This mouth-wateringly tender and juicy slow cooker roast beef is bathing in its own deeply flavoured gravy and goes with absolutely anything. Why wait until Sunday? Try my fuss-free crock pot recipe which is so low-maintenance and easy-to-follow, you can have a roast any day of the week.
This slow cooker roast beef recipe calls for simple and traditional flavours of red wine and earthy vegetables, but if you want to impress with something more exotic, try coffee rubbed top round roast (topside beef). It uses the same, inexpensive cut of beef but with a lively and unusual crust.
Slow cooker roast beef recipe
A lot of people will not cook a roast dinner. They would rather pay astronomical restaurant prices than deal with what they perceive as a stressful, labour-intensive, high-temperature, time-exhaustive meal. That gets gobbled down in minutes. And then there’s the washing up…
Well, I’m here to bust some of those myths and fend off some fears. Me and my trusty slow cooker.
Fear: I’ll dry out my roast.
Impossible. Like a pot roast, the slow cooked beef joint is cooked in stock and red wine, so it stays moist and succulent.
Fear: My roast will go cold while I make the gravy.
It’s already done! The cooking liquid and vegetables surrounding the beef will become the gravy. It just needs blending once the meat is cooked and resting.
The joint is in the crock pot so your oven is wide open for all the side dishes!
Fear: The timings are confusing me.
Relax. Set the timer on your slow-cooker and forget about it for a few hours.
Fear: I feel overwhelmed by all the elements.
Take a breath. Take one step at a time. The slow cooker is going to do most of the work for you.
Fear: And the washing up?
Best beef joints for slow cooking
You can get away with choosing a leaner, tougher joint for slow cooking as the meat is cooked low and long with plenty of liquid and moisture-making vegetables to tenderise it. My slow cooker roast beef recipe uses red wine and stock to bathe a topside joint.
I’ve used topside (top round), which is strong and beefy in flavour, but silverside or brisket are just as good for the job. These less fatty joints are more economical than other joints and are ideal for pot roasts, braising, stewing, all the slow-cooking methods. The result is soft, tender and juicy slices of meat.
Roast beef gravy
A roast is nothing without a slick gravy sidekick. Even a juicy roast beef cooked in a crock pot is going to benefit from a deeply flavoured lake of gravy. Note: it’s not just for masking accidental dryness, it massively enhances the experience of the whole meal.
This gravy recipe is so convenient it’s almost cheating. In the crock pot that already contains the caramelly oil and beef juices, sauté the onions, carrots, garlic and rosemary, to establish a solid flavour base. Add the red wine, beef stock and tomato paste to build upon the earthy foundations. Then the juicy beef and aromatic bay leaves penetrate the liquid and voilá, your gravy is already a work in progress.
After removing the meat and bay leaves, I blend the liquor and vegetables in the crock pot for a super smooth sauce. I also add a little cornstarch too for consistency. But there’s no need to blend if your prefer a more rough-and-ready gravy.
Recipe tips and notes
- For the ultimate melt-in-the-mouth, fall-apart and flavour-filled slow-cooked roast beef, choose either topside or silverside (top round (US)). Or slightly more affordable shin (shank) or brisket.
- The crucial first step, and honestly, my least favourite is searing the beef joint. A hunk of this size will take around 15 minutes.
- Why is it crucial? The process caramelises the surface of the beef which 1) seals in the juices, 2) colours the meat to that tempting dark brown, 3) adds a slightly sweet and charred full-bodied flavour to the whole dish.
- Why is it my least favourite? I’m not a frying fan. The smell of oil clings to my clothes, hair and permeates my whole house. But I whole-heartedly believe it is worth it for the flavour trade-off. Just get your extractor fan on and a candle at the ready.
- I also sauté the carrots, onions and garlic in the oil after the beef for all the above reasons again. This is what forms the gravy base and makes it a stand-out star.
- At the end of cooking, with an immersion blender, I whizz up the vegetables in the meaty liquid to make a smooth gravy. But if you prefer it chunky, leave it as it is, the finely sliced veg will have cooked down sufficiently so there is texture.
- Keep to the recommended cooking time. The longer the better is absolutely not true! Overcooking the beef can tip it from soft and succulent to dry and chewy. Don’t risk it!
- And don’t be tempted to check on it during cooking. Lifting the lid will release the steam and temperature that is cushioning your joint. It’s perfectly happy in its cooking cocoon so leave it be.
Your beef joint is slowly roasting in the crock pot so you have a free oven and (perhaps) time on your hands. Which route are you going to take? A) “It’s Sunday and I feel like spending some time in the kitchen” or B) “I’ve just got in from work and need dinner on the table asap”.
These recipes will flex your cheffy muscles and require at least an hour of prep and cooking time:
- creamy scalloped potatoes with caramelised shallots
- hasselback potatoes with gremolata
- cauliflower gratin
- miso roasted carrots
While these speedy super sides are done in around 30 minutes:
- crispy air fryer potatoes
- sweet potato and swede mash or herb and garlic mashed potatoes
- easy roasted parmesan Brussels sprouts and carrots
- roasted tenderstem broccoli
Storage and leftovers
Leftover roast beef can be kept covered in the fridge for 3-4 days. At some point during that time, you’re bound to hear it calling to you, begging to be transformed into a melty hot roast beef sandwich or a light and peppery watercress and roast beef salad with horseradish dressing.
Keep that gravy too and you’ve got all the makings of my absolute favourite hot sandwich- the French dip. Just add cheese.
Other beef recipes to try
- Slow Cooker Italian Beef Stew
- Beef Fillet with Easy Bearnaise Sauce (Tenderloin)
- Honey Mustard Crusted Prime Rib Roast (Rib of Beef)
- Braised Beef Short Rib
Slow Cooker Roast Beef
- 1.5kg / 3.3-3.5lbs topside or silverside beef joint (top round in US)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 carrot diced
- 2 cloves garlic sliced
- 2 sprigs rosemary or 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 125ml / ½ cup dry red wine
- 125ml / ½ cup beef stock
- 1 tbsp ketchup or tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- Pat the beef joint dry with paper towel, then season generously with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan and brown the beef, keep turning the joint, so it’s golden all over. It will take approximately 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a slow cooker.
- To the same pan, add the chopped onion, minced rosemary and diced carrot, cook for 5 minutes over low heat, then add the sliced garlic and cook briefly for a few seconds to avoid burning, then deglaze with the red wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to release the burnt bits into the sauce. Add the beef stock and ketchup, stir to combine and take off the heat.
- Pour the mixture over the beef joint together with the bay leaves and cook on LOW for 8 hours or on High for 4 hours.
- Remove the meat from the slow cooker and keep warm. Remove the bay leaves from the liquid and discard. Blend the vegetables with an immersion blender, then add the cornstarch and simmer until thickened. Alternatively you can skip this step and keep your gravy chunky. Slice the roast and serve with the gravy.