My Pot Roast is still Tough!… What went wrong?? – Lauren Groveman (2024)

Hi Lauren:

I bought a 3 1/2 lb bottom round for pot roast. I seared all sides then put it in a stainless steel heavy pot with carrots, celery, onion and aromatics plus I added water about half way and cooked very gently on low for 3 hours and its still not done!!! That was last night.

This morning I took it out of the frig and slowly brought it back to a simmer for another 2 hours and its still tough. HELP

Hope all is well with you and yours… Arlene

Hi, Arlene. So good to hear from you! So sorry, though, that your pot roast stayed tough. There are several reasons why this could have happened even after so much cooking. First, your choice of a rump roast could be a factor since cuts from the hind quarter are very muscular and, since muscles are the most resistant to breaking, this cut is quite stubborn when it comes to becoming tender. Muscular cuts are also leaner than those less used by the animal and have less connective tissue which is what’s prized in meats to be slow-braised. Connective tissue (which starts out as sinew, gristle, tendons and ligaments) are most abundant in cuts like brisket and chuck (not rump) and it’s the connective tissue that, when it reaches a temp. of 150F just begins to dissolve into gelatin and it’s THIS that helps to create the succulence you’re after. At that point, with continued very gentle “wet” cooking (and with a lid that is very secure) the meat will be on its way to becoming tender (160F is when succulence really starts to happen). Rump will work, eventually, if the meat itself was from a “good specimen.” Often, although a carcass is labeled “choice” or even “prime” by the USDA, this is not always indicative of a particular slab of meat since often the animal is judged in it’s entirety without having it’s individual parts inspected for quality.

Then there’s the slicing… which MUST be done against the grain across the lines of connection within the meat) or your slices will literally fall apart into a stringy mess! When it’s rump, you need to slice the meat very thin in order to not feel the “chew.”

What I always do when making a brisket (which I suggest you do with your rump roast) is to, after it’s initial cooking, let the meat cool to just warm in the sauce, then slice and lay the slices in a baking dish surrounded by the sauce. Then reheat this at 350F until piping hot which will give the individual slices more direct exposure to wet heat. This should help.

So, my suggestion is to, next time, purchase a brisket or chuck roast (for it’s abundance of connective tissue). After cooking, allow the meat plenty of resting time in the hot sauce since this will also allow the meat to continue cooking as it settles down. Slice the meat thin (you can slice brisket thicker, which I personally like) and reheat the slices in the sauce (which actually becomes a timing bonus since you can cook the meat a day or two ahead, leave it sliced in the sauce in the fridge and then bring it close to room temp and reheat fully.

I hope this helps!

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My Pot Roast is still Tough!… What went wrong?? – Lauren Groveman (2024)


How do you fix a tough pot roast? ›

Simmer in liquid. Just like for burnt meat, if your meat gets tough and dry then you can simmer it in a little bit of broth for a couple minutes. Don't allow it to overcook again but just allow the liquid to penetrate the meat.

Why does my pot roast always come out tough? ›

With lots of connective tissue (also known as collagen), these cuts can be tough if undercooked or hurried along in the cooking process. However, with slow-cooker pot roast, pressure cooker pot roast, or low-and-slow braised pot roast, the collagen breaks up for tender, succulent meat.

Does too much liquid make pot roast tough? ›

If you add too much liquid, the meat might end up boiling instead of braising. Boiling meat can result in an unappealing texture and won't allow the development of the rich, complex flavors that braising provides.

How long does it take to soften a pot roast? ›

For a 4 to 5-pound roast, plan on 4 hours. The roast is ready when it's fall-apart tender.

Why is my pot roast not getting tender? ›

There are several reasons why this could have happened even after so much cooking. First, your choice of a rump roast could be a factor since cuts from the hind quarter are very muscular and, since muscles are the most resistant to breaking, this cut is quite stubborn when it comes to becoming tender.

Will pot roast get more tender the longer it cooks? ›

Yes, pot roast absolutely becomes more tender the longer it cooks. Roasts are generally made from tougher cuts of meat, such as chuck or brisket, which contain a lot of collagen, connective tissue, and fat. These tougher tissues require a long cooking time to break down and for the collagen to converts into gelatin.

Why is my beef still tough after slow cooking? ›

If you consistently notice tough beef, Carli says your slow cooker may not be working hard enough. “Try cooking for longer, or at a higher temp,” she advises.

How to make roast beef not tough? ›

To cook it until it's so tender it falls apart, you'll need to choose a joint like chuck and blade or beef brisket and either braise, slow roast or slow cook it for at least a couple of hours.

Is roast better in crockpot or oven? ›

It's delicious both ways. If you want to give your crock-pot a whirl, here's a slow cooker pot roast recipe for you. But pot roast is plenty easy to make in the oven! You do all the browning and roasting all in the same pot and it requires less time than in a slow cooker roast.

What happens if you put too much broth in pot roast? ›

The dissolving gelatin and juices from the meat are what make the pot roast sauce so delicious, and too much liquid at the start means a diluted sauce with less silky mouthfeel and rich flavor. Remember that the meat and any veggies in the pot will also add to the liquid volume.

What not to do to pot roast? ›

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Cooking Pot Roast
  1. Using the wrong roast.
  2. Not browning the roast.
  3. Deglazing with just broth.
  4. Cooking the vegetables too long.
  5. Not thickening the gravy.
Mar 29, 2017

What thickens a pot roast? ›

If you find that the broth is too thin, you can create a slurry with either cornstarch or arrowroot powder and stir it back in. This will help create a slightly thicker consistency! But if you'd like it much thicker, remove some of the broth to a saute pan and add the slurry to that on medium heat.

Why is my pot roast still tough after 7 hours? ›

If you're slow cooking and it's tough, then it's always under cooked. Meat only gets softer at lower temperature the longer it cooks. Need to cook longer. Sear the outside at high heat to brown it, then cook on low for about 6-8 hours.

Why is my pot roast tough and chewy? ›

So, the best way to avoid tough, dry, chewy roast beef is to watch the cooking temperature. If it's a good cut of beef, that means you cooked it too long or at too high of a temperature. If it started as a tough cut of beef, it means you didn't cook it long enough at a low temperature.

How to make a tough pot roast tender? ›

Cook it low and slow with some liquid.

Simmering helps break down the connective tissue. Connective tissue breaks down to collagen. Collagen tenderizes, and adds flavor and juiciness to the roast. The size and cut of your roast will determine how long it will need to simmer.

Can you soften a tough roast? ›

Slow cook it. Tough cuts of meat with lots of connective tissue, like brisket, chuck roast, and bottom round, are some of the best choices for the slow cooker. Cooked low and slow for many hours, the collagen in these tough cuts eventually breaks, leaving you with shreds of tender, juicy meat.

How do you make a tough roast tender after cooking? ›

Braising breaks down the collagen, the tissue that connects to meat fiber. This results in softer meat. Braising requires adding moisture, such as broth, wine or ale, to the beef. Adding vinegar to the liquid in a braising pot or other shallow cooking pot with a tightly fitting lid increases the tenderizing effect.

How to slow cook a tough roast? ›

Place your meat on the bottom of the slow cooker, so it's closest to the heat source. Add your other ingredients and liquids, then set your cooker to “low.” Plan for 6-9 hours of cooking time for your warming slow cooker meal.

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