How to Cook Pot Roast

Get Great Results Every Time

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Perfect Pot Roast. Linda Larsen

Want to learn how to cook pot roast so it's deliciously tender and juicy every time? Facing a big chunk of meat can be intimidating, and cooking it well is one of the biggest kitchen challenges.

How did grandma make such tender, melt-in-your-mouth pot roast? And why didn't she ever share her recipe? Luckily, Laurie Colwin's recipe for pot roast will put you on the right path.

Selecting the Meat for Pot Roast

Common cuts used for pot roast include:

  • chuck
  • brisket
  • top round
  • bottom round 
  • rump

Laurie Colwin says: "My mother favors front-cut brisket, but she grew up when one could buy prime meat... without dipping into capital... I settled on the cheaper chuck steak, cut thick, and I stand by it. It is fattier than brisket and therefore more lip-smacking."

Remember, you can always ask the butcher in your supermarket for help selecting a cut for pot roast. He can offer lots of ideas to help you buy the perfect meat for your pot roast.

Always buy more meat than you think you will need. Leftover pot roast can be even better! Generally, you'll get two to three servings out of a pound of boneless roast, and two servings from a pound of bone-in roast.

How to Cook Pot Roast

Here are the steps and tips to make the perfect pot roast.

  • Moist heat is a must. The cuts of meat used for pot roast have less fat than steaks and long, slow cooking with liquid (also called braising) tenderizes the meat fibers.
  • Brown the meat. Whether the pot roast is cooked on the stove, in the oven or in the crockpot, you may brown the meat first on all sides. This improves the flavor and appearance of the meat. The high heat used during browning caramelizes the sugars and proteins in the meat, which results in a rich flavor. If the recipe doesn't call for browning, you don't have to worry about it.
  • Season the meat before browning for best flavor.
  • Choose baking the roast in the oven or using the crockpot rather than stovetop cooking. When the roast is simmered in a skillet, you have to pay much more attention to the cooking process. One of the best things about pot roast is you can literally 'fix it and forget it'.
  • For cooking liquid, you can use anything from coca-cola to beef broth or tomato juice.
  • Add vegetables to the meat and you have a complete one pot meal.
  • Vegetables should be added right at the beginning when you are cooking in the crockpot. For oven pot roast, add vegetables about one hour before the meat is done.

Pot Roast Recipes

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