Recipe Review

Why I Won’t Be Making the Pioneer Woman’s Pot Roast Again

published Apr 4, 2020
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pioneer woman's pot roast in dutch oven
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Brett Regot; Design: The Kitchn

The Pioneer Woman has built a dedicated following over the years thanks to her approachable, comforting, all-American recipes (we’re particularly fond of her bacon-wrapped meatloaf). So when it came time to battle off pot roast recipes for our latest celebrity recipe showdown, hers was an obvious one to include. After all, what’s more all-American than a slow-cooked pot roast?

There’s no question that this recipe is popular among The Pioneer Woman’s fanbase. It has more than 1400 comments, and is one of the most searched-for pot roast recipes on the internet. Just by reading through the recipe I began to understand the hype —there were no fancy ingredients, techniques, or steps that seemed challenging. I have to admit I’d never made one of her recipes before, but I was eager to see what all the enthusiasm was about. Here’s what happened when I gave it a go.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Brett Regot; Design: The Kitchn

How to Make The Pioneer Woman’s Pot Roast

You’ll begin by generously seasoning a four-to-five pound chuck roast with salt and pepper. Heat a large Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium high heat, and when the pan is hot, add a splash of olive oil followed by two halved onions. Brown the onions on both sides, then transfer them to a plate.

Add sliced carrots to the pan, cook them until they’re lightly browned on all sides, then add them to the plate with the onions. Sear the chuck roast on all sides until a browned crust forms, then remove it and place it on another plate. Add 1 cup of wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits, and cook until the smell of alcohol has burned off. Return the seared chuck roast to the pan and add the beef broth, then add the onions and carrots and place the lid on. Transfer to the oven to cook for three to four hours at 275˚F. 

Credit: Alexis de Boschnek

My Honest Review of The Pioneer Woman’s Pot Roast

I wanted to like this recipe solely because it was so easy to make — it was in the oven in under 30 minutes! But the reality is that I found it massively disappointing. It simply didn’t have enough flavor.

The only time the recipe instructs you to season the dish is when you season the chuck roast before searing it. But generously seasoning the roast simply isn’t enough to flavor the rest of the vegetables and all of the cooking liquid. I liked the sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme, but they didn’t make up for the lack of salt. And while halving the onions rather than slicing them saves time, I didn’t enjoy eating pieces of onion that were that big.

I braised the chuck roast for three hours, and while it was easy to pull apart, keeping it in the oven for closer to four hours would made it more succulent. There was also a ton of braising liquid leftover, and while it added some flavor, it mostly just tasted watered down. In this case, a few extra ingredients and a little more time would have had a big payoff. 

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Brett Regot

If You’re Making The Pioneer Woman’s Pot Roast, a Few Tips

  1. Don’t be afraid of seasoning: There’s a reason we recommend seasoning as you cook — it builds layers of flavors and permeates each component of the dish. Season the onions and carrots in addition to the meat, and make sure to taste the dish before serving. 
  2. Reduce the braising liquid: If you have an extra 15 minutes, simmer the extra braising liquid on the stovetop after the roast is done. The thickened sauce will be more concentrated in flavor, and will enhance the pot roast rather than drown it.
  3. Quarter the onions: It would have only taken a second longer to quarter the onions, and they would have been much more manageable to eat.

Rating: 5/10