There’s something for everyone in this pot roast recipe! Pick one of four flavor variations to try this week and then come back for another round later.
My mother-in-law says that the best pears are the slightly brown, bruised, so-ripe-they’re-almost-overripe, and her litmus test of perfection is whether the pear juice runs all the way down to your elbows when you eat it, such that you must stand over the kitchen sink to reach the core.
I feel the same way about a roast in the Instant Pot or slow cooker.
That beef roast better be falling apart, not even requiring a knife, so juicy you’re reminded of pear juice to the elbows.
On the other hand, many folks love the kind of roast you slice into roast beef, which looks a lot fancier on the table and is perfect cold in sandwiches. I’m always nervous that I’ll overcook that sort of roast, so I’m more hesitant (and rely 100% on a good recipe and my trusty meat thermometer).
That kind of roast is more like an artisan loaf of bread, thickly sliced to perfection, crusty on the outside but steaming and soft on the inside.
With a beef shoulder roast, you get the best of both worlds.
Your juicy pears or your crusty bread, depending on how long you cook it.
If you want a flexible recipe that allows you to choose not only the texture but the flavor of the roast, this framework “dump roast” is your new best friend.
Take a beef shoulder roast, dump in some other ingredients to create one of four different flavor profiles, and cook it either in the Instant Pot or slow cooker. You could have a month of weekly roasts and never need to look up a new recipe!
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What is a Beef Shoulder Roast?
The shoulder of the cow is fairly hearty since the animal uses the joint a lot and builds muscle there. Both shoulder roasts (sometimes called arm roasts) and chuck roasts come from the shoulder.
Beef shoulder roasts are less fatty and more tender than a chuck roast and can even go on the grill like a steak, but can also be shredded if cooked long enough.
Chuck roasts are tougher and 100% require a long, slow cook or an extended blasting from the pressure cooker. They’re often seen in stew or pot roast recipes.
Any meat from the shoulder or chuck area of the cow needs a moist, longer cook time to avoid being tough. They’re great for the budget compared to other roasts and steaks!
How to Cook a Beef Shoulder Roast
Traditionally, a shoulder roast would have been braised in liquid in the oven (or in a pot) for quite a few hours, but I prefer modern appliances to make everything even more foolproof.
Pot Roast Recipe in the Instant Pot
In an Instant Pot, you’ll need at least a cup of liquid and cook on HIGH pressure for 25 minutes per pound.
To get sliced roast beef, open up the Instant Pot and check the temp with a meat thermometer. If it’s at 145F, you can remove the roast and set it on a platter, tent it with foil or an inverted pot, and let it rest for about 5 minutes.
If the temp isn’t high enough, return to pressure for 5-10 more minutes.
To make a shredded beef roast for sliders or wraps, go with 30 minutes at pressure per pound and a natural pressure release. With a shoulder roast, you miiiiight not get it to fall apart with only forks, but you should be able to remove, slice with a sharp knife, and return to the juices for 10 minutes to finish getting all shred-y and juicy like you want it.
Where to Buy an Instant Pot
This is the 6-quart Instant Pot I started out with. After a few years, we added an 8-quart partly because I knew I would use two at the same time often enough, partly because it was the Prime Day sale, and also because I wanted more space for certain recipes. Both are a pretty basic model and you don’t need more bells and whistles than that!
If you’re deciding on size, most people say it’s better to get a deal on the 6-quart and just have 2 rather than go big, BUT if your family has 5 or more people or you really like to batch cook or do more than a pound of beans, the 8-quart may be the best choice. My full Instant Pot review and buying guide for features, size, and model.
If you’d like to shop directly at Instant Pot’s website instead of Amazon (or just compare prices), check them out here.
If you’re still on the fence about adding an Instant Pot to your kitchen appliance arsenal here are my Instant Pot pros and cons.
Pot Roast Recipe in the Slow Cooker
Cook that shoulder roast all day long, 8-10 hours on low temp, until it really is falling apart tender. In a slow cooker, I don’t recommend trying for sliced roast beef. Go shredded all the way, and the longer you can cook it, the better. This also should work at about 5 hours on high.
Recipes for Beef Shoulder Roasts Four Ways
In what I call a “framework” recipe, you’ll see how you can combine different fats, liquids, herbs and spices, vegetables, and acid to take a basic format and create many flavor combinations.
We’ll take that shoulder roast and make it into four meals:
- A basic pot roast style meal that I’ll call “Dutch” in honor of the many Dutch here in West Michigan who like simple, inexpensive food without much seasoning beyond salt and pepper (and not too much of that, thankyouverymuch)
- An Italian-inspired dish perfect with a glass of red wine and an optional side of pasta and crusty bread to soak up the tomatoey sauce. You can see the Italian recipe variation written out here.
- A totally different Mexican seasoned roast that can become a burrito bowl with rice, beans, and fixings, soft tacos, or a cold taco salad the next day
- And finally, one that I hope Julia Child would approve of, a French-inspired flavor combo with plenty of butter, mushrooms, and red wine
Using your trusty Instant Pot OR slow cooker, you can choose your flavor, choose your texture, learn one method, and have meals planned for Sunday dinners for a month.
You can use the same flavor match-ups for other roasts, such as a chuck roast, bottom round roast, or eye of round roast, as long as you look up a tested recipe for the amount of time it needs to cook.Print
This framework makes it simple to get a flavorful roast with 4 different options: basic, Italian, Mexican or French.
- 3 lb. beef shoulder roast (or adjust for smaller or larger roasts)
- 1–3 Tbs. Fat
- A deglaze option
- 1 c. liquid
- Herbs or spices
- 1 1/2 tsp.
- 1/2–1 tsp. pepper
- 2–10 cloves minced garlic or 1/2–2 tsp. garlic powder
Terrible recipe, right? See the chart below to see which options to use in each category for each flavor profile.
- Melt the fat on high and, if using an Instant Pot and you have an extra 15 minutes, brown the beef roast on all sides for about 3 minutes each.
- If using onions, mushrooms, or peppers, brown them in the fat next. (I don’t bother removing the roast, just stir the veggies around it, but you may remove to a plate.)
- If using a deglaze option, that goes in next, and stir around for a minute.
- Carefully pour in the liquid and return the roast if you removed it.
- Nestle other veggies around the roast.
- If using green beans, steam separately unless you like overcooked green beans.
- Sprinkle the herbs, spices, garlic, salt, and pepper all over the roast and veggies.
- Cook according to the following directions:
- Instant Pot sliced roast beef: 25 minutes per pound, quick release and test temp for 145F, add 5-10 minutes more pressure if necessary.
- Instant Pot shredded shoulder roast: 30 minutes per pound, natural pressure release until falling apart. Add 10 minutes more at pressure if necessary.
- Slow cooker shredded beef: 8-10 hours on low or 5+ hours on high.
- Add the acid right at the end to the juices.
- See serving ideas in the chart and enjoy!
- Calories: 1088
- Sugar: 3g
- Sodium: 904mg
- Fat: 52g
- Saturated Fat: 15g
- Unsaturated Fat: 37g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 7g
- Fiber: 2g
- Protein: 22g
- Cholesterol: 421mg
Keywords: simple dinner, quick roast, make ahead dinner
Where to Find High Quality Meat
Having trouble finding good quality meat locally? Would you like to fill your freezer with local and pastured options?
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If you’re west of the Mississippi, check out Wild Pastures.
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Dutch (Basic Roast)
|1-3 Tbs. Fat||Butter or skip the fat||Extra virgin olive oil||Bacon grease (or oil of choice)||Combine butter and|
|Vegetables||Potatoes (quartered, carrots and onions (quartered)||1 sliced onion , diced or sliced zucchini,|
½-1 pound green beans
|1 sliced onion, 1-2 sliced green or red pepper(s), optional: ½-1 diced jalapeno||1-2 sliced onions, 8 oz. sliced mushrooms|
|Deglaze||None||¼ cup or 1 can tomato paste||¼ cup or 1 can tomato paste (or none if you want shredded beef w/o tomato sauce-y juice)||½ cup red wine|
|1 cup liquid||Water or broth||Water or wine/water combo||Water or broth||½ cup water or all red wine|
|Herbs/spices||1 Tbs. parsley||1 Tbs. Italian seasoning blend||1 Tbs. cumin, 1-2 tsp. chili powder, 2 tsp. oregano||(optional) 1 tsp. dried thyme (not ground)|
|Acid||None||A few Tbs. red wine vinegar||¼ cup lime juice||Balsamic vinegar to taste|
|Extra bonus options||Skip veggies entirely and shred for simple sandwiches that can change flavor based on sauce||Serve with crusty bread to soak up all the tomato sauce||Top with fresh cilantro||Cook mushrooms separately in butter in a fry pan and serve over the meat|
|Serve with||Nothing needed; this is a full “pot roast” style meal||Over pasta (optional) or sauteed cabbage “noodles” with a salad||Enchilada or burrito filling; DIY Chipotle bowls with rice, cooked beans, corn, salsa, etc; over rice; with tortilla chips||Roast vegetables or steamed broccoli; baked or boiled red potatoes|
Now you too can have a juicy, melt-in-your-mouth run-down-to-your-elbows-like-a-pear beef should roast, no matter what flavor suits your family!
I wrote this recipe in conjunction with a guest post for US Wellness Meats. Try out the other recipes I’ve done for them:
- Johns’s famous Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin
- Butter Ranch Drumsticks
- Easy Freezer Veggie-Filled Meatballs