Instant Pot Roast in a white bowl with spoon and parsley sprinkled on top

Instant Pot vs. Crock Pot ROAST Taste Off


Author: Lisa Childs

Comments: 8

Beef Recipes

Published Date: June 9, 2020

Updated Date: November 16, 2022

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Instant Pot vs. Crock Pot Roast?! Who will win in the ultimate taste test? Today, we’re cooking a super controversial dish: Beef Pot Roast! 

Instant Pot Roast in a white bowl with spoon and parsley sprinkled on top

In this Instant Pot vs. Crock Pot roast cook off, I used the same ingredients and recipe and cooked them side by side with a blind taste test to see which roast reigned supreme. Here are my results!

If you prefer to watch this episode, here is the video:

Instant Pot vs. Crock Pot Roast

Either way you cook it, beef roast is an easy, comforting dinner that can be made with very little hands-on cook time.

Traditionally, I make roast in the slow cooker so it can cook low and slow for hours and hours (up to 12 hours!) and it’s super soft. Slow cookers are the age-old tool for this recipe, and they haven’t failed me yet. Their biggest downside, however, is cooking time.

This experiment was born after seeing thousands of posts over the years, all touting the wonders of using the Instant Pot to make a superior pot roast. I’ve done roast in the Instant Pot no less than 6 times, all with mediocre results.

I had to get to the bottom of this. This is the slow cooker I have had for 8 years and love. I used to have two, but I got rid of one when I started Instant Pot cooking. This is the Instant Pot I have and love.

An Instant Pot and a crock pot cooking roast beef pot roast
This is the slow cooker I have had for 8 years and love. I used to have two, but I got rid of one when I started Instant Pot cooking. This is the Instant Pot I have and love.

HOW LONG DO YOU COOK A ROAST IN AN INSTANT POT?

I decided to do a lot of research and figure out, once and for all, the best way to cook a roast. Instant Pot vs. Crock Pot?!

The recipe is my own, but through my research, I’ve found that a 60-80 minute cook time with a natural pressure release is what is used in the most popular and highly rated recipes.

CAN YOU COOK A ROAST IN A PRESSURE COOKER?

YES! Anything that usually cooks for an extended period of time (boiling, roasting, simmering, etc.) can generally be cooked in a pressure cooker.

Roast in the Instant Pot is a quick and easy alternative to slow cooking because it can be done in a mere fraction of the time.

Ingredients for Pot Roast

I used the exact same recipe and ingredients for both the roasts to make it fair.

Ingredients for slow cooker pot roast vs Instant Pot pot roast
  • Beef Chuck Roast with LOTS of good marbling
  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion
  • Beef Broth
  • Soy Sauce
  • Bay Leaf

Read the TIPS section in this post for ways to customize your roast to your liking! It is very flexible!

HOW DO YOU COOK A ROAST IN AN INSTANT POT or Crock Pot?

For this experiment, I cooked two roasts from the same package (chuck roast), using the same ingredients and recipe.

I started the Crock Pot roast in the morning, and the Instant Pot roast 2 hours before the Crock Pot was finished.

Package of beef chuck pot roast from costco
I used half this package for the Crock Pot and half for the Instant Pot. Each piece was just over 2 pounds.

Here are the steps for both. (There’s a printable recipe card for both Instant Pot and Crock Pot versions at the bottom of this post.)

  1. Season the meat generously on all sides with a mixture of flour, kosher salt (or seasoned salt), pepper, and garlic powder.
  2. Sear the meat on all sides for about 5 minutes per side. You’ll have to do this step on the stove for the Crock Pot roast and you can use the Saute feature in the Instant Pot.
  3. Remove the meat from the pan/pot after searing, and add a diced onion. Saute for a couple minutes.
  4. Deglaze the pan/pot with a mixture of beef broth and soy sauce. Both of these add sodium, so just keep that in mind. Scrape everything off the pot and pour it over the meat (or add the meat back in for the Instant Pot.)
  5. Add a bay leaf and close the lid, turn the knob to sealing, and cook on manual high pressure for 60-80 minutes. The Crock Pot time is 9-12 hours, depending on how tender you’d like it.
  6. Allow a full natural pressure release, then slice and enjoy!
  7. The Crock Pot roast will not require slicing. Enjoy!
side by side look at the juices in the Instant Pot vs crock pot
Can you tell how the crock pot has reduced down and has a deeper color? There’s also more liquid in the Instant Pot because of the lack of evaporation.

Tips for making this Instant Pot Roast (or Crock Pot):

  • Purchase a chuck roast with lots of good marbling. That means getting something that has a lot of thin, white, fat striations running throughout the meat. This is the part that cooks down and melts away, creating a tender roast.
  • Searing the meat adds exponential flavor and depth. If you don’t have time to sear, omit the flour from the recipe and season just with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  • Use these slow cooker liners to make cleanup a breeze — I promise, they’ll make your life so much easier! The slow cooker liners are only for the CrockPot. Do not use them in the Instant Pot or any other pressure cooker.
  • If you have your own favorite recipe that includes a packet of Italian seasoning, ranch seasoning, or dried onion soup mix, you’re more than welcome to add those directly to this recipe. In that case, omit the soy sauce to control the sodium.
  • If you like an extra herby roast, add 1/2-1 teaspoon basil, 1/2-1 teaspoon oregano, and 1/2-1 teaspoon parsley to your roast before cooking. 
  • If you’re short on time, for an Instant Pot roast, you can cut the meat into 2-3 inch pieces and cook for 40-50 minutes.
  • Vegetables can be added to the beginning or middle of this recipe for both Crock Pot and Instant Pot versions. Depending on how much you like your vegetables to fall apart, add them either at the beginning of the cook time or halfway through in the Crock Pot.
  • In the Instant Pot, do a quick release at the end of the cook time and add your vegetables. Cook the entire pot for an additional 10 minutes with a natural pressure release.
Instant Pot roast with parsley with an Instant Pot in the background

How to make gravy

It’s super easy to make homemade gravy using the same pan drippings and broth that the roast cooked it. I’ll teach you two different ways to make gravy. Each one yields about 2 cups of gravy

Gravy made with Roux (flour and butter)

This is my preferred way to make gravy. A roux is a mixture of flour and butter, used to thicken a sauce.

  • Remove 2 cups of the roast drippings (you can include the onions or strain them out). Try to skim any fat off the top of the broth and get just the broth. You can use a turkey baster to suction just the broth from the pot, or use a gravy fat separator.
  • I usually just take two cups and blend it in the blender or with an immersion blender. And if you don’t have an immersion blender, you’re missing out! (I can’t believe I went 27 years without one.)
  • Taste this liquid. If it’s too salty, add about 1/4-1/2 cup water, milk, half and half, or cream to dilute.
  • In a pot on the stove, melt 1/4 cup butter. Add 1/4 cup flour and whisk constantly until thick and it smells nutty. Do NOT burn it!
  • Slowly add the liquid while whisking. It will clump up, and that’s normal! Keep whisking and adding until all the liquid is incorporated.
  • Taste the gravy. If it’s weak in flavor, add half a tablespoon of Better than Bouillon or beef bouillon. You can also add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bring the gravy to a boil, then turn off the heat and serve immediately. You can add heavy cream or sour cream at the end to make it creamy, which I do every time.
Lisa Childs cutting the meat in her kitchen with a fork and knife

Gravy made with CORNSTARCH

Gravy made with cornstarch will be clearer, and will have a more gelatinous texture than when made with a roux. When using cornstarch, it’s more about thickening the sauce more than making a legitimate gravy.

However, when you’re in a pinch and don’t want to go through the trouble of making a roux, this is an easy way to thicken ANY sauce!

  • Remove the meat from the Instant Pot and place on a serving platter.
  • Remove all but 2 cups of the roast juices from the Instant Pot (you can include the onions or strain them out). Try to skim any fat off the top of the broth and get just the broth. You can use a turkey baster to suction just the broth from the pot, or use a gravy fat separator.
  • I usually just take two cups and blend it in the blender or with an immersion blender
  • Taste this liquid. If it’s too salty, add about 1/4-1/2 cup water, milk, half and half, or cream to dilute.
  • Turn on the SAUTE feature on high. Wait for it to come to a boil.
  • In a separate dish, add 3-4 tablespoons of cornstarch with 3-4 tablespoons COLD water. Adding more cornstarch will make the gravy thicker.
  • When the liquid comes to a boil, slowly add the cornstarch slurry while whisking. Keep whisking and adding until it is completely incorporated and whisk while boiling for one minute or until thick.
  • Taste the gravy. If it’s weak in flavor, add half a tablespoon of Better than Bouillon or beef bouillon. You can also add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Turn off the heat and serve immediately. You can add heavy cream or sour cream at the end to make it creamy.
Graphic of Instant Pot vs Crock Pot Roast Taste Off with one picture of pot roast in a while serving dish.

What to serve with Pot Roast

Instant Pot mashed potatoes pin

Crock Pot vs. Instant Pot Roast TASTE TEST results

Brett and Lisa Childs do a blind taste test of the Instant Pot and Crock Pot roasts
Brett was awesome enough to help me with a taste test!

I had my husband, Brett, come and do a blind taste test to get his honest, unbiased thoughts on the roast.

As a reminder, the Crock Pot cooked for 8 hours on low and the Instant Pot cooked for 60 minutes on high pressure with a full 30 natural pressure release until the pin dropped at 35 minutes.

Here’s our results:

Instant Pot ROAST RESULTS

Roast in the Instant Pot with onions on top
  • Good flavor
  • “Plenty to chew on”
  • Came out of the pot in one piece
  • Some parts on the edges were softer than the middle, lots of fat and marbling still present
  • Cut pretty easily with a knife
  • Broth was thin and a bit diluted (because there is no evaporation and the liquid from the meat “waters down” the broth)
  • Onions had expanded quite a bit

Crock Pot ROAST Results

chuck roast pot roast in the crock pot with onions on top
  • Deeper, roasted, caramelized flavor
  • Fork Tender- came out of the pot in pieces
  • Falling apart
  • Onions had shrunk
  • Broth was darker, more condensed
  • Most of the fat and marbling was cooked down

FINAL RESULTS AND THOUGHTS – Instant Pot vs. crock pot

For this Instant Pot vs. Crock Pot roast taste off, hands down, our favorite was the Crock Pot roast. Here’s the breakdown:

Flavor

Even though they both used the same recipe and both had plenty of flavor, the low and slow cooking from the Crock Pot created a much deeper, warmer flavor. It browned the outside of the roast and embedded a richness that was absent in the Instant Pot.

BEST FLAVOR: CROCK POT

convenience

Both the Instant Pot and Crock Pot were easy, but the ability to sear in the Instant Pot liner is a clear pro. That, and the 6 hour time savings makes the Instant Pot the winner here.

MOST CONVENIENT: INSTANT POT

texture

This is subjective! I prefer my roast SUUUPER soft and fall-apart. The Crock Pot cooked a roast that was soft to the touch and incredibly moist, like it was hard to see the strands of meat. 

The Instant Pot roast was shreddable, but mostly required slicing. If I felt the meat against the grain, it was very obvious that each strand was a distinct individual piece.

Some people prefer a roast that has more substance, so if you do, the Instant Pot is the winner. I have tried cooking a roast for up to 120 minutes in the Instant Pot and the texture still didn’t match a slow cooker, but every 10 minutes of added pressure cooking will definitely make the meat more tender. 

If you have the time, add 10-30 minutes to the cook time depending on how tender you’d like it the roast in the Instant Pot

BEST TEXTURE: CROCK POT

Instant pot pork roast in white bun on dark plate next to another sandwich and dipping sauce on a teal cloth next to bowl of shredded instant pot pork roast
If you’re interested in making a pork roast, check out my Instant Pot Pork Roast (Pork Butt or Shoulder) post.

gravy

Because the Instant Pot has no evaporation whatsoever, there isn’t the ability to condense the flavors like the slow cooker does on its own.

If you want to condense the flavors of the juices, then you’ll have to put the Instant Pot on low or medium saute and simmer for about 10 minutes to reduce the liquid by about half.

However, because the meat didn’t get browned and caramelized like it did in the slow cooker, the flavor of the broth will be lighter, even after reducing. Because of this, the flavor of the gravy will be different.

BEST GRAVY: Crock Pot

vegetables

I didn’t add vegetables to the roasts this time, but I have done it before. This is completely a personal preference. If you like the vegetables incredibly soft and fall-apart tender and with more flavor of the broth from absorbing the liquid while cooking, the slow cooker is the way to go.

If you prefer your potatoes and carrots to be more like a steamed “side” that happened to cook with the meat, the Instant Pot is the way to go! They will be perfectly cooked, but won’t be quite as mushy. They also won’t have enough time to absorb as much of the cooking liquid, so they’ll taste more like their original state.

BEST VEG: TIE!

The crock pot with a bowl of cooked pot roast
The Crock Pot takes it!

THE FINAL WINNER

OVERALL: For us in this Instant Pot vs. Crock Pot roast tasteoff, the Crock Pot takes it. The deeper flavor and moist texture was what did it for me. However, I’ll be making the Instant Pot roast when I’m low on time and need something easy to just throw in there!

Enjoy this post? Consider sharing it on Pinterest or Social Media and don’t forget to watch the full Youtube video of this experiment. Thanks for reading! You’re going to love either recipe-Crock Pot roast or Instant Pot roast!

Scroll down to see both recipes for Instant Pot Roast and Crock Pot Roast.

Instant Pot Roast in a white bowl with spoon and parsley sprinkled on top

Tender Crock Pot Roast

Yield: 2 pounds
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 hours
Total Time: 10 hours 15 minutes

Tender Crock Pot Roast is incredibly flavorful, tender, moist, and delicious! Serve with your favorite mashed potatoes and broccoli.

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ pound chuck roast
  • 1 onion, diced or sliced
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

    1. Heat a large cast iron pan or large pan on medium high heat.
    2. Combine flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
    3. Season the roast liberally on all sides with the flour mixture.
    4. Add 2-3 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Sear meat for 5 minutes per side, until browned on all sides. Set the meat inside the Crock Pot.
    5. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the onion. Saute for a couple minutes, until slightly translucent.
    6. Add soy sauce and beef broth to deglaze the pan. Scrape all the cooked bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the bay leaf.
    7. Pour the broth and onion mixture on top of the meat.
    8. Close the lid on the Crock Pot, and cook on low for 8-12 hours, or high for 5-8 hours. 10 hours on low is preferable, up to 12 hours.
    9. Remove the meat from the Instant Pot, shred, and enjoy!

Notes

  • Purchase a chuck roast with lots of good marbling. That means to get something that has a lot of thin, white, fat striations running throughout the meat. This is the part that cooks down and melts away, creating a tender roast.
  • Searing the meat adds exponential flavor and depth. If you don't have time to sear, omit the flour from the recipe and season just with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  • If you have your own favorite recipe that includes a packet of Italian seasoning, ranch seasoning, or dried onion soup mix, you're more than welcome to add those directly to this recipe. In that case, omit the soy sauce to control the sodium.
  • If you like an extra herby roast, add 1/2-1 teaspoon basil, 1/2-1 teaspoon oregano, and 1/2-1 teaspoon parsley to your roast before cooking. As you can tell, this recipe is very flexible!

To make gravy:

  • Remove 2 cups of the roast drippings (you can include the onions or strain them out.) Try to skim any fat off the top of the broth and get just the broth. You can use a turkey baster to suction just the broth from the pot, or use a gravy fat separator.
  • I usually just take two cups and blend it in the blender or with an immersion blender. And if you don’t have an immersion blender, you’re missing out! (I can’t believe I went 27 years without one.)
  • Taste this liquid. If it’s too salty, add about 1/4-1/2 cup water, milk, half and half, or cream to dilute.
  • In a pot on the stove, melt 1/4 cup butter. Add 1/4 cup flour and whisk constantly until thick and it smells nutty. Do NOT burn it!
  • Slowly add the liquid while whisking. It will clump up, and that’s normal! Keep whisking and adding until all the liquid is incorporated.
  • Taste the gravy. If it’s weak in flavor, add half a tablespoon of Better than Bouillon or beef bouillon. You can also add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bring the gravy to a boil, then turn off the heat and serve immediately. You can add heavy cream or sour cream at the end to make it creamy, which I do every time.

    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 542Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 157mgSodium: 1719mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 49g

    Did you make this recipe?

    Tag me @tried_tested_true on Instagram!

    Instant Pot Roast in a white bowl with spoon and parsley sprinkled on top

    Instant Pot Roast

    Yield: 2 pounds
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
    Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

    This instant Pot roast is flavorful and easy to make!

    Ingredients

    • 2 ½ pound chuck roast
    • 1 onion, diced or sliced
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
    • 1 teaspoon pepper
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 bay Leaf
    • 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
    • 2 cups beef broth
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil

    Instructions

      1. Turn the Instant Pot on HIGH Saute. Wait until it says "HOT."
      2. Combine flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
      3. Season the roast liberally on all sides with the flour mixture.
      4. Add 2-3 tablespoons olive oil to the pot. Sear meat for about 5 minutes per side, until browned on all sides. Set aside on a plate.
      5. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the onion. Saute for a couple minutes, until slightly translucent.
      6. Add soy sauce and beef broth to deglaze the pot. Scrape all the cooked bits off the bottom of the pot to prevent a burn notice. Add the bay leaf.
      7. Add the roast to the Instant Pot and scoop some of the onions on top of the meat.
      8. Turn off Saute mode, lock the lid, turn the knob to SEALING, and cook on the MEAT/STEW or MANUAL setting for 75 minutes. Allow a full natural pressure release until the pin drops, about 30 minutes.
      9. Remove the meat from the Instant Pot, slice, and enjoy!

    Notes

    • To add vegetables to your roast, do a quick release of the meat after 60 minutes of cooking. Add diced potatoes, carrots, celery, and/or mushrooms. Replace the lid and cook for an additional 10 minutes on high pressure with a full natural pressure release.
    • See my notes in the post on how to make gravy from your juices!
    • Purchase a chuck roast with lots of good marbling. That means to get something that has a lot of thin, white, fat striations running throughout the meat. This is the part that cooks down and melts away, creating a tender roast.
    • Searing the meat adds exponential flavor and depth. If you don't have time to sear, omit the flour from the recipe and season just with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
    • If you have your own favorite recipe that includes a packet of Italian seasoning, ranch seasoning, or dried onion soup mix, you're more than welcome to add those directly to this recipe. In that case, omit the soy sauce to control the sodium.
    • If you like an extra herby roast, add 1/2-1 teaspoon basil, 1/2-1 teaspoon oregano, and 1/2-1 teaspoon parsley to your roast before cooking. As you can tell, this recipe is very flexible!
    • If you're short on time, you can cut the meat into 2-3 inch pieces and cook for 40-50 minutes.

    To make gravy:

    • Remove 2 cups of the roast drippings (you can include the onions or strain them out). Try to skim any fat off the top of the broth and get just the broth. You can use a turkey baster to suction just the broth from the pot, or use a gravy fat separator.
    • I usually just take two cups and blend it in the blender or with an immersion blender. And if you don’t have an immersion blender, you’re missing out! (I can’t believe I went 27 years without one.)
    • Taste this liquid. If it’s too salty, add about 1/4-1/2 cup water, milk, half and half, or cream to dilute.
    • In a pot on the stove, melt 1/4 cup butter. Add 1/4 cup flour and whisk constantly until thick and it smells nutty. Do NOT burn it!
    • Slowly add the liquid while whisking. It will clump up, and that’s normal! Keep whisking and adding until all the liquid is incorporated.
    • Taste the gravy. If it’s weak in flavor, add half a tablespoon of Better than Bouillon or beef bouillon. You can also add salt and pepper to taste.
    • Bring the gravy to a boil, then turn off the heat and serve immediately. You can add heavy cream or sour cream at the end to make it creamy, which I do every time.

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      Nutrition Information:
      Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
      Amount Per Serving: Calories: 542Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 157mgSodium: 1719mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 49g

      Did you make this recipe?

      Tag me @tried_tested_true on Instagram!



      Leave a Reply

      1. Hello Ms. Childs I’m planning to cook your chicken drumsticks and my instant pot doesn’t have the broiling feature, is it safe to use my turbo roaster and put it on top of my instant pot?

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          Author
      2. Hi. My IP has a slow cooker feature. Have you done this “test” using that feature? If not, do you think the results would equal the Crock Pot version you taste tested?

        1. Post
          Author
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          Author

          Cooking longer would work, but the longer it cooks doesn’t necessarily make it better (it could dry it out!). I chose the cooking time in the comparison because that is the most popular time to pressure cook a roast in most all of the most popular recipes on the internet that I researched for this comparison.

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            Author

            Hello! The only tip I have with the slow cook feature is to plan for much more time and to make sure the setting is on HIGH. I don’t like the slow cooker setting on the Instant Pot, but it can work if you give it extra time! You can also pressure cook for less time if that helps!

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      Hi! I'm Lisa!


      I founded Tried, Tested, and True in 2019 to help moms like me develop confidence and joy in the kitchen.

      Since then, I have taught millions of home cooks around the world through our tried and true recipes and Youtube tutorials.

      In 2021, I wrote my first book called, “I Love My Instant Pot: Cooking for One”!