You are going to love this tender pot roast in a Crockpot (a.k.a. a slow cooker) because it’s packed with flavor, tender and juicy, and super easy to make. If you can toss ingredients into a Crockpot, you can make a show-stopping pot roast.
Crockpot Pot Roast is healthy and delicious. I like to add a lot of root veggies to this recipe to amp up the flavor and nutrition. Plus, everything cooks in one pot!
First, let’s talk about what not to do.
There are only two ways to mess up a pot roast in a Crockpot
- The first one is to cook it at too high of a temperature. You need to cook it “low and slow” to yield a tender, juicy pot roast.
- The second way is to not cook it long enough. If it's not fork-tender, meaning it falls apart when you stick it with a fork, then it's not done.
Slow Cooker Pot Roast Ingredients:
- 3-4 pound chuck roast
- 1-2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1-2 tablespoons oil if searing (avocado oil or a grape seed oil)
- 2-3 potatoes, I like to use yellow potatoes with the skin on
- 2-3 garlic cloves (skin on)
- 1 onion (any color works)
- 2-3 carrots
- 2 stalks celery
- 1 parsnip (optional)
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary and/or thyme
- 2 fresh bay leaves (or 1 dried)
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups low-sodium stock or water
- 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar to finish
Pot Roast FAQ's
What type of meat should I buy to make a pot roast? A classic American pot roast is generally made with a chuck roast, but any big, tough cut of meat works. The point of slow cooking a pot roast is to make a tough cut of meat fall-apart-tender.
When buying any meat, a general rule of thumb is to get a half-pound per person. However, there are large fat deposits on a roast that are generally not eaten, so plan for three-quarters of a pound to a pound per person.
A 3-4 pound chuck roast will generally feed four people. I like to buy a grass-fed chuck roast at my local natural grocery store.
How long does a pot roast need to cook? A 3-pound chuck roast needs at least 6 hours to cook in a slow cooker, and it’s best to give it up to 8 hours. Larger roasts will need even longer. It’s best to start a pot roast early in the day because it can sit at a warm temperature for a few hours after cooking.
Should I sear a pot roast before cooking it? Searing the roast prior to cooking it is optional. Searing the roast can lock in the juiciness and add texture to the roast, but many people find they can’t tell a huge difference if they sear it before cooking it in a slow cooker. Some people think it's a must.
I say, you do you! I sear mine about every other time I make one.
Making Perfect Pot Roast Potatoes & Veggies
I use my mom’s method here and buy yellow potatoes (sometimes called Yukon golds), and cut then in half or quarters. They need to be large to stay intact, so keep them in 2- to 3-inch pieces. Leave the skin on and place them underneath the pot roast as it cooks for absolutely incredible pot roast potatoes.
I also add onions, carrots, and celery for flavor, but they are also great to eat! We love to eat all of the veggies that are in the slow cooker with our pot roast. This gives us a complete, healthy (and delicious!) meal.
Again, don’t chop your veggies and potatoes super small of they will fall apart too quickly. Leave everything in 2- to 4-inch pieces.
My Pot Roast Secret Ingredient:
Want to take your pot roast to the next level? Why yes, of course, you do!
I like to add 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to the veggies and broth left around the pot roast. The extra acidity of the balsamic vinegar adds incredible flavor to your dish. I buy my balsamic vinegar (and extra virgin olive oil and most pantry ingredients) on Thrive Market—here's a link for 30% off your first order. Thrive Market has the best prices and high-quality ingredients. I use them often!
Just add the balsamic to the broth, stir it around and spoon some of the broth over the pot roast before serving. It’s heaven.
How to Make an Easy Pot Roast:
Making a great slow cooker pot roast is mostly hands-off, you simply need to give it long enough to cook to fall apart and become super tender. I like to start mine at about 9am then let it cook on low all day.
We can eat anytime between 5pm and 7pm and be all set. If you notice your roast is fork-tender but you’re not ready to eat, simply turn the slow cooker to the warm function and let it sit until you’re ready to eat.
How to Make the Best Slow Cooker Pot Roast:
Step 1: Buy a high-quality chuck roast. Again, plan on about three-quarters of a pound per person. Pot roast makes great leftovers, so grab a big one if you want some leftovers. I generally grab a 3- to 4-pound pot roast to feed 2 adults and 2 kids.
If possible, let your pot roast sit at room temperature for an hour or so before you start cooking. Searing or cooking cold meat makes it seize up a bit and it won’t be as tender. If you forget that’s ok, too.
Tip: Turn your slow cooker to high while you prep your ingredients to get it started. You’ll cook your pot roast on low once you get everything in the pot.
Step 2: Remove your chuck roast from its package and blot it dry with paper towels, then coat the entire roast in kosher salt (about 2-3 tablespoons). If there are extra-large pieces of white fat around the edges, you can cut those off.
You want some of the fat for flavor, but if there is an extra big piece just discard it. Always salt your roast before cooking, whether you sear it or not (next step).
Note: If it's getting late in the day don’t have at least 6 hours to cook your pot roast, you can use a very sharp knife to cut it in half into two pieces, and then put two pieces in a Crockpot. Small pieces cook faster. I like to leave mine whole if possible because it will be juicier, but two big pieces also work.
Step 3: This is optional. Sear your chuck roast on all sides before adding it to the slow cooker. You can skip this step if you want to, but I encourage you to try at least once to see if you like it. Heat a cast-iron pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of avocado oil or grapeseed oil.
Place the salted, dry roast in the hot pan and sear it on each side for 2-3 minutes to form a crust and lock in the juices. When you sear meat, it should sizzle when it hits the pan, and don’t touch it for at least 2 minutes so it can form a nice brown crust.
If you’re in a rush or don’t want to get another pan dirty you can just skip this step.
Step 4: Cut your vegetables into 3-inch sized pieces so that they stay intact. If you have small potatoes, you can put them in whole. Quarter your onion leaving the root end intact. Leave the skins on your garlic cloves if you add them under the roast.
Or, use a paring knife to make three to four 1-inch slits in the top of your roast and insert peeled garlic into them to infuse the roast with garlic flavor.
Waxy (yellow or red) potatoes work the best because starchy potatoes like a russet potato will fill your broth with starch, which isn't the end of the world but I don't prefer it. I avoid sweet potatoes here because they're really starchy and they just make everything too sweet.
Step 5: Add all of your veggies and bay leaves to the bottom of your slow cooker. Place the chuck roast on top. Add 2 cups of stock or water around the edges, enough to come about ¼ the way up the roast. Sprinkle the top of the roast with freshly ground black pepper, then add the rosemary and thyme on top, sprinkling some around the edges, too.
Step 6: Turn your slow cooker to low and cook until the roast falls apart with a fork, about 6-8 hours (longer for larger cuts). Always err on the side of staring earlier than you think and giving it longer to cook.
It can stay warm for 2-3 hours if needed if it’s done early, but most chuck roasts need a long time to before fork tender. A 5 to 6 pound chuck roast will need 8-9 hours on low in a slow cooker.
Step 7: Add our secret ingredient! Once the roast is fork-tender, add 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar around the edges to the veggies and broth. Spoon some of the broth onto the roast before serving.
Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Potatoes is the ultimate cozy fall meal. It's tender, juicy, and bursting with flavor. You'll never want to try another pot roast recipe again!
- (1) 3- to 5-pound boneless chuck roast
- 1 large white or yellow onion, quartered
- 2-4 carrots, washed and cut into 3-inch pieces
- 2-4 celery ribs, cut into 3-inch pieces
- 2-3 yellow potatoes, cut into 3-inch chunks
- 4-6 cloves of garlic, left whole in the skin
- 1-2 parsnips, cut into 3" pieces
- 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 3 cups of stock, broth, or water
- 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- 1 bay leaf
- 2-3 tablespoons of oil (avocado, olive, or grapeseed) only if you plan to sear your roast first
- 2-3 tablespoons kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper to taste (about 2 teaspoons)
- Pat the roast dry with paper towels. Using your hands, salt generously with 1-2 tablespoons of salt. Press the salt into the roast.
- Optional: Sear the roast. Preheat a skillet, cast iron skillet, or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan, then add the salted roast to the pan. Do not touch or move it for 3-5 minutes to allow a brown crust to form. Flip it once and sear the other side for 3-5 minutes until a brown crust appears. Turn off heat and reserve roast while you prepare the veggies.
- Add the chopped potatoes, veggies, and whole garlic cloves to your slow-cooker. It's totally up to you if you want to sauté them first; I've found that they're just as tasty when added in raw in the beginning. (Keep the veggies large so they don't completely fall apart in the long cooking process.)
- Place the roast on top and nestle it down into the veggies so that it's mostly on top of the veggies and potatoes.
- Generously pepper the roast and add some to the veggies, too. You should use about 2 teaspoons total of freshly ground black pepper.
- Scatter the herb sprigs around the veggies (I leave them on the stems), placing two of the rosemary sprigs on top of the roast.
- Add 2-3 cups of stock or water into the veggies, until it touches and comes up a little bit on the sides of the roast. You may need more or less depending on the number of veggies and the size of your roast.
- Add 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar or dry red wine to the pot with the liquid.
- Turn your slow-cooker on low for 8 hours; cook until the roast is fork-tender. You can leave the slow cooker on the warm function for a few hours if needed once the pot roast is fork-tender.
- Leftovers keep in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days.
COOK TIME: Smaller roasts (2-3 pounds) will cook in about 4-6 hours, roasts over 5 pounds may take more than 8 hours. (Tip: if you’re short on time, you can cook this in the slow-cooker on high for 4-5 hours, but I find it to turn out the best when it’s cooked on low for 7-9 hours.
OVEN POT ROAST: What if I don’t have a slow cooker? You can cook your pot roast in a Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid at 275 F on your oven. This way isn’t super energy efficient because it needs to cook for 6-8 hours, but you can do this if needed.
INSTANT POT POT ROAST: Alternatively, you can cook your pot roast with only the liquid in an Instant Pot on High Pressure for 50 minutes, then let the pressure naturally release for 25 minutes. Then, remove the roast and add the veggies and herbs. Pressure cook these separately for 5 minutes, then put everything back together.
Keywords: crockpot pot roast, slow cooker pot roast, easy pot roast recipe