15 Ingredient Additions To Upgrade Your Pot Roast

One of the many enticing qualities of pot roast is that, despite being incredibly delicious and juicy, it doesn't require much effort once you prepare and place it in the oven to cook. Of course, you can keep an eye on it, but it's not like other dishes where if you turn your back for one second to put a dish in the sink, it burns or becomes overcooked, terribly chewy, and inedible. The whole point of pot roast is that it needs a lot of time to cook to soften up, making it an almost melt-in-your-mouth type of meal. You can get a knife to pull it apart, but you don't need to twist your wrist with a steak knife to cut it.

When trying to find a few ingredient additions to upgrade your pot roast, there are plenty of approachable and intriguing options to include. Beef stock and root vegetables like carrots and potatoes are frequently used in pot roast dishes, but other options, such as Dijon mustard or harissa, might be refreshing picks. From popular ingredients to unique ones, we'll cover a great scope of things to boost the taste of your roast.

1. Beef broth or stock

Adding a liquid component is an important step in pot roast-making. There's a delicate balance of adding too much, where it's just a hunk of meat boiling in a soup, or there's too little, where it evaporates and makes the pot roast dry. A flavorful liquid, such as beef broth or stock, can be a helpful and delicious addition to your meat. While you could use chicken or vegetable stock, and some recipes do call for that, beef broth simply makes sense because you're cooking a beef roast. It will have similar flavors to the beef, so the parallel works nicely.

Try an Instant Pot roast recipe using two cups of beef stock. The stock gets mixed with other seasonings to create a juicy pot roast. The preparation time is quick, and then you leave it in the Instant Pot for an hour. The last thing you want is to dry out pot roast, so keep it moist with a flavorful liquid like broth. You could also use a bouillon cube mixed with water for a similar effect.

2. Harissa

Give your pot roast a flavor upgrade with harissa. This Moroccan spice is often a mixture of red chili peppers, olive oil, lemon, and sea salt, while some brands might have roasted red pepper, cumin, coriander, caraway, garlic, or mint. You'll find both a liquid sauce made with an oil base or a dry spice blend when searching for harissa. This harissa beef pot roast version uses the oil-based one along with vegetable or chicken stock and additional oil to create a liquid. This blend of flavors and spices can enhance your pot roast giving it a spicy twist without being over the top.

It has some spicy components, but it's not as though you threw in a pound of habanero peppers. Find harissa at the international market, online, or perhaps at your local grocery store in the international aisle. It provides a light red color to your liquid simply because of the peppers and spices inside. This beef pot roast recipe also has toasted cumin and caramelized lemons to make this a roast like you've never had before. This is the perfect dish to impress guests as it strays from the average.

3. Dijon mustard

Dijon mustard is a star ingredient that you'll find in unexpected places, from lemonade to succulent pot roast. It's a sharp ingredient to upgrade the flavor of a slow cooker pot roast because it brings a touch of heat as well as acidity. However, the key here is to use Dijon. Whether you use whole grain or smooth Dijon is up to you, but you don't want to use your average yellow deli mustard. It doesn't have the same flavor, since Dijon tends to be punchy while spicy, whereas yellow mustard is often quite mild.

Use a smooth version if you aren't keen to have the little round seeds in your broth, and it will integrate a lot easier. It also offers an umami component to give you a blend of flavors in your pot roast. If you opt for whole-ground Dijon mustard, you could use it as a rub to coat your roast. Sear your roast with a little salt and fresh cracked pepper, then mix the mustard with any of the liquid you have for cooking.

4. Soda

There are quite a lot of marinades out there, whether you make it from scratch or purchase it from the store — and soda is a popular addition because it helps to break down any protein or connective tissue in the meat. This fizzy addition is the hack to offer tenderness to meats and roasts because of its phosphoric acid. You can use Coca-Cola or a similar brown soft drink. For best results, use Mexican Coke that's made with real sugar, but you can always use what you have on hand.

Whichever soda you choose, keep it simple with a plain soda pop. You don't want vanilla soda, root beer, or anything that might be too overpowering for your pot roast. Make a simple but fantastic pot roast recipe with beef chuck roast, Coca-Cola, chili sauce, and garlic that you place in the slow cooker for 6-8 hours. This is one of those ingredient additions to upgrade your pot roast that might seem a little bit odd at first, but when you learn the background of why it's used, it's a no-brainer.

5. Worcestershire sauce

Both homemade or store-bought Worcestershire sauce are delicious and have a range of ingredients that can turn your pot roast into a pile of delight. You'll often find vinegar, molasses, malt vinegar, garlic powder, anchovies, tamarind extract, cloves, and chili pepper among the ingredients. It will differ based on the brand or if you make it from scratch, but this will make food tasty without a lot of work. You'll need about 2 tablespoons to add to your slow cooker pot roast recipe, along with any other ingredients like stock and olive oil.

This addition is a myriad of sweet, tangy, and spicy, depending on how much you put in or what flavors you can distinguish from your bottle. You can find Worcestershire sauce in many meat-based dishes because it has a range of ingredients in one small container. In this case, Worcestershire sauce works with your other liquid components to act as a sauce that gets reduced over time and becomes an irresistible concentrated liquid for your roast.

6. Aromatics

If you're ever at a loss with how to give something a flavor improvement, your best bet is to give it fresh herbs, particularly aromatics like rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves. These types of herbs add levels of enhancement to pot roast, from taste to scent to texture. All these aspects can make a big difference in turning a sad roast into a rich, scrumptious one.

You'll see both fresh and dried thyme in many meat and fish dishes, such as bone-in ribeye, beef stew, or Chilean sea bass. It has an earthy flavor that can be peppery, herby, and sometimes sweet to perfectly complement the taste of your pot roast. The subtlety of dried bay leaves is often used in longer-cooked meals with a broth or liquid component to release the nuanced notes of menthol and pine. These aromatics can be added along with any broth for either the full length of the cooking process or toward the end. This sensory addition is a feast for multiple senses and can give body to meat, vegetables, and broth in your pot roast.

7. Ginger snaps

Cookies in pot roast? Yep, ginger snaps are the secret ingredient that will change your pot roast forever. It's not like adding a chocolate chip cookie or an oatmeal raisin cookie, where the flavors seem completely out of whack. A ginger snap, with its noticeable ginger touch, can add brightness to your next pot roast. Don't worry about crunchy bits of cookie though; it will completely disintegrate throughout the cooking process and will result in a lightly scented and tasty addition to your meal.

A ginger snap contains that classic ginger spice as well as a bit of molasses to turn it into a tempting dinner ingredient. There's somewhat of a middle ground when it comes to adding this cookie ingredient; you don't want to have just one, as that won't even move the needle as far as the flavor goes, but you also don't want to add a whole pack either. Add a few as a starting point, but this will vary based on the size of the snap.

8. Dill pickles

There are certainly many ingredient additions to upgrade your pot roast, and dill pickles might be quite an unexpected choice. They add a briny element that can round out your pot roast in the best way. Much like the Mississippi pot roast has pepperoncini peppers, dill pickles have a similar element: they're tangy, which is a beautiful contrast to such a luscious meat. But don't just leave the pickles as the only ingredient added, as you'll want to include some typical pot roast ingredients like herbs, mirepoix, wine, or whatever your particular recipe calls for with the addition of the pickles.

Unless you're a pickle fiend, don't overpower the dish by adding a whole jar of pickles and its juice. It's up to you if you prefer whole pickled, diced, or want to use pickle slices or spears. Add this ingredient along with the meat and any veggies, so everything can simmer and cook for a few hours. This might seem like a kooky ingredient, but it provides a sharp vibrancy to an otherwise rich dish.

9. Tomato or tomato-based sauce

Tomatoes, tomato paste, and tomato-based sauces are often used in pot roasts, not only to preserve moisture but to also offer an umami flavor. When it comes to tips you need to make delicious pot roast in the slow cooker, tomato sauce can bring earthiness to your meal. You'll often find wine or stock in pot roasts, but tomato sauce is another flavorful option to provide both acidity and liquid to your dish. This component can allow the meat to remain juicy and easy to eat, acting as a tenderizer of sorts.

There are plenty of liquids to use for pot roast, but this is an all-in-one method, particularly because tomato sauce often has other ingredients like salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and red pepper. Should you need to thicken things up, Ina Garten uses canned tomatoes to thicken pot roast. The liquid from the tomatoes slowly evaporates as they cook down, making a thickened, acidic, slightly bitter sauce. Tomato paste is a more concentrated version than tomato sauce but usually only includes the crushed, cooked, and dehydrated thickened tomatoes. This is ideal to use in conjunction with another liquid like water or stock. 

10. Figs

This super tender herb and fig pot roast recipe is all about the sweet sauce, kind of like how barbecue works so well with ribs. The sweetness of dried figs is complemented by red wine, beef broth, and browning liquid for a unique mixture to cook your pot roast in. After the cooking process, the figgy liquid ultimately gets blended via an immersion blender into a smooth sauce. While it calls for additional figs to be added after this, omit the whole figs if you aren't a fan of the grainy texture or chop them into smaller pieces. The cooked and blended figs create a delicate flavor that gets enhanced with the addition of the dissolved brown sugar. 

Unlike a fruit like a pineapple that takes over anything it touches, the figs bring a fruitiness that, while sweet, remains subtle and not cloyingly syrupy. Plus, it's balanced out with savory elements like beef broth, garlic, and herbs for a well-rounded meal. This meal requires a little bit more preparation with sauteing the vegetables, deglazing the pan, and adding the figs and sugar, but once you get through these steps, everything gets cooked slowly over 3.5 hours.

11. Packaged dressing or soup mix

Minus the amount of time it takes to cook, pot roast is a pretty convenient meal as far as effort goes. Including prepared mixes like packaged dressing or soup mix can add to the simplicity factor. Yes, powdered soup mix is the unexpected ingredient to elevate pot roast. It contains a range of ingredients and spices to enhance the overall flavor and give it a boost of umami. You'll also find ranch mix and dry onion soup pot roast recipes since they provide seasoning with one swift rip of opening the package. It's a concentrated flavor that's made to season your dish. For example, dry onion soup mix already has ingredients like onion powder and soy sauce all in a convenient and affordable pack.

Mississippi pot roast recipe usually includes some packeted ingredients like ranch dressing mix and dry onion soup mix, but you could use beef au jus mix instead of the onion mix. The packet your recipe calls for can add a mix of flavors based on its ingredients. For example, dry ranch mix might provide onion, garlic, MSG, and a creaminess from the buttermilk.

12. Cloves

Cloves are an ideal choice to keep in the spice drawer because they have a lot of range; they can be used in sweet dishes or savory depending on what you pair them with. So while you might be used to seeing cloves in baked goods, it's nothing new to add them to meat-based dishes. For example, you often see cloves inserted into ham during the holidays, but it's used in many other dishes across the world, like Vietnamese pho. This powerful spice packs a lot of punch in its petite form by adding flavor and aroma when cooking, and when you're hunting for ingredients, cloves can be a top choice to make a boldly flavored pot roast.

If you find that you are a clove lover, hold back from generously adding them in because the oils can become a bit astringent when added in excess. Use a sachet d'épices so you're not fishing out pieces of clove from the other chunks of spices and ingredients — this keeps them all in one place. Balance the boldness of the cloves in your roast with the spiciness of fresh ginger, the umami taste of soy sauce, or the roasted coffee taste of a stout beer.

13. Coffee

Coffee isn't solely for your morning pick-me-up beverage — it can be part of your dinner too. Coffee rubs are popular for steaks, tri-tip, brisket, and plenty of other meat-based dishes, so a coffee addition to pot roast makes a delicious choice. However, instead of using coffee grounds, you'll need a mug of coffee for this particular enhancement. This coffee pot roast recipe mixes herbs, chicken broth, soy sauce, and one cup of strong-brewed coffee to make a bold meal. 

As a fair warning, this is a dish to make ahead of time and assemble early on in the day or the afternoon since it will take at least 6 hours to cook. This isn't something to start late in the night unless you're planning ahead to make it for tomorrow's meal. The coffee, in addition to its rich taste, becomes part of the liquid to cook your juicy pot roast in. Keep it simple with the coffee you choose. You won't want to use a flavored variety like hazelnut or vanilla, which can give an odd flavoring to the roast. Your average cup of Joe is the best option.

14. Root vegetables

Don't leave out the root vegetables from your pot roast. Root vegetables, specifically potatoes, carrots, turnips, and parsnips, are used time and time again in this meat dish since they soak up a lot of flavor from the juices, herbs, and fat from the meat. Too much liquid is a huge mistake when making pot roast, so you might want to factor in the water content of the vegetables. Since potatoes, carrots, turnips, and parsnips won't contribute much in terms of water, you could even it out by also including high-water-content ingredients like celery, mushrooms, or tomatoes. 

Another great part about including root veggies is that they provide a much-needed vegetable component to balance your meal without having to go out of your way to cook something on the side. Sometimes, you make pot roast all in one dish so you don't have to spend the whole day in the kitchen to whip up something. Potatoes are a carbohydrate component that can be filling rather than using something like rice, and other root vegetables like carrots can give a pop of color to the dish as well as nutritional elements.

15. Butter

Butter seems to make everything taste better, whether you're loading it onto a crusty baguette or you're having buttered pasta. A stick of butter is the key to cooking perfect Mississippi roast since it contributes to the fat content of your gravy or cooking liquid. With Mississippi roast recipes often having a soup or ranch pack included, the butter ramps up the flavor with a mellow creaminess. Since there's a good amount of salt in the soup packets, opt for unsalted butter just to keep your dish's sodium level in check. 

Simply use your average store-bought butter; you don't have to utilize that fancy French butter that you got from the market. The unflavored and unsalted butter makes a rich, nutty addition to your broth, so use half a stick or a whole stick as part of the gravy to ensure it doesn't overwhelm your roast and turn it into a butter sauce fest. Put your buttery Mississippi roast over mashed potatoes for a scrumptious feast for your senses.