Super tender, juicy, fall-apart crock pot roast is not as hard as you think! This slow cooker recipe uses a few simple ingredients (one of them is patience) to make the most flavorful (yet stupid easy) pot roast ever! Carrots add the perfect touch! Originally posted January 18, 2018. 

Pot roast crock pot

I don’t know about you guys, but I kind of wanted to just skip January this year, and all the dumb kale diets that go with it. I’m having some serious December withdrawals. I kind of feel like December broke up with me and I wasn’t ready for it. Now I’m dying my hair, “finding myself,” my face is breaking out and all I want is Ben and Jerry’s. Come on, December. We were so good together.

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Juicy pot roast and carrots

We’re two weeks into the new year anyway, and that’s usually about when my diet peters out, so I’m comin at you with some comfort food to numb the Christmas break up. POT ROAST AND MASHED POTATOES FOREVER.

Crock Pot Pot Roast

Pot Roast is a beef chuck roast that has been braised slowly with savory spices like garlic and onions. (If your grandma hasn’t made this for you at least once, you need to get a new grandma. This is American comfort food at it’s finest, especially when you pair it with Creamy Mashed Potatoes.)

Do you suck at making pot roast as much as I used to? You can be a great pot roast maker, you really can be. All it takes is a little patience and a packet of onion soup mix. (Those onion soup packets are pretty magical. I use them to make this 3 Ingredient Roasted Potatoes with Crunchy Onions, too. So good.)

Pot Roast Crock Pot Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need at the store. (Quantities listed in recipe below.)

  • 3-4 pound chuck roast
  • 2 (1-ounce) packets of onion soup mix. If you have a smaller chuck roast, use 1 and ½ packets.
  • Carrots
  • Better Than Bouillon Beef Base. You can substitute regular beef broth if you want.
  • Dried thyme. For a fun variation, try oregano or Italian seasoning.
  • Bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oil. Optional for browning.
  • Water

What is the best cut for making a Pot Roast in crock pot?

Chuck roast is where it’s at. Chuck roast is a really tough cut of meat, but by the time it’s done braising in the slow cooker for 8-10 hours, it has broken down into a beautiful, tender delight. You just need to wait.

Choose a chuck roast with lots of good marbling. The fat that runs throughout the meat melts while it’s cooking, essentially self-basting the roast. Fat = flavor, so choosing a marbled roast is very important. After a very long cook time, the fat has mostly melted into the meat, making it super tender and flavorful.

How to make a Crockpot Pot Roast

Chuck roast marbling seared

Here’s a basic overview. All instructions listed in the recipe below.

  1. Choose a well-marbled roast with lots of white fat.
  2. Brown the chuck roast in oil over medium high heat.
  3. Place the roast in a crock pot along with pan juices.
  4. Add spices and onion soup mix.
  5. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
  6. Add carrots in the last 3 hours of cooking.
Seared chuck roast in crock pot

Why is my Crock Pot Chuck Roast tough?

I seriously used to be the worst at making pot roast so I used to ask myself that question all the time. They always came out kind of flavorless, or worse, so tough that you could barely chew through them. But since discovering the onion soup mix trick and the most important rule (waiting), I always get super tender, flavorful, juicy pot roasts.

Why should I cook my Pot Roast in a crock pot, rather than the oven?

Pot roast with onion soup mix in slow cooker

I love making pot roast in the slow cooker. It just seems so much easier to me than dealing with oven cooking, plus it’s nice to be able to “set it and forget it.” But you can totally make this in the oven if you want! Cook in a covered dutch oven at 300 degrees for about 4-5 hours until tender.

Is it better to cook a Roast on high or low in a crock pot?

You know how most crock pot recipes you can cook either on low for 8 hours or on high for half the time? I don’t recommend that for pot roast. Cooking at a higher temperature for a shorter time will result in rubbery meat that will make you feel like you’re chewing on an old tire. Chuck roast is a tough cut of meat and it needs plenty of time to break down into juicy, tender deliciousness.

Roast meat and carrots with mashed potatoes and gravy

Do you have to brown the meat before making Crockpot Pot Roast?

Short answer: no. I tested it both ways and it still tastes great so if you already started your roast or you don’t have enough time when prepping your roast you’ll still have great roast at the end of the day. However, I highly recommend browning the entire roast. It only takes a few minutes and adds a richness that can take your roast to the next level. Hey, if you’re going to the trouble to make this thing you’re probably trying to impress someone, right? You might as well take the extra step to make it amazing.

How much water do you put in a slow cooker when cooking a Roast?

I like to add beef broth to my pot roast instead of water. It’s a great way to bring in that savory, beefy flavor. I love to use Better Than Bouillon Beef Base to make the broth.

You don’t need much broth. Pot roast is meant to be braised, which means cooking meat slowly over low heat with minimal liquid, covered. If you add too much water/broth, you are going to miss out on that roasty flavor that comes from the top part of the meat cooking above the liquid. Because braising requires a lid, the moisture stays in the pot instead of evaporating, concentrating the liquid and tenderizing your chuck roast into melt-in-your-mouth glory.

Do you put vegetables on top or bottom of Pot Roast?

Vegetables should go on top. This recipe calls for the carrots to be added in the last 3-4 hours. Now listen here folks, I know it’s annoying to have to come back and add the carrots later. You can totally add them in at the beginning with the roast if you like, but be prepared for overcooked, mushy, and in my opinion, flavorless carrots. They will add nothing to your dinner besides some orange color, because they will have been cooked for 6 hours too long. Those poor carrots! Do yourself a favor and add the carrots later, or cook them separately.

Pot roast with carrots

The same goes for potatoes in my opinion. If you want to add them, put them in (cut into chunks) with the carrots. But really what you ought to do is leave the potatoes out of the slow cooker entirely. Make my Aunt Shirley’s Famous Creamy Mashed Potatoes instead. I’m pretty sure this is the way God intended pot roast to be eaten.

Don’t skip the gravy

What’s a pot roast without a little somethin somethin? This gravy takes about 5 minutes to make and will really take your pot roast up a notch.

Fat separator and beef bouillon

The Drippings from the crock pot are on the left. I like to use a fat separator so that I’m making my gravy with only broth, no fat.

Better Than Bouillon is my favorite beef base. This is what I use to make the broth for the gravy (in addition to drippings). It’s affordable, it has better flavor than any other broth I’ve tried, and I can keep it on hand in the fridge.

Gravy slur for crock pot roast

Whisk together a little water and flour, making sure to get out all the lumps before slowly pouring it into your simmering broth/drippings.

Pouring gravy over pot roast meat

And voila! Perfect pot roast, with plenty of gravy to go around. If your grandma really hasn’t ever made you pot roast, don’t worry, you don’t need to get a new one. Just make her this recipe and establish your reign as the pot roast ruler in your family!

Here’s a few pot roast creations from readers like you! Don’t they all look so amazing??

9 plates of crock pot pot roast with carrots and potatoes

PS!! I almost forgot to tell you something else very exciting. The entire reason I posted this crock pot roast recipe is so that you have a good basic pot roast for the LEFTOVER recipe that’s coming soon on the blog. Picture this: huge amounts of pie crust. Lots of juicy roast beef. Tender carrots. And cheesy scalloped potatoes, all piled sky high in a pie pan. Oh man guys, it’s so good, can’t wait to share. UPDATE: here it is! Leftover Roast Beef, Carrot, and Creamy Potato Pie.

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The Easiest Fall-Apart Pot Roast in Crock Pot (Slow Cooker)

4.84 from 60 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 hours
Total: 20 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 6 Servings
Super tender, juicy, fall-apart pot roast is not as hard as you think! This slow cooker recipe uses a few simple ingredients (one of them is patience…) to make the most flavorful (yet stupid easy) pot roast ever! Carrots add the perfect touch!

Ingredients

For the roast

  • 3 to 4 pound chuck roast, *
  • salt and pepper, copious amounts, copious I say!
  • 1 tablespoon oil, optional (for browning)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups water
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Beef Base, **
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 1-oz packets onion soup mix
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks

For the gravy

  • 2-3 cups of drippings from the meat
  • 1-2 cups COLD water
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Beef Base
  • 2 tablespoons butter, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

First you are going to have to make a choice about whether you want a really good roast, or a really REALLY good roast. Browning the meat before slow cooking makes it extra special. To do that:

  • Heat a wide skillet over medium high heat. Generously salt and pepper all sides of the roast. I would say I use somewhere between 1 and 1/2 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and about a teaspoon of pepper.
  • Add 1 tablespoon oil to the hot pan and swirl around to coat the bottom. It should be shimmery right away if your pan is hot enough.
  • Add the roast to the pan and don’t move it for about 1-2 minutes. Check to make sure it is nice and brown, then flip it over and repeat on the other side. Brown every side of your roast that you can. It should not take more than 5-6 minutes.
  • Transfer the roast to your slow cooker (6 quart or larger).
  • Keep the hot pan on the stove and add the water and beef base. Stir, breaking up any brown bits on the pan, until the beef base is dissolved. Pour the liquid into the slow cooker.
  • Sprinkle the roast with the dried thyme or add the fresh thyme. (Just throw the sprig in the pot)
  • Add the bay leaf.
  • Dump the 2 packets of onion soup mix directly on the roast (not in the water). Use your hand to rub the dry powder into the part of the roast that is exposed. Some of it will just fall off into the water, and that’s fine.
  • Cover with the lid and set to low heat. Cook for 8-10 hours. If you are a bit short on time, you can turn the slow cooker on to “high” for one hour to get things boiling, then turn back down to low. I do NOT recommend cooking this on high for 4-5 hours. You can if you want, it will be cooked, but it will not be as tender!
  • If you are not browning the meat, it’s so easy. Salt and pepper the meat, rub on the thyme and onion soup mix, and place in a slow cooker. You don’t need the oil. Add all the other ingredients, set it on low, and you’re done!
  • Add the carrots: about 3 hours before you want to eat, add the peeled and chopped carrots. See photos, they don’t need to be tiny pieces, I tend to like the bigger chunks myself.
  • When the meat is fork tender and easy to shred, carefully remove it to a cutting board and let rest for a couple minutes. Then shred with two forks or slice with a serrated knife against the grain. Transfer the roast and the carrots to a serving platter and keep warm. (Taste a carrot to see if it needs salt and pepper)
  • To make the gravy: Use a fat separator to get the fat from the top of the drippings. Discard fat and add the drippings to a medium saucepan. Turn the heat to high. (Use all of the drippings that you have, up to 3 cups. You want about 4 cups of liquid going into your gravy, and at least one cup needs to be COLD water to dissolve the flour.)
  • In a measuring cup, whisk together 1-2 cups COLD water (or beef stock, if you’re not using beef base) with the flour. Make sure you get rid of all the lumps.
  • When the drippings have heated to a boil, slowly stir in the flour mixture while stirring. Add the beef base and bring the mixture to a low boil.
  • Let the gravy simmer for 3-5 minutes until it has thickened.
  • At this point you can add the butter if you want. It’s not necessary, but it does add some richness that I love. Season with salt and pepper. Make sure you taste it first!
  • Devour, preferably with these Famous Creamy Mashed Potatoes. To die for!!

Video

Notes

*Meat options: For this recipe you can use a chuck roast, boneless chuck roast, chuck shoulder pot roast, etc. Look for good marbling! 
**You can omit the water and beef base and just add 1 and 1/2 cups good quality beef stock instead! This goes for the gravy too. (The ratio is 1 teaspoon of base per cup of water.) This is not a sponsored post, I just love how easy it is to keep beef base on hand in the fridge. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 551kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 167mg | Sodium: 364mg | Potassium: 1250mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 25409IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 96mg | Iron: 6mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Calories: 551
Keyword: crock pot, pot roast, slow cooker
Did you make this? I’d love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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Comments

  1. Karen, I just discovered your site while looking for a corned beef recipe. Your ‘Best Corned Beef’ is in the Crock Pot as I type. I began looking at your other recipes and this one for roast beef caught my eye. I actually make roast beef quite often and am actually famous (notorious?) among my friends for it. Your recipe mirrors my own, with one small and one large difference that I thought I’d share. I generally use a enameled cast iron cocotte instead of a slow cooker … works exactly the same, though. My bigger difference is that instead of using onion soup mix, I chop and caramelize three onions in the cocotte right after browning the roast, along with some shredded carrots. Then the roast goes back in along with some whole carrots. I even use Better Than Bouillon! Hearty red wine (usually from Tuscany) goes in at about the halfway point. After the roast is done, I emulsify all the onion and shredded carrot residue with the broth with an immersion blender. This makes a wonderful, thick gravy without any flour or cornstarch.

    1. Sounds amazing David!! Your friends are lucky. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and leave your tips – it means a lot!

    1. Yes Holly, that’s right, if you’re using a pot roast that’s half the size the other ingredients should be halved too. Your cooking time may also be less (though definitely not half). Enjoy!

  2. Ha! The Food Charlatan! Perfect! That you’re not a pro, but rather a gifted enthusiast, makes you a kindred sprit, and your sharing efforts disserve much appreciation. I’m a die hard cast iron fan myself, and find low-and-slow in a Dutch oven works best for chuck roasts, but your recipe is will turn out excellent, every time. To your advice on holding off adding the carrots, with emphasis, I’ll add an exclamation point! In fact, pulling some drippings from the roast, and cooking them separately is also a good call. The “Better than Bullion” solution, for we who haven’t the time to roast bones, is a godsend. The only thing I’d do differently is mix the paste with dry red wine, instead of water, and make a gravy from browning a butter and flour rue, and likely add some dry red here, as well… lol The leftover recipe looks outstanding! As do your other offerings! I believe you’ve gained another fan! Thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve been making this recipe for about two years now. At this point, I’ve created my own onion soup mix so I don’t have to store buy and that’s made this recipe healthier and a bit cheaper. This is a family FAVORITE. We eat until we’re absolutely full and are so excited for leftovers the next day.

    1. Your homemade onion soup mix sounds wonderful Molly! I love it when a recipe becomes a family favorite. Thanks for commenting!

  4. 5 stars
    Sue although your concerns are for the healthiness of this recipe as far as the salt content but this recipe isn’t listed under “Healthy Low Sodium Slow Cooker Recipe.” It is listed under slow cooker recipes. Don’t ruin it for the people who are looking for a good and easy recipe that is so deliciously yummy. Not all of us have sodium issues. Suggestion: exercise and sweat that salt content out. And balance your diet. Thank you. Karen deserves better than a 1 star rating.

  5. 5 stars
    I made this by getting up ten minutes earlier in the morning and it was delicious! I didn’t do the browning obviously, but it was still amazing good. Thank you!

  6. 1 star
    A word of caution for folks on a sodium restricted diet. This recipes is loaded with it: One to two teaspoons to season meat, 2 pkgs of onion soup (610mg per Tbsp dry)mix & Better then Bouillon seasoning 680mg regular & 510mg reduced sodium per tsp!)Whew!  Flavor is great, but your ankles will be swelling if you are a person with Congestive Heart Failure or kidney issues. Each 1/4th tsp. of Kosher salt is 480 mg. sodium… multiply that by 4 to equal 1 tsp.   If you add all these mg. of sodium up, this recipe could cause serious repercussions to a cardiac patient or a person teetering on kidney failure. I believe the sodium content per 1cup serving on this recipe is listed at 364mg. I’m wondering about that. Many years ago a cardiologist told me (while discussing cardiac management & diet) that by the time a person’s ankles are swollen, there is already 8#’s of fluid around one’s heart.

  7. 5 stars
    Just made this tonight for my husband’s birthday and he said it was the best pot roast he’s ever had and i have to agree! We usually get Bob Evans pot roast because it’s pretty good, but this was amazing!! He said next time I’m gonna have to double or triple the amount because he could eat it for days 😆 thanks so much for the best pot roast recipe!

  8. I don’t know why I really “hate” better than bouillon, to me it’s just nasty and smells strange (after it’s been cooked with something) and I threw mind away after using it about 10 times, I couldn’t take it anymore 😥

  9. 5 stars
    Hi Karen,

    Just made this scrumptious pot roast last night and am wondering why I held on to the recipe for so long before doing it! I think you could have named it “The BEST pot roast” or “The only pot roast recipe you’ll ever need” or “This is IT pot roast”.

    It’s certainly the best I’ve ever made! Thank you so much for sharing. BTW…every recipe of yours that I’ve tried has turned out super!! You SURE you’re not a chef?
    Take Care and Be Well

    1. Ahaha! I’m pretty sure I don’t have any official credentials Cherie ;) But thank you so much, you are sweet. I personally like the “This is IT Pot Roast” title 😂 I should definitely change it. So glad you tried it, and that you are enjoying all the recipes! Thank you so much for commenting and reviewing!

  10. 5 stars
    This is the roast recipe I use every time. I only use one pack of the onion soup mix, but it still has so much flavour. My whole family loves this for our Sunday roast dinners!

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