I buy and freeze meat…and then make my pot roast using frozen beef. Pot roast is great because it’s generally a flexible recipe…make it how you like it. We have adapted our own method using ingredients our family likes (and that we normally have on hand)…I use chicken broth (made from Better than Bouillon), red wine, onions, garlic, balsamic glaze, dijon mustard, bay leaf, dried thyme, salt and pepper. I most often buy stew meat beef at Costco because it’s the leanest, but I also get the the frozen kosher brisket or london broil…and sometimes I also use short ribs!
Whatever kind of beef you like to keep in your freezer from Costco or Sam’s Club will very likely work just fine with this recipe! Sometimes I add a little cornstarch to thicken the pot roast sauce after but that’s entirely optional, it can also be cooked down or just used as-is. It’s great on top of rice, egg noodles and just to use on top of the meat.
The real beauty in this pot roast freezer meal is that I can pull the frozen meat bag from the freezer and I have all the other ingredients on hand…so it takes no meal planning or shopping and is an option whenever I need it (well…so long as I make it in the morning…it does need to cook all day of course). The recipe is flexible…I’ll list out some substitution ideas below…or click recipe in the table of contents below to skip right to the recipe.
You can also use the basic method and put whatever you like in the crock pot, just make sure it has enough liquid, which is about 2 cups. There are lots of variations using ranch dressing, cream of mushroom soups- if you’ve seen another recipe that used a shortcut or interesting ingredient, you can just swap it out. The main thing is that we can always add more flavors to liquid after the fact – but liquid is key during the cooking process!
It’s always a good idea to check it after 4-6 hours and make sure your liquid hasn’t cooked off. It can help to place a piece of parchment paper or foil under your crock pot lid – sometimes I find the lids don’t get a good seal and some of the liquid can cook off and that’s how we end up with dry or burned meat.
Substitution Ideas For Making Pot Roast Using Frozen Beef
I use chicken broth, because that’s what I keep on hand at our house – I make it from Better than Bouillon from Costco. You can definitely substitute for a beef or vegetable broth. If there isn’t a broth option, I would add a handful of mushrooms, carrots, celery, etc and that will add some flavor to the water as it cooks.
Nonna’s Balsamic Drizzle Substitutions
We get Nonna’s Balsamic glaze at Costco. But you can simply add a few tablespoons of regular balsamic on top of the meat. If you don’t have balsamic at all, add 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar or white vinegar to the liquid in the pot. Vinegar really helps break down the meat and get it soft and falling apart.
Red Wine Substitute
Just double your broth if you have red wine (or prefer not to use it).
If you don’t have onions, just omit them. If you’d like to replace them, I’d suggest mushrooms or carrots.
I often toss a few cups of baby carrots into the pot about 3/4 way through. Because we’re cooking our meat from frozen in this pot roast recipe…we’re cooking on HIGH…so I don’t recommend adding your carrots and potatoes at the start or they will be mushy. I suggest adding fresh veggies or potato 3-ish hours before completion of cooking.
Celery, mushrooms, more onions, leeks, parsnip, will all go great with this…
If you really want to add the veggies at the start of cooking (ie, maybe you won’t be home for the day) I’d suggest defrosting your meat in the microwave and cooking on low…or at a minimum I’d place them on top of the meat and out of the liquid as much as possible.
Secret Weapon: Salt
Ok, let’s be real…when the meat is nicely cooked and falling apart with a fork…the sauce is secondary. If you don’t have a lot of these ingredients just make sure you salt it well! That will be the #1 thing that brings out the flavor of slow cooked meat. Use garlic salt if you don’t have garlic!
- Roasted Broccoli
- Toss Carrots into Slow Cooker
- Grilled Asparagus
- Bagged Salad Mix
- Mac N’ Cheese
- Egg Noodles
- Toss Potatoes into Slow Cooker
Recipe: Pot Roast Using Frozen Beef
Keeping meat in the freezer is a great way to keep easy homemade meals on hand. This slow cooked crock pot beef recipe cooks the meat from frozen (no defrosting the meat first), it's just a one pot meal into the slow cooker (no searing or other processes before you start) and cooks your brick of frozen stew meat to a beautiful, falling apart with the touch of a fork pot roast mess that you love! Kid friendly, flexible recipe (easy to swap ingredients!) and cooks from frozen to delicious in 8 hours.
TIP: The slow cook setting on an Instant Pot does not work the same as a real, old school crock pot. I highly recommend using a real slow cooker. It will work in the instant pot, but no guarantees on the meat being soft and falling apart like a pot roast.
- 2-2.5 lbs Frozen Beef (such as stew meat or short ribs)
- 1 cup chicken or beef broth
- 1 cup red wine (dry red wine preferred)
- 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- Drizzle of Nonna Pia's balsamic glaze
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- Place frozen meat into crock pot
- Add broth, worcestershire and wine
- Mix herbs and mustard into liquid
- Salt & pepper the meat generously and put balsamic drizzle on top of meat
- Add onions and garlic (some on meat, some into the liquid)
- Set crock pot for 8 hours on high
- Stir 1-2x after the meat has fully thawed in the cooker (about 3 hours)
Sauce can be used as-is (may need salt to taste), thickened with cornstarch or cooked down. Chef's choice.
What did you think of this recipe? Please let me know if you made it! And if you made substitutions, please let us know what worked (or what didn’t)!
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