Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Family Dinner IdeasComfort FoodSlow CookerPot Roast

Pot Roast with gravy is comfort food at its finest. Put it in a slow cooker to make all of your chilly winter dreams come true. Carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms cook low and slow along with the roast while you’re at work. Dinner is ready when you are!

Photography Credit: Alison Bickle

Knowing dinner is basically done before I even go to work makes me feel like a superhero. No matter what the day brings, I know we’ll walk into a house smelling of roast long simmered in herbs, wine, and garlic. Now, that’s not a bad way to end a workday.

WHAT’S THE BEST CUT OF MEAT FOR POT ROAST?

Leaner cuts of beef are best for the slow cooker. The long, slow cooking method helps the connective tissue and fat breakdown slowly over many hours, which yields fork-tender bites of beef.

TIP: If you’ve ever made a tough roast it’s usually because it was either cooked at too high heat, for not enough time, or both. Cooking tough cuts all day in the slow cooker takes care of both problems.

I prefer one of two cuts for the slow cooker:

  • Chuck roast, also called arm roast, is lean and comes from the shoulder of the cow.
  • Rump roast, also called a bottom round roast, is even leaner than a chuck roast and is cut from the cow’s hindquarter.

A grey platter with slow cooker pot roast and gravy and carrots and potatoes in front of a red slow cooker.

CAN I PUT A FROZEN ROAST INTO A SLOW COOKER?

It’s best not to. The USDA recommends always thawing meat before adding it to the slow cooker. It also says the best way to thaw meat is in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave.

  • Thaw in the fridge: You will need 24 hours to thaw a 3lb roast in the refrigerator.
  • Thaw in water: 2 to 3 hours, while changing the water every 30 minutes to thaw a 3-pound roast using the water method.
  • Thaw in the microwave: All microwaves have different wattages and power levels. How long it takes to thaw a roast in the microwave depends on your microwave. However, the USDA recommends cooking the roast immediately upon thawing it using this method.

DO YOU HAVE TO SEAR IT?

No, no you don’t. You can totally skip the searing step and dump everything into the slow cooker, then be on your way and save yourself 10 minutes in the morning. But if you have the extra time, searing adds an extra layer of flavor.

Side view of tender pot roast made in a slow cooker with gracy, cooked carrots and potatoes.

WHAT CAN BE DONE AHEAD OF TIME?

I often prep elements for the next day’s dinner before I clean up tonight’s dinner. I figure the kitchen is already messy, so I might as well cut a few more vegetables and measure a few more spices.

If you know you aren’t a morning person, then, by all means, prepare 90 percent of this slow cooker pot roast the night before: make the spice rub, and peel and cut the vegetables. You can even sear the roast, and deglaze the skillet. Just make sure you save the deglazing liquid. Keep it all in the fridge overnight. In the morning all you have to do is put it in the slow cooker.

HOW LONG TO COOK A POT ROAST?

If you are making this roast on the weekend, when you’re likely to be around, feel free to cook it on high for about four to five hours. If you need it to cook all day while you’re at work, set your slow cooker to low, and let it braise until you get home – about eight to 10 hours.

Ladling gravy over a platter full of pot roast, potatoes and carrots.

HOW TO MAKE POT ROAST GRAVY

I LOOOVVVVVEEEEEEE gravy. I mean I LOVE it! I think it needs to be on everything all the time.

When I first wrote this recipe, I wanted the gravy to be thick, and made perfectly in the slow cooker without any extra work, but as lovely as that idea was, my gravy didn’t get as thick as I wanted it to.

In the end, I decided transferring some already-hot slow cooker liquid into a saucepan on the stove, bringing it to a boil, and adding cornstarch to make a proper gravy wasn’t too much to ask.

I wouldn’t skip this step. It takes less than five minutes, and thick flavorful gravy makes this dinner even more delicious!

WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVERS?

Pot roast leftovers are almost (almost) unheard of in this house. BUT, when I do have leftovers, I love sautéing some onions and celery in a pot, giving the leftovers a rough chop so they are spoonful-size pieces, adding it to the pot (including any cooking liquid and gravy), then thinning it if necessary. Voila! You have beef stew.

If you’ve eaten all the vegetables and you only have some roast remaining, you can also cook extra potatoes and onions in buttermilk, puree them, so they are the consistency of soup, shred leftover pot roast and add it the pureed potato soup. Top with freshly cut chives.

Finally, there’s nothing wrong with a grilled roast beef sandwich. Add some marinated peppers and bit of cheese. Butter that bread and slap it on a griddle. You just won lunch.

MORE GREAT ROAST RECIPES!

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Recipe

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 8 hours
  • Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3 pounds beef chuck arm or rump roast
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 large onion, quartered, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 3 large cloves garlic, smashed
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved
  • 6 carrots, peeled and halved
  • 1 1/2 pounds baby potatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Special equipment:

Method

1 Season and sear the roast: Combine salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Rub onto all sides of the roast.

Set a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil to the skillet. Once the oil shimmers, add the roast and sear the roast on all sides. This should take about 5 minutes. Transfer the roast to the slow cooker, and nestle thyme, quartered onion and bay leaf around the roast.

A roast on a cutting board covered in spices. Placing a roast into a hot skillet. Searing a chuck roas in a sliver skillet with lots of fond on the bottom.

2 Deglaze the skillet: Reduce the heat for the skillet to medium. Add the wine, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic cloves to the skillet to deglaze the pan. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, just until some of the alcohol cooks off the wine, and you scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Turn off the burner.

Pouring red wine into a a hot silver sauce pan to remove the fond searing a roast. Red wine and garlic in a sauce pan to deglaze the bottom from searing a roast.

3 Add the vegetables and liquid to the slow cooker: Nestle the mushrooms, carrots, and potatoes around the roast. Pour the wine from the skillet and the beef stock over everything.

Pot Roast, Potatoes, herbs and carrots in a slow cooker. Pouring stock into a slow cooker filled with roast, carrots, potatoes and herbsto for the best slow cooker pot roast.

4 Cover and cook: Secure the lid, cover and cook on high for 4 to 5 hours or low for 8 to 10 hours.

5 Make the gravy and serve: Ladle 2 cups of the slow cooker liquid into a medium saucepan. Set it over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.

Make a slurry by combining 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of water. Whisk the slurry into the boiling liquid. You should see it thicken to the consistency of honey within a minute or so.

Once thickened, remove it from heat. Serve up some pot roast and veggies, then top with gravy. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

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Summer Miller

Summer Miller is the Senior Editor for Simply Recipes based in Nebraska. Her work has appeared in Bon Appetit, Eating Well, Grit, SAVEUR, and Every Day with Rachael Ray, among others. Her first book is New Prairie Kitchen (Agate Publishing, 2015).

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2 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. wallace

    looks great have to try it……….

  2. Aaron

    Looks delicious! Have to try it.

    xxxxxyyyyy

Perfectly tender pot roast piled onto a gray plate with carrots and potatoes and covered in gravy.Slow Cooker Pot Roast