When pot roast, stew, or a hearty roast beef is on the menu, the success of your meal starts with the cut of beef you buy at the grocery store. There's an important distinction that sets these large, budget cuts apart, despite similar appearances and names. Know the difference between top round roast and chuck roast (plus when to use each) and you're in for a delicious dinner.
The Difference Between Top Round Roast and Chuck Roast
While both are large, tough cuts of budget-friendly beef, the main difference that sets these two roasts apart is where on the animal they're cut from. Top round roast is cut from the rear leg and is more lean than chuck roast, which is cut from the shoulder and contains more fat.
Related: The Best Cuts of Beef for Pot Roast
More About Top Round Roast
Cut from the inside of the hind leg, top round roast is the cut that's most commonly used for deli roast beef. It's also the same area that London broil is cut from. As far as cheap cuts of beef go, top round roast is relatively lean and flavorful since this muscle isn't as heavily worked.
Roasting is the best cooking method for top round roast, although it can also be used for quicker-cooking stews and braises.
Get a recipe: Slow Cooker Roast Beef Po' Boys
More About Chuck Roast
Cut from the shoulder region, budget-friendly chuck roast is a heavily worked muscle. It's a tougher cut that contains more fat, collagen, and connective tissue than top round roast. This makes it an ideal candidate for the slow cooker and dishes that require a lengthy cook time, like pot roast, braises, and stews. When used for pot roast, the lengthy cook time slowly melts the collagen and tenderizes the meat into an irresistibly silky, tender bite.
Recipes with Chuck Roast
Avoid Swapping Top Round Roast and Chuck Roast
For the most delicious results, stick with the cut of beef specified in the recipe. Despite their similarities as large, affordable beef roasts, top round roast and chuck roast don't work well when used interchangeably. Because it's far leaner, top round roast doesn't deliver the same velvety, flavorful result you get from a braised chuck roast.