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Classic Pot Roast

December 12, 2023

Nothing more—and nothing less—than a true blue classic pot roast recipe. It can brighten up a dreary day, sit front and center at the holidays, or simply be a delicious Sunday dinner.

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Pot roast shown in a large green dutch oven topped with fresh parsley and served with baby potatoes and carrots

Our Best Pot Roast Recipe, Just In Time For The Holidays

Pot roast—there’s nothing quite like it, is there? Pot roast is a comforting classic. Meaty, rib-sticking, down-home food that soothes and satiates. Oh, and guess what? It’s easy, too. While pot roast feels like an occasion—a big piece of meat, braising all afternoon in a Dutch oven always feels like quite a celebration—there’s nothing to it, really. Time, heat and a good hunk of chuck meat are all it takes to make the very best pot roast ever. We’ll teach you how it’s done!

close up of a pot roast meat being served with a fork with carrots and potatoes

What’s the Best Meat for Pot Roast?

While you could make a pot roast from brisket, in our opinion the very best cut of beef for pot roast is boneless chuck roast. Why? Well, a few reasons. A pot roast is really just a braise, and a chuck roast is just ideal for braising (check out our Braised Brisket recipe for more on this). Cut from the shoulder of a cow, chuck roast is rather tough, but it is still well-marbled which means that as it braises in the oven, there will be plenty of fat that seeps out of the meat. That fat means your finished pot roast will be juicy and tender. Plus, chuck roast is usually pretty budget-friendly! We also love it for Classic Beef Stew and Korean Style Pot Roast.

Ingredients for pot roast including potatoes, chuck roast, carrots, onions, tomato paste, red wine and broth.

All the Ingredients You’ll Need to Make A Pot Roast

Other than that lovely big chuck roast and those basic seasonings, you’ll just need a few things to round out a gorgeous one-pan meal:

  • Onion

  • Garlic

  • Tomato paste

  • Brown sugar

  • Beef broth

  • Dry red wine

  • Carrots

  • Potatoes (we call for new or baby instead of larger potatoes like Yukon gold potatoes, but if you only have larger potatoes on hand that's okay! Just cut them into smaller pieces so they cook evenly)

Chuck roast on parchment paper seasoned with salt and pepper
Onion slices with tomato paste, brown sugar and herbs shown in a large dutch oven

Pot Roast Seasoning

For this pot roast recipe, we’re keeping it super simple, and super classic. Pot roast is not the time to get fancy—it’s a Norman Rockwell situation. Nostalgic, and of another time, in the very best way. So we keep our pot roast seasonings simple, too. That said, some people don’t even add a single herb to that Dutch oven, but we like the little lift that a sprig of fresh thyme adds. So our pot roast recipe gets a little flavorful boost from the usual salt and pepper, plus:

  • Fresh garlic. Any excuse to use fresh garlic!

  • Fresh thyme. Yes, you could make a pot roast without herbs. But also yes, a bit of fresh thyme will take your pot roast from fine to fan-freaking-tastic.

  • Italian seasoning. A blend of dried herbs like oregano, marjoram and rosemary, Italian herb seasoning is a lot of bang-for-buck here. We always have some on hand!

Browned chuck roast in red wine in a dutch oven.
Pot roast in red with shown with baby potatoes and carrots in a dutch oven
cooked pot roast in a Dutch oven ready to serve
roasted pot roast with carrots and baby potatoes in an oval pot

How to Cook a Pot Roast

Nothing about making a homemade pot roast is hard. You can do this! How do you add flavor to a bland pot roast? We build flavor by seasoning the meat, and browning it before slow-cooking it. Here’s how to make a flavorful fork-tender pot roast in the oven:

  1. Season the chuck roast with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.

  2. Brown the chuck roast, we're not searing the meat, just cooking it until you see a lovely crust developing on all sides. Set it aside.

  3. Brown the onions for 4 minutes until slightly softened, then add the garlic.

  4. Deglaze the pan with a splash of beef broth to keep the alliums from burning.

  5. Add the tomato paste, brown sugar, beef broth, wine, thyme and browned chuck roast.

  6. Bring it to a simmer for a few minutes.

  7. Cover the pot and place in the oven for 90 minutes.

  8. Add the vegetables, time for those potatoes and carrots!

  9. Cook for one more hour! So—how long do you cook a pot roast in total? This pot roast recipe takes about 2.5 hours of oven time, for a melt-in-your-mouth meal.

close up of pot roast shown in a Dutch oven with with fresh herbs
pot roast in a large dutch oven

What To Serve With A Classic Pot Roast

Even though this recipe calls for potatoes, we encourage you to make some of our terrific potato side dishes. A few of our faves that would be great on the plate include the visually stunning Hasselback Potatoes with Garlic and Herb Butter, or rich and cheesy Potatoes au Gratin. You could also nestle a serving of pot roast into a pool of Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes or Creamy Polenta. Vegetables are a classic side for pot roast, and you could serve Roasted Fennel or a fresh and Easy Fennel Salad, a crunchy Brussels Sprouts Gratin or a delicious Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Creamy Maple Dressing. Don’t forget about dessert! To match this celebratory meal, we recommend an equally decadent (but easy to make!) Baileys Chocolate Bundt Cake. Or you could keep it classic with a Skillet Caramel Apple Crisp or Fudgy Brownies.

easy pot roast shown in a large pot with fork showing shredded beef along side potatoes and carrots

Tools You’ll Need

More Classic Winter Braising Recipes Using Chuck Roast

Chuck roast is such an unsung hero of the kitchen. Not only is it the best meat for pot roast, it’s the best beef cut for just about any beefy winter braise you’d like to make! Here are four chuck roast recipes to get us through winter with all the fall-apart tender flavor we're craving:

A Pot Roast To Gather Around

A pot roast is really our favorite kind of meal—a little showy, a little cozy and fit for a crowd. Gather your loved ones and dig in. When you try this classic Yankee pot roast recipe, let us know how you like it, OK? Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

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Classic Pot Roast

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  10 min
  • Cook Time:  2 hrs 50 min
  • Calories: 557

Ingredients

  • 1 (4-pound) beef chuck roast, fat trimmed
  • 1½ tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into ½ -inch-thick slices
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 cups beef stock, plus more as needed
  • 1 cup light red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon or pinot noir
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • ¾ pound new or baby potatoes, halved
  • Chopped fresh parsley for serving

Method

Oven

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the lower third of the oven.

  2. Pat the beef dry and season all over with the salt.

  3. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the oil is glistening, add the meat and cook until browned all over, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the meat to a plate.

  4. Add the onions to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 more minute. If the bottom of the pot begins to brown too quickly, add beef stock ¼ cup and scrape the browned bits.

  5. Add the pepper, Italian seasoning, tomato paste and brown sugar and stir to incorporate. Stir in the stock, wine, and thyme. Return the meat to the pot along with any collected juices. Cook on medium until the liquid reduces slightly, about 5 minutes. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven.

  6. Cook the roast for 90 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven, add the carrots and potatoes, and continue roasting until the meat is very tender and shreds easily with a fork, about 60 minutes longer.

  7. Discard thyme leaves and serve topped with fresh parsley.



Slow Cooker

  1. Pat the meat completely dry. Season all over with the salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the oil is glistening, add the meat and cook until browned all over, about 8-10 minutes total. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker pot.

  3. Add the onions to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 more minute. If the bottom of the pot begins to brown, add a splash of broth.

  4. Pour in 1 cup of red wine and bring to a simmer. Cook until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes, then stir in the tomato paste, brown sugar, and 2 cups of the broth.

  5. Arrange the carrots, potatoes (see Note), and thyme around the meat in the slow cooker pot. Pour the sauce over the top. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or on low for 8 to 9 hours.

  6. Discard thyme leaves and serve on a large platter topped with fresh parsley alongside any drippings from the pot.

Note: For firmer carrots and potatoes, add half way through cooking time.


Instant Pot

  1. Pat the meat completely dry, and if necessary to fit in your Instant Pot, cut it into two pieces. Season all over with the salt. Using the saute function, heat the oil in the Instant Pot. Once the oil is glistening, add the meat and cook until browned all over, 10 to 20 minutes total. Transfer the meat to a plate.

  2. Add the onions to the Instant Pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 more minute.

  3. Pour in ½ cup of the red wine and bring to a simmer. Cook until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes, then stir in the tomato paste, brown sugar, 1½ cups of the broth, the Italian seasoning, and black pepper. Return the meat to the pot along with any collected juices. Add the thyme.

  4. Lock the lid in place, being sure to close the vent valve, and cook on high pressure for 1 hour. Allow the pressure to release, remove the lid, and add the carrots and potatoes. Lock the lid again and cook on high pressure for 10 more minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 30 minutes, then quick release if needed.

  5. Discard thyme leaves and serve on a large platter topped with fresh parsley alongside any drippings from the pot.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories557
  • Protein64 g
  • Carbohydrates20 g
  • Total Fat23 g
  • Dietary Fiber3 g
  • Cholesterol215 mg
  • sodium930 mg
  • Total Sugars6 g

Classic Pot Roast

Questions & Reviews

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  • Brianna

    Hey I want to make this tonight.. I know my fiancé will want something with this. Should I put this over rice? Do you have any suggestions :) thank you

    You could skip the potatoes in the pot roast and serve over Mashed potatoes, or leave them in and serve it with Brussels Sprouts Gratin, The Kale Salad, Cornbread or creamy Polenta. Hope this helps!

  • Ellie

    The flavor profile is amazing! The liquid turned out really oily though for me - is this from the fat of the meat?

    Yes, usually the fat will produce oil. Did you trim the fat off, we like to trim as much fat as possible.

  • MENDELSON

    Growing up, meat was mostly boned. My mother told me the bone gave flavor. Now everything is boned. Especially potroasts should be bone-in I think. I askedthe butcher for one and he weighed it bone-in at the same price as no-bone and it was exhorbitant. If I buy beef bones and put them in the pot, will that do it? Any advice? Or, in terms of flavor, a m I making too much of this?

    We think it's totally fine to make the pot roast without bones. We wouldn't add bones to the pot. We use boneless all the time and it turns out great!

  • Evans

    What temperture should I use to slow cook a pot roast in the oven?

    We have oven instructions listed below the ingredient list. Hope you enjoy!

  • Ann

    Is there something I can substitute for the wine?

    You can just leave it out. or sub with another cup of beef stock.

  • Holly

    When I made this in the oven and ate it, I could NOT believe I had cooked this myself. Granted, I don't consider myself a failure in the kitchen but WOW was this good. Definitely will continue to make again and again. Recipe was perfect as-is.

    This is so great to hear. Thanks Holly! We are so glad you loved it, great job making it!

  • Rosalva

    Best pot roast recipe ever! I feel the tomato purée and brown sugar provides additional depth and a hint of sweetness to this savory roast.

    Thanks Rosalva, we are so glad you loved it!

  • Anna

    So tasty!!!

    Thanks Anna, so happy you loved it!

  • Celina

    Perfect! This is very reminicent of my grandmother's potroast. The addition of the small amount of sugar is what does it (she used to caramlize the meat in sugar first). Anyway....I love this and it's my go to every time I make potroast. The only changes I make are to add tons of peeled yellow potatoes first up, let them suck up the cooking juices, remove them when they are done and add in carrots to finish up cooking with the meat :)

    Thanks Celina, so happy you loved it! we love that it reminds you of your grandmother's, very special.

  • Kathryn

    This recipe was the best I have EVER made! I used more tomato paste and I freestyle the spices portion but it was amazing and so tender yet sliceable which I prefer rather than shredded!

    WOW! Thanks so much Kathryn, we are so happy you loved it!