Get this tender, juicy pressure cooker pot roast on your table in less than half the time it would take in the oven or on the stove top.
Pot roast is the classic Sunday Supper to me. My mom cooked a delicious pot roast almost every Sunday—regardless of the season, it was our special dinner. I looked forward to it every week.
Now I’m the mom cooking Sunday dinners. However, since I make my roasts in the pressure cooker, I don’t have to worry about hurrying home to get dinner on the table on Sundays. And, since it cooks quicker, you can have it any time you want a special dinner.
Making Old-Fashioned Pressure Cooker Pot Roast in the Instant Pot
An Instant Pot is one of the most popular brands of electric pressure cookers. They are easy to use and your Instant Pot can help you create this delicious Old-Fashioned Pot Roast!
Cooking a roast in the Instant Pot allows you to use the same pot to brown the meat (essential for making flavorful gravy) and cook the roast.
Should a roast be sliced or shredded?
Short answer—which way do you like best? Then that’s how you should cook it!
Longer answer—I prefer my roasts fork-tender, so I generally cook them a little longer. However, the roast in this recipe cooks up fork tender, but it held together well enough to be sliced! (Hey, it’s the best of both worlds!)
If you’re firmly in the fall-apart-tender camp, I’d recommend adding a 5 to 10 minutes to the cook time and 5 minutes to the natural pressure release.
When cooking marbled meats like pot roast, you ideally want to make sure it reaches an internal temperature of at least 200°F so that the collagen softens and breaks down, resulting in a tender, flavorful meat.
If you do like a sliceable roast, be sure to cut the meat against the grain. Cutting against the grain will give you more tender, less chewy bites. (Not sure how to find the grain? In last week’s post, I included a great video that walks you through how to find the grain in meat and how to cut beef against the grain.)
Why chuck roast?
I love chuck roast! It’s an inexpensive cut of meat, and it’s often on sale. (In fact, that is what inspired this post. I was shopping at the grocery store when they had a great buy-one-get-one sale on chuck roasts.) I honestly can’t wait to make it again!
It’s easy to find. It’s marbled for flavor. Plus, it’s flat, so it’s easy to brown.
Why do you cut the roast in thirds?
Cutting a roast into smaller pieces means you can get it on the table more quickly!
In the pressure cooker, the main factor that determines how long meat needs to be cooked is the thickness. Cutting in in thirds helps it to be able to cook faster since it reduces the distance from the middle to the edges.
Plus, when you cut the roast, it’s easier to fit in pot and easier and quicker to brown.
If you don’t want to cut your roast, you can always try my Classic Pot Roast and Potatoes recipe. It has a 75 minute cook time and a 15 minute natural pressure release, due to the size of the meat.
Why don’t you cook the potatoes and carrots with the meat?
They’d be mush! Potatoes cook really fast in the pressure cooker, so it doesn’t add much time to cook them afterwards. Plus, the meat benefits from having a little time to rest before you cut it.
I also chose to make it this way because cooking the potatoes in the beef broth liquids will flavor potatoes. Since the liquid is already hot, it won’t take long for the pot to return to pressure.
You can also double or even triple the amount of potatoes—as long as they’re about the same size—without changing the high pressure cook time. (Again, it will just take a little longer for the pot to come to pressure.)
If you really want to cook the potatoes with the meat, some PCT readers like to wrap the potatoes and carrots tightly in aluminum foil and set the foil packet on top of the meat to cook. The foil slows the cook time.
Want to be sure there’s enough gravy?
My family has come to associate roasts with Yorkshire Pudding, and they often request mashed potatoes along with it. When these sides are on the menu, I know we’ll need enough gravy to fill a small swimming pool.
Therefore, this recipe is written to make a big batch of extra gravy. (Extra gravy is also an awesome way to stretch the meal a bit more.) The notes section of the recipe also contains instructions for reducing the liquids if you don’t want to make as much gravy.
Doubling the liquids in this doesn’t change the cook time, but it will take a little longer to come to pressure. Just be sure you don’t fill your pressure cooker above the max fill line.
What is the best thickener for gravy?
A lot of my recipes use corn starch for the thickener. It is a great thickener, especially for clear sauces, and it works quickly. If you prefer corn starch, mix 2 tablespoons corn starch with 2 tablespoons cold water, then add to the cooking pot and bring to a boil to activate the corn starch.
However, when doing a classic pot roast, I prefer the flavor and texture of gravy thickened with flour. Maybe that’s just because that’s how I grew up. When using flour as a thickener, make sure the gravy comes to a boil for at least 2 minutes to eliminate any raw-flour taste from your gravy.
What do I serve with pot roast?
Roast with potatoes and carrots are the classic combination. This recipe cooks up small potatoes along with carrots. So the beauty of this recipe is that you have everything you need to make a complete meal out of it.
However, I’ve made those steps optional so if you prefer your roasts with mashed potatoes, it’s easy to make the switch. When cooking mashed potatoes for roasts, I like my potatoes to take on the roast flavor. Therefore, I generally follow my mashed potatoes recipe but just cook them in a steamer basket above the juices in the cooking pot.
Also, in my house, I can’t get away with making a roast and not making Yorkshire. My family prefers the Betty Crocker version I’ve been making for years; however, the next time I make roast I’m planning to try this Yorkshire Pudding recipe, which is similar but less likely to deflate. We like to use our popover pans for crispy individual servings, you can just use a muffin pan.
- 3 pounds beef chuck roast, about 2.5 inches thick, cut into 3 equal pieces
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, for seasoning
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2/3 cup diced onion (I used frozen)
- 3 1/2 cups water*
- 3 teaspoons beef base or 3 beef bouillon cubes*
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- About 10 small new potatoes, optional
- 3 large carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces, optional
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cold water
- Pat the roast dry with paper towels. Season both sides of the roast well with salt and pepper. Select Sauté and preheat the pressure cooking pot. When hot, add the vegetable oil. Add the three pieces of roast to the cooking pot so that they lay flat in the pot. Cook until the beef is browned and releases easily from the pot. Transfer to a plate.
- Add the onion to the cooking pot. Sauté for about 3 minutes until tender, stirring occasionally to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the 3 1/2 cups water and beef base or bouillon, tomato paste, and bay leaf. Return the roast and any accumulated juices to the pot. Lock the lid in place. Select High Pressure and 50 minutes cook time.
- When the cook time ends, turn off the pressure cooker. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes and finish with a quick pressure release. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil.
- If you wish to cook potatoes and carrots with this meal, proceed with steps 4-6. Otherwise, skip to step 7: Add potatoes and carrots directly to the juices remaining in the cooking pot. Lock the lid in place. Select High Pressure and 3 minutes cook time.
- When the cook time ends, turn off the pressure cooker. Use a quick pressure release. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid. Check the potatoes for doneness. If needed, select Sauté and simmer in the juices until potatoes reach your desired tenderness.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the potatoes and carrots to a serving bowl and sprinkle with parsley. Cover with foil until ready to serve.
- Pour the juices in the cooking pot through a mesh strainer into a fat separator. (You can skip the strainer if you like onions in your gravy. Be sure to remove the bay leaf, though!) Skim off any excess fat. Return the juices to the cooking pot.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and 1/4 cup cold water until smooth. Add ½ cup hot cooking juices to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Add the slurry to the pot, stirring constantly. Select Sauté and bring the gravy to a boil, stirring constantly until it thickens. Taste the gravy and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- To serve, cut the roast into pieces and place on a rimmed serving platter. Ladle half the gravy over the roast and pour the rest of the gravy into a gravy boat to serve with the potatoes and carrots.
* As written, this recipe makes lots of extra gravy. If you'd prefer to make less gravy, reduce the liquid to 2 cups water and 2 teaspoons beef base. You'll also want to reduce the flour and cold water to 1/4 cup of each.