Point-Counterpoint: Is Pot Roast Worth the Trouble?

Two ATK staffers debate the merits of pot roast, the classic but sometimes-maligned dish.
By and

Published Feb. 9, 2022.

Twitter, that bottomless pit of digital despair, is good for some things.

On Tuesday, the topic of pot roasts began trending on the social media platform for some inexplicable reason. This led to our staff to briefly consider pot roasts for the first time in, well, ever. Do people enjoy it? Do people despise it? Are pot roasts worth spending more than six brain cells discussing?

As it turned out, pot roasts brings out the heavy emotions. Like, do we need to call HR to mediate this? Here now, in the interest of presenting diverse perspectives, a point-counterpoint on this most divisive of stews: The pot roast.

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Pot Roast is Blandness in a Bowl

By Danielle Lapierre

Let me start this off by saying: my mom is a wonderful cook. She almost never made a meal I didn’t like. However, there is one that sticks out in my mind that was purely, well, meh: 

Pot roast.

And that’s for a variety of reasons. First off, the meat was always too dry. I always hoped it would be tender, but it never was. And despite braising in a pot of stock and spices as long as it was, the beef was always bland too. Not even spooning that luscious sauce on top of the beef could mask the blandness and texture of the meat.

Then there’s the matter of sauce. 

Again, meh. (Sorry, mom.) With the mirepoix we always used as the base, you’d think it would be more flavorful, but the holy trinity of carrots, celery, and onions weren’t enough. Followed with some beef stock, salt, and pepper, the sauce was just so . . . one-note. I’m sure there were some other ingredients in there too, but it didn’t matter. Those vegetables? Mostly it was for color.

It’s very possible I wasn’t eating the best recipe for pot roast. So maybe I ought to give ATK’s Classic Pot Roast a shot. But with all of the average experiences I’ve had with pot roasts, I’m not sure I’ll ever even have the motivation to try. Life’s too short—there’s way more delicious dishes out there with a better reputation.

Classic Pot Roast

These days, pot roasts come in all styles and flavors. But when we went looking for truly beefy taste, a simple 19th-century recipe proved the best guide.
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Pot Roast isn't Boring. You've Just Never Made the Right Recipe.

By Caren White

Pot roast is delicious and it’s a shame more people don’t like it. If your pot roast is wack, chances are you’re just not doing it right.

I’ll tell you how my grandmother used to make it and why I loved it. 

First, a massive hunk of chuck roast was browned in a cast iron skillet (Maillard = gives the meat a flavor head start). 

Then, you need a lot of seasoning. Like, a lot. Gather all of your aromatics: carrots, celery, onions, garlic—use up those leftovers in the fridge—and get to chopping. Now for her secret ingredient: powdered onion soup mix. 

Next? Just let it cook. The beauty of pot roast is you don’t have to babysit it. 

The finished product is somewhere between a braise and a stew. Tender, flavorful shreds of meat with a luxurious gravy served over your starch of choice, from rice to mashed potatoes. I’m not saying it was my favorite thing, but developing all that flavor in a one-pot dish deserves a little respect. 

Some people say pot roast is bland. But that’s not the pot roast’s fault.

Pot Roast in a Bag

Cooking in a bag creates a tighter seal than a Dutch oven does, yielding discernibly better results. Learn this twist on the classic pot roast.
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