If you want a pot roast to rival your grandma's (sorry grandma), give this Instant Pot Pot Roast a whirl! Tender, juicy, and flavorful! Plus, find out which cut of meat is the best below.
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If I had to pick a number one most requested recipe since I started this blogging journey, it would be the classic Sunday Pot Roast. Not even kidding. But I reeeeeaaaallly drug my feet on it. To say I got burned out on pot roast as a kid is an understatement. Anyone else's family have that Every. Single. Sunday?
But my love for you all prevailed and with the help of a friend and my little sis, have we ever delivered the goods!
My ability to keep things simple is nonexistent, so I decided to make this classic Pressure Cooker Pot Roast recipe a bit more exciting by testing it on the three most common cuts of pot roast beef: sirloin roast, chuck roast, and rump roast. All this so I could answer the question:
WHAT IS THE BEST CUT OF MEAT FOR A POT ROAST?
Now I know every one of you is probably thinking chuck roast, but read on for my fascinating results . . . Other people do find this fascinating, right? Where my peeps at?
FYI: The toothpicks in these images were put there to help me remember which cut of beef was which.
Here are my results:
Chuck Roast (meat on the left in picture)
- Pros: Unmatched in tenderness. So flavorful and fell apart into delicious pieces simply with the touch of a fork.
- Cons: So fatty! I trimmed some of the fat from the outside, but after it was cooked there was still so much fat throughout. This results in wonderfully flavorful, tender meat, but by the time I had removed the fat from the meat, I didn't have a whole lot of meat left. I also don't love how greasy it leaves the broth, but that can be remedied with a good fat separator.
Rump Roast (meat in the middle of picture)
- Pros: Juicy, tender, and flavorful with MUCH less fat to discard. In the end, I had quite a bit more meat from a 2-pound piece of rump roast compared to the chuck because there was more meat than fat.
- Cons: Ever so slightly less tender than the chuck roast, but in a blind tasting, my husband wasn't able to tell which was which (meat snob that he is). More expensive than a chuck.
Sirloin Roast (meat on the right in picture)
- Pros: It wasn't fall apart tender, but sliced with ease. It was very flavorful and had a tender, juicy chew that most closely resembled the classic Sunday Pot Roast of my childhood.
- Cons: The tenderness of the meat varied throughout the 2-pound chunk. The pieces near fat globs were a lot more tender than the other pieces (which is understandable). It dried out quickly even while sitting on the cutting board. I suggest slicing it and putting it back in the meat juices so it stays moist. It was quite dry the next day when reheated, but storing it in the juices may solve that as well.
So which one is the winner? I was honestly surprised at how delicious they all were and I wasn't sad about any of them. For me, the winner was hands down the rump roast.
A rump roast is definitely not the roast your friendly butcher might suggest. However, my grandma, roast maker extraordinaire, always used a rump roast. The only reason I remember that is because she would giggle every time she said the word rump, haha! I'm carrying on the tradition and will be buying rump roasts whenever I see them at a killer price.
The chuck roast was a very close second and will be your best bet for being tender and fall apart every single time.
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HOW TO MAKE THE BEST PRESSURE COOKER INSTANT POT POT ROAST
- Mix up the magical pot roast seasonings
- Coat the meat well
- Use saute on the pressure cooker to brown each side, set meat aside
- Add broth and scrape up the browned bits
- Return meat to the pot
- Cook for 90 minutes with a full natural release (ideally)
- Set meat aside
- Strain fat from pot liquid, make gravy
- Slice, shred, or chunk meat and enjoy with a big scoop of mashed potatoes!
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST POT ROAST
USE QUALITY MEAT
It took me a couple of years to admit this really mattered, but the quality of meat and overall outcome most definitely depend on where you buy your meat. For my town, I buy it from Smith's Marketplace (bonus: they'll prep my meat for me!). I don't have a Costco near me, but from what I hear, it's pretty unanimous that their meat rocks the house.
I've recently been testing out the home delivery service Butcher Box to see if it was as great as everyone says it is and I've been really surprised how incredibly well the meat handles the pressure cooker. The chicken breast stays tender, the pork is juicy, and the chuck roast made the most incredible pot roast I've ever had.
I'm typically not a huge fan of chuck because of how fatty it is, but my butcher box chuck roasts so far have been a happy medium between the typical fatty chuck roast and a leaner rump roast. I'm very, very impressed!
CUT IT INTO CHUNKS
Take your large roast and cut it down into about 2-pound chunks. The taste and texture of the meat is so much better with this simple step. You get more surface area for seasoning and searing which equals flavor. Do it! Or have your favorite, patient butcher do it. Mine knows me well.
POT ROAST SEASONING
If you learn only one thing on this here blog, let it be this: Meat LOVES seasoning, and the spice mix written in this recipe is OUTSTANDING! This spice blend comes from my brother in laws Grandma “Mac” who is well known for her cooking skills and once you try this roast, you will understand why. I've never in my life tasted a such a flavorful roast!
BROWN MEAT IN THE INSTANT POT
I'm in the club of, “I know browning adds flavor, but I'm willing to sacrifice some flavor so I don't smell like meat.” In this recipe however, I finally gave in to the fact that the flavor was 100% better when I sealed in those spices and achieved a deep brown crust. However, I'll admit, sometimes I sear 2-3 sides and then call it a day.
To brown your roast in the Instant Pot, set saute to high and wait until the pot says “hot”. Then add your oil and meat and DO NOT MOVE THE MEAT for at least 4 minutes. When the meat will release easily from the pot, you know you've formed a good crust. Flip it and repeat on another side. Depending on how many pounds of meat you are cooking, you may need to do this in batches.
COOK MEAT FROM ROOM TEMPERATURE
I don't consider this a deal breaker, but I do believe it helps guarantee a great end result. Let your meat sit at room temp for about an hour before you cook it. It will brown better and be more tender.
LET MEAT REST – USE A NATURAL RELEASE
I know there are differing opinions about this, but I say a natural release is absolutely imperative to tender meat. A quick release sucks all the moisture out of your meat, while a natural release allows the liquids to cool and settle inside the meat. Compare it to a steak that you slice right after it comes off the grill (juices flow everywhere) vs one that you let rest for 10 minutes before cutting (more juices remain inside the steak). Plan for 2 1/2 – 3 hours for this recipe and the pressure cooker will be cooled down and ready to open. I even go one step further with the “resting” stage and let it sit on a cutting board while I make the gravy.
SERVE POT ROAST WITH MASHED POTATOES AND GRAVY
Okay, this tip is from my mom and is non-negotiable for her. I'll happily eat mine with a cup of horseradish, but if you're on my mom's side, I love these Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes.
I will never, and I do mean never, make a pot roast any other way again. An electric pressure cooker makes it so easy to sear and cook a roast to tender perfection, it's just plain revolutionary.
Whether you suffer from pot roast burn out like I did or you're a Sunday Pot Roast die-hard, give this recipe a try and fall in love all over again!
HOW TO MAKE GRAVY FROM ROAST DRIPPINGS
If you want a dynamite gravy that takes a little extra effort, use this gravy recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. If you want a super easy one that is still wonderfully flavorful, use the one I wrote below. My opinion is that a fat separator is a must to get rid of excess fat in the broth. I really hate greasy gravy, but I'll leave that decision up to you! It's definitely not a deal breaker.
HOW TO COOK MEAT FROM FROZEN IN AN ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKER
When I cook from frozen, I do 1 1/2 the original cook time. Where this roast already has a longer cook time, I didn't find it necessary to cook it quite that long. See the recipe below for directions. For a roast, the most important thing is to have it cut into 2 – 3 pound chunks before you freeze it instead of one solid 4 – 6 pound chunk. It will cook much more evenly and be more tender and juicy throughout.
HOW LONG TO COOK A POT ROAST IN THE INSTANT POT PRESSURE COOKER
I cut mine into 2 – 3 pound chunks and cook it for 90 minutes every time. I've experimented with numerous times and I do believe 90 minutes is optimal. Whether you are cooking a 2 pound roast or an 8 pound, the cook time remains the same.
HOW TO FIX A TOUGH POT ROAST
To avoid a tough pot roast from the get-go:
- Make sure you are using good quality meat (I highly suggest trying out Butcher Box)
- Look for a roast with even marbling of fat throughout (not just a huge chunk on an end)
- Cook for an appropriate amount of time (I use 90 minutes every time)
If you end up with a tough roast, there are a few things you can do to help it –
- Cut it against the grain and put it back into the pot juices to soak up some moisture
- Pressure cook it for another 10 – 15 minutes (this works surprisingly well)
- Put chunks into a food processor and pulse to shred it. This works good if you're using it for quesadillas, enchiladas, etc
WAYS TO USE LEFTOVER POT ROAST
- Instant Pot Tamales or Tamale Pie
- Ultimate Mashed Potato bowl piled high with meat, roasted veggies, ranch dressing or gravy, and Red Pepper Crunchy Toppers – leftover lovin' at its finest
- Italian Sandwich AKA my favorite sandwich of all time
TOOLS/INGREDIENTS USED TO MAKE INSTANT POT POT ROASTPrint
Instant Pot Pot Roast
Moist, juicy, tender pot roast that will have your grandma asking you for your secrets! Instant Pot Pot Roast for the win!
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 90 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: Entree
- Method: Instant Pot
- Cuisine: American
For the Roast
- 4 – 6 pound beef roast, trimmed of excess fat and cut into about 2 pound chunks (see notes about which cut to use: rump, chuck, or sirloin)
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 15 oz can beef broth
For the Gravy
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons cold water
- big splash of Worcestershire sauce (a tablespoon or 2)
- Place roast on a large piece of foil for easy clean up. Combine salt, basil, rosemary, onion powder, black pepper, oregano, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Press the seasonings into all sides of the roast.
- Select saute or brown on the pressure cooker. When it says “HOT” add oil.
- Add meat and brown each side for about 4 minutes. This process will take 15 – 20 minutes. May need to be done in batches if you're cooking more than 4 pounds of meat.
- Turn the pressure cooker off.
- Remove beef from the pot and set on a plate.
- Pour beef broth into the pot and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom. Return beef to the pot.
- Secure the lid and turn pressure release knob to a sealed position. Cook at high pressure for 90 minutes.
- When cooking is complete, use a natural release.
- Set beef on a cutting board to rest. Pour drippings from the pot into a fat separator then pour it back into the pot, discarding the fat. If you don’t have a fat separator, you can skim the top of the liquid with a spoon to remove some of the fat, or just skip this step.
- Combine cornstarch and water in a small cup. Using the saute function, bring the drippings to a simmer and whisk vigorously as you pour in the cornstarch slurry.
- Continue stirring for 1-2 minutes as it thickens. Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. If the gravy is too salty, you can adjust by mixing up more cornstarch slurry to dilute it.
- Slice, shred, or chunk the roast and serve with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy.
Freezer Meal Instructions:
- Prepare beef according to step 1. Cover a sheet pan with non stick foil and place the meat on the pan, making sure meat chunks don’t touch. Once frozen, place the meat in a freezer safe gallon size ziplock. Label the bag with the recipe, date, and contents.
- When ready to cook, continue with step 2.
- Cook at high pressure for 2 hours, proceed with the rest of the above directions.
- For meat that shreds or chunks easily, use a rump or chuck roast. Rump roast is leaner and sometimes not as tender. Chuck roast is more fatty and quite tender. Sirloin roast is tender but best for slicing
- The browning step is essential for maximum flavor and to really seal on the seasonings. However, the meat is still delicious and tender if you choose to skip this step
- Leftover meat freezes well in a freezer safe ziplock bag for up to 3 months.
Keywords: instant pot, pressure cooker, pot roast
Recipe adapted from my wonderful friend Heather and brother in laws Grandma Mac