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Italian Pot Roast

January 11, 2024

Italian pot roast is the kind of stick-to-your-ribs comfort food we crave when the temperatures drop. Tomatoes and pancetta add a deep and rich flavor that will make you come back for seconds.


Italian Pot Roast served over creamy polenta sprinkled with fresh parsley
Photography by Gayle McLeod

‘Tis the Season for Roast Beast!

“When the Grinch Stole Christmas,”—playing on repeat in our homes this time of year—reminds us that this season is not how many presents you’ve received. It’s about love. And nothing says “I love you” like gathering your favorite people together around your table and feeding them something a little special. Enter this Italian pot roast recipe! Although it takes a little time—a low-and-slow cook is what makes pot roast oh-so-delicious—pot roast is actually a really low-key recipe. So go ahead and invite a big crowd over! Pop open a bottle of red wine, throw a couple of logs on the fire, spin some holiday tunes and create the kind of glowing, cozy memories that this time of year is supposed to be all about.

roast, spices, pancetta, onion, carrot, red wine, tomato paste and fresh parsley in prep bowls

Italian Flavors Make For the Best Pot Roast Recipe, Ever.

What makes this pot roast an Italian pot roast? Well, the classic all-American pot roast is usually flavored with super-simple things—think carrots, onions, potatoes and maybe a little garlic if your Grandma was a wild-child. Our riff on the classic gets its Italian flavors from:

  • Pancetta! Pancetta is very similar to bacon. However, instead of being smoked (as most bacon is) pancetta is cured with salt. If you can’t find pancetta, though, a good-quality bacon works as a replacement.
  • Tomato paste. Did you know? Tomato paste is a supercharged source of umami!
  • Red wine. Any excuse to open a bottle! Kidding, kidding. Wine stands in for the traditional beef or chicken broth as the liquid that your pot roast will braise in. Acid in the wine helps to break down the meat—which is a good thing—and will add a special depth of flavor, too.
  • Lots of garlic! Because we love garlic, and so does everyone else.
raw roast cut into 3 inch chunks being seasoned with salt and pepper
roast seasoned with salt and pepper being browned in olive oil in a pot
pancetta being cooked in a pot
red wine being poured into a pot with pancetta, onion, carrots, and celery

What Is the Best Meat for Pot Roast?

Let’s set the record straight once and for all—the term “pot roast” actually refers to the cooking method used in pot roast recipes, not a specific cut of meat. Pot roast is basically just a way of braising tough cuts (our Braised Brisket recipe has a lot of great information about braising) of beef so that they become tender and juicy. Because the cuts you can use are much cheaper than other cuts of beef, pot roast is a great way to feed a crowd. Here are a few cuts that work well:

  • Chuck roast (our pick!)

  • Brisket

  • Rump roast

roast pieces in a pot with pancetta, onion, carrots, celery, red wine, garlic, spices red wine
roast pieces in a pot with pancetta, onion, carrots, celery, red wine, garlic, spices red wine

How To Make Pot Roast

This Italian pot roast recipe is made for lazy Sundays as the rain gently pitters against the windowpane. It’s the definition of comfort food and it’s all about taking things slow. Carve out a little time, and let’s get started. Here’s how to make Italian pot roast:

  1. Prep your vegetables!

  2. Brown the meat.

  3. Crisp the pancetta. (Tip: use the same pot you browned the meat in—one-pot dinners FTW!).

  4. Nestle your pot roast back into the pan along with the wine, tomato paste and bay leaves and bring it to a simmer. It should be looking pretty pot-roast-y now.

  5. Pop it in the oven for 2 whole hours—aka, just enough time to get comfy on the couch and watch a movie.

  6. Once the meat is fork-tender, lift it out of the pan and make a gravy with the pan drippings.

  7. Serve to a happy crowd!

Italian pot roast made with spices, onion, carrot, celery and red wine in a pot
Italian pot roast made with spices, onion, carrot, celery and red wine in a pot

What To Serve With Italian Pot Roast

We love serving this pot roast over our Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes! Or, to complete the Italian theme, our Creamy Polenta. If you want something a tad lighter, our Simple Italian Salad is a wonderful option.

Tools You’ll Need:

Italian Pot Roast served over creamy polenta sprinkled with fresh parsley

Four Meals That Are Just as Cozy as This Pot Roast

When the days are short and the temperatures drop, turn on the oven and settle in for the long season ahead with a few other one-pot recipes.

A Pot Roast Worth Gathering For

We would love to see how you brought your friends and family together with this pot roast recipe. Snap a photo and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you fed it to. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

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Italian Pot Roast

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  15 min
  • Cook Time:  3 hrs
  • Calories: 733


  • 1 (3-pound) chuck roast, fat trimmed, cut into approximately 3-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta or good-quality bacon, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 to 3 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups light red wine, such as pinot noir
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, for serving
  • Mashed potatoes or cooked egg noodles, for serving


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center position.

  2. Generously season the beef all over with the salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the oil just begins to smoke, working in batches, add the meat and cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the meat to a plate.

  3. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until it crisps and the fat has rendered, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and cook, stirring constantly, until softened, about 5 minutes. If the vegetables are sticking to the bottom of the pot, add a bit of water and scrape up the browned bits. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 more minute. Stir in the tomato paste to combine. Pour in the wine and stir to incorporate.

  4. Return the meat to the pan along with any collected juices, nestling it in but not submerging it. Add the bay leaves and thyme. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then cover the pot and transfer it to the oven. Cook for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and shreds easily with a fork. Discard the bay leaves and thyme stems. Using tongs, transfer the meat to a serving platter and tent with foil to keep warm.

  5. Return the pan to medium-high heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Cook until reduced by about a third, 8 to 10 minutes. Pour the sauce over the meat on the platter. Garnish with parsley.

  6. Serve the pot roast family-style with mashed potatoes or egg noodles alongside.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories733
  • Protein64 g
  • Carbohydrates8 g
  • Total Fat44 g
  • Dietary Fiber2 g
  • Cholesterol211 mg
  • sodium707 mg
  • Total Sugars3 g

Italian Pot Roast

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Lindsay

    What would be the recommended cook time to make this in the instant pot?

    We haven't tested it in the instant pot but general rule of thumb for roast is 20 minutes per pound in an instant pot. If you use a 3 pound roast like in the ingredient list cook it on high pressure for 60 minutes then allow it to naturally release for 10 minutes before releasing the remaining pressure. Hope you enjoy Lindsay!

  • Jill

    This looks great! Any suggestions for how to fancy it up for Christmas a little?

    Thanks !!!

    Serve over mashed potatoes with brussels sprouts au gratin, crusty bread and a simple butter lettuce salad. Wouldn't hurt to serve spiced bourbon punch as well. Hope you enjoy!

  • Artemis

    I made your pot roast recently and it may have been the best thing I ever made. We’re thinking of what to make for Christmas dinner and that came to mind. I thought I could do it with a nice polenta and then stumbled upon this recipe. Now, I have about 17-20people coming, how am I going to do this, I’ll have to get another Dutch over, or 2? And what do you think, triple this recipe? Thanks in advance!

    Yay. So glad to hear. Yes I would personally just triple the recipe. If you have 2 pots big enough you could do do 1 1/2 recipes in both pots. That would fit better than 3 pots.

  • sheri

    Should I dust the meat in flour before cooking ?

    No need!

  • Jonnae

    If we don’t have a Dutch oven pot , what are some other options?

    Any oven proof pot with a lid will do the trick!

  • sheri

    Amazing! It was so good I would have this every week for dinner!

    Thanks Sheri, we are so glad you love it!

  • Ryan

    Great dish! It was such a welcomed change to the traditional pot roast. I especially enjoyed the pancetta and diced vegetables. I served mine over a creamy risotto and it was a household hit.

    Thanks Ryan, so glad you loved it!

  • Sarah

    This was a delicious recipe. I didn’t bother braising the beef ( Ina Garten tip) and slow cooked it 2 hours at 350 and 2 hours at 325 for a total of 4 hours. Served over mashed potatoes with green beans on the side. The family loved it!

    Thanks Sarah, so glad you loved it!

  • Eric

    Fantastic recipe. Worked perfectly for my fall dinner party. I served an Arulula, Shallot and Glazed Walnuts salad with a light vinaigrette on the side.

    Thanks Eric, we are so glad you loved it and that sounds like a delicious side for this meal!

  • Alexa

    This is a great recipe! I hold off on reviews until I make the recipe several times. This recipe always turns out good! I’ve made it half a dozen times, and every time it’s flavorful, delicious, and tender! A new staple in my kitchen, everybody loves it.

    My only advice would be to cut the beef pieces slightly smaller than recommended and like with all beef—season with salt a few hours before or ideally 24 hours before! I’ve noticed a difference doing that.

    Thanks Alexa, we are so happy to hear you've made it so many times and that it has become a delicious staple for you!