Italian Pot Roast

Italian pot roast recipe. Rump or chuck beef roast, first browned in olive oil, then slow cooked in a sofritto base of carrots, celery, and onion, with Italian plum tomatoes and red wine.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 4 hours
  • Yield: Serves 8


  • 3 1/2 to 4 pound rump or chuck beef roast
  • 1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large celery stalk, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced (1 to 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
  • 3 cups medium-bodied Italian red wine (we used a Barbera)
  • 1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, put through a food mill to remove the seeds


1 Trim some of the fat from the meat. Pat dry with paper towels. Season generously with the salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

When the oil is hot, shimmering but not smoking, add the roast and cook, turning it a few times, until it is nicely browned on all sides, 10-12 minutes.


Transfer the meat to a platter.

2 Reduce the heat to medium. Add the carrot, celery, and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are golden brown and begin to stick to the bottom of the pan, 10-12 minutes.

Add the garlic, parsley, and sage, and stir until the herbs are lightly colored and fragrant, about 1 minute.

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Add 1 cup of the wine and stir quickly, lifting up the richly browned caramelized vegetables that stick to the bottom of the pan. When the wine is almost all evaporated and thickly coats the vegetables, return the meat to the pan and turn it over a few times to coat it with the savory base.

3 Raise the heat to high, adding the remaining wine, the bay leaf, and the tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, turning and basting the meat every half hour or so, until the meat is very tender and flakes away when pierced with a fork, 3-4 hours.

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Turn off the heat and let the roast sit in its juices for an hour. (You can also put the pot into a 300°F oven and turn the roast every hour.)

4 Remove the meat from the pot and place it on a cutting board, covered loosely with aluminum foil. If the sauce is too thin, bring it to a fast boil and reduce it until it has a medium-thick consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning.

5 Cut the meat into thick slices (it will probably fall apart), and place on warm serving dishes. Spoon the sauce over the meat and serve hot. Serve with rice, mashed potatoes, or polenta.

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  • Debbie

    Wondering if anyone had tried this recipe in slow cooker. If so please share how you prepared it differently

  • joe

    I added some cayenne pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Very good if you like hot and spicy

  • Kathleen Bach

    Best pot roast ever, Cooked in the oven for 2 1/4 hours and played 18 holed of golf. Perfect fall dinner. Used all the fresh herbs from the garden before first freeze in Spring green wi. Mashed potatoes a great go with!

  • John Valentine

    This is a great traditional recipe. To carry the tradition one step further, many Italians serve the meat atop polenta that has been stirred frequently while cooking for at least 45 minutes. The rich meat and sauce are the perfect compliments to the simple polenta. Now that’s Italian!

  • Deb M.

    Thank you for the recipe. It turned out well, if a little on the dry side. Strangely enough, it was still tender even though it was a little dry. I thought the wine would be overpowering because that’s all I could smell the whole time it cooked, but it was okay after reducing the sauce by half. I’m glad you wrote in cup measurements for the vegetables; it took 5 stalks of celery to equal one cup–not one stalk. IMO, a half cup of oil was excessive. I just used enough to cover the bottom of the pot (1/4 cup or less). In the end, I still needed to skim off quite a bit of oil as the sauce reduced.

    I used dried Italian seasoning and much more garlic than the recipe stated, and I added a jar of organic marinated mushrooms. I also used a can of organic diced tomatoes (nothing weird added) because that’s all I had on hand (I didn’t run them through a food mill). I used a bottle of Frey organic red table wine which was too strong for me to drink straight up (I’m not much of a drinker). I was trying to find a pot roast recipe which used a lot of wine so that it didn’t go to waste. This one sounded good, and it was. Thanks again. :)

  • Kimberly

    I made this dish for my father-in-law’s birthday back in March and for my husband’s aunt and uncle as a thank you for inviting us up for Christmas. It made a really delicious Christmas Eve dinner. My father-in-law loved it too. We served it with creamy, mascarpone and parmesan mashed potatoes and sauteed green beans.

    If you’re looking for something to impress your dinner guests, I’d definitely recommend this. (Also, I chose to use the oven method rather than slow cooking on the stove top. I’ve never had any luck with getting the temperature right on the stove top.)

  • Lisa

    Hi Elise,

    This is a similar recipe to one I’ve been making for years (“Beef Braised in Barolo Wine”). I got it out of the old, old, old HP book (published in 1981) called Northern Italian Cooking, by Mrs. Caggiano (that book is falling apart now but I’ll never give it up). Anyway, she has improved on it; didn’t think it possible! I’m trying your version here today, and I can already tell it’s going to be fantabulous.

    In the recipe from the book, you saute thinly sliced mushrooms in butter and top the meat with those. I’m planning to keep that little touch!

  • Ann

    I really enjoyed this dish. I used a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes because that is what I had on hand. I also only had 2 cups of red wine so I had to substitute the 3rd cup with beef broth. It came out great! I loved it and definitely recommend this recipe.

  • Antonette

    I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but I can’t wait…it sounds delicious! One suggestion I would make is to cook the roast the day before you need it. Once cooked and cooled, place it in the refrigerator. The next day take out the roast from the pot, slice it (it won’t shred) then put everything in an oven proof dish to reheat. I use this technique for all my pot roasts.

  • Cheryl

    I bought a 3 lb. chuck roast on sale and instead of doing my usual pot roast, found this recipe and decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did! The meat was incredibly succulent and flavorful, and the sauce was SO good. Normally I get kind of tired of leftovers but these? Phenomenal.

    Thank you so much for your website. I feel like every recipe I’ve tried has been either just as expected or even better. This is now my go-to site for looking up new recipes to try.

  • Scott

    SPEC-TACULAR! As we work our way through your recipes, I continue to be impressed with how well each one turns out….this may be the best one yet. We took the finished roast and wrapped it in foil at midday and then allowed the sauce to rest in the fridge. Once cooled, it was easy to skim the fat from the surface. This evening, we heated the sauce and reduced it some and then added in the shredded beef. Served over mashed potatoes, this was a real treat!!

  • Carla

    This sounds wonderful and I would like to try it but I’d like to know what liquid you would suggest substituting for the wine please? I don’t/can’t cook with alcohol(plus don’t like the taste of it), but would really like to make this recipe.
    I’m not sure it can top your regular Pot Roast but I’d like to let it try :)

    You can make a pot roast, inspired by this recipe, without the wine. I would use maybe only two cups of water, instead of 3 cups of wine, as the roast will release a lot of water as demonstrated in the regular pot roast recipe. But, believe me, it will not be the same as this recipe. For this Italian pot roast, the wine is essential. Otherwise it will be very similar to the standard pot roast recipe on the site. ~Elise

  • mark

    I loved the recipe but the sauce was so liquidy I didn’t have time to boil it down before serving. Should I have used the liquid in the can of tomatoes or not?

    Yes, you use the liquid in the can of tomatoes. And you probably do need to boil down the sauce. Just put it on the highest heat, uncovered, and let it rip. It should boil down quickly. ~Elise

  • Ronda

    This was a fabulous recipe! I used a smaller roast (a little under 3 lbs) without changing anything else ingredient wise. I was able to lower my cooking time a bit, carefully watching the roast until it started falling apart. I didn’t have much juice leftover at all, just enough to go well over rice! It is definitely something we will be eating over and over again!

  • Michelle

    I’d like to ask just one question – This is a fantastic recipe, and since my family consumed all the beef, we are left with about 4 cups of the sauce. Any recommendations for this left over sauce? Can it be the base for a soup? Used the same as a broth for potatoes or rice? It’s just so delicious, I can’t stand to throw it out now that there’s no beef to go with.

    I would boil it down until it is really thick (if it isn’t already) and serve it over potatoes, pasta, farro, or rice. Or even bread. ;-) That’s good sauce! ~Elise

  • Michelle

    Thanks again for another no-fail recipe Elise. I always come here first for all recipe queries and had a tough time deciding which pot roast recipe to work with. I ended up cooking two roasts today for the extended family potluck. I changed it just a bit – using some 5 minute tomato sauce instead of the plum tomatoes, and only using a cup and a half of wine per roast and augmenting with beef broth needing to be used up in the fridge (just using up what I had on hand) and it was sooo delicious. Cooked one in the oven and the other in the crock pot. It was so tasty that there was none to bring back home – any leftovers were snatched up by family taking “just a bit” for tomorrow. Oh well, it’s so easy I’ll be making this one again for my own family this coming week. How can you miss when you can start it in the morning, leave it to take care of itself in the crock, and come home to a fantastic smelling house and wickedly delicious meal ready and waiting :)

  • Kristin

    This is in the oven right now, and wow! my house smells fantastic :-) I was looking for a pot roast recipe, and came here first, as I often do. Thanks again Elise for your yummy recipes! I’m going to score some big points tonight with my family!

  • athina

    Outrageous! This was the most flavorful, delectable pot roast I have ever eaten. This recipe was similar to a “Beef Braised in Barolo wine”, by Mario Batali. I felt that reducing the sauce by at least 1/3 significantly improved the flavor of the sauce. absolutely delicious and savory!! Oh yeah, I used thyme instead of sage.
    Thanks Elise! your recipes never disappoint!

  • Monica

    I learned to cook Italian from my Italian grandma and this recipe, which a few changes, tasted exactly like the sauce she used to make a long time ago before she began eliminating fat from her diet.

    I left out the sage and celery. Once I had everything together and to a boil, I transferred to a pre-heated crock pot. I let it cook for approx. five hours, then removed the meat and trimmed away the fat and gristle. I removed from the heat and stirred in two small cans of tomato paste, returned the meat to the sauce and allowed to cool.

    Best Sunday Gravy ever! It’s definitely best when made the day before.

    Thanx so much for the recipe! The flavors brought back cherished memories.

  • RN

    This was awesome. My wife, and two daughters both loved this. This is the third recipe I have tried from this site. AWESOME ELISE!!

  • NaTasha

    I saw this recipe today and cooked this today. Oh! It was fabulous. I did not use the tomatoes b/c my husband does not like tomatoes so I used regular stew vegetables instead. This is truly an authentic recipe. I used the crockpot and just poured the liquid over the roast in the crockpot and added the stew vegetables the last hour of cooking. Scrumptious……!!!!!

  • Mick Shanahan

    Just cooked this, a total success as far as all seated were concerned.

    I’ve been cooking Italian for 20+ years (since leaving home) so have a good feel for how a meal should work. This worked a treat!!


  • Manley Walker

    I don’t typically think of braises like this in the summer because I usually make my braises in the oven but I decided to try this one on the stove yesterday and it turned out just fine. And it didn’t heat up the whole apartment!

    Overall, it seemed to have too much liquid for a braise so I’m going to try it again with half as much wine (in the braising stage) and perhaps fewer tomatoes. But the flavors hit the spot.

    I remember Biba from a PBS show she used to have. I enjoyed her show. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Doris

    I used this resipe a couple of weeks ago & it was awesome, I also added chopped potatoes to the resipe. This way you have all the veg. you need in one pot.

  • Darrin

    My concern about putting this through a slow cooker is the amount of liquid in the recipe (and certain ingrediants like the tomatoes). Remember that no liquid escapes a slow cooker during cooking, so traditional recpipes end up with an ENORMOUS amount of excess liquid. I’d be interested in hearing people’s experiences in putting this in a slow cooker. What did you change? Thanks!

  • Amy

    I made this for our Sunday dinner on a snowy day last week. Just smelling it cook for three hours had our mouths watering and it did not dissapoint us! You can use canned stewed tomatos as well and if you don’t have all the fresh herbs, rosemary made it delicious. Thanks for the recipe, this dinner is now one of my husbands faves.

  • Linda

    Great recipe, I was wondering though
    instead of wine could beef stock be used instead?

  • brent

    Craig – a food mill is a special tool used by many to process foods like tomatoes/peppers.

    It basically pushes the foot through small holes, ensuring the seeds and skins stay behind.

    If you don’t have one, you can take the tomatoes, slice them in half horizontally, and squeeze/shake to remove the majority of the seeds.

    You want to take the seeds out whenever you’re doing a long cooking time, as they tend to make the food somewhat bitter.

  • craig p.

    Hi! I’m looking forward to trying this recipe, very soon, however I don’t understand this item: “1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, put through a food mill to remove the seeds”
    Can you please clarify? Do you mean chop it up finely in a food processor, or to physically remove the seeds?



  • merd

    Awesome recipe.
    Here’s my version:

    4lbs rump roast covered in EVOO
    1/2 med onion sliced
    1/2 med green pepper sliced
    5 cloves garlic minced
    tbsp oregano
    1/2 tsp parsley
    1/2 tsp basil
    1/2 tsp thyme
    1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
    1 large bay leaf
    about 10 grinds of black pepper
    couple shakes of sea salt
    6 pepperoncinis + 1/4 c juices from jar
    can of beer (yes beer again)
    1/2 tsp beef bullion powder

    Put all contents in crock pot on high. Go to work, come home and eat. Beef should have fallen apart to shreds. Serve on toasted Italian (or French) bread with juices from crock pot + more pepperoncinis. Can also throw on slices of muenster, provolone, spoon on some marinara if you like.

    One of top 5 favorite foods of all time.
    Very Chicago-style Italian beef. ;)
    I cant believe I just gave away my recipe.

  • M

    (1) Would using diced tomatoes work?
    (2) Could I make this in a crockpot? If so, how would I alter the recipe?

    Best not to use canned diced tomatoes. They put extra things in the can to keep the dices distinct. Better to use whole canned plum tomatoes. Regarding a crockpot, I don’t currently use one, but I imagine that you could use one for the slow-cooking stage of the recipe. ~Elise