Pot roast is a classic comfort food that is perfect for chilly nights. A tough, inexpensive cut of beef is slowly braised with vegetables until fork-tender for a hearty one-pot meal. But with so many cuts of beef to choose from, how do you know which is the best inexpensive option for pot roast? Here we will explore some of the most budget-friendly cuts of beef that are ideal for slow cooking into a delicious pot roast.
One of the most popular choices for pot roast is chuck roast. This is a shoulder cut taken from the forequarter of the cow. It contains a good amount of connective tissue and fat, which helps keep the meat moist and tender during the long cooking time. Chuck roast is also one of the more economical beef cuts, so you get great flavor and value. Look for a chuck roast that has nice marbling throughout for maximum tenderness. Chuck roast does best with a cooking time of 3-4 hours to properly break down the connective tissues.
Rump roast comes from the backside or rump of the cow. It is a very lean, flavorful cut that benefits from the extended cooking time of pot roasting. Look for a rump roast that has a thick layer of fat on the outside to help keep the lean meat moist. Choose a smaller 2-3 pound roast so it cooks evenly. Rump roast has a ton of beefy flavor but can be slightly chewy if not cooked properly. Be sure to cook a rump roast for at least 3 hours to soften the connective tissue. The bone-in version holds its shape nicely during cooking.
Brisket is another excellent choice for pot roast that becomes meltingly tender when cooked low and slow. This is a large cut that comes from the breast of the cow. Look for a 3-5 pound brisket for pot roast. The fat marbling helps keep this lean cut moist during the long cooking time. Be sure to cook brisket covered for at least 3 hours to properly break down the connective tissue. Brisket has lots of flavor and should pull apart easily when fully cooked. It is also an economical cut great for feeding a crowd.
Bottom Round Roast
Bottom round comes from the rear leg of the cow. This is one of the leanest and cheapest roast options. Bottom round needs plenty of moisture added when cooking so it doesn’t end up dry. Braise the roast in broth or stock and cooking wine. Cook a 3-4 pound bottom round roast for 4+ hours so the connective tissue fully melts away. Resting the roast after cooking also allows the juices to be reabsorbed into the meat. Slice very thinly against the grain when serving this lean cut.
Eye of Round Roast
Eye of round comes from the hindquarter near the spine and does not contain much fat. However, the long fibers in this roast help it retain moisture during cooking. A 3-4 pound eye of round roast should be cooked for at least 3-4 hours to become tender. Be sure to include lots of vegetables and braising liquid in the pot roast recipe. Slicing thin across the grain is key with eye of round to keep it from being chewy. The roast can also be shredded after cooking for use in tacos or sandwiches.
Top Sirloin Roast
Top sirloin is another super lean cut from the hindquarter near the loin. Look for a 2-3 pound roast for easier cooking. Braise the roast for 3-4 hours in broth, wine or beer and plenty of vegetables until very tender. Top sirloin roast has great beefy flavor but needs extra moisture when cooking. Letting the roast rest after cooking allows the juices to redistribute through the meat. Thinly slicing across the grain of this roast is also important. The lean nature of top sirloin roast makes it more budget-friendly.
Beef Shoulder Clod Roast
The beef shoulder clod or top blade roast comes from the chuck of the shoulder. It contains a good amount of connective tissue that needs 3-4 hours of cooking to melt away. This economical cut has great beef flavor and stays moist thanks to the intermuscular marbling. Look for a 3-5 pound clod roast with nice marbling throughout. Cook with plenty of vegetables and broth until fork tender. Shred any leftovers for sandwiches. Shoulder clod is a great budget option with plenty of rich, beefy flavor.
Boneless Short Ribs
Short ribs are cut from the plate section near the belly of the cow. Look for 4-5 pounds of boneless short ribs for the pot roast. The fat marbling combined with the long cook time ensures this cut becomes meltingly tender. Cook for at least 3 hours in plenty of liquid to soften the meat and connective tissue. The boneless ribs allow for more even cooking in the liquid. Short ribs have wonderful beefy flavor that pairs nicely with robust seasonings. These meaty ribs make a special occasion meal without the high price tag.
Tri-tip comes from the bottom sirloin near the hip of the cow. It is a small triangular cut that does well roasted or grilled. However, a 2-3 pound tri-tip also makes a delicious pot roast. The leaner meat benefits from the braising in plenty of liquid. Cook a whole tri-tip roast 3-4 hours until fork tender. Allow to rest before slicing thinly against the grain. The tapered shape and moderate fat content mean tri-tip roasts are usually very affordable. This versatile cut can also be shredded or chopped for tacos after cooking.
Bottom Line for Best Cheap Beef for Pot Roast
When looking for an inexpensive cut for pot roast, opt for pieces from the chuck, round, brisket, plate or shoulder clod. These areas contain more collagen and connective tissue that break down into gelatin and moisture when braised low and slow. The marbling also provides essential fat to keep the meat from drying out. Look for roasts in the 3-5 pound range to feed a crowd. Cook for at least 3 hours in broth and wine with plenty of vegetables. Resting the cooked roast allows the juices to redistribute. Slice across the grain or shred the meat for serving. With the right cut and cooking method, you can enjoy fork-tender, flavorful pot roast without breaking the bank.
Tips for Preparing Affordable Pot Roast
Follow these tips to end up with the most delicious and cost-effective pot roast:
Choose the Right Roast
Select a roast from the chuck, brisket, round or shoulder which becomes tender with wet cooking. Opt for a size that will feed everyone without leftovers.
Brown the Meat
Browning adds rich, roasted flavor. Pat the roast dry and brown all sides in a skillet with oil.
Use Plenty of Liquid
Cover the meat about halfway with broth, wine or beer to braise it tender.
Add Lots of Vegetables
Onions, carrots, potatoes and celery all complement the meat nicely.
Cook Low and Slow
Simmer the pot roast for 3-4 hours until fall-apart tender.
Let It Rest
Allowing the roast to rest redistributes the juices throughout the meat.
Slice Across the Grain
Cutting against the grain shortens the muscle fibers for more tender bites.
|Cut||Cook Time||Serving Size|
|Chuck Roast||3-4 hours||3-5 lbs|
|Rump Roast||3+ hours||2-3 lbs|
|Brisket||3+ hours||3-5 lbs|
|Bottom Round||4+ hours||3-4 lbs|
|Eye Round||3-4 hours||3-4 lbs|
|Top Sirloin||3-4 hours||2-3 lbs|
|Shoulder Clod||3-4 hours||3-5 lbs|
|Short Ribs||3+ hours||4-5 lbs|
|Tri-Tip||3-4 hours||2-3 lbs|
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most affordable cut for pot roast?
The most budget-friendly options are chuck roast, rump roast, brisket, bottom and eye round roast, top sirloin, shoulder clod, short ribs, and tri-tip. These cuts become tender with the long cooking time.
How long should you cook pot roast?
Cook an affordable pot roast for at least 3 hours and up to 4+ hours to fully break down the connective tissues. The meat should shred easily when fully cooked.
What liquid is best for pot roast?
Cook the roast in beef broth, red wine, beer or a mixture. This provides moisture and flavor as the meat braises.
Should pot roast rest before serving?
Yes, allowing the pot roast to rest for 15-20 minutes after cooking enables the juices to redistribute through the meat for maximum tenderness and flavor.
How do you know when cheap pot roast is done?
An affordable cut is done when it shreds easily with a fork. The meat should be fall-apart tender after the long cook time.
What vegetables go with pot roast?
Onions, carrots, celery, potatoes and mushrooms are all excellent additions to pot roast. They complement the beefy flavor.
How do you keep affordable pot roast from being dry?
Cook with plenty of broth or stock just to cover the meat halfway. Braise slowly, and don’t cook it beyond tender to avoid drying out.
Should you sear inexpensive cuts before pot roasting?
Yes, searing adds great flavor. Pat the meat dry, then brown on all sides in a hot skillet before slow cooking.
What side dishes go well with easy pot roast?
Pot roast pairs nicely with mashed potatoes, egg noodles, polenta, roasted vegetables, green beans, buttered rolls, rice pilaf, roasted root vegetables and Israeli couscous.
Pot roast made from an economical beef cut can be just as flavorful and comforting as pricier versions when cooked properly. Look for roasts from the chuck, round, brisket or shoulder for best results. Cook low and slow in plenty of broth and wine for 3-4 hours until meltingly tender. Let the pot roast rest before slicing thinly across the grain. Serve alongside classic vegetable sides for a cozy, budget-friendly meal the whole family will love. With the right cut and cooking techniques, inexpensive ingredients can make an amazing pot roast.