Don’t be intimidated by how to cook a pot roast on the stove, in the oven, or even how to braise it in a countertop appliance. We’ll walk you through how to cook pot roast four different ways. Follow this advice for a tender, meaty pot roast that will make you fully understand why it’s one of America's favorite comfort foods.

By Karla Walsh
Updated August 31, 2020
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Master how to cook a pot roast and you can turn a hearty, rustic cut of beef into a wholly satisfying and elegant meal for friends and family. Roast meat is among the most affordable options at the butcher, but it can err on the tough side if not cooked correctly. Luckily, there are several delicious options for how to cook a pot roast so it will end up tender, juicy, and taste like you paid twice as much for the meat. We'll cover how to cook a stove top pot roast and perfect a pot roast in the oven, and teach you to master the slow cooker pot roast, plus how to adjust for a pressure cooker pot roast. Your Sunday dinner routine is about to get a big upgrade.

Sunday Oven Pot Roast
Credit: Jason Donnelly

What Meat to Use for a Pot Roast

Among the most flavorful cuts for beef pot roast are those that come from the chuck (between the neck and shoulder blade) of the animal. These include cuts labeled chuck arm pot roast, chuck shoulder pot roast, and chuck seven-bone roast. With lots of connective tissue (also known as collagen), these cuts can be tough if undercooked or hurried along in the cooking process. However, with slow-cooker pot roast, pressure cooker pot roast, or low-and-slow braised pot roast, the collagen breaks up for tender, succulent meat.

Get the Pot Roast Recipe

How to Make Stove Top Pot Roast

A surefire way to make a tender, juicy pot roast is through braising; that is, cooking the meat in a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pot at low temperature. Stove top roast recipes can be customized with your choice of herbs, vegetables, potatoes, and liquid braising mixtures. With fairly little hands-on prep and a low-fuss (yet admittedly bit long) cook time, practicing how to cook a roast on the stove makes for a good weekend cooking project. We’re firm believers that it’s worth the wait: The classic method of cooking a roast on a stove top will infuse your whole home with tempting aromas and can be made in just one pot.

Here, we’ll explain how to cook a roast on a stove, then we’ll walk you through how to adjust if you’d prefer to make the same thing as an oven pot roast, slow cooker pot roast, or pressure cooker pot roast.

1. Prepare the Cooking Liquid

Most pot roast recipes call for a base braising mixture of a liquid, liquid seasoning, and herbs. Try ...

  • Liquid: Apple juice, beef broth, cranberry juice, tomato juice, or red wine
  • Liquid Seasoning: Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, or steak sauce
  • Herbs: Basil, herbes de Provence, Italian seasoning, oregano, or thyme
    • Test Kitchen Tip: To help dried herbs release their aromas, crush them between your thumb and forefinger before adding to the stove top pot roast.

2. Prepare the Meat

Most recipes that feed 6 to 8 will call for a 2½- to 3-pound beef chuck arm pot roast, beef chuck shoulder pot roast, or beef chuck seven-bone pot roast. Using a sharp knife, trim any excess fat from the meat. Sprinkle the meat with salt and black pepper to taste. In a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven ($40, Target), heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meat in the hot oil on all sides. Drain the fat.

3. Simmer the Pot Roast on the Stove

Pour the cooking liquid over the browned roast. Bring liquid to boiling. Reduce heat to simmering. Cover the Dutch oven and simmer 1 hour.

4. Add Potatoes and Vegetables

One pound of potatoes to one pound of veggies is our go-to ratio to feed a large family. Cut each into 1- to 2-inch cubes before adding to the Dutch oven.

  • Fingerling, red, russet, yellow, or sweet potatoes
    • Test Kitchen Tip: Use medium-size potatoes and peel and quarter them before adding to the Dutch oven so they cook evenly.
  • Peeled butternut squash
  • Peeled carrots or parsnips
  • Celery
  • Trimmed fennel bulb
  • Sliced leeks or shallots
  • Mushrooms
  • Onion wedges or peeled pearl onions
  • Peeled turnips or rutabagas

5. Continue Cooking the Roast on the Stove

Return liquid to boiling. Reduce heat to simmering. Cover the Dutch oven and simmer for about an hour or until the meat is tender when tested with a fork. (P.S. Our complete guide to roasting meat has bonus tips about how long to cook pot roast and how to tell when your meat is done.)

6. Bonus: Make Stove Top Pot Roast Gravy

This is an optional, but highly recommended, step for cooking a roast on the stove top. You can serve your stove top pot roast as is, but we adore a gravy.

To make gravy from the drippings you have as the result of braising your pot roast on the stove, remove the meat and vegetables from the Dutch oven. Place them on a serving platter ($20, Bed Bath & Beyond) and cover with foil to keep warm. Measure the cooking juices and add enough water to the juices to equal about 1½ cups. Return the juices to the Dutch oven. Stir together ½ cup cold water and ½ cup all-purpose flour. Stir this mixture into the pan juices. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more. If desired, season with ground black pepper. Serve gravy with the stove top pot roast and the vegetables.

How to Cook a Pot Roast in the Oven

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Prepare as directed above, except in Step 3, bake the pot roast, covered, 1 hour. (By the way, if you’re wondering if the same Dutch oven works for cooking a pot roast in the oven, the answer is a strong yes!) Add the vegetables and potatoes as directed. Cover and bake 45 to 60 minutes more or until the meat is tender. Prepare the gravy in a saucepan as directed in Step 6.

How to Make Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Follow Step 1 above; in Step 2 just prepare and trim the meat (no need to brown it). Skip Step 3. Layer the vegetables on the bottom of the slow cooker crock; top with raw, trimmed roast meat and cover with the liquid mixture. Cover and cook on a low-heat setting 9 to 10 hours or on a high-heat setting 4½ to 5 hours. Prepare the optional gravy in a saucepan as directed in Step 6.

How to Make Pressure Cooker Pot Roast

Follow Step 1 above; in Step 2, brown the meat in the pressure cooker (such as an Instant Pot) set to the sauté function. Add the liquid mixture to the pot and add the cooking rack to the cooker; place meat on the rack, then top with the vegetables. Lock the lid in place. Bring to pressure over high heat; immediately reduce heat to stabilize and maintain pressure. Cook for 15 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes to release pressure naturally, then release any remaining pressure. Scoop out vegetables and remove meat from the pot. Prepare the gravy as directed in Step 6 using the sauté function.

Using any of these four strategies for how to cook a pot roast, you’ll have a full meal, entrée, starch, and vegetable side, all in one comfort food recipe. So come dinnertime, all that’s left to do is set the table and uncork a bottle of bold red wine.

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