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How to Make the Best Pot Roast According to Chefs, Plus Leftover Recipes

It’s almost guaranteed that when you mention a slow cooker or one-pot meal, that one of the first dishes that comes to mind is pot roast. That’s because it’s one of the easiest recipes to make and is arguably the most delicious. Perhaps the greatest benefit to making a super-sized portion of pot roast is the ability to repurpose that tasty, tender beef into a multitude of other dishes throughout the week.

If you have a brand new Instant Pot, slow cooker, dutch oven, or even a large stockpot and are itching to christen it with the perfect dish, pot roast is an excellent choice. We’ve got a chef-crafted foolproof recipe that will have you in slow-cook heaven, as well as some easy recipes to repurpose the meat. Before we dive into the recipes, let’s go over exactly what beef cuts are best for pot roast and the tools you’ll need to make it.

Best Cuts of Beef for Pot Roast

Image used with permission by copyright holder

There are several different roast cuts that come from different primal cuts of the cow and can go by many different names. When looking for the best roast for pot roast, you’re going to want one that’s not too lean, with high-fat content. That’s because when cooked slowly, the fat cooks down and makes the remaining meat super tender and flavorful. Overall, there are three primary cuts of meat that meet these criteria.

Chuck Roast

Chuck roast, sometimes called shoulder or blade cuts, comes from the shoulder of the cow. This is an inexpensive cut that is most commonly used for pot roast because of its excellent marbling.

Rump Roast (Bottom Round)

As the name implies, this cut comes from the round primal cut or the rump of the cow. This cut is most commonly used for roast beef and is less fatty than chuck roast. However, rump roast can be used for pot roast in a pinch, but you might need to add some fat to your braising liquid.

Brisket

Brisket is one of the most flavorful beef cuts and is why it’s sought out for BBQ, corned beef, and pastrami. It has a fat cap that encompasses the lean meat, which makes it excellent for pot roast. But keep in mind, if you’re planning to use this premium cut, you’ll have to pay a premium as well.

Tools You Need to Make Pot Roast

The great thing about pot roast is that all you really need to make it is a cooking vessel along with a knife and cutting board for minor prep. Instant Pots and slow cookers are perfect for pot roasts. You can also use a dutch oven or stockpot. The most important thing to remember is that it needs to be large enough to accommodate a large piece of meat and accompanying vegetables. If your vessel doesn’t have its own power source, it will need to be oven-safe, as it will spend a few hours in there.

Our feature recipe calls for a dutch oven, which allows you both sear the meat on the stovetop and tightly seals in the heat for oven cooking. It comes from the James Beard Foundation and James Beard award-winning chef Gavin Kaysen. This pot roast is literally the one grandma used to make, named after Kaysen’s grandmother, Dorothy.

Dorothy’s Pot Roast

Chef Gavin Kaysen's pot roast.
photo credit: The James Beard Foundation Image used with permission by copyright holder

(Courtesy of chef Gavin Kaysen)

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds top-blade beef
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 8 mushrooms, halved
  • 4 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 parsnips, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 red onions, cut into quarters
  • 1 rutabaga, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half horizontally
  • 1 cup sugo finto (or tomato paste)
  • 1 bottle of red wine (preferably cabernet)
  • 2 quarts beef broth
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 340 degrees Fahrenheit. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a Dutch oven over high heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, sear the beef until a dark crust forms, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and sear on the other side, making sure to brown the beef evenly.
  3. Transfer the beef to a plate. Add the butter and all of the vegetables to the pot. Cook for about 5 minutes, making sure to scrape up the fond (the crispy browned bits) on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the sugo finto or tomato paste, and cook until you see the oil start to separate from the tomato.
  5. Deglaze with the bottle of wine, and cook until you see the sauce begin to thicken. Return the beef to the pot, and add the broth, rosemary, and bay leaves. Cover the pot and place in the oven to cook for 2 hours and 45 minutes.
  6. Once cooked, let the roast cool for 10 minutes. Remove the beef from the pot and place on a cutting board to slice. Remove the bay leaves and rosemary stems from the stew. Squeeze any garlic cloves remaining in their skins into the stew, discarding the skins. Serve the sliced meat along with the vegetables and a generous ladle of cooking liquid on top.

Leftover Recipes

There’s nothing wrong with reheating pot roast in its original form and enjoying it the same way you did the first time. The longer the pot roast sits in the fridge, the more those flavors meld together and become more rich and tasty.

But, if you’re looking to switch it up, these easy recipes will put a new spin on pot roast that you might not have thought of.

Pot Roast Barbacoa

Mexican beef barbacoa with salsa and lime.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

(Courtesy of Steven Johnson)

Beef barbacoa is essentially the Mexican version of pot roast that’s utilized in several dishes such as tacos, burritos, nachos, tamales, and more. The good news is that you’ve already put in the hard work of cooking the pot roast, so now all you have to do is season the meat. It’s a bit of a short-cut recipe, but you’ll barely be able to tell the difference between your leftover recipe and the real thing, however you decide to use it.

Ingredients

  • 6-8 ounces of pot roast meat separated out of the potatoes and carrots
  • 1-2 tablespoons of congealed fat from reserved fluid
  • 1 cup of reserved fluid from the pot roast
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion finely chopped
  • 2 chipotle peppers in Adobo, deseeded and minced (leave seeds for more spice)
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 teaspoon of reserved adobo sauce
  • 2 limes juiced
  • Pinch of salt

Method

  1. Heat 12-inch saute pan over medium heat, add congealed fat, and heat until hot.
  2. Add garlic, onion, and chipotle peppers. Cook until onions are mildly translucent.
  3. Add pot roast, Adobo sauce, and all seasonings, then stir to incorporate.
  4. Once the beef is hot, add the reserved fluid from the pot roast.
  5. Just as fluid starts boiling, reduce heat and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  6. Simmer until the fluid has reduced to more than half, then add lime juice.
  7. Let lime juice simmer and reduce for about 5 to 10 minutes, then serve in tacos, nachos, burritos, over rice, or however you’d like.

Ultimate Pot Roast Philly French Dip

french dip with au jus and peppers on a plate.
"Mmm... French dip" by jeffreyw is licensed under CC BY 2.0

(Courtesy of Steven Johnson)

One of the hands-down best uses for leftover pot roast is the classic sandwich. Although some warm pot roast between a couple of pieces of white bread toast and a slice of American cheese might be enough for us, we’ve kicked it up a notch.

Ingredients

  • 6-inch hoagie roll or baguette
  • 4 to 5 ounces of leftover pot roast
  • 1 small white onion sliced
  • 2 to 3 baby Bella mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 green pepper sliced
  • 2 to 3 slices of provolone cheese
  • 1 cup of reserved pot roast fluid
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard

Method

  1. Turn oven broiler onto low heat. (Can also work in a toaster oven.)
  2. Heat saute pan on medium-high heat with the olive oil.
  3. Add peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Saute until all veggies are soft and tender.
  4. Add pot roast to veggies and heat.
  5. Cut hoagie roll or baguette in half. Add the beef and veggie mixture to the bottom part of the roll and cover with the cheese. Place both pieces of bread into the oven.
  6. While the sandwich is toasting, warm the reserved pot roast liquid in the microwave or stovetop.
  7. Once the cheese is melted and bread is toasted, remove from the oven, and add mustard to the top part of the loaf.
  8. Cut the sandwich in half and serve with pot roast liquid.

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Steven Johnson
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Steven Johnson is a chef-turned-content strategist. He now helps companies attract and retain more customers through content…
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