The slow cooker is the optimal piece of equipment for making a pot roast since the low and slow cooking method results in a flavorful and tender piece of meat. The pot roast takes just 15 to 20 minutes of preparation before it's time to put all of the ingredients in the slow cooker; then set it and forget about it until dinner time. The pot roast is first dusted with flour and browned in a skillet, and then placed on top of chopped onions, potatoes, and carrots in the slow cooker, and left to cook for several hours. If you like, you can make a simple gravy using the drippings with some flour once the beef is ready. This one-dish meal is perfect at the end of a busy day and comforting on a cold night.
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- For the Pot Roast
- 4 pounds beef chuck roast (or bottom round)
- Kosher salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup beef stock (or water)
- 2 large onions
- 1 1/2 pounds potatoes (about 5 or 6 medium-sized potatoes)
- 2 to 3 medium carrots
- 1 large or 2 small dried bay leaves
- For the Optional Gravy
- 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 to 2 tablespoons water (cold)
Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this pot roast is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.
Gather the ingredients.
Brown the Pot Roast
Pat the pot roast with paper towels to dry; remove any excess visible fat.
Season the meat with salt and pepper and then dust on all sides with the flour.
Heat the oil in a skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat.
Brown the pot roast on all sides in the hot oil, then remove the meat to a plate.
Add the beef stock or water to the skillet; stir and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen browned bits. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Slow Cook the Meat and Vegetables
Cut the onions in half lengthwise. Peel and cut them crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Place the onions in the bottom of a 3 1/2-quart or larger crockpot.
Cut the potatoes into 1-inch to 2-inch pieces. Add to the pot with the onions.
Cut the carrots into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Add to the vegetables in the crockpot.
Place the browned pot roast on top of the vegetables. If the pot roast does not fit comfortably in the pot, cut it into 2 or 3 pieces.
Pour the juices from the skillet over the pot roast and vegetables.
Season with a little more salt and freshly ground black pepper and add the bay leaf.
Cover the pot and cook on the LOW setting for 8 to 10 hours, or on the HIGH setting for about 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours. The roast should be almost falling apart and the vegetables should be tender. For a shreddable roast, longer is better.
Remove the roast to a cutting board and the vegetables to a serving platter, keeping everything warm until serving time.
Make the Gravy
Gather the ingredients.
Skim off the fat or strain the liquids from the slow cooker into a fat separator.
Pour the strained liquids into a saucepan. Bring the liquids to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking until the liquid is reduced to about 1 to 1 1/2 cups. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Combine the flour with the cold water; mix until smooth and well blended.
Add the flour mixture to the reduced liquids and continue cooking until thickened.
Serve the Pot Roast and Vegetables
Slice the pot roast and place on top or next to the vegetables on the platter.
Drizzle the gravy, if using, over the pot roast and vegetables and serve extra gravy on the side.
- The best cuts for pot roast are often labeled "pot roast." For the most flavorful and succulent beef, use a lean chuck roast, bottom round, or rump roast. A bone-in 7-bone roast is another excellent option, but it is quite large, so make sure your slow cooker is big enough to accommodate it. Or you could ask the butcher to cut it in half.
- The caramelization obtained by browning the beef first can greatly enhance the flavor, color, and texture, but it is not absolutely necessary. If you are short on time, simply season the beef and place it directly in the slow cooker without browning. (Eliminate the flour and oil.)
- Low starch potatoes, such as red-skinned or round white, are the best choice for slow cooker dishes because they hold up well.
- You can use parsnips, turnip, rutabaga, or other root vegetables in this dish. If you choose a more delicate vegetable, such as frozen peas or green beans, wait until about 30 minutes before the roast is ready to add to the slow cooker.
- For some Italian flavor, add a 14 1/2-ounce can of diced or crushed tomatoes to the roast along with 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil.
- Replace part of the water or beef stock with red wine for a richer flavor. Use a cabernet, merlot, or another good quality dry red wine.