The age old traditional Sunday Dinner, pot roast.
I try to keep quite a few different pot roasts, English, rump, arm, chuck, pike and even brisket is considered a roast. Roasts are more of a method than a specific cut of meat. To make it, sear a large cut of beef until browned on all sides, and then cook it with aromatics like herbs, onions, carrots, and broth until it’s melt-in-your-mouth tender. You can make this in a Dutch oven on the stove-top, in the oven, in a slow cooker, or a pressure cooker.
Smell brings to mind... a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town. Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years. - Diane Ackerman
The best cuts of beef for pot roast are tougher cuts of meat. Traditionally, the beef cooks at a low temperature for a long time. It’s because of this that tougher cuts of beef work so well. When I say tougher cuts of meat, I’m talking about the leaner cuts with lots of connective tissue. Sometimes the roasts have more or less marbling depending on where the roast is cut from, and some will be bone-in or boneless.
You might be wondering if you can use frozen beef for pot roast. Technically, the answer is yes, the cook time will just be longer (20 to 30 minutes longer).
That said, for the best results, I highly recommend my method which calls for thawed beef that’s seasoned with salt and been left on the counter long enough to take the chill off.
This extra time creates the most flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth pot roast. Using thawed beef also allows me to brown the outside of the meat before braising it, which adds a lot of extra flavor to dish.
Tips & Tricks from the Homestead
If your roast is not 3 pounds, you will need to adjust the cook time. As a general rule, when cooking beef roasts in a pressure cooker, assume 20 minutes of cook time for every pound of meat.
Bouillon cubes or a bouillon mix adds lots if extra flavor to the cooking liquid. If you do not have any in your kitchen, be sure to use a rich beef broth in the recipe.
If after our suggested cook time, the beef is not as tender as you’d like, you will need to place the lid back onto the pot, seal it, and then cook at high pressure for additional time (an additional 10 to 20 minutes is our suggestion).
Can I use a slow cooker or in a Dutch oven on the stove? Yes, timing will be a bit different, in a slow cooker or in a Dutch oven placed in a 275F oven. I still recommend searing the beef and veggies first. After searing, simply place everything into either the slow cooker or Dutch oven (with lid) and cook until the meat is tender. I’d expect the slow cooker to take 8-10 hours on low and the Dutch oven to take 2 to 3 hours.
Easy Instant Pot Pot Roast (Tender and Juicy)
3 pounds beef pot roast raised naturally from Amy's Meats at The Homestead
1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large onion
5 medium carrots (12 ounces)
4 celery stalks
5 to 6 garlic cloves
1 ½ tablespoons high heat cooking oil
3 cups beef broth
1 to 2 bouillon cubes or use bouillon mix, optional
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 rosemary sprigs
4 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
12 ounces baby potatoes, optional
For Optional Gravy
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons cream, optional
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 ounces chocolate chips or chunks
¼ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup milk (or nut milk)
Season the beef and bring it to room temperature.
Satisfied tummies found that when the beef was left out on the counter to come closer to room temperature before cooking it, the pot roast was much more tender at the end of the cooking time.
I also love that the beef gets a chance to sit with the salt for about an hour before cooking. In this time, the salt seeps into the meat and helps to season and tenderize it.
Brown the beef on all sides. By browning the beef on all sides before cooking at high pressure, color is added to the meat and lots of flavor to the pot.
For a one-pot meal, brown the beef right in the pressure cooker using the “Saute” function. If your pressure cooker does not have this function, simply brown the beef in a heavy pan on the stove.
After browning, I remove the beef so I can move on to the veggies.
Lightly brown vegetables. For extra flavor, add onions, carrots, and celery to the pot roast, but cook them in the bottom of the pot a bit first.
This step builds even more flavor into the dish, which makes the braising liquid taste incredible. When they start to smell sweet and get light brown in places, I take them out and move on to making the braising liquid.
Deglaze the pot and place the beef and vegetables back in. By deglaze, I mean to add liquid (I prefer a little red wine) and scrape the bottom of the pot until it is clean.
The steps where we brown the beef and vegetables leave bits stuck to the bottom. By deglazing, we lift all that flavor stuck to the bottom of the pan.
When the bottom of the pot is clean, I place the beef, vegetables, and more aromatics into the pressure cooker.
Pressure cook until the beef is tender. As I mentioned above, the cooking time will vary depending on the size of beef you are cooking.
In general, you will need twenty minutes of cooking time at pressure for every pound of meat. So, a 3-pound roast takes 60 minutes at high pressure before it is tender.
Naturally release the pressure cooker for 10 minutes and serve. By naturally release, I leave the pressure cooker alone and allow it to slowly release some of the pressure built up inside the pot.
After about 10 minutes, I use the quick-release button to release the remaining pressure before opening the lid. If you are new to the Instant Pot or electric pressure cooking, I recommend reading the user’s manual before following our recipe.
After cooking, the beef will be tender, the onions melt into the gravy, and the carrots turn silky soft. The celery becomes tender, too, but I usually don’t serve them with the beef since by the end of the cooking time they have usually given up all their flavor to the gravy.
If you added potatoes, you can serve them alongside the beef or mash them.
As an optional step, you can make a gravy with the liquid left in the pot. You can also just spoon the liquid in the pot over the beef when serving. It’s completely up to you.
Pot roast is done when it’s tender and easily pulled apart with a fork. The beef should fall apart on you, which means that the pressure cooker has done its job in breaking down all the connective tissue in the beef. Since we are using a pressure cooker, if after our suggested cook time, the beef is not as tender as you’d like, you will need to place the lid back onto the pot, seal it, and then cook at high pressure for additional time (an additional 10 to 20 minutes is my suggestion).
To make a quick gravy with the liquid left in the pot, use a strainer to remove any bits of vegetables and herbs from the liquid. Select the “Sauté” setting and choose high heat then bring the liquid to a boil and cook until it reduces by a quarter, 1 to 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch and water together. When the liquid has reduced, slowly whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Continue to boil until the gravy thickens. Turn off the pressure cooker, and then season the gravy to taste with additional salt, pepper, or spices. (For a creamier gravy, add a small splash of cream.)