When trying to cook beef for pot roast best cut, many will use the wrong cut of beef. This can lead to sub-par flavors and tough cuts. Many people choose three main types of meat: rump roast, eye round, and top round. However, with just a few more minutes of thought, there is an alternative beef for pot roast best cut that could really change your opinion on these three cuts.
Even growing up in a Chinese-American family that predominantly ate Chinese food, I knew what pot roast was. I’d seen it mentioned on television and read enough about this classic American dish to know that it was homey and delicious.
Now that I have my own young family to feed, I truly understand why pot roast is so popular — it’s inexpensive, yields a ton of servings, and makes the whole house smell delicious and warm. Although it’s pretty hard to screw up pot roast, there is one big factor that will make or break the dish: choosing the right cut of beef.
What Is Pot Roast?
Pot roast isn’t really a specific recipe or cut of meat — it’s more of a method. Take a big cut of tough beef, brown it if you can, then cover and slow cook it with aromatics and liquid (stock, broth, wine, or water) until meltingly tender.
Tough Meat Makes Good Pot Roast
When thinking about how pot roast is made, time and temperature really define the process. Pot roast is basically a braise that cooks at a low temperature for a long period of time.
So what kind of meats work best then? The tougher cuts! We’re talking about lean cuts with lots of connective tissue and very little fat that see a lot of movement and action on the animal — ones that would be like chewing shoe leather if you just seared or grilled it quickly.
When cooked properly, the high amount of collagen in tough cuts eventually breaks down into gelatin, tenderizing the meat, making it succulent, and adding richness and body to the braising liquid to turn it into a velvety sauce.
Which Cuts of Beef Work Best?
Now that we know the details behind why tough cuts make the best pot roast, let’s get into the specific cuts. The following three cuts will all make a fine pot roast:
- Chuck: From the front portion of the animal. Look for chuck roast, shoulder steak, boneless chuck roast, chuck shoulder pot roast, chuck seven-bone pot roast, or beef chuck arm.
- Brisket: From the breast or lower chest with long strands of meat. The flat cut is leaner, and the point cut has more fat. Brisket is best sliced against the grain of the meat for maximum tenderness.
- Round: From the rear leg area of the animal. Look for rump roast or bottom round.
The Best Cuts Of Meat For Pot Roast
There’s no cold-weather main dish more comforting than pot roast, and if you’ve ever sunk a fork into this tender, braised piece of beef, you’ll agree. Typically stewed inside a covered pot like a Dutch oven, cooks flavor pot roast with hearty winter vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, and onions. According to Kitchn, a good pot roast turns out moist, can be shredded, ready to be eaten in a deep soup bowl, or ladled over buttered egg noodles or mashed potatoes.
Did you know that the name “pot roast” refers more to the cooking method used to prepare this dish instead of any specific cut of meat? As it turns out, you can braise various cuts of beef to make pot roast, and the tougher the meat, the better they’ll take to this low-and-slow cooking method. Want to find out which cuts make the best pot roast? Read on to find out.
Beef chuck makes an excellent pot roast
As mentioned above, tough cuts of meat loaded with lots of connective tissue — the muscle groups animals use for mobility — are the best choices for pot roasts. This is because, during the couple hours it takes for the braising process to complete, this type of meat breaks down and becomes oh-so-tender, notes Kitchn. Additionally, these cuts stay moist over long cooking times, as large amounts of collagen break down into gelatin, bathing the meat and reserving its succulent taste.
ButcherBox says the best beef choice that meets top-quality conditions is beef chuck roast. This tough meat is cut from the shoulder above the short rib and braises into a perfectly tender pot roast. This tender cut is often sold as chuck shoulder pot roast, chuck roast, beef chuck arm, shoulder steak, chuck seven-bone pot roast, beef chuck, or boneless chuck roast, advises Kitchn. Although labeled differently, these meats are all cut from the same part of the cow.
Brisket makes a great pot roast, too
If you’ve ever tried beef brisket dry-rubbed-and-smoked, BBQ style or Jewish-braised, then you know that this cut of beef breaks down into rich, tender strands of meat and is easily shredded apart with a fork. According to ButcherBox, brisket is a wonderful choice for pot roast, as well. Cut from the chest, or the lower, front portion of the animal, brisket has quite a bit of fat.
The fat breaks down in a braise and enriches the sauce the pot roast cooks in, creating a flavor bomb you can soak up with thick-cut bread or buttery mashed potatoes. Brisket is commonly labeled as flat cut (a leaner piece of meat, according to Kitchn), beef brisket flat half, and beef brisket point half (a fattier cut). It’s good to note that this cut is more expensive than the chuck roast mentioned above.
Bottom round roast is another good choice for pot roast
If you’ve ever piled rare roast beef onto a sandwich, you were likely eating bottom round roast, a cut typically used to prepare the slow-roasted meat (via ButcherBox). While roast beef is cooked dry, bottom round roast takes very well to the moist, slow-cooked braising method used to make pot roast. This method cooks meat down into a tender roast. According to Kitchn, bottom round roast is cut from the rear leg area of the cow and is also sometimes called bottom round or rump roast.
As noted by ButcherBox, this is a very lean cut of meat that might require some extra fat to remain tender while braising in order to prevent chewy braised beef. Drizzle some extra olive oil over the pot roast before covering and braising it, or spoon some lard, beef tallow, or butter into the pot before cooking. Whether you’re tucking into a chuck roast, a brisket, or a bottom round roast, you’re sure to end up with a lovely, delicious pot roast.
These Are the Best Cuts of Beef for a Pot Roast
You need more than just a good recipe to make a tender pot roast.
A savory and tender pot roast ranks high on the list of ultimate comfort foods, especially when it is served with homemade sides such as macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and green beans. And, ohhh – don’t forget the homemade biscuits to sop up the gravy! A pot roast is also a serious multi-tasker – it is budget friendly compared to other cuts of beef, is big enough to feed the family, and it perfumes the entire house with a delicious aroma as it cooks. Scanning a recipe, you may think a pot roast is nearly impossible to mess up, but there is one factor that can make or break Sunday dinner: you need the right cut of beef. While outdoor grilling calls for the choicest (and most expensive) cuts of beef, you can make a fabulous pot roast out of the cheapest, toughest cut of meat. nice chuck roast is the classic choice for pot roasts, but there are other cuts you can use to achieve an exceptional roast.
The rule of beef is that the more a muscle is used, the tougher and more flavorful it becomes. The muscles clustered around the steer’s shoulder, chest, belly and hip include familiar cuts such as the chuck, brisket and round. Surprisingly, it is the tough connective tissues in these cuts that make them choice options for a pot roast. After cooking for a long time at a low temperature, the connective tissue breaks down into natural gelatin, which moistens the meat the way that marbled fat does for other cuts. All three of the following touch cuts make a great pot roast.
Chuck Roast Cut
A chuck roast is cut from the shoulder and neck region of the animal and may be labeled chuck roast, shoulder steak, boneless chuck roast, or chuck shoulder pot roast. Slightly fattier than brisket or round, chuck has a richer taste but is higher in saturated fats. A chuck roast is hard to slice neatly because the shoulder muscles run in different directions.
The brisket is cut from the breast or lower chest and is sold as a wide, flat cut, with its fat primarily on the outside. Brisket is best sliced against the grain of the meat for maximum tenderness. While the long strands of brisket may easily fall apart when hot, the cooled leftovers can be sliced neatly into sandwiches.
Round Roast Cut
A round roast is cut from the rear leg area of the animal. Look for rump roast or bottom roundroast. The leanest of the three most common pot roast cuts, it has a fine grain which makes it great for slicing, but it lacks the big, beefy flavor of the other two cuts.