How To Make Pot Roast


If I’m going to fall for some great marketing — and know that I’m falling for it the whole time — I sure better make something that’s worth losing my self-respect. So this time I didn’t take a shortcut and put the slow cooker on “Hi” for three hours. This one gets the full 7-plus hours it needs to be fork tender.

And oh my goodness … this is what pot roast is supposed to taste like.


3-5 pound chuck roast
3 medium potatoes
2 large carrots
1 large onion (see below)
3-5 cloves garlic (see below)
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper


Let me just get this out of the way right up front: Yes, I used the leftover onions and garlic my daughters made me take out of the pork roast I did the previous week. I hate letting leftovers go bad in the fridge. Drives me crazy. Feel free to dice up a new onion if you don’t have leftovers.

So anyway … season the roast with salt and pepper. Don’t skimp, there should be plenty of each covering both sides and all the edges.

Melt a few tablespoons of bacon fat in an uncoated pan over high heat. (Use a high-temperature cooking oil like peanut if you don’t have bacon fat.)

Brown the roast on both sides, just long enough to get a nice crust. No more than a minute or two per side.

Do the edges, too. The better the crust the more flavor you’ll have when it’s done.

Place the browned roast in your slow cooker, then deglaze the pan with a cup of water. The pan should be smoking hot when you add the water for best results. Scrape up all the browned bits with a whisk or wooden spoon. That is the most flavorful part, and is the reason you don’t want to use a non-stick pan if you can help it.

Add the liquid from the deglazing to the slow cooker.

Add the onion, potato and carrot to the slow cooker. You don’t need to peel the potatoes or the carrots, just give them a good cleaning and chop them bite-sized. Don’t go too small with the veggies, especially the onion, or they can turn to mush after a few hours.

Add enough water to almost cover the vegetables. Like I said when doing the pork roast, my assistant tells me the Tigger makes it taste the best.

Season liberally with salt and pepper. You have to add some before cooking to bring out the flavors. If you try to add it all at the end, it will just taste salty.

Turn the slow cooker to “Lo”. (And that’s how it’s spelled on mine — “Lo” and “Hi”. So don’t tell me I can’t spell.)

NOTE: Older slow cookers had Lo and Hi settings of about 160° and 190°. Some newer ones run at 190° and 240°, so Lo on a new one can be the same as Hi on an old one. And the new ones might not have anything that matches the older Lo setting. I’ve never seen slow cookers that advertise what temperature they cook at, so make sure you know your slow cooker before leaving something on Hi for eight hours.

After 2-3 hours, pull the meat up and place it on top. The veggies need to be submerged to cook well, and the juices from the roast will soak down into them.

After another 4-5 hours, turn the cooker off.

See the beautiful top? You don’t get that if you leave the meat on the bottom.

Set the meat aside and scoop out the vegetables. This time I didn’t separate the onions. I let the girls pick them out themselves. I also forgot to pick out the garlic cloves. But after more than seven hours of cooking, they were soft and sweet. Awesome spread on some crusty bread.

Normally you need to let meat rest after cooking until the temperature evens out throughout. Otherwise the heat will force all the juice out when you slice it. With slow cooking, the whole roast is the same temperature, so you can start slicing right away. Don’t try to slice thin. For one thing, you won’t be able to unless you’ve got the world’s sharpest knife. Secondly, this is fork tender, so you want nice big chunks to dig into.

After slicing, pick up the whole roast and serve it on top of the veg.

And that’s it.

You might be wondering why I didn’t make gravy with the water and juices. I almost did, but then decided to reserve that for another recipe. Stay tuned for a request from the list.

Pot Roast

Pot Roast


  • 3-5 pound chuck roast
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 large onion (see below)
  • 3-5 cloves garlic (see below)
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper


Season the beef generously with salt and pepper. Brown all over in bacon fat over high heat in a non-reactive pan. Transfer the beef to a slow cooker and deglaze the pan with water or stock. Add the liquid to the slow cooker.

Dice the vegetables into bite-size pieces and pack them around the beef, potatoes on the bottom, then carrots, onion and garlic. Add enough liquid - water or stock - to just cover the meat.

Cover and set the slow cooker on low. After 2-3 hours, carefully lift the meat and place it on top of the vegetables. Add more liquid, if needed to completely cover the vegetables. Cook on low for another 4-5 hours.


  1. I had no idea that the newer slow cookers Hi temp might be higher than the one I used to have. Makes sense though, I had an “experience” with it cooking too fast a couple of weeks ago. Thanks for that tip! I also never thought to pull the meat to the top after a couple of hours. :)

  2. Linda Goossen says:

    I thought you’d gone on a diet…it has been so long since you’ve posted! This recipe sounds like what I’ve done with my roasts for years. I could never figure out how to do one medium rare, and still be tender, so into the crock pot it goes!

    My kids think this is the best meal I could ever make!

    I received the cookbooks, and am anxious to start perusing it, and using it!

  3. First, YUUUUM. Second, now WHO would be annoying enough to tell you you can’t spell?

    For some reason, when I read “‘Hi’ setting,” I got this greatly entertaining image of a CrockPot greeting you cheerily every time you turned it on. “Hi! I hope you enjoy cooking with me today!”

    I think I’m way past done now . . .

  4. Amanda, I went to try and find the reference I saw that said the temperature range of crock pots has changed over the years. Holy cow there’s a lot of debate and discussion over this. The official word from the manufacturers is that they cook by wattage, not by temperature. They determine the “appropriate” wattage by calculating what it takes to bring the typical “food load” to finished temperature in four hours. So apparently there is no standard answer. Although I saw complete disagreement on one point: Some sources insist that the high temperature is never above 212°, and other sources insist that the high setting is up to 300°. Obviously both can’t be right.

    Linda, no diet, just the holidays. I actually made a few whole meals without photographing anything. Can you believe it?

  5. Kristin, I don’t think I personally know anyone who would actually point out the spelling error. I don’t usually hang out with such rude people. 😛

  6. Lilly de Nalish says:

    Ah, you have finally explained why my slow cooker runs so hot! I bought one about a year ago and I don’t even get close to the time stated in recipes. I’ve started adjusting the times for my cooker, but it’s good to hear the reason.

    and this looks taaaaastyyyy

  7. Lilly, what I’m seeing on the new ones is directions to use high for the first hour, then turn to low until it’s done. Which sounds good, unless the new low is really the same as the old high setting. And yes, times are all going to need to be adjusted. What a pain this is.

  8. Really have to start using my crockpots (I have 3 of varying sizes)! I use this cut of meat for potroasts also but I will either braise in the oven or pressure cook it if in a hurry. Same ingredients except I add a bay leaf which gives it a little oomph in flavor. And I think I mentioned somewhere else the use of a jar of pearl onions and a can of beef broth really oomph the flavor!

  9. Damn that looks good. Pot roast is the bomb! I don’t have a decent slow cooker, I need to get one pretty bad. I have a tiny one that was a gift, but nothing I could do a roast in. I’ve done pot roast in the oven and had good results though.

  10. Oh, what a great recipe to try out in my new crockpot, looks amazing! Can’t wait to try.

  11. Barb, did you buy all of them, or get them as wedding presents and couldn’t decide which one to return?

    Bob, I’ve got a dutch oven that would probably work just as well, put I like being able to look through the top and see what’s going on.

    Anne, keep an eye on it until you’re used to your new cooker. I’ve seen a bunch of references — but nothing I’d call an authoritative source — saying the new ones cook much hotter. Better to start out low and have to turn it up than to start on high and burn it.

  12. Hew Drew :) I have made chuck roast in the crock pot six gazillion times. But making just a couple of changes per your guidance last night made a huge difference! I cooked on low, but not for as long as I usually do and I moved the meat up above the veggies after a few hours. It was wonderful!

  13. I inherited my mother’s kitchen… literally. When she began her decline, I moved back to DE to stay with and care for her (6.5 years)–Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease… Anyway, mom and I love kitchen stuff and we could never have too many of anything! Plus, mom had 8 children and a kazillion grand and great grand children… It’s always like feeding an army at the holidays! So, yes, I have more than one of everything. (:D

  14. Ananda, glad it helped. That was actually an accident. I forgot to put the roast in before lunch, so the potatoes and carrots on top were still crunchy. Pulling the meat to the top was just to try to finish them, but the meat was better, too.

    Barb, I’m always going to family get-togethers and seeing three or four slow cookers set up. But usually they each belong to a different family. I guess when you plan to do it all yourself it makes sense to have a couple for yourself.

  15. I’ve never been a fan of pot roast. In fact, I absolutely abhor it. But yours looks SO delicious. I’m going to have to cave and try your instructions this weekend.

    Oh! And hi from Akron! I noticed you mentioned the west-side market in your previous post and then I realized you were from Cleveland. So, “Howdy neighbor!”

  16. Jennifer, go for the chuck roast, not the round. Makes a huge difference.

  17. I love this blog because all the recipes contain bacon fat. I truly love that.

  18. Well, not all of them. I’ll see if I can fix that.

  19. Hey drew, I tried this today, and something went wrong :( I popped it in the slow cooker, and put it on Lo for eight hours while I was at work, but when I got home and opened it up, the meat was still really pink inside. (Didn't bother me too much, because I like meat a little rare, but my bf wouldn't eat it). Any suggestions on what I did wrong?

  20. Cassie, that completely surprised me. I was expecting you to say that after eight hours it was dried out, because most newer crock pots cook way higher than what I remember from my childhood.

    My first guess would be that you're using an older crock pot? The only other thing I can think of is that the meat was frozen — or at least still very cold — when you put it in.

    But your question was what did you do "wrong", and to that the answer is: Nothing at all. "Hi" and "Lo" are not what you'd call precise measurements. Unless you've got an actual temperature listed, you're just going to have to learn what your crock pot means by "Lo".

  21. I made my first ever pot roast today. My 11 y/o ate it too. I was proud. Then my sister had to go and ask me if it was beef or pork. It was Wal-mart kit with the veggies included in the kit. BUT it was good.

    Thanks for the inspiration

    A new fan,

  22. Danelia, unless something really strange happened to the color, your sister must have gotten some really bad pork if it looked like a pot roast. Glad to hear you and the kiddo liked it.

  23. OR, being as un-ed-u-ma-cated as I am on matters concerning cooking, I thought "pot roast" was just a generic term for meat cooked in the "pot" along with chunks of veggies.

    It was pork. Tonight I'm doing the beef and praying the kiddo (who is NOT spoiled from canned food–make that food in actual cans) will not turn up his cute little nose at it.

    I'm learning. I'm learning. You seem to be a good teacher.


  24. You know what? You're right. "Pot roast" doesn't have the word beef in it, so why shouldn't we use it for pork? Aside from completely confusing everyone who already know what it's "supposed to" mean.

  25. I'm learning to cook–an apprentice maybe. I'm a master "confuser". *smile*


  26. Sir,

    I'm currently trying your crockpot roast, and I came across some info (and some questions).

    According to Crock-Pot's website both low and high cook at the same temperature (209 degrees). The difference being the time it takes to stabilize at that temperature.

    Now my question. The roast is currently on and is boiling merrily away. Well, really a slow bubbling really but bubbling of any sort shouldn't be happening in a crock pot, no?

    Let bubble away or poke and prod in some manner to stop the bubbles?

  27. *^%#@%

    Decided to put down to warm setting. Cut out a test portion to check if "done" (didn't get a thermometer, in the next shopping list) and dang is it soft. But bland. Apparently what I thought was a liberal dousing of salt/pepper wasn't enough. Any way of post seasoning the meat without it just tasting like salt?

  28. Juan, your best bet at this point is to make some really good gravy for it. Put all the liquid in a pot over high heat, mix a quarter-cup of flour (or two tablespoons cornstarch) with a quarter-cup of cold water and stir until it's dissolved.

    Pour it slowly into the liquid while stirring rapidly. Add salt, pepper, and marjoram or coriander (or both), bring to a boil for a least a minute, stirring constantly while it's boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Check the seasoning frequently.

    And next time, be more generous with the salt. When I started cooking from scratch, I made bland food for most of a year before I figured out what I was doing wrong.

  29. Whew!! Thanks for the suggestions!

    I was having some guests for the weekend and making that gravy pretty much saved the meal.

    Now I just need to figure something else to make and use them as guinea pigs.

  30. Drew-

    I've been wanting to try your recipe for pot roast for, well, months. But when I first discovered your site, it was the middle of summer. Not the best time for hearty meat and veggies when everyone is hot and sweaty. So I'm trying it today, in my brand-new Crock Pot. It's been on for 20 minutes and my picky husband is already asking when dinner will be ready. :)

  31. Juan, I missed your followup. I'm glad to hear it worked. Of course it's hard to go wrong suggesting, "Make gravy."

    Karla, the last hour is always the hardest.

  32. It was so good the first time, I've made it twice since. As it turns out, it's the easiest way to get him and our three kids to eat carrots!

    Thanks a ton. Everything has been delicious!

  33. MiqSnyder says:

    Ok.. This might sound like a dumb question.. I was wanting to make your French onion soup recipe which calls for beef broth. Was wondering where does the broth come from? After you cook a roast do you just save the juices & freeze or am I wrong altogether?

  34. That's exactly where I got it. In fact, that's why I made the soup. I had all that great broth left over and needed something to do with it.

    Which, by the way, is how good restaurants make their menus. The drippings and trimmings from Friday's specials become the stocks and sauces for Saturday's.

  35. i was raised by dad so in my house hold we never did much fancy cooking. i p\retty much taught my self the basics. i bought a new crock pot and wanted to make a pot roast found your recipe and going to try it today.

  36. HELP! lol I totally spaced starting this roast this its noon and I only have about 5 hrs before dinner needs to be ready…do I still have time to do this??

  37. Sorry Ashley, I just saw this. I hope it came out okay.

  38. Have same problem other blogger had left roast in crock pot for 8 hrs only to find it still pink on the inside it appears that the pot didn’t cook on setting it must have been on low is the 5 lb roast still good? Can I put it into the oven and finish cooking because unsure of holding temps/ HELP NEED RIGHT AWAY PLEASE!

  39. Dorothy, I hope I’m in time. Yes, you can still finish it in the oven. Whole cuts, like a roast, are pretty flexible. It’s ground meats that you have to really careful with.

  40. Ok what did I do wrong, I followed the instructions verbatim, 2 hours with the meat on the bottom, and now 4 hours with the meat on top, and sampling the meat Pam says it tastes like shoe leather ……What’s up with that

  41. Two possibilities. First, did you use a chuck roast or a tip roast? Chuck has fat and connective tissue all through it and will stay moister longer. A tip roast is pretty lean all the way through and can get tough if it’s overcooked.

    Second, check out that note about cooking time / temperature of slow cookers. Some can be much hotter than others, so your cooking time could easily be way different from mine. You have to learn what works for your slow cooker. If you were used to driving a Camry and tried to drive a new Hummer the same way you’d have some problems, right? Same idea.

    If there’s one rule I could get people to believe about cooking, it’s that you can’t cook big cuts of meat by time. There are just too many other factors involved: starting temperature, shape, amount and distribution of connective tissue, level of braising liquid or fat, tightness of the cooking vessel, etc. etc. etc.

  42. Karl Fullington says:

    Hi Drew, I have a pot roast in the crock pot now. It all looks and smells very good. I also put green bell pepper slices in there. I just love the way it flavors meat, especially beef. I also poked garlic clove slices directly into the meat. The crockpot is one of my favorite kitchen tools, for very little work I can get a delicious dinner on the table. I got everyone fooled. Now I just sit back, take it easy, and wait. Nothing to it. Thanks for your ideas.

  43. Wow thanks so much, I am collecting these because I recently bought a new Slow Cooker and looking for and excuse to use it :)

  44. Looks like a great recipe, but most I’ve seen call for a smaller roast than I have (8.5 chuck shoulder roast). I hate to cut it up before cooking to reduce the size, do you think that I should put in on “high” to get started for a couple of hours, or should I cook it longer? thanks for advice…

  45. John, slow cookers today aren’t designed to cook at a set temperature, they’re designed to bring a specific amount of ingredients to a set temperature in a certain time. So for instance “Lo” will take 8 hours and “Hi” will take 4 hours to bring a “full” cooker to 180 degrees.

    Typically you’ll put the roast in and fill with vegetables and water to halfway up the side of the vessel. Since yours will fill it much more, you’ll just need less vegetables and water.

  46. sandra lee says:


  47. Sandra, beef is done while it’s still pink. If you cook it until it’s brown all the way through it will be like chewing on shoe leather.

  48. Would a rump roast work for this recipe?
    Thanks….just found your website and I love it.

  49. Tania, rump roast is much leaner, without the connective tissue running through it. Overcook it and it gets tough.

    I’d leave it under the vegetables, and make sure you check at about four hours to see if the internal temperature is high enough. Pull it as soon as it’s over 130 degrees inside, let it rest for 15 minutes, then slice very thin across the grain.

  50. First, let me start off by saying that I barely get by in the kitchen. My food is “good” but never great. So, with that being said, I had no idea there were so many different types of roast. I spent this money on a “chuck roast” as you said, cooked it all day….and then when I went to cut it, it’s nothing but fat. I am so disappointed and done with roast. The vegetables taste awesome though! :-) Again, not an insult to your recipe. Just wanted to share how someone can still mess up such an easy recipe!!!!

  51. Ooh, that sucks. I’ve got a great butcher at the end of the street, so I may be spoiled by the quality of meat I consider “typical”.

  52. I never really cooked before. I love to BAKE, but cooking isn’t my thing. So when I tried your recipe, imagine my suprise when my husband was WOWWED(or is it ‘wowed’?). Biy was he happy, which made me happy. Thanks for a great recipe, complete with a free chuckle now and then. Your website is now on my favorites bar and i’m signing up for your newsletter1

  53. Liz Herbrandson says:

    i love this recipe i made it yesterday and it turned out wonderful!!! and you def gotta pull it up after 2 hours bc it gets such a nice almost crust on it its wonderful!!!!

  54. Liz Herbrandson says:

    <a i love this recipe i made it yesterday and it turned out wonderful!!! and you def gotta pull it up after 2 hours bc it gets such a nice almost crust on it its wonderful!!!!

  55. When you’re making the pot roast, I’ve had a LOT of people tell me not to put the potatoes in for a few hours because they get mushy, have you ever had that in this recipe before?

    • That’s pretty good advice. Just as important, whatever you do don’t try to stir things after you’ve had the potatoes in for a while. You’ll really turn them to mush.

  56. I love how you used real ingredients. I read so many recipes calling for onion soup mix and cream of mushroom gravy. I was sitting here thinking but I bought real food like carrots and onions and garlic. Thank you for being real and using real ingredients. I may not be a top chef but I don’t think I need to dumb my food down by using store bought mixes and soup to flavor a chunk of meat. :)

  57. Hi –
    Could you do this with a lamb roast?


  58. Desirree Sifuentes says:

    I am on my 5th time making this roast and its amazing every single time!!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!! :)

  59. You are a pure genius! This recipe works perfectly! My only substitution is searing the meat with vegetable oil instead of bacon fat. I actually ate the meat the next day so I turned the slow cooker off with an hour left so the next day I sliced it cold, reheated it on warming tray for 2.5 hours- it was fork tender and divine.
    This will be my new go-to recipe.

    • Slow-cooker meals are almost always better the second day, if you can make the timing work out that way.

      • Hello just a quick question can you do this recipie with just the roast
        and no vegetables if so would I have to do anything different
        I am asking because I would prefer making mashed potatoes and
        gravy as a side

      • Absolutely. I would still put a single layer of carrots under the meat to keep it up out of the juice, but that’s totally optional. My wife has been using the dutch oven lately, and the veggies always go around the sides, if any.

  60. I have one other question can I use a venison roast with this recipie and would I have to so anything different? Do you still sugest putting the carrots at the bottom if I do not use potatoes?

    Thanks again!!

    • Venison tends to be much leaner than beef, particularly the store-bought beef we usually use. I’d drape several strips of bacon over the top to get a little more fat in it.

      And yes, I’d still use the carrots underneath, especially with a leaner cut, as it would be more likely to stick than a cut with more fat.

      • I really do not want to use bacon so would I have to decrease the cooking time or do you have any other suggestions for the venison?..Oh and I will be using the carrots and potatoes I plan on cooking this tomorrow. It will probably be approx 8-8.5 lbs

      • Don’t cook by time, cook by temperature. And I doubt a few strips of bacon would make much difference to the time in any case.

        You could try some suet, if you have it from when the deer was butchered. Anything to add a little fat.


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