnertime a breeze!
Everyone needs a solid pot roast recipe in their back pocket, and this is mine! This pot roast cooks for most of the day along with fresh herbs, onions, garlic and carrots. And by the time it’s done, it’s so tender you can easily pull it apart with your fork.
I love this slow cooker pot roast recipe because it’s such a delicious winner of a meal, and also so easy to make! Serve it with a quick gravy made from the intensely flavorful broth and the best mashed potatoes for a completely comforting and satisfying meal.
We usually enjoy pot roast on the weekends, for Sunday dinner especially, but honestly it’s perfect for any occasion, any night of the week!
Table of Contents
- Ingredients you’ll need
- What is the best cut of beef for pot roast?
- How to make slow cooker pot roast
- Additional tips for making the best pot roast
- Serving suggestions
- Get this recipe
Ingredients you’ll need
Here’s what you’ll need to make this slow cooker pot roast:
- 3-4 lb beef roast, see below for options.
- Butter adds flavor to the seared meat, veggies, and gravy.
- Beef broth is used instead of water for more beef flavor.
- Onion, garlic and carrots infuse the broth with their natural flavors and enhance the overall taste of the meat.
- Fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme and/or sage are preferred, but dried herbs will work too. Use one or more, or whatever combination you have.
What is the best cut of beef for pot roast?
Tougher, leaner cuts of beef actually make for the best pot roast, as all that time slowly simmering breaks down the tough tissues, leaving nothing but fork-tender beef behind. Look for the following cuts when shopping for a roast:
- Chuck (from the front of the animal)— Labeled as chuck roast, shoulder steak, boneless chuck roast, chuck shoulder pot roast.
- Brisket (from the chest)— Either the flat cut or point cut.
- Round (from the rear leg)— Look for rump roast or bottom round.
How to make slow cooker pot roast
You will see some recipes where you simply dump all the raw ingredients in a slow cooker or crock pot, turn it on, and then forget it. My recipe includes a few extra steps that enhance the flavors and add more deliciousness. These steps are so worth it!
- Sear the meat. Heavily season the beef with salt and pepper, then add to a hot pan (I love my cast iron skillet for this) and cook on all sides until meat is golden brown. Browned food = more flavorful food!
- Brown the veggies for more flavor. Once you’ve removed the meat from the pan, immediately add butter and the onion and carrots and cook until lightly browned. Sautéing the veggies briefly helps them release their natural flavors more quickly than they would in the slow cooker, and they also absorb a lot of flavor from the beef bits still in the pan.
- “Deglaze” the hot pan with broth. Add the broth to the pan and use a spatula to scrape up any remaining brown bits. We want all of those browned bits going into the slow cooker, and using broth instead of water is, of course, infusing the whole dish with more flavor.
- Let it slowly simmer in a slow cooker. Add the browned beef roast, browned veggies, broth, garlic and fresh herbs to your slow cooker, cover with the lid, and cook on low for 6-8 hours and on high for 4-6 hours.
- Shred the roast. Once the beef is fork tender, remove it from the pan and shred with a fork or two (I discard any large fat or grisly pieces still intact). Pass the liquids through a mesh strainer to remove the veggies. You can use this sauce as is, or make a gravy.
- Make a quick gravy. Add butter to a skillet over medium heat (it can be the same skillet you browned the meat in). Once melted, add the flour and whisk together. Add the broth to the skillet and whisk until smooth, then simmer until thickened.
- Serve and enjoy! Serve straight from the slow cooker or on a serving platter, along with mashed potatoes, or as desired.
Additional tips for making the best pot roast
- Add 1/2 cup of red wine or beer to the slow cooker in addition to the beef broth, if you’d like. These additions aren’t necessary, but can add even more flavor.
- I don’t currently own a slow cooker and instead use my instant pot and the “slow cook” function. I also use the “sauté” function to brown the meat and veggies too. One less pan to clean!
- Serve the veggies cooked along with this pot roast if you want. They are there primarily to add flavor the pot roast, and aren’t necessarily meant to be served with it. But that’s completely up to you! The carrots can be a little mushy after all that cooking time, so often I’ll discard everything but the meat and broth and make another vegetable side.
- I do not cook potatoes along with the pot roast (like my mom and grandma used to do), as they tend to be a little mushy. Instead I make a separate batch of mashed potatoes.
- Making gravy is optional, but recommended! You can serve the pot roast with the broth as-is, but this easy homemade gravy is done in just a few minutes and takes this meal to the next level!
- Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to about 5 days. I like to store the beef along with the juices or gravy, to keep it moist during reheating. And my favorite way to use up pot roast leftovers is to make stroganoff.
Here are a few recipe ideas for turning this slow cooker pot roast into a complete meal!
Get this recipe
Slow Cooker Pot Roast
- 3-4 lb boneless beef chuck roast
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter , divided
- 14 oz can , about 2 cups beef broth
- 1 small onion , sliced
- 3 carrots , sliced
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2-3 stems of fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary and sage
- 1 tablespoon flour
- Generously season the roast with salt and pepper.
- In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium high heat. Add the seasoned roast and brown on 2 or more sides for several minutes on each side. Transfer roast to a 6-quart sized or larger slow cooker.
- Add onions and carrots to the pan and cook until lightly browned and they've absorbed some of the brown beef bits on the bottom of the pan. Transfer veggies to the slow cooker.
- Pour beef broth into the hot skillet and use a spatula to scrape up all the remaining browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Pour the broth into the slow cooker and add the garlic cloves and herbs.
- Cover slow cooker with lid and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 6-8 hours, or until roast shreds easily with a fork.
- Remove roast from slow cooker and cover to keep warm.
- Dump the broth and vegetables through a strainer, reserving the broth. Use a spoon to skim as much fat off the top of the broth as possible. Set aside vegetables to serve with roast, if desired.
- To make gravy, add the remaining tablespoon of butter to a skillet set over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and whisk together. Add the broth to the skillet and whisk constantly until smooth. Bring to a boil and continue to whisk until thickened, about 2 minutes.
- Shred roast and serve with gravy over mashed potatoes, or as desired. Any leftovers should be stored in the fridge.
Note: This recipe was originally created for Go Bold With Butter. You can find the original post here.
Beef chuck roast, shoulder roast, rump roast, bottom round, or brisket are all cuts of meat that will work for this recipe.
Yes, you can use a pressure cooker to make this pot roast. Set it to pressure cook on high for 60-80 minutes (depending on your size of roast, 60 min for 3 lb and 80 min for 5 lb). Let it natural release for 10 minutes, then manually release the rest of the pressure.
Yes, it is possible to skip these steps and instead add everything to the slow cooker raw. However, you’re missing out on your chance to add so much flavor to the finished dish if you do.