Get the step-by-step guide for how to make a perfectly moist and juicy pot roast. Today’s recipe uses a chuck roast braised in beef stock with a touch of balsamic vinegar, and veggies that get so much beefy flavor.
Do you remember when I shared with you how to make a perfect pork roast? So many of you loved that slow-cooked method that I decided to do more slow-cooked, big cuts of meat. Today, I’m tackling beef pot roast.
Pot roasts are a classic yet economical meal, because they let you take a less expensive, and often less desirable, cut of meat and turn it into magic. I usually use a chuck roast (sometimes called chuck steak, not to be confused with chuck eye steak, which is different). I find that this cut has just the right amount of marbling to get really tender when slow-cooked.
What Is A Chuck Roast?
Here’s the wikipedia entry, but basically, it’s a cut from the front (shoulder area) of the cow and is usually a 1 and 1/2 to 2-inch thick oval of about 8-9 inches across. It has a lot of connective tissue that melts when cooked. For this reason, you want to cook this cut all the way through, slowly, so that the collagen from the tissue gets a chance to melt, moistening and flavoring the meat.
If you’d like to cook a chuck roast with another method, try out my Slow Cooker Beef Roast for another delicious and tender meal.
Other Beef Cuts To Use For Pot Roast
So, my go-to is the aforementioned chuck roast because it has good flavor and has that fat and connective tissue perfect for slow-cooking. That’s what called for below in the recipe. Brisket is a good second choice since it also has that kind of marbling. It can be more expensive though. Finally, a round roast (rump roast or bottom round roast) can be done as a pot roast. It is much leaner though and can end up dry even when braised. The leanness means that it will slice well though. If you go with a round roast, make sure to make some gravy to help with the dryness, or serve it with the roasting juices.
Cuts that you don’t want to use for a pot roast are those that are extremely lean or extremely tender. Lean roasts won’t become meltingly tender as it cooks because there isn’t much fat in the roast to help with that. These roasts are better cooked quickly with high heat to at most a medium temperature, and then sliced thinly. This is the technique for that classic dish, the London Broil, which often uses a top round roast.
An extremely tender roast, like a filet of beef or prime rib, is best for dry-roasting to at most a medium temperature. Cooking these kinds of more expensive cuts using a pot-roasting method doesn’t highlight their best qualities, and can even make the meat mealy in texture. For these roasts, you’re better off to use a classic roast beef method, like this one.
The trick to pot roast is to cook it at a low temperature for awhile, and to use a braising liquid. A braising liquid keeps things moist. You can use beer or wine, broth or stock, or even just water. Any combination of those will work as well. You can add other things to the mix if you’d like, like apple juice or even cola.
What I’ve done for today’s recipe is to add a touch of balsamic vinegar to beef stock for the braising liquid. It adds a bit of sweetness and a bit of sour. You’ll barely notice that it’s there but without it the flavors are a bit flatter.
Which Vegetables To Include In A Pot Roast?
In addition to the less lean cut of meat that you use here, pot roasts often include vegetables. These veggies will end up really soft and tender. If you want them less soft, you can add them halfway through the cooking time. I never do that though because part of the joy of pot roast for me is exactly that cozy, super-soft thing.
Root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and onions are common and the best bet. You want something that stands up to the long cooking time.
Note that you can totally leave the peels on the potatoes for this dish. Why do this? Because not having to peel them speeds things up, results in less food waste, and because the peel has some really great nutrients in it. It’s a win-win-win. Unfortunately, you do have to peel the carrots though. Otherwise the outer layer gets a bit woody. If you can find thinner, younger carrots, those with the greens still attached, they’re fine without peeling. Simply trim off the greens and then give the carrots a quick scrub with a potato brush. Done!
Those are the main tips for a perfect pot roast. Now here are the step-by-step instructions.
How To Make A Perfect Pot Roast
Season a beef pot roast all over with a liberal amount of salt and pepper. For a 2.5 pound chuck roast, you’ll want to use about a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of black pepper.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil.
Let the oil get really hot. Add the roast to the hot oil. Cook on one side until very well-browned. You want it crusty because that brown caramelized crust is going to add tons of flavor to the eventual dish. It’ll take 4-5 minutes. Then flip it over and get the other side brown and crusty as well.
While the roast sears in the skillet, peel your carrots and chop them into large chunks so that they don’t cook to quickly. Similarly, halve small potatoes and quarter larger ones. I use red potatoes because I like the flavor and the pop of color that they add to the dish when you leave the peels on, as I typically do.
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Transfer the roast to a roomy roasting pan. You need space for the roast to be surrounded by potatoes. Note that when I do a chuck pot roast like this, I usually do two. The reason is so that I have leftover beef for lunches or for using in a different dinner the next day.
So, add your roast to the roasting pan. Then pour beef stock into the skillet, about 2 cups per roast. You’re going to want the liquid to go halfway up the roast in the roasting pan so the amount really depends on the size of your roast and the size of your roasting pan. Heat the stock to a simmer. Add 1/2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar for each cup of stock. Stir. Pour over the roasts in the roasting pan. Surround roast with potatoes.
Top the roast and potatoes with the carrots. I prefer to not have the carrots submerged in liquid. They keep their color and flavor better that way. Adding them on top is the best bet.
Put a lid on the roasting pan, or cover it tightly in heavy-duty foil if you don’t have a lid. Put it into the oven until the potatoes and carrots are soft and the meat is tender enough that you could pull it apart with your fingers, about 2 hours. Remove the meat and potatoes from the liquid. Optionally drizzle the meat with some balsamic vinegar (1 teaspoon per roast) or serve it on the side as a dip. You don’t need anything other than that.
If you’d like to, you can make use of the liquid in the roasting pan (I often save it for another use, like making soup the next day, but it can definitely be part of your pot roast meal instead). Skim off the fat (I use a fat separator like this) and serve the juices on the side. Or turn it into a gravy by mixing together water and cornstarch and then adding it to the skimmed juices. Start with 1/4 cup water and 2 tablespoons of corn starch, add it and then bring it to a simmer to thicken it. Add more cornstarch and water mixture if you’d like it thicker. Learn how to make gravy here, or here’s a basic recipe for cornstarch gravy which you could make with the juices from this roast.
Slice the meat and serve with the potatoes, carrots, gravy or braising liquid, a touch of balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze. I also recently made a Homemade Horseradish Sauce recipe that would be tasty here too. Enjoy! -Christine xo
Podcast Episode: Making Perfect Pot Roasts
Listen to me explain briefly about how to make this pot roast, along with some other great tips, by clicking the play button below:Print
This recipe uses a chuck roast braised in beef stock with a touch of balsamic vinegar for amazing flavor.
- 1 (2.5 lb.) chuck roast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 8 large carrots
- 3 lbs. red potatoes
- 2 cups low or no sodium beef stock*
- 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, plus more for serving**
- Season the roast all over with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil. Let the oil get really hot. Add the roast to the hot oil. Cook on one side until very-browned, 4-5 minutes. Flip it over and get the other side brown and crusty as well, another 4-5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, peel the carrots and chop them into large chunks. Halve any smaller potatoes and quarter larger ones.
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Transfer the roast to a roomy roasting pan.
- Pour beef stock into the skillet that you used to sear the roast. Heat over medium-high heat to a simmer. Add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Stir. Pour over the roast in the roasting pan. Surround roast with potatoes. Top the roast and potatoes with the carrots.
- Put a lid on the roasting pan, or cover it tightly in heavy-duty foil. Put it into the oven until the potatoes and carrots are soft and the meat is tender enough that you could pull it apart with your fingers, about 2 hours.
- Remove the meat and potatoes from the liquid. Optionally drizzle the meat with some balsamic vinegar (1 teaspoon or so) or serve it on the side as a dip. If you’d like to serve the braising liquid with the meal, skim off the fat before doing so. I like to use a fat separator like this.
- Slice the meat and serve with the potatoes, carrots, balsamic vinegar, and braising liquid (optional).
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*You might need more or less stock depending on the size of your roast and the size of your roasting pan. What you ideally want is to have enough stock so that the roast is covered half way up.
**For serving, you can use more balsamic vinegar as listed in the recipe, but a drizzle of balsamic glaze is even better. I didn’t list it in the ingredients so that you wouldn’t have to buy an extra thing. But if you already have some, do try it!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Pompeian. All opinions are my own.
This post originally appeared in March 2017 and was revised and republished in March 2020.