Slow Cooker Pot Roast

4.83 from 84 votes
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Delicious slow cooker pot roast recipe made by simmering chuck roast in a flavorful sauce until fork tender and served with creamy potatoes, onion, and carrots for a complete dinner.

For more incredible set-it-and-forget recipes, try my honey garlic chicken, chicken and wild rice soup, and slow cooker chicken thighs.

Slow cooker pot roast with carrots and potatoes.

This cozy, home-cooked slow cooker pot roast recipe is a dinnertime staple! The hearty beef, vegetables, and sauce cook together in one pot. I recommend searing the roast before slow cooking to create a stunning, flavorful crust. It’s an additional step that’s worthwhile to do if you have the time. You can try my Instant-Pot pot roast if you have a pressure cooker.

Homemade gravy is created in the same pan as the seared beef for a savory sauce that complements the dish. Robust vegetables like Yukon gold potatoes and carrots cook with the roast, soaking up the delicious juices. They can stand up to the long cooking time and keep their shape. The ingredients gently simmer in a Crock-Pot, so dinner’s ready when you need it. 

Chopped raw mushrooms, carrots, and potatoes in a crock pot.
Step 1. Prepare the vegetables

Cut the potatoes and carrots into large-sized pieces so they stay intact as it cooks for hours. Make a nest for the meat, using cut pieces of carrots, potato, and thyme.

Which roast is best for a slow cooker?

The best cut of beef to use for the slow cooker is a chuck roast, specifically the chuck eye roll. This large boneless primal cut is located at the shoulder area and is known for its strong beefy flavors.

Due to its naturally higher amounts of connective tissue and marbeling, low and slow moist-heat cooking methods like braising and stewing work best. Generously season with salt and pepper.

Boneless chuck roast on a sheet pan seasoned with salt and pepper.
Step 2. Season the beef

Brown the meat before placing it in the Crock-Pot

Add the roast to a hot pan over medium-high heat, with a high smoke point oil like olive oil. Searing creates a flavorful crust and beautiful deep brown color due to the Maillard reaction. Make sure to dry the meat’s surface with paper towels to remove any excess moisture, which could cause steaming instead of browning.

After searing the beef, transfer the roast to the slow cooker. For quicker preparation, you can add raw meat directly to the slow cooker, although, in my opinion, the end product is not as flavorful.

Aluminum pan with a piece of beef searing on a stove.
Step 3. Brown the meat’s surface

Saute the onions

There is a ton of flavor left in the pan after searing the beef, don’t let it go to waste! To incorporate the meat juices, fond, and richness from the fat, I use the renderings to saute the onions and make a pan gravy which will be added to the slow cooker.

Cooking the onions and garlic in the drippings also caramelizes them for a sweeter taste. The garlic and tomato paste are lightly fried to add depth to the sauce. Balsamic vinegar is reduced to soften the tartness and enhance the gravy flavors.

Chopped pieces of onions sautéing in a pan.
Step 4. Saute the aromatics

Make a pan sauce with the drippings

To thicken the consistency, make a roux using flour and butter. Then add beef stock or beef broth and soy sauce to deepen the umami flavor, but Worcestershire sauce can be substituted. The pan sauce will be used as the braising liquid.

Cover and cook

The gravy gets added to the slow cooker, but it will not cover the sides of the roast at first. Over time, the beef braises in the sauce, the juices from the meat accumulate, and the vegetables soften. The liquid will increase, going about halfway up the sides of the beef and helping to cook and tenderize everything in the enclosed environment.

The slow cooker works like a dutch oven to braise the beef. It uses electrical elements to heat the cooking vessel to a stabilized simmering point of around 209ºF (98ºC) for the Crock-Pot brand. The only difference between the high and low settings is how quickly the food inside the pot reaches the simmer point.

Homemade pan gravy being poured over a pot roast inside a slow cooker.
Step 6. Add the sauce and cook

Testing for doneness

Avoid continually removing the lid to keep a moist and heated environment in the slow cooker. Check for the doneness of the roast and vegetables towards the end of cooking. Cook until the meat is well done and reaches an internal temperature of about 210ºF (99ºC). It should be very tender!

Cut the meat across the grain

When the meat is done cooking, you can cut the large roast into slices or chunks. The muscle fibers run down the meat in longer bundles. Look for the grainline, and cut the beef perpendicular across the grain. This helps to break up the protein and make it easier to chew.

I like to serve the pot roast with a sprinkling of fresh parsley and a few scoops of sauce from the slow cooker. If you’d like a thicker sauce, transfer it to a pan and reduce it until the desired consistency is reached.

Chuck roast on a wooden cutting board cut into slices.
Step 7. Slice the meat

Serve this with

Frequently asked questions

Do you have to brown a roast before putting it in the crockpot?

I recommend browning the roast in hot oil in a large pan before slow cooking. This develops a well-browned, flavorful crust, making each slice more attractive and tasty. This cannot be achieved with the steamy slow cooker. This step can be skipped, but it won’t be as delicious.

Should the roast be covered with liquid in a slow cooker?

The meat does not need to be completely submerged. Over time, as the juices from the roast are released, the liquid will come up higher up the sides of the beef. The steam trapped in the slow cooker will also help to tenderize the meat.

How long do you slow cook a 3-pound roast in a crockpot?

This is dependent on the setting and final temperature of the roast. The low setting takes about 7 to 8 hours, high setting takes about 4 to 5 hours. The internal temperature should reach 210ºF (99ºC) for super tender pieces.

Delicious looking pot roast inside a slow cooker with carrots and potatoes.

How long does it take to cook?

The key to making the pot roast fork-tender is cooking until well done. The connective tissue and fat that runs inside the roast need to reach 210ºF (99ºC) for an extended period, about 1 hour, to fully melt and transform. The cooking time is about 4 to 5 hours on the high setting or 7 to 8 hours on low.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Slow cooker pot roast recipe that browns the beef first to enhance flavor then potatoes, onion, and carrots cook alongside the meat for a complete dinner.
4.83 from 84 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time5 hours
Total Time5 hours 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 12 ounces carrots, peeled and cut into 1 ½" pieces
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1 ½" pieces
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 3 pounds chuck roast, or chuck roll, excess fat trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups yellow onions, 1" pieces
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups unsalted beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley

Instructions 

  • Prepare Vegetables – In a 6-quart slow cooker, add potatoes, carrots, and thyme sprigs.
  • Season Beef – Dry the surface of the chuck roast with a paper towel. Evenly season all sides of the beef with 1 ½ teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
  • Brown Surface – Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil. Once hot, add the beef to the pan. Sear until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to the slow cooker. Reserve the pan and drippings to cook onions.
  • Saute Aromatics – Heat the skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, and saute until lightly golden and tender, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add balsamic vinegar and cook until reduced and coats the onions, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste, stir and cook for 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker.
  • Make Pan Sauce – Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter and flour, whisk to combine, and cook for 30 seconds. Gradually add beef stock, vigorously whisking to create a smooth and lightly thickened sauce, about 1 to 2 minutes.
    The liquid should be near a boil to thicken. Increase the heat if needed once all of the stock is added. Stir in soy sauce and ½ teaspoon salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  • Slow Cook – Add the pan sauce to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on the High setting for 4 to 5 hours or the Low setting for 7 to 8 hours. The vegetables should pierce easily with a fork, and the meat should be tender when sliced.
  • Slice Meat – Look for the grainline, and cut the beef perpendicular across the grain into slices. Optionally, cut the slices further into smaller pieces. Return the meat to the slow cooker to keep warm before serving.
  • To Serve – Serve pot roast with vegetables and sauce. Garnish with parsley.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Storing: Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. 
  • Reheating: Cover and reheat on high setting in the microwave in 15 to 30-second intervals until hot.
  • Make it Gluten-Free: Use cassava flour as a 1:1 replacement for flour. Alternatively, omit butter and flour and mix 1 ½ tablespoons of cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of cold water to make a cornstarch slurry. Add to the slow cooker in the last 30 minutes of cooking the pot roast. 

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 6 servings
Calories 608kcal (30%)Carbohydrates 23g (8%)Protein 47g (94%)Fat 36g (55%)Saturated Fat 15g (75%)Cholesterol 171mg (57%)Sodium 1219mg (51%)Potassium 1371mg (39%)Fiber 4g (16%)Sugar 5g (6%)Vitamin A 9800IU (196%)Vitamin C 17.4mg (21%)Calcium 96mg (10%)Iron 8mg (44%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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28 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Maria T. says

    When I saw this recipe in my Inbox and reviewed the list of ingredients I knew I had to make it. When I was growing up, pot roast was awful. It was so awful I never made it until yesterday. The meat was very tender and the gravy was really flavorful. Taking the time at the beginning to brown the meat, sauté the onions and make pan sauce made ALL the difference. The soy sauce, balsamic and tomato paste added those umami notes I’ve grown to like. Sure there was some initial effort and dirty dishes, but I had 8 hours to kill before dinner. By the time we ate my kitchen was clean. My husband can’t wait to have leftovers. I had to tell him up front to leave the crock pot alone.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You are a supreme chef, Maria! I’m so glad that this pot roast recipe helped you find love for the dish.

  2. Mary says

    Hi Jessica:

    I don’t have unsalted broth but I do have low sodium broth. Could I use that or would it be too salty? Also, could I use salted butter for the sauce? Recipe sounds great! Love your recipes!

    Thank you

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yes, you can use the low sodium broth. Perhaps use 1/2 teaspoon less salt for seasoning the beef. You can use salted butter for the gravy. Wait to add the additional salt until seasoning the sauce at the very end.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I would collect the drippings and juices in the pot and put them in a pan on the stovetop. Simmer until it condenses and thickens.

  3. Mike G. says

    How can you possibly, in this world, prepare that in 20 minutes? This is ridiculous. Perhaps if there are multiple people doing the preparing, but even then. Get serious now.

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