My mom’s famous red wine pot roast recipe takes a chuck roast and braises it in red wine until tender with carrots, celery, and potatoes.
And since the holidays are coming up, it feels like a good time to share one of her special occasion recipes, her famous red wine pot roast.
This is the roast my family makes on Christmas almost every year. It’s always a total show-stopper, and it’s my favorite pot roast recipe in the entire world because it is ridiculously good and ridiculously easy to make.
You take a chuck roast, fill it with slices of garlic, and then braise it low and slow in a mixture of red wine and tomato sauce until it is incredibly tender.
It makes your house smell delicious and best of all, once your roast is seared and simmering, the rest of the cooking is mostly hands-off.
Check on it once in a while and add the vegetables halfway through, but otherwise, the work is basically done. Time to tidy up the kitchen (or make someone else handle that) and relax.
- 3½ to 4 pound chuck roast: If you’re having trouble finding a 3+ pound roast, try asking at the butcher counter (that’s what I had to do for the roast in the photos). I’ve also resorted to just using two 2-pound roasts a couple of times in the past, and that worked fine.
- Dry red wine: Cabernet Sauvignon is my go-to for this dish, but any dry red wine will work.
- Prepared horseradish: There’s only a small amount of horseradish in this dish, but I think it’s worth it to grab a jar at the store if you don’t keep it stocked at home since it’s a fairly inexpensive ingredient (around $2).
- Mustard: Regular yellow mustard or Dijon will both work fine.
- Small-to-medium red potatoes: Pick potatoes that are around 2½ inches to 2¾ inches max. If you’re using really large potatoes, cut them in half.
How to Make (the Best!) Red Wine Pot Roast
1. Make sauce: In a small bowl, combine tomato sauce, brown sugar, oregano, horseradish, and mustard. Stir until well-mixed and set aside.
2. Add garlic slices: Use a paring knife to poke small cuts about 1½ inches deep all over your roast and insert sliced garlic into the slits. This step seems fiddly and unnecessary, but it really helps the garlic flavor penetrate the meat, and when you get a bite of one of the slow roasted garlic pieces, you’ll be so glad you took the extra time for this step.
3. Dredge the roast in flour: Place the roast in a large bowl or plastic bag and sprinkle with flour, salt, and pepper. Rotate the roast as needed until all sides are well-coated.
4. Sear: In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add roast to the pot and brown on all sides. Be very careful when you’re turning the roast not to let it fall too quickly and splash hot oil out of the pan.
5. Add red wine and tomato sauce: Add onions to the pot and pour red wine over the top. Pour tomato sauce mixture over the roast, cover the pot and bring the liquid to a simmer. Yes, this is all the liquid you will add, no this is not a problem. The roast will release a lot of liquid as it cooks.
6. Simmer: Once simmering, reduce the heat to keep it just at a simmer, and cook for 2 1/2 hours. Check on the roast occasionally to make sure it’s maintaining that nice easy simmer, but otherwise, it’s hands off for the next couple hours.
7. Add vegetables: Flip the roast over (so both sides cook evenly) and then nestle the vegetables around the meat, making sure they’re mostly submerged.
8. Finish cooking: Place the lid back on the pot, bring the liquid back up to a simmer, and cook for 1 hour more, until the vegetables and meat are tender. You should be able to pierce both the potatoes and the meat easily with a sharp knife.
Optional skim the fat: Between the cooking oil and the fat released from the roast, there will be a thin layer of fat over the top of the cooking liquid. If you would like to skim it off, transfer the roast to a cutting board and use a slotted spoon or spider skimmer to transfer the vegetables to a serving bowl. Let the liquid settle for two minutes, and then use a large spoon to skim the fat from the surface.
If you’re making the roast a day ahead, you can also just refrigerate everything and scrape the solidified fat from the top in the morning.
9. Dish and eat: Taste the sauce, and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve the roast cut into large chunks alongside the cooked vegetables, with sauce spooned over the top and enjoy!
What is a good red wine to cook with beef?
A nice cabernet sauvignon is my favorite wine to use in beef recipes, but pinot noir and merlot are also great options.
Can I make a smaller roast with this recipe?
Yes. If your roast is less than 3 pounds, you can still follow the recipe exactly as written, but it might not need the full hour of cooking time after you’ve added the vegetables.
If you find that the roast is tender (you can pierce the meat easily with a sharp knife) before the vegetables are done cooking, simply remove the roast and transfer it to the cutting board tented with foil to keep it warm.
When the vegetables are done, if the roast has cooled too much, cut it into pieces and briefly return it to the simmering cooking liquid to reheat before serving.
Can you freeze pot roast?
Yes! Pot roast beef freezes exceptionally well. The carrots, celery, and onions will be softer after freezing and reheating, but freeze okay.
I’m not a huge fan of freezing potatoes because they become slightly mealy after being frozen, so I typically don’t freeze the potatoes and serve the roast over mashed potatoes when I reheat the leftovers.
That being said, if you want to freeze the potatoes, go for it. Most of the rest of my family does, and they don’t mind the texture change.
To freeze the roast: Portion servings of the beef and vegetables along with the sauce in airtight freezer bags, remove as much of the air as possible, and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in the microwave. (Do not try to thaw the roast in the microwave. It will turn the vegetables to mush.)
More Favorite Beef Recipes
Red Wine Pot Roast Recipe Notes
- Prepping the vegetables: You don’t need to start prepping your carrots, celery, and potatoes until the roast is simmering. If you’re prepping the potatoes early in the cooking time, place the peeled potatoes in a large bowl and cover them with cold water so they don’t turn brown while they’re waiting to be added to the roast.
Mom's Famous Red Wine Pot Roast
- Large Dutch oven with a lid
- 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
- 1 teaspoon mustard *
- 3½ to 4 pound boneless chuck roast
- 2 large garlic cloves thinly sliced
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion cut in half root to tip and sliced into half moons.
- 1 cup dry red wine *
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 small-to-medium red potatoes peeled*
- 6 medium carrots peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 4 celery ribs cut into 2-inch pieces
- In a small bowl, combine tomato sauce, brown sugar, oregano, horseradish, and mustard. Stir until well-mixed and set aside.
- Use a paring knife to poke small cuts about 1½ inches deep all over your roast and insert sliced garlic into the slits.
- Place roast in a large bowl or plastic bag and sprinkle with flour, salt, and pepper. Rotate the roast as needed until all sides are well-coated.
- In a large Dutch oven with a lid, heat oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add roast to the pot and brown on all sides.
- Add onions to the pot around the roast and pour red wine over the top. Pour tomato sauce mixture over the roast and add the bay leaf. Cover the pot and bring the liquid to a simmer.
- Once simmering, reduce the heat to keep the liquid at just a simmer and cook for 2½ hours.
- Flip the roast over and then nestle the potatoes, carrots, and celery around the meat, making sure they’re mostly submerged.
- Place the lid back on the pot, bring the liquid back up to a simmer, and cook for 1 hour more, until the vegetables and meat are tender. (You should be able to pierce both the potatoes and the meat easily with a sharp knife.)
- (Optional) If you would like to skim the fat from the top of the sauce, transfer the roast to a cutting board and use a slotted spoon or spider skimmer to transfer the vegetables to a serving bowl. Let the liquid settle for 2 to 3 minutes, and then use a large spoon to skim the fat from the surface.
- Taste the sauce, and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve the meat cut into chunks with sauce spooned over the meat and vegetables* and enjoy!
Recipe from Southern Living Five-Star Recipe Collection (appears to be out of print) via my mom 😉
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