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 what cut of meat is the best below.
If I had to pick a number one most requested recipe since I started this blogging journey, it would be for the classic Sunday Pot Roast. Not even kidding. But I reeeeeaaaallly dragged 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 nada, so I decided to make this classic pot roast recipe a bit more exciting by testing it on the 3 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 beef for making a pot roast?
Now I know every one of you is probably thinking chuck roast, but read on for my fascinating results . . . Other people find this fascinating, right? Where my peeps at?
FYI: The toothpicks in these images were put there so I wouldn't forget which cut of beef was which. Unfortunately, it's not some secret cooking method that I'm holding back from telling you.
Here were 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 away 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 I reheated it, but storing it in the juices may solve that as well.
So which one is the winner? I was honestly surprised 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 to you. 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. Rump roast tends to be a bit like chicken breast. 90% of the time it is everything you want it to be, then there's the 10% where all of a sudden it's chewy and tough and you're apologizing to your in-laws that you wanted to so badly impress.
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST POT ROAST
QUALITY OF MEAT
It took me a couple of years to admit this really mattered, but the quality of meat and your outcome most definitely depends on where you buy your meat. For my town, I buy it from Smith's Marketplace (bonus: they'll prep all of 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.
CUT IT DOWN
Take your large roast and cut it down into about 2 pound chunks. I actually have the butcher do this for me right at the store so it's ready to go when I am. 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. He knows me well.
If you learn only one thing on this here blog, let it be this. Meat LOVES seasoning. Load it up!
BROWN, BROWN, BROWN
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 pretty brown crust. However, I'll admit, sometimes I sear 2-3 sides and then call it a day.
LET IT SIT AT ROOM TEMP BEFORE COOKING
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 IT REST/NATURAL RELEASE
I know there is 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 stay 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 IT 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 No Prep Mashed Potatoes.
BONUS: GRAVY TIP
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.
BONUS: FREEZER TIP
I have yet to cook a roast from frozen, but I know a lot of people do. My directions for how I would cook a frozen roast are included in the recipe directions below.
That should cover everything I know, or want to know, about pot roast!
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!
Tools used to make Instant Pot Pot Roast
*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you!
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: 2.5 hours
- Yield: 8 servings
- 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. Depending on the size of roast you use, there may be seasonings leftover after all sides of the roast are coated. Store any seasonings that didn't come in contact with the meat in a small jar or ziplock to season other meat and veggies.
- Select saute or brown on the pressure cooker and add oil. When oil is hot and rippling add the meat and brown each side, about 1-2 minutes each side. 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.
- Remove beef to 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 they 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 then proceed with the rest of the directions above.
- 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 fattier 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 my little sister's in-laws/AKA Meat Chef Extraordinaires