Easy Instant Pot Pot Roast (Tender and Juicy)
How to make Instant Pot pot roast that is so tender, it melts in your mouth. This easy recipe makes ultra-flavorful beef guaranteed to satisfy the entire family. Use an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker for this recipe. Jump to the Easy Instant Pot Pot Roast Recipe or read on to see our tips for making it.
What is pot roast?
Pot roast is more of a method than a specific cut of meat. To make it, sear a large cut of beef until browned on all sides, and then cook it with aromatics like herbs, onions, carrots, and broth until it’s melt-in-your-mouth tender.
You can make this in a Dutch oven on the stove-top, in the oven, in a slow cooker, and in a pressure cooker. In this recipe, we are using a pressure cooker (specifically, our Instant Pot) to make the pot roast. A pressure cooker takes the cook time down dramatically.
What are the best cuts of meat to use?
The best cuts of beef for pot roast are tougher cuts of meat like chuck, brisket, and round. Traditionally, the beef cooks at a low temperature for a long time. It’s because of this that tougher cuts of beef work so well. When I say tougher cuts of meat, I’m talking about the leaner cuts with lots of connective tissue.
How long does it take to cook pot roast in a pressure cooker (Instant Pot)?
The time it takes to cook pot roast in an Instant Pot will vary depending on how large your piece of meat is. For a 3-pound piece of beef, the total time required will be about 2 hours and 30 minutes. This includes the time to bring the beef to room temperature (more on that below), searing time, and the cook time required inside the pressure cooker.
I know 2 hours and 30 minutes might seem like a long time, but for ultra-tender and juicy beef, we need all of it. The great news is that a pressure cooker makes much quicker work of pot roast compared to a slow cooker, oven, or when it is cooked on the stove-top.
Now, I mentioned there was extra time for bringing the beef to room temperature. After testing this pot roast recipe in our own kitchen, we found that if you start with beef straight out of the refrigerator, the roast doesn’t become as tender as when you give the beef some time out of the fridge so that it comes up to room temperature before cooking it.
For a three pound roast, we found that leaving it on the counter for 1 hour was perfect. This extra time has another benefit, it gives us a chance to season the meat. Right after taking the beef out of the fridge, we season it liberally with salt, which means that as the beef sits, the salt has a chance to seep into the meat, making it extra tasty when cooked.
Can I use frozen beef?
You might be wondering if you can use frozen beef for pot roast. Technically, the answer is yes, the cook time will just be longer (20 to 30 minutes longer).
That said, for the best results, we highly recommend following our method which calls for thawed beef that’s seasoned with salt and been left on the counter long enough to take the chill off. This extra time creates the most flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth pot roast. Using thawed beef also allows us to brown the outside of the meat before braising it, which adds a lot of extra flavor to dish.
How to make pot roast in a pressure cooker (Instant Pot).
In our photos, we are using a 6-quart Instant Pot, which is an electric pressure cooker. Other brands make electric pressure cookers, too. If you own one of them, you should be able to use this recipe without any problems (just make sure you read the user manual first).
Step 1, Season the beef and bring to room temperature. I’ve already touched on this above, but I’ll quickly do it again, here. After testing, we found that when we left the beef out on the counter to come closer to room temperature before cooking it, the pot roast was much more tender at the end of the cook time. I also love that the beef gets a chance to sit with the salt for about an hour before cooking. In this time, the salt seeps into the meat and helps to season and tenderize it.
Step 2, Brown the beef on all sides. By browning the beef on all sides before cooking at high pressure, we add color to the meat and add lots of flavor to the pot. For a one pot meal, brown the beef right in the pressure cooker using the “Saute” function. If your pressure cooker does not have this function, simply brown the beef in a heavy pan on the stove. After browning, I remove the beef so I can move onto the veggies.
Step 3, Lightly brown vegetables. For extra flavor, we add onions, carrots, and celery to our pot roast, but I like to cook them in the bottom of the pot a bit first. This step builds even more flavor into the pot, which makes the braising liquid taste incredible. When they start to smell sweet and get light brown in places, I take them out and move onto making the braising liquid.
Step 4, Deglaze the pot and place the beef and vegetables back in. By deglaze, I mean to add liquid and scrape the bottom of the pot until it is clean. The steps where we brown the beef and vegetables leave bits stuck to the bottom. By deglazing, we lift all that flavor stuck to the bottom of the pan. When the bottom of the pot is clean, I place the beef, vegetables, and more aromatics into the pot.
Step 5, Pressure cook until the beef is tender. As I mentioned above, the time you need to cook will vary depending on how large the piece of beef is that you are cooking. We have found that a 3-pound roast takes 60 minutes at high pressure before it is tender.
You can see from our photos that we added baby potatoes to the pot, too. These get very soft and can be served whole or mashed into flavorful mashed potatoes. Alternatively, you can leave out the potatoes and roast some in the oven for a more crisp result. (This is actually my preferred method. The beef and carrots are so tender that adding a crisp, roasted potato next to them is a nice change in texture.)
Step 6, Naturally release the pressure cooker for 10 minutes and serve. By naturally release, I mean that when the cook time is done, I leave the pressure cooker alone and allow it to slowly release some of the pressure built up inside the pot. After about 10 minutes, I use the quick release button to release the remaining pressure before opening the lid. (If you are new to the Instant Pot or electric pressure cooking, I recommend reading the users manual before following our recipe.)
After cooking, the beef will be tender, the onions melt into the gravy, and the carrots turn silky soft. The celery becomes tender, too, but I usually don’t serve them with the beef since by the end of the cook time they have usually given up all their flavor to the gravy. If you added potatoes, you can serve them alongside the beef or mash them.
As an optional step, you can make a gravy with the liquid left in the pot. I have provided a method in the recipe below. You can also just spoon the liquid in the pot over the beef when serving. It’s completely up to you.
How to tell when it is done.
Pot roast is done when it’s tender and easily pulled apart with a fork. The beef should fall apart on you, which means that the pressure cooker has done its job in breaking down all the connective tissue in the beef. You can see what this looks like in the photo above.
What if my pot roast is tough?
If after cooking the pot roast, it is still tough, all you need to do is cook it longer. If the beef is still tough, it just needs more time for the braise to do it’s magic and break down the connective tissues in the beef.
Since we are using a pressure cooker, if after our suggested cook time, the beef is not as tender as you’d like, you will need to place the lid back onto the pot, seal it, and then cook at high pressure for additional time (an additional 10 to 20 minutes is my suggestion).
More Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker) Recipes
- Our Favorite Bone Broth is made in a pressure cooker. Think of bone broth as a more intense, velvety broth. It can be used in recipes calling for stock or broth, but also doubles as a delicious and comforting soup to enjoy by itself.
- Easy Instant Pot Salsa Verde Chicken is perfect for serving with rice, cooked grains or in tortillas.
- Our Ultimate Pulled Pork is amazing when made in a pressure cooker. See our tips as well as how to make it in a slow cooker.
- These Instant Pot Eggs could not be simpler! If you are looking for a 100% foolproof method for how to cook hard or soft boiled eggs, this is it.
Easy Instant Pot Pot Roast (Tender and Juicy)
How to make Instant Pot pot roast that is so tender, it melts in your mouth. This easy recipe makes ultra-flavorful beef guaranteed to satisfy the entire family. Use an Instant Pot or other brand of electric pressure cooker. The best cuts of beef for pot roast are tougher cuts of meat like chuck, brisket, and round. Baby potatoes are optional. They get very soft and can be served whole or mashed and served alongside the pot roast.
You Will NeedFor Pot Roast
3 pounds beef chuck, brisket, or round
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large onion
5 medium carrots (12 ounces)
4 celery stalks
5 to 6 garlic cloves
1 1/2 tablespoons high heat cooking oil
3 cups beef broth
1 to 2 bouillon cubes or use bouillon mix, optional, see notes
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 rosemary sprigs
4 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
12 ounces baby potatoes, optionalFor Optional Gravy
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons cream, optional
- Prepare Beef and Vegetables
- Cook Pot Roast
- Optional Gravy
Season all sides of the beef with a generous amount of salt (2 to 3 teaspoons) and then set aside, at room temperature, for one hour.
Meanwhile, make a spice mixture by stirring together the onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper.
Prepare the vegetables. Peel and cut the onion into large chunks. Peel the carrots and remove the ends. Slice the carrots and celery into thick long sticks. Smash garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife and peel away the skins.
After an hour, use paper towels to pat the beef dry on all sides (this helps the meat brown), and then rub the beef on all sides with the spice mixture.
Add oil to the bottom of a 6-quart Instant Pot (or electric pressure cooker). Select the “Sauté” setting and choose high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the beef. Cook until well-browned on all sides, about four minutes per side. Transfer the browned beef to a plate.
Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic cloves to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally until they start to sweat and lightly brown around the edges, about 6 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a plate.
Pour in the broth, bouillon, and apple cider vinegar, and then use a wooden spoon to scrape up the any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot (not doing this may result in an error while cooking at pressure).
Turn the “saute” function off. Place the beef back into the pot and scatter the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic around the beef. Add the rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, and baby potatoes (optional). It is okay if the liquid in the pot does not completely cover the beef and vegetables.
Select the “Pressure Cook” or “Manual” function and cook on high pressure for 60 minutes. Note that the timer will not start until there is enough pressure inside the pot, so the timer may not start for a few minutes.
When the cooking time is up, do not immediately open the lid and instead let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, release the remaining pressure by using the quick release button (be careful to keep your hands and face away from the venting steam).
Taste the liquid and adjust with additional salt and pepper. Transfer the beef roast to a cutting board and gently shred to your desired size and place onto a serving platter. Transfer the vegetables to the serving platter, and then serve drizzled with some of the liquid left in the pot. (Or make a quick gravy.)
To make a quick gravy with the liquid left in the pot, use a strainer to remove any bits of vegetables and the herbs from the liquid. Select the “Sauté” setting and choose high heat then bring the liquid to a boil and cook until it reduces by a quarter, 1 to 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch and water together. When the liquid has reduced, slowly whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Continue to boil until the gravy thickens. Turn off the pressure cooker, and then season the gravy to taste with additional salt, pepper, or spices. (For a creamier gravy, add a small splash of cream.)
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- We have the 6-quart Instant Pot.
- Bouillon cubes or a bouillon mix adds lots if extra flavor to the cooking liquid. If you do not have any in your kitchen, be sure to use a rich beef broth in the recipe.
- If after our suggested cook time, the beef is not as tender as you’d like, you will need to place the lid back onto the pot, seal it, and then cook at high pressure for additional time (an additional 10 to 20 minutes is our suggestion).
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values. Sodium will vary depending on the broth, bouillon, and salt used.