Instant Pot Pot Roast is probably both one the most sought out Instant Pot recipes and also one of the most confusing for beginners. Questions abound with it. Is pot roast better in the Instant Pot than the old fashioned low and slow method, or at least as good? How can you assure that your Instant Pot pot roast is tender? How long should it cook?
In short, yes, you can get very good pot roast from the Instant Pot, and it is quicker than the low and slow method, although it still does take a good amount of time to do properly. This guide will take you through the key points of making a great pressure cooker pot roast and provide my tried and true recipe. Yes, pot roast can be easy!
Traditional Pot Roast v. Instant Pot Pot Roast
It seems like every time a person asks in a social media group for an Instant Pot roast beef recipe, a fair number of people chime in telling people not to do it and asserting that the best roast will always come from traditional methods. I think there is a valid basis for that in that I personally believe that a good roast cooked low and slow for many hours will always be the superior product. BUT Instant Pot pot roast can be nearly the same and done in less time. For a person without access to an oven or who wants a quicker version, the Instant Pot is a great way to make roast beef.
The Best Cut of Meat for Pot Roast
A great Instant pot beef roast starts with a good cut of beef. Normally, tougher cuts work best for pot roast as they have high amounts of collagen that, when cooked over a long period of time, breaks down into gelatin which tenderizes the meat.
Chuck roast is traditionally considered the best cut for pot roast, followed by round roast and/or brisket. For the Instant Pot, I have used both chuck and round, with chuck being my strong preference.
Cooking Time for Instant Pot Pot Roast
The Instant Pot website lists the cooking time for small chunks of beef roast at 15-20 minutes per 450 grams or 1 pound and large chunks at 20-25 minutes per 450 grams or 1 pound. I prefer roasting a large roast that is not cut into chunks to avoid accidentally overcooking or drying it. That also assures that the collagen is spread through the whole roast. I cook at 25 minutes per pound and typically use a three pound roast. So 75 minutes is about perfect for that. You will see some suggest 90 minutes for any roast, but I have seen reports of overcooked roasts with that length of time, and a generic time that does not consider the weight of the roast is not very helpful. However, overcooking usually won’t harm things too much other than causing a loss of flavor and some drying.
Very small roasts can be tricky. I suggest adding more time, even perhaps doubling it, than the normal 20-25 minutes per pound for a small (such as 1 pound) roast.
Natural Release is also key to a good Instant Pot roast. If impatient, give the natural release at least 15 minutes. My full natural release took 25 minutes. Doing so helps lock in the juices and keep the meat moist. It seems that many times when a person reports getting a tough roast they either pressure cooked it for too short of a time, or they used quick release. So, once quick release is used, your 3 pound roast will actually take longer, around 100 minutes.
Add in the 10 minutes or so that it take for the pot to come to pressure, it is 110 minutes, and cooking the vegetables separately adds another 15 or so. Ultimately, my recipe takes about 125 -130 minutes, or a bit over two hours. Two hours and 30 minutes or so if you also consider preparation time. But my low and slow version takes around 6 hours!
What about cooking from frozen? I have seen recipes for it that simply add on another 20-30 minutes of cook time. However, I personally do not recommend it. For consistent results, starting with thawed meat is best.
About the Vegetables in an Instant Pot Beef Roast
One of the big challenges of making a pot roast in the Instant Pot is avoiding mushy vegetables. Many recipes put them in with the roast, which leads to disintegrated onions, mushy carrots, and mashed potatoes. Other recipes wrap the veggies in foil to protect them a bit, but those too get reports of mushy veggies. Plus, I like to have my carrots and potatoes soak up the wonderful flavor of the beef broth and onions. They won’t get that wrapped in foil. I also am not the biggest fan of pressure cooking foil with my food, although I do occasionally do so.
My solution is to pressure cook the beef roast first, remove it to a plate and tent it with foil, add the vegetables to the broth, and pressure cook for 5 minutes. Use 2-3 minutes for firmer vegetables and 8-10 for softer. It doesn’t hurt the meat to rest a bit like that anyway. I do cook initially with onions as well, but I add more at the end to have some firmer onions in the mix.
Tips for the Best Instant Pot Pot Roast
So, with all that background in mind, I have found that there are a few key tips to making a good Instant Pot roast.
- Start with good tried and true cut of meat. So, use a chuck roast. In a pinch a round roast might suffice.
- Use a good amount of flavoring. In my case I cook in beef broth and use Montreal Steak seasoning, onion soup mix, and bay leaves.
- Pressure cook the roast for at least 20 minutes per pound.
- Natural release, preferably a full natural release, but if impatient, try to get at least 20 minutes.
- Pressure cook the vegetables separately to avoid mushy veggies.
How to Make Instant Pot Pot Roast
So, here is my basic Instant Pot pot roast recipe (a recipe card is also below). This is an adaptation of my long time favorite low and slow traditional method roast. Its secret ingredients are Montreal Steak Seasoning and a packet of onion soup mix. They give awesome flavor to to the roast!
Coat the beef roast with olive oil and rub a generous amount of Montreal Steak Seasoning on all sides of the roast. Then sear the beef in the pot using the saute function. After searing, remove the beef and add a chopped onion with a small splash of beef broth to deglaze the pot. Once deglazed, pour in the remaining broth and add a trivet.
Place the beef roast on the trivet and pour a package of onion soup mix over it. Set two or three bay leaves on top.
Pressure cook on high pressure at 25 minutes per pound, followed by natural release. Then remove the roast from the pot.
Add vegetables to the pot and pressure cook for 5 minutes. I add baby potatoes, carrots, celery, and onion to mine.
To serve, cut the roast against the grain or cut into chunks and serve with the vegetables and a ladle of the broth. You can also make a gravy by removing the vegetables, then making a cornstarch slurry and adding it to the pot to thicken the broth. But I prefer to serve my roast without gravy, and I include a savory bread, such as my Savory Jalapeno Irish Soda Bread, or a good grainy wheat bread, to use to soak up the broth.
The roast is tender and juicy with lots of flavor.
Here is the Recipe card:
- 3 lb Chuck roast
- 1-2 T olive oil
- Montreal Steak Seasoning (enough to generously coat the roast)
- 1 Package of onion soup mix
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 cup beef broth
- 2 small to medium onions, thickly sliced or chopped
- 1 small bag of baby carrots (or 6-8 carrots, thickly cut)
- 1 pound baby potatoes
- 4 stalks of celery, thickly cut
- Rub the roast with olive oil.
- Generously coat with Montreal Steak seasoning.
- Using the Instant Pot Saute function, sear the beef on all sides, then set aside.
- Add a splash of broth to the pot and stir, scraping up any brown bits to deglaze it.
- Add one chopped onion to the pot and cover with a trivet.
- Pour in 1 cup of beef broth.
- Place the roast on top of the trivet.
- Pour one packet of onion soup mix over the roast and top with 2-3 bay leaves.
- Pressure cook on high pressure for 25 minutes per pound, or 75 minutes for a 3 lb roast.
- Use natural release for at least 25 minutes.
- Remove the roast and cover with a foil tent.
- Add the carrots, one chopped onion, celery, and potatoes to the pot.
- Pressure cook on high pressure for 5 minutes, or 2-3 minutes for for firmer vegetables, or 8-10 minutes for extra soft vegetables.
- Cut the roast against the grain or into chunks.
- Serve the vegetables and roast with a ladle of broth and a good crusty bread.
A good related recipe is our Instant Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe!