Best Cuts of Beef for Pot Roast (Plus My Favorite Recipe)

Gabriel Woods
Published by Gabriel Woods
Last Updated On: December 4, 2023

When it comes to comfort food, few dishes can compare to a classic pot roast. However, the key to a great pot roast is choosing the proper cut of beef.

After making pot roast for many years, I have found that you want a cut that is tough enough to stand up to hours of cooking but not so tough that it's impossible to chew.

This article will go over the best cuts of beef for pot roast and give some tips on how to cook it.

Quick Summary

  • The top cuts of beef for pot roast are chuck roast, bottom round roast, and rump roast.
  • These three cuts are all fairly tough, which is what you want in a pot roast.
  • Long, slow, low-temperature cooking will break down the chewy muscle fibers, making them tender and delicious.

What is Pot Roast?

An image of beef pot roast on a pot and a bowl

Pot roast is a braised beef dish made by cooking beef with root vegetables and other ingredients. Potatoes, carrots, and onions are commonly used, as they cook well and add flavor to the complete meal. People often serve the final product with mashed potatoes.

In most recipes, you brown the meat in a large skillet before being added to the rest of the ingredients. This helps create a richer flavor.

Pot roast is traditionally cooked in a Dutch oven or other types of heavy pots. However, you are able to make a tender pot roast in an instant pot or any sort of slow cooker.

This slow-cooking method allows the flavors of the ingredients to meld together and results in a tender, fall-apart piece of meat.

Tough Meat for the Best Pot Roast

It may seem like a contradiction, but to end up with a tender pot roast, you want to start with tough cuts of meat.

The long cooking time process will break down the tough fibers in the beef, resulting in a piece of meat that is flavorful and tender.

Tough beef comes from parts of the cow that get a lot of exercise. These muscle groups may have very little fat and are full of flavor. But it can be like chewing shoe leather if not cooked properly.

“When you need a comforting and delicious meal, pot roast is a Southern classic that's always a good idea.”
- Southern Living

The beef for the best pot roast comes from parts of the cow with lots of connective tissue. The collagen in these tougher cuts will break down during cooking, making the meat more tender.

The muscles in cattle that get the most work, and thus are the toughest, are those in the shoulder, chest, and hips. This is because these areas support the most weight and are used to move the animal.

Also Read: Brazilian Beef Cuts

Best Cuts for Pot Roast

Now that you know about the basics of pot roast and what kind of beef you should look for, here are some specific cuts that make excellent pot roast.

1. Chuck Roast

An image of raw chuck beef

Chuck roast is one of the most popular cuts of beef for pot roast. It comes from the shoulder area of the cow and is well-marbled, with streaks of fat running through it [1].

This fat helps to flavor the beef and keeps it juicy.

Chuck roast can be tough, so it's essential to prepare it slowly to give the collagen time to break down. It has a deep, beefy flavor, making it ideal meat for a pot roast.

This cut is also known as beef chuck arm, chuck shoulder pot roast, shoulder steak, and boneless chuck roast.

Other cuts from the same vicinity are the chuck eye, shoulder roast, blade roast, arm steak, arm roast, cross-rib roast, or chuck seven-bone pot roast.

2. Brisket

The brisket arises from the cow's lower chest or breast area in front of the short rib and is a large, tough cut of meat [2]. It has an extensive amount of connective tissue, which helps to keep it moist.

Brisket is often smoked or used in barbecue, but it also makes a great pot roast.

The key to making brisket tender is to cook it for a long time. This is why smoking this meat is so popular - a low, slow-smoking process turns a tough brisket into a tender, flavorful piece of meat.

The brisket is a large cut of meat, so it's perfect for creating a good pot roast to feed a crowd. Brisket is also a relatively inexpensive cut of beef, making it a good choice if you're on a budget.

This cut of meat is also known as beef brisket point half, flat half brisket, point cut, flat-cut, and first-cut brisket. The beef brisket flat half is a lean cut, whereas the point is a fattier cut.

Read More: Beef Brisket Substitute

3. Round

An image of top round roast

Round primal cuts come from the back of the cow and include the rump, hindquarter, and rear leg area [3].

These muscles work hard to move the animal through its day, so these can be pretty lean cuts and lack as much fat as the other cuts.

However, all that lean muscle creates a lot of flavor. Located near the beef tenderloin, this is a cut that is used to make roast beef.

Because this meat has less fat, you may need to add extra liquid to your pot roast to help keep the round moist during cooking. This could be in the form of beef broth, wine, or even just water.

Some popular round cuts include top round roast, bottom round roast, the eye of round roast, and round rump roast.

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The Best Way to Make Pot Roast

A close up image of beef pot roast and vegetables

One of my favorite pot roast recipes, this is my favorite way to prepare a delicious pot roast:


  • 3 to 5 lb of meat. Use boneless chuck roast, chuck shoulder pot roast, chuck roast, seven bone pot roast, shoulder steak, beef chuck arm, bottom round roast, or brisket for best results
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 6 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 to 2 cups of red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 large white onions cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 lb baby carrots
  • 1 lb red potatoes cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary


A close up image of beef pot roast
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Season all sides of the beef with pepper and salt
  3. Add vegetable oil to a large, oven-safe Dutch oven pot. Heat on stove over high flame. Add meat and sear for 3-4 minutes on each side until brown.
  4. Remove meat and set aside.
  5. Put garlic in the pot and sauté for 1 minute. Add wine and beef stock to deglaze the pot. Place beef back in the pot.
  6. Pour Worcestershire sauce over the beef. Add onion, carrots, and potatoes around the meat. Place thyme and rosemary on top.
  7. Put the lid on the pot and slow cook in preheated oven until the meat reaches 202 degrees Fahrenheit and shreds easily (usually 3-5 hours, depending on the weight of the roast).
  8. Season with salt and pepper, and serve the pot roast with a side of mashed potatoes.

You can also use a crock pot, instant pot, or slow cooker to make pot roasts.


What Is the Best Cut of Meat for Slow Cooking?

The best cut of meat for slow cooking is one that has a good amount of fat and marbling, as this will help to keep the meat moist. Chuck shoulder, brisket, and round roast are all excellent choices.

What Is the Most Tender Beef Roast?

The most tender beef roast is one that has been cooked slowly and has had time to break down the muscle fibers and connective tissue. The tissue becomes gelatinized, which makes the meat more tender.

Why Is My Pot Roast Tough?

If your pot roast is tough, it probably wasn't cooked long enough. Slow-cooked meat is key to maximum tenderness, so ensure you give the meat enough time to cook before shredding or slicing it into long strands. Do not start with a tender cut of beef, or it will not shred properly.


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About the author

Gabriel Woods
Chef/Food Editor
Gabrielle Woods holds a BSc degree in Hospitality Management with a summa cum laude distinction from the University of Santo Tomas, majoring in Culinary Entrepreneurship. She helps clients achieve specific fitness goals through protein-based meal prepping. She believes cooking is both an art and a science best done with a balance of tradition and innovation.
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