HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Advice needed on cooking a pot roast in a slow cooker

I've cooked a pot roast many times in a dutch oven but have never attempted one in a slow cooker. I'm a complete novice when it comes them. Many of the recipes I've looked at suggest about 4-5 hours on high or 8-10 on low. I've gotten a late start today and won't have time for the low 10 hour method. Will I end up with a tough roast if I do 3-4 hours high and then a couple on low? I really only have about 6 hours to work with. The cooker have is old school and my understanding is that they don't run as hot as the newer models.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You should be fine.. check at the 3-4 hour point and make sure its fairly well cooked before you turn down the cooker.

    1 Reply
    1. re: firecooked

      Phew! Nothing worse than tough pot roast.

    2. Let us know how it works. I've tried numerous pot roasts in the slow cooker and am never happy with them at all. I love it but it's just not great. I'm curious what meat you'll use too ...

      5 Replies
      1. re: eperdu

        I'm curious what you've not been happy with. I've lent my Dutch oven out so am stuck with the slow cooker for awhile. And as mentioned above, it's a 3lb boneless chuck roast. Fingers crossed!!

        1. re: ChervilGeorge

          Mine always come out tough and dry. I have a fairly new crock-pot and it cooks fast (to me) so I put a few pounds of roast in it on low and it's beyond done after 4-5 hours. Most recipes say cook for 8-10 hours on low for a roast. I think in the end, I find most crock-pot food bland and just not impressive. I grew up eating roast from a slow-cooker and loved it. I've even had my Mom teach me and I think my tastes have evolved for the snob-side since I left home. ;)

          One of my last roast experiments was one of the better ones, it was one where I used a bunch of canned items to give it moisture. It was one of the first to get the texture I was looking for and not be completely overdone.

          I can screw up crock-pot food. Am I a really bad cook or just choosing bad recipes? I'm not sure.

          1. re: eperdu

            As for using canned items to keep it moist and not dry out is what I do. I use a big can of cream of mushroom soup and one packet of onion soup mix. Comes out delish every time :)

          2. re: ChervilGeorge

            My kitchen is sacred. Wouldn't dream of lending out many things especially my Dutch oven.

          3. re: eperdu

            agreed eper, it can really be a hit or a miss-I can think of just one beef roast recipe that always works in the crock pot and its not a pot roast.

          4. How many pounds? What cut of meat?

            2 Replies
              1. re: ChervilGeorge

                I don't know how hot the old models run but 3 hrs on high, flip, and then check it from there, sounds good to me.

            1. You are browning the roast first right? Hope so. Put some big chunks of carrot and onion on the bottom a couple of inches thick. After browning put the roast on the veg. No water of course just some olive oil.

              1. Reporting back with the results.

                After browning the roast, I set it atop a layer of thick sliced onions in the cooker. I tossed in about 5 smashed cloves of garlic. My braising liquid was made up of beef stock, reduced red wine, some tomato paste, thyme, Worcestershire, sweet paprika. I forgot a bay leaf. I cooked this on high for just about 3 hours, flipped it over and gave it another hour on high. At this point I threw in some new potatoes, carrots and mushrooms and turned it to low for two hours.

                I am pleased with the results for the most part. The meat was a smidge dry which could have easily just been the meat and not the cook method. I've had pot roast come out of the oven a tad dry on occasion. The flavor was really good and the braising liquid made a delicious gravy.

                I can't say the result was any different than had I used the dutch oven. Thanks for the advice.

                1. I'm sorry that most of your comments are statements and advice from people who a) don't answer your question or b) give some offhanded advice and think that they are answering your question but telling you how they would have done it with such and such equipment or not at all. Most of these responses are in no way based on science and the applied chemistry and art that is the culinary world.

                  First, we need to understand the difference between fast cooking, slow cooking, and what you can get away with everywhere inbetween.

                  For example; a fine cut of steak, let's say a tenderloin, is already tender. The objective here, would be to serve it raw and thin sliced if it is used as an aperitif or main course. The second alternative, would be to sear it where you have the perfect crust on the very very outside, and a nice warm reddish pink through the rest. Hitting a nice rare or medium rare internal.

                  That is for a tender cut.

                  For a tougher cut you mean to break down with time, the key is low and slow. Putting while cuts of beef at high is always ill advised. You want meat such as this to braise between 170 and 200 degrees for at least 4 hours. 6 is better, 8 is prime depending on the size of the meat. A larger one (4 lbs) might take 10-12.

                  Either way you do it, even if the cooker handbook or all these folks on here say 3.5 to 6 hours on high, you're still going to overcook it. As far as it pulling apart, the meat from any connective tissue and fat, it'll only take about three hours on high.

                  What you really want, is for the connective tissue and fat to seep into the muscle. This meat will effectively lock up around water boiling temp, c. 212 F. You don't want that. You want the brasing liquid to stay between 170 and 200 so that you never get the proteins to coagulate without absorbing the fat and connective tissue (not to mention any herbs, spices, seasonings). So you need to plan ahead if you are cooking it on high by marinating it for several hours in the fridge beforehand if you are going to cook in high in a slow cooker.

                  High on slow cooker is made for throwing beenie-wienees and other processed meat in there with some bbq sauce for scrumptious and simple party food. Like rotel/sausage/velvet. Etc.