When that comfort food craving strikes, my Nana’s easy Crock Pot Chuck Roast recipe should be on the menu! Twenty minutes of prep and a long day of slow cooking rewards you with tender, flavorful beef and vegetables and a delicious, already-thickened gravy you’ll be eating by the spoonful!
It may still be in the 90s here, but I’m feeling the fall vibes in my heart.
I’ve been working on all kinds of comfort food recipes the last few weeks and it’s definitely been helping my lack-of-cooler-weather blues.
As long as I stay inside, crank the air down to 70 degrees, and keep the pumpkin candles burning, I can almost fool myself.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be fall for anyone to enjoy this deliciously nostalgic Slow Cooker Pot Roast adapted from my Nana’s cookbook!
This page includes step by step instructions, as well as tips and notes. If you’d like to skip all that, feel free to scroll down to the full, printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
When I was growing up, the highlight of every Sunday dinner was what Nana called “the good meat”.
Whether she was cooking up a beef or pork roast, it was never a disappointment, especially when it came to leftovers!
Nana didn’t own a slow cooker. Her roasts were always done low-and-slow in our oven – yielding fork-tender and mouthwateringly moist and flavorful beef every time.
As an adult, I’ve made very few roasts in my own oven. I blame my slow cooker (and now – the Instant Pot).
Learning how to cook a chuck roast in a Crock Pot has been an absolute life saver on those overly long days. Letting the appliance do all the work, but still getting to enjoy pot roast worthy of my Nana is one of my very favorite conveniences in life.
Nana’s pot roast was always made with a secret ingredient – store-bought dry onion soup mix. I’m still convinced that it’s what makes this meal so succulent and flavorful.
It was also always served with some kind of canned vegetables and a big bowl of the creamiest mashed potatoes I’ll never get to have again.
My pot roast is cooked down with quartered onions, carrots and potatoes for what is the easiest, most satisfying dinner I can think of.
No mashing required – unless you’re missing that volcano filled with gravy, of course!
- Beef chuck roast – this is our favorite cut of beef for pot roast, but keep scrolling to see our FAQ on other great cuts
- Kosher salt or sea salt
- Black pepper
- All-purpose flour – gravy base; can also use gluten-free flour or leave it out and add a cornstarch slurry at the end
- Unsalted butter to control the amount of salt
- Yellow onion
- Baby potatoes
- Tomato paste – to help flavor the gravy
- Red wine – if you’re out or don’t like it/drink it, use additional beef broth
- Beef broth – you can also use water here, but the gravy will be a bit less flavorful
- Onion soup mix – Nana’s favorite!
- Bay leaves
- Fresh thyme – just for garnish and completely optional
For exact ingredient measurements and recipe instructions, scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the post!
What cut of meat makes the best pot roast?
Abe is a huge fan of pot roasts, not only because they’re oh so good – but because they make fabulous leftovers!
When we make pot roast in the slow cooker, we generally opt for a boneless beef chuck roast like the one we’ve used in this recipe. It’s a cut of beef from the shoulder, neck, and upper arm area of a cow. When shopping, you may recognize by its other names – chuck eye, chuck roll, or simply pot roast.
That said, we have also made this with rump roast, top round and bottom round roast, and beef brisket.
Whichever meat you use, make sure it’s nicely marbled without large ribbons of fat. The small pockets of fat throughout the meat help keep it moist and tender as it cooks.
How to cook a chuck roast in a Crock Pot:
- First, season the beef roast with salt and pepper, the dredge it in all-purpose flour.
- Next, melt butter in a large non-stick or cast iron skillet. Sear the beef on all sides, about 4 minutes per side.
- Then, place chopped onions, potatoes, and carrots in the crock of the slow cooker. Place the roast on top.
- Now make your gravy according to this recipe (scroll down a bit!) and add it to the Crock Pot. You can also whisk the ingredients for the gravy together in a bowl and pour it over the meat instead. (If you do this, you will need to thicken it in a saucepan with flour or cornstarch after the roast is cooked.)
- Finally, cover the Crock Pot and cook everything on high for 4 to 6 hours or low for 8 to 10 hours.
- When the roast is tender and fully cooked, remove and discard the loose herbs from the cooker. Slice or tear the roast into chunks and serve with the cooked vegetables and gravy.
Store leftover beef roast in a resealable container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Do you have to brown a roast before putting it in the crock pot?
You can definitely slow cook a pot roast without searing the meat first. But you really shouldn’t, only because you’ll be cheating yourself out of the best flavors!
The browning process caramelizes the meat, helping seal in seasonings and make them really stand out in every bite of beef.
Plus, in this recipe at least, quickly searing the beef with the flour on the outside helps thicken the gravy mixture as it all cooks down. It also gives it that gorgeous brownish-black shine on your serving platter!
Can you overcook a slow cooker pot roast?
There is such a thing as an overcooked pot roast. If you’ve ever cut into a fork-tender roast and been surprised by chewy, woody bits of beef – you’ve got an overcooked roast on your hands.
To ensure a tender roast without overcooking, probe it with a meat thermometer at the minimum cook time depending on the setting (4 hours on high, 8 hours on low).
If the meat has reached 170 degrees internally, cook it for only 1 more hour. If not, continue cooking and checking until it reaches 170, then add that extra hour on.
Every slow cooker is different, and older models may require longer cooking time to achieve that tender, fall-apart beef.
Can you cook a frozen roast in the crock pot?
You can! You’ll need to skip the searing step, but you can absolutely still enjoy this pot roast recipe if your roast is frozen.
Simply add 1 extra cup of beef broth to the crock (the warm liquid bath helps slowly thaw the meat) and cook it for 2 (high temp) to 6 (low temp) hours. After that time is up, scatter the vegetables around the beef and continue slow cooking as the recipe card states.
How to make pot roast gravy:
My Nana’s method of gravy-making for her pot roast was very different than what I do today.
She liked to drain the juices from the roast into a saucepan, then simmer it all with cornstarch and seasonings to thicken it up to her liking.
For this incarnation of her Crock Pot Roast, the gravy is made in the same skillet the beef is browned in. It’s just a tiny bit of extra prep – but it will save you from messing around with more pots and utensils at dinnertime!
- First, brown the roast and place it on top of the vegetables in your slow cooker.
- Then, add tomato paste into the hot skillet and stir for 1 minute. Stir in red wine and deglaze the pan, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Allow it to simmer until the wine is reduced by half.
- Next, stir in beef broth, onion soup mix, bay leaves, fresh thyme, salt, and pepper to taste. Simmer for 3-4 more minutes, whisking until thickened.
- Finally, remove the gravy from the heat and pour it over the roast & vegetables in the Crock Pot.
Can pot roast be frozen?
Yes, leftover pot roast can be frozen – but not the vegetables.
After letting the roast cool down, place the pot roast slices or chunks in a freezer-safe storage container. Pour gravy over the meat to prevent it from drying out
Label the roast and freeze for up to 3 months
When you’re ready to prepare the frozen pot roast, transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator a day in advance. Roast fresh potatoes and carrots and add them to the reheated roast and gravy.
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All-Day Crock Pot Chuck Roast
- 3.5-4 pounds beef chuck roast well-marbled
- Kosher salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 1 pound carrots chopped into large chunks
- 1 yellow onion quartered
- 1 pound baby potatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup red wine or additional beef broth
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 packet onion soup mix
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme plus more for garnish
- Season the roast with salt and pepper to taste. Dredge the beef in the flour. Melt butter in a large skillet and brown the beef on all sides over high heat, about 4 minutes per side.
- Transfer the roast in the slow cooker and add the carrots, onion, and potatoes.
- Reduce the heat on the stovetop to medium. In the same skillet, stir in the tomato paste and cook 1 minute. Stir in the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Simmer until the wine is reduced by half, 1-3 minutes.
- Stir in the broth, onion soup mix, bay leaves, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, whisking occasionally, until thickened.
- Pour the gravy over the contents of the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours.
- When cooking time is up, remove bay leaves and thyme and serve the roast with vegetables and gravy, garnishing with more fresh thyme if desired.
- To ensure a tender roast, probe it with a meat thermometer at the 4- (high) or 8- (low) hour mark. If the meat is 170 degrees internally, cook it for only 1 more hour. If not, continue cooking and checking until it reaches 170.
- If you’re skipping browning the meat, season it and place it in the slow cooker on top of the raw vegetables. Whisk the flour in with the remaining ingredients and pour it over the meat. You will likely have to simmer the gravy on the stovetop with some cornstarch after the roast is cooked to thicken it.