Basic Slow-cooker Beef Roast Recipe

Here is a quick run-down of the types of slow-cooker roasts we offer, followed by a simple recipe that never fails to produce a moist, fork-tender roast in your crock pot.

Arm Roast – Cut from the lower shoulder, this roast has a small round marrow bone in the middle and lots of fine meat texture around that. There is a thin layer of fat around the meat. This is a slightly leaner roast than a chuck roast. We had never heard of an arm roast before becoming beef farmers, but this quickly became a favorite because of its pleasant texture and meatiness.

Chuck Roast – Cut from the upper shoulder, this roast can also be called a “Seven Bone” roast because the bone often looks like a 7. Chuck is the classic slow-cooker roast. This roast is more rectangular with alternating layers of bone, fat, and gristle, and meat. It contains more gristle than an arm roast and has larger meat fibers, but the connective tissue cooks down to deliciously tender morsels of gelatinous flavor. You won’t believe how good it is.

Shank Roast – This roast is like a miniature arm roast, except with more bone. It comes in 1” thick slices that consist of about half bone, half meat. That doesn’t sound appealing until you’ve tried it. The meat from this part of the arm is like tiny little morsels of super-tender meat. The bones produce a rich gravy that is buttery and delicious and can be saved to make broth later. Try this once and it may become your new favorite!

What about the other roasts? I prefer not to use the crock pot cooking method for leaner roasts like sirloin roast and round roast. For those, I like to do English style fast-cooking method that keeps the roast rare in the middle. Slow-cooking is reserved for the otherwise tougher meats that need a long cooking time to release their best qualities.

Basic Slow-cooker Beef Roast Recipe

  • 1 Slow-cooker Roast, 3-5 pounds
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-6 carrots, chopped
  • 3 sticks celery, chopped
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • Don’t add liquid! See below.

Place the roast snugly into the bottom of the crock pot. Toss the veggies in on top. I usually just layer them, but you can mix them in a bowl with the salt and pepper, and you could even add a little flour (1-2 Tbs) to make a thicker gravy, but that’s optional. I usually skip it out of laziness.

Don’t add any liquid, unless you want the roast to be soupy. It will produce its own drippings with excellent flavor and plenty of moisture. Definitely don’t add any cream-of-chemical soups! Our beef has its own excellent flavor which only needs a bit of salt to bring it out. And it will be tender and delicious on its own!

Cook either on high for 6 hours OR on low for 8 hours. Any less and it will not have time to tenderize. Any more, and the vegetables will start to disintegrate and lose their individual flavors and textures—still edible, but not as enjoyable. Bon appétit!


35 Responses to Basic Slow-cooker Beef Roast Recipe

  1. Kiley Fugate says:

    Thanks for your recipe and website! Question- do you have to brown the roast first? Thank you in advance!


    • jericacadman says:

      No, you don’t have to brown it–I don’t most of the time just so I can save a pan and skip a step. Browning adds a bit of flavor because of the caramelization of the meat, but if you’re using a good source of beef, it should have plenty of flavor on its own!

  2. amberc says:

    I went through so many recipes just trying to find out if liquid was necessary! Thank u for such a simple and informative site!

  3. Marlene says:

    I would like to make your recipe. Have always added water in the crockpot. I am hesitant. Can you reassure me?

    • jericacadman says:

      Marlene, I would say if your roast normally turns out with lots of liquid at the end, particularly if it turns out with more than what you started with, you’d be fine skipping the added liquid. If it tends to be dry, I would continue doing what you’ve been doing. Factors will include how well your lid seals, how hot your crock runs, and how long your beef has been aged. I prefer non-soupy roasts and always find that the roast produces plenty of its own moisture to cook well, and so have never had to add liquid. Hope that helps!

      • Marlene says:

        I did not use any water, and there was plenty of juice, which was delicious. The beef was tender and the vegetables were flavorful. Thanks for your information.

  4. Barbara says:

    I cooked this recipe exactly as it is written, except I added some potatoes. And this recipe was EXCELLENT! I am so glad I found this website as my friend gave me a roast from when she purchased a half a cow from the local Amish butcher. I looked at this rectangular cut of beef and didn’t know what it was. It only said shoulder roast, and I had never seen this cut of beef before. But, thanks to this website, I know it what it is now…. DELICIOUS, thanks to this recipe. I will be making this again and again. Oh, and I was skeptical about not adding any liquid and I didn’t. I was shocked when I ended up with 2 cups of liquid heaven, which I turned into gravy. This was heaven in a bowl.

  5. Jen says:

    This was fantastic and SO easy. We recently got a quarter of a cow and have just started trying out the different cuts. I used a shoulder pot roast and followed the recipe exactly. We returned home after a long day to a slow cooker full of tender beef and LOTS of liquid! I’m so glad I didn’t add any extra liquid – the flavor from the beef and vegetables was wonderful. I added some flour to thicken the gravy and served it all over egg noodles. Delicious!

  6. David says:

    I have a 3.75 lb grass fed shoulder roast, I plan to cook this in a slow cooker. I was thinking about marinating the roast for a day or two in Bretta beer before putting it in the slow cooker. What do you think about this?

  7. Geralyn Krist says:

    Thank you for the receipe above. I followed the directions and it turned our wonderful. Very flavorful and juicy. We did add mushrooms, just for a twist! If you have a great receipe for round steak (without using cream of anything soup!) please send to me. We have yet to find a good receive for this cut of beef.
    Geralyn Krist

  8. GOehlje says:

    I tried this recipie last month and found it awesome! I did brown my arm roast first for flavor. I was somewhat skeptical about not adding water but you are right, none is needed!

  9. Elizabeth says:

    I was going to do this recipe but wanted to know if a 7 bone roast would work? I heard a lot of people saying this recipe is really great and if it didn’t if you had a recipe for a 7 bone roast

    • jericacadman says:

      Yes! In fact, a 7-bone roast is from the chuck area, but is simply cut a little differently so the bone looks like a “7.” but it’s the same sort of cooking style. Enjoy!

  10. Heather says:

    Hi I’m looking very forward to making this tonight but was curious how soft the veggies are going to b… I prefer al dente.. Partial crunch still.. And would I b better adding veggies towards the end or would this mess up the flavor?

    • jericacadman says:

      If you put the veggies in right at the beginning, they will be quite soft. I can’t give you any guidance on when to put them in to your slow cooker to still get a crunch, but if I were going to try it, I would try the last 45 minutes. For oven roasting, I would try 30 minutes.

  11. mary says:

    I have been searching the iNet for hours trying to find a basic, simple recipe for a beef roast in a slow cooker. I finally “stumbled” on to your site. I do not like all the sugar ingredients and soup recommendations in most.

    Will a round bone roast do well with your recipe in a slow cooker?

    Thank you for your help!

    • jericacadman says:

      Yes, I happened to cook a round roast in my crock pot recently, and it turned out very nice. I *would* suggest adding liquid for a round roast, though, as they are much leaner than a chuck or arm roast. I added about 2 cups of broth and it made a very nice sauce to dip the roast in.

  12. Jane cleveland says:

    I have tried this recipe with a couple of different roasts and it has worked as promised each time! Beyond tender and soooo delicious! Will it also work on a Pikes Peak?

  13. Cindy Black says:

    I made this today with a couple shoulder roasts I had, totaled just under 5lbs. I resisted and I did not add liquid and it shredded apart perfectly with plant of moisture and some liquid. For me personally I seasoned it a bit more but loved the simplicity of this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Sylvia M. says:

    when i put the roast in do i put the fat in side down or leave it up i was wondering how to put it in help please

    • jericacadman says:

      For a crockpot roast, it really doesn’t matter, but it can help keep the meat more moist if you keep the fat on top. The fat will slowly melt and “self-baste” the roast. 🙂

  15. Cindy Oden says:

    What if I dont have any sea salt? will this affect the flavor much?

  16. Shari Mirman Karoll says:

    Thank you for this set of guidelines for roasting beef cuts. My husband and I raise our own beef (100% grass fed and finished,) but I am still a novice when it comes to cooking many cuts of protein.

    Last night I cooked a Shoulder Clod roast that we had in the freezer. It was from a steer we slaughtered a couple of years ago and the meat was still in lovely condition after being in the freezer for such a long time. I was wavering on cooking methods and came upon your website when I was looking for ideas.

    I would never have thought to slow cook without liquid. Yet I followed your guidelines adding only kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, a few stalks of celery – cut into 3″ lengths, a huge roughly chopped Spanish onion, and 4 hefty cloves of garlic. 6.5 hours later a gorgeously browned and fall apart tender roast was pulled from the cooker.

    Let the Snoopy dance commence!

    We did not include the Shoulder Clod on our last two cut sheets, but we sure will from now on.

    I look forward to referring back to your site often.

  17. Krysyal says:

    For this recipe does the roast need to be thawed or can it be frozen? And if I wanted to make gravy with the juices from the roast how would I do that? I’m sure those are dumb questions but I’m just curious! Thank you 🙂

  18. Josie says:

    Does the meat need to be FULLY defrosted and at room temperature to cook properly?

    • jericacadman says:

      Hi Josie,
      No, for a slow-cooker type roast, you can start partially or even fully frozen, but you will need to add some cook time. My crock pot requires an extra hour if the roast is frozen. I would also suggest adding a bit of water if it’s frozen to keep things from burning. Perhaps a 1/4 cup.

  19. Ruth Kramer says:

    Due to a handicap, I cannot boil noodles (or anything) on the stove. Could I just add them uncooke to this recipe? Would I need to add some liquid?

    • jericacadman says:

      Ruth, I do not have any experience with cooking noodles in the slow-cooker, but I would guess that yes, you would need to add liquid if you wanted to add noodles as well. The juices from the roast slowly trickle out and are plenty to keep the meat and veggies moist, but because the noodles actually start soaking up the liquid as soon as they touch it, you would need the liquid present there from the moment you put in the noodles. I would think you might have some success trying it, but I would not add the noodles at the beginning–I would try adding them about 2 hours before the roast is due to be done.

  20. Mike_I says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!! I have ALWAYS Despised slow cooker recipes but I have a freezer full of roast meet and I needed an alternative. This was so easy and turned out amazing. Even my picky kids ate it, I served it over white rice and it was a perfect combo. Plenty of Juice from the meat and veggies. Who knew?

    I would love to link it on my site. With your permission of course.


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