Savory & Tender Fall Apart Pot Roast, Recipe

 Slow Cooker Pot Roast Recipe; Fall Apart Tender Beef


Savory & Tender Fall Apart Pot Roast

To make an excellent, fall-apart tender pot roast, choose a 2-3 pound piece of chuck roast. This particular cut of beef is marbled with a lot of fat and connective tissues and is initially quite tough, but becomes very juicy and fork tender if cooked the right way. Contrary to an already lean and tender piece of meat, which needs a shorter cooking time and dry, high heat, a chuck roast needs to cook for several hours in moist heat.  In other words, low & slow to break down fat and tenderize the meat for that fall-apart doneness a good pot roast is known for. The result is juicy, tender meat that melts in your mouth. Various recipes of herbs and spices can be used with this cooking method, and personally I love to use my crock pot to slow cook this wonderful savory meat.

If you do try this recipe, I would really appreciate a quick comment with a star rating (option found immediately under each recipe). It helps me out tremendously! Thanks in advance!

Cooking the Meat

The first thing you should do as you prepare to cook a pot roast is to sear it on all sides. Fry the meat in oil on high heat until browned all over. This time I cut my roast into serving pieces, but it can also be kept whole. Searing will give the meat a flavorful, thin crust. You may need to fry only a few pieces at a time to keep the skillet hot, otherwise the meat will cook or boil in its juices instead of frying and browning. This is not the time to cook it through, you only want to brown the outer layer.

Searing pot roast pieces

Put the seared pieces in a crock pot or Dutch oven, then brown onion slices in the same skillet.

Frying onions

Place the browned onions in the pot together with the meat and add 2-3 cups of water or broth, or a combination. The amount depends on how large your pot roast is.

Preparing pot roast, beef from chuck

Also add some garlic to the pot or slow cooker, 3-4 cloves or so, and 1-2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce (click here to hear pronunciation of the name “Worcestershire!” It may not be the way you think…). And, for a special flavor, you can add a couple of splashes of red cooking wine if you wish. High quality is not necessary. Cheap cooking wine works great, and 2-4 tablespoons seems about right to me. Use just the 2 Tbsp if you’re not used to the flavor of red wine. OR, if you prefer not to use wine at all, you can omit this ingredient or replace it with something else such as juice, chicken broth, tomato juice, or a little bit of cider vinegar. The pot roast will still be juicy and fork tender.

NOTE: Please realize that the alcohol from the wine does not necessarily “burn off” as much as previously thought, even when cooking or flaming. For a recovering alcoholic, even the evaporated alcohol in the air can cause a craving for a drink. So if there are any issues at all with alcoholism, it really is best to stay clear of cooking wine altogether.

Then add some herbs; about 2-3 tsp altogether seems about right. This time I used a combination of rosemary, thyme, and savory. Other herbs that work well with beef are marjoram, basil, sage, and oregano. I also tossed in a bay leaf. You can switch around on the herbs in this recipe to get a change in flavor, or choose just one or two. If I had to choose only one, it would be thyme, which is a great herb for pot roast.

Slow Cooking Pot Roast from Chuck

Cook the pot roast on low, barely simmering, for several hours until the meat is fork tender and fat or connective tissues have mostly dissolved. You will still see pieces of fat here and there, but they should be soft.

This is my Hamilton Beach crock pot, the best slow cooker I’ve ever had! It includes a thermometer and several very nice features. It works great for my pot roast.

Hamilton Beach slow cooker, on low

Test the meat with a fork after several hours, around 7-8 on low heat.
I usually check with two forks after 6 hours, but it usually needs closer to 7 or 8 hours. The meat is done when fall apart fork tender. Like this:

Savory red wine pot roast recipe

When my juicy pot roast is done, I like to make gravy from the broth. I remove the meat and set it aside while kept warm, then drain the broth into a smaller pot and bring it to a boil. While waiting for the broth to boil, I mix up some flour, or corn starch if gluten free is needed, with water until smooth. Then I add some to the boiling broth in a thin but steady stream while whisking with my favorite Norwegian-style whisk (similar to this one from Amazon,) I keep adding more, just a little at a time, until the gravy thickens to my liking. I keep the heat high enough that the gravy continues to boil so I can see right away whether I added enough. If using flour, I allow the finished gravy to simmer for a couple of minutes to make sure the flour is fully cooked. Otherwise the gravy can end up a little gritty.

Making gravy

When the gravy is done, I pour it over the meat to serve. Personally we love mashed potatoes with our pot roast, while some may prefer to serve it over noodles.

Savory, Tender, Fall Apart Pot Roast Recipe

My husband is always happy when I serve pot roast as tender as this fall-apart piece of meat!
The juicy beef melts in your mouth and delivers a wonderful blend of savory flavors
from herbs, garlic, and caramelized onions! Please comment and rate this recipe if you try it; option is found immediately under the recipe. Thank you!!

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Recipe; Fall Apart Tender Beef

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Recipe; Fall Apart Tender Beef

Savory & Tender Fall Apart Pot Roast

5.0 from 2 reviews
Savory, Tender, Fall Apart Pot Roast
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cooking low & slow in moist heat delivers a fork tender and juicy pot roast full of flavor.
Recipe type: Dinner, Main Dish
Serves: 4-6
  • 2-3 Lbs chuck roast
  • Salt & pepper
  • Olive oil for searing
  • One medium onion in slices
  • 2-3 c water or broth
  • 2-4 Tbsp red cooking wine, can be omitted
  • 1-2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp rosemary
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp savory
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Flour or corn starch for gravy thickener
  • Extra water to make gravy
  1. Cut meat into serving pieces.
  2. Rub with salt and pepper.
  3. Sear on medium heat in olive oil, a few pieces at a time until browned on all sides.
  4. Put pieces of meat in a crock pot (a Dutch oven can be used as well, but might cook faster.)
  5. Brown onion rings in the same skillet, then layer around meat.
  6. Add part of the water to the empty skillet and stir to loosen leftover particles and flavors. Add this and the rest of the water or broth to the meat in the pot.
  7. Add wine if desired, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, rosemary, thyme, savory, and bay leaf.
  8. Let cook on low heat, simmering for 7-8 hours or until meat is fork tender.
  9. Remove the meat and set aside, making gravy from the broth by straining it into a pot.
  10. Bring broth to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk together some flour or cornstarch with water, until it resembles thick gravy.
  11. Add a little at a time to the boiling broth by pouring in a steady, thin stream while whisking the gravy, until it thickens to your liking.
  12. Taste, then add more salt and pepper if needed.
  13. Pour over the meat, and serve with mashed potatoes or noodles.


About Terese

18 Responses to “Savory & Tender Fall Apart Pot Roast, Recipe”

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  1. eurotahny says:

    I loved this recipe I didn’t make the gravy as I prefer the broth as a topper. Excellent meal with some roasted garlic-rosemary baby potatoes on the side. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Travis Kane says:

    Your pot roast looks super delicious and tender! I have tried many different recipes for a fork-tender pot roast and I’ve only been able to make it work a couple times. I’m not sure if my crock pot is junk or I’m getting the wrong cut of beef? I think I’ll splurge a little for a new digital crock pot. The one I use now only has warm, low and high settings and I think my low setting cooks too hot. I’m going to give your method/recipe a try and hope it’s a winner like yours : )


    • Terese says:

      I’ve heard the comment that newer crock pots cook on higher heat than before, but it could be that your older one cooks higher yet. Mine is quite new, and I’ve been very happy with it. The key, when cooking meat like this, is to cook it long enough that it gets really tender, but if you cook too long, it can also dry out. I’ve heard countless times that it won’t dry out if the heat is low enough, but that has not been my experience. However, if your pot roast is juicy, but kind of tough, try cooking it another hour and test again. Also remember that a lean cut of beef requires dry, higher heat, such as baked in the oven, while a tougher, fattier piece, such as chuck, needs a looong time on low heat in order to tenderize and melt the tough strings of fat. But then you get a juicy, tender result. :) Hope you’ll have great results from now on!

  3. Angie says:

    Thanks for sharing this excellent recipe. If you make it in a dutch oven I think I read somewhere you should keep the oven below 250 or it becomes dry. Sounds tricky. My mom made this on the stove all her life, just setting it to 3 1/2, and leaving it all day. She added mostly black pepper and a tomato-green pepper stew she made and always had some extra hanging around. So I guess you could call our version “pepper steak pot roast.” I’m low carb now so I make “fauxtatoes” with cauliflauer which are very tasty! Mm, I think I may make this on the upcoming weekend! Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Nikole says:

    if i go to a grovery store what cut of meet do u reccomend if i cook all night 8 hours?

    • Terese says:

      Personally I would get chuck, since this cut needs to cook on low temperature for a long time. Sounds like the perfect choice to me.

  5. Kathy S says:

    Thank you for sharing the best advice I’ve ever tried to make pot roast that literally falls apart…to cut the meat into serving-size pieces before searing and placing in the slow cooker. It was fabulous! I told my husband that I couldn’t believe I was making pot roast wrong all this time…that this is how it is supposed to be! May God fill your life and your kitchen with many more blessings!

    • Terese says:

      Thank you for your sweet comment and may God bless your family as well!
      I have made pot roast super tender while leaving it in one piece as well; I think the most important thing is to use chuck and to let it cook low and slow until tender, but not so long that it dries out. It really will dry out even on low if left in there for too long. So I always test it and check, I won’t just turn it on and expect it to be perfect after being gone all day without paying attention to it. But I’m so glad to hear your roast ended up so good!

  6. Carol says:

    I have to disagree about if you cook it too long it will be dry. I really believe that the longer it goes the more tender the meat. My last roast was in the crock pot for 13 hours and was falling apart delicious. I am of the opinion that it has to be the cut of meat. Sometimes it seems like no matter how long you cook a bad piece of meat it will never become tender. I don’t normally cook a roast for that long, but by the time we finally got home from work and daycare, well, it was a long day and nice to have a hot meal ready and waiting.

    • Terese says:

      Well, people have different experiences, and mine has been that even a chuck roast will dry out if it cooks to long. I agree that the cut of meat will make a difference as well. But if a certain way of cooking has worked well for you, then that’s a great thing! :) Do whatever works for you.

  7. rob stolzy says:

    I’m going to try your recipe, but let me tell you of my recent fiasco. 2 pound piece of chuck roast. Recipe I followed promised fall-apart tender pot roast in a crockpot. First I made a layer of roughly chopped vegetables in bottom of pot: carrots, onions, garlic, celery, tiny round potatoes. Also tossed in two sprigs rosemary and a little less than one cup of broth. (Recipe stressed not adding too much liquid because meat will release it’s own liquids.) Then, covered the beef in pepper and salt on various sides, then placed it on top of the vegetables. Cooked in crockpot LOW for 6 and a half hours. I glanced in through the glass top a few times during the cooking process and at no time did the meat appear tender to me. In other words, I’m pretty sure it didn’t overcook. When done, I noticed the meat was tough and dry, and certainly was not falling apart moist with a fork. I decided to try letting it go another hour with a little added broth to moisten it up — but no good. Dry tough chewy meat… like no pot roast I’ve ever had.

    So what went wrong? Only things I can think of is
    1) I did not pre-brown the meat in a skillet with oil
    2) Something is screwy with my crockpot

    My crockpot does not have temp settings, just LOW, HIGH and amount of time. Any ideas Thanks!

    • Terese says:

      Hmm… Well, I’m not exactly sure, but my guess is that it needed more liquid. To not brown the meat first should not have caused it to dry out like that. The advantage of browning before cooking is really to add flavor more than anything.

      One question: Had the liquids evaporated at the end of cooking, or was there more liquid in the pot than when you started? I’m not sure why it would be suggested in your other recipe to be so careful with adding liquids; while it’s true that the meat will release juices of its own, chuck should be cooked in wet, low heat. It shouldn’t need to be fully immersed, but my roast always ends up being at least half covered in liquid after a few hours. And toward the end, I will often flip the meat over when I check it, just so the tops get drenched in it for a while as well. All this broth can be used for gravy, soups, stews etc.

      There is always a possibility that something is wrong with the crock pot as well. If it is over heating and really on high when you have set it to low, it is certainly possible that the meat was over done. But of course you did say that the meat didn’t look over done. So my best guess would be that there was not enough liquid.

      If you decide to try my recipe, I hope it works out for you!

  8. Brandi says:

    You know, I have made pot roasts for years and really haven’t had much of an idea of what I was doing. I just bought some cut of beef roast (what ever was on sale), put it in the crock pot with broth or water or both, then veggies, then let it go. Never checked the time, just pulled it out when I thought it looked done after checking it. So…that being said sometimes it was fall apart awesomeness, sometimes it was terrible! Today, I searched for a recipe that would tell me what cut of meat is ‘correct’ AND (most important) I wanted an education. I wanted to know how long to cook it and how to get the meat tender. I just want to thank you for explaining the ‘why’s’ and ‘how’s’ and such. I followed your instructions and my roast is on, so I don’t know yet how it will turn out but regardless, I feel like I learned something by reading your recipe. So much more thorough than others I’ve read and I truly appreciate that! Again, thank you!

    • Terese says:

      I’m glad you found my post helpful! Hopefully your pot roasts will be consistently tender and delicious from now on. Thank you for commenting!

  9. Helen says:

    Cooked a chuck roast 2 1/2 lbs today. Recipe
    Said cook at 350 for 2 hours in Dutch oven. Not tender, would lowering temp to 225 help?

    • Terese says:

      Low temperature over a longer period of time is better for a chuck roast than to cook it fast at a higher temperature. So yes, lowering the temperature and giving it more time should help. A crock pot on low for 7-8 hours has worked the best for me.

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