There are two dishes that us Brits do better than anyone else on the planet – fish and chips, and a roast dinner. Anyone that tries to argue otherwise – well, they’re wrong. This Slow Cooker Roast Beef can’t be beaten for convenience or taste!
If you do some research you’ll find many “one pot roast” recipes for the slow cooker that involve throwing everything (potatoes included) into the crockpot and leaving it to cook. Boiled potatoes in gravy? No thanks. It should be illegal to eat a roast without proper oven-baked roast potatoes! Also, they usually use a brisket cut of beef – which works better for pulled beef style recipes (like our Spicy Beef Tacos), and doesn’t slice too well.
Bec and I have spent a long time refining this recipe. We’ve tried different cuts of beef, different gravy, different ways of serving the veg with it. When we had that “OH MY GOD THIS IS AMAZING” moment, we knew we’d nailed it!
What cut of meat should I use for Slow Cooker Roast Beef?
After much experimentation, we can confirm that the best cut to use for a Slow Cooker Sunday Roast Beef – is topside of beef. Topside is a lean cut that comes from the top of the cow’s rear-end. It works so well slow cooked as the long cooking times break down the meat, and it literally melts in your mouth as you eat it.
Topside also cuts really nicely. Rather than falling apart once cooked (brisket – I’m looking at you) it’s possible to cut beautiful slices (as you can see from our pictures!) – but it’s still really tender and flavoursome.
In terms of price you’ll find topside is at the cheaper end of the roasting joints that you can find in supermarkets, so it makes for an excellent thrifty Sunday roast. Brilliant if you have a lot of mouths to feed!
Note for our US and Canadian friends: Over on your side of the pond cows are butchered and named slightly differently. Look for a “top round”.
Top Tips for Slow Cooker Roast Beef
- Searing the meat well before you start cooking is probably the single most important thing you can do to ensure an amazing flavour. You’re not sealing the meat to “lock in moisture” as many believe! By searing the outside of the meat on a high heat you’re initiating the “Mailliard Reaction”, which adds to the beautiful meaty flavour.
- Whilst we add vegetables to the crockpot to add flavour to the gravy and meat, no roast beef is complete without a good selection of vegetables freshly cooked and served with the beef. Nobody wants carrots that taste exactly the same as everything else!
- No Roast Beef is complete without Yorkshire Puddings. If another Brit tells you otherwise, they’re a – wrong, or b – lying about being British 😉
What’s the best gravy for Roast Beef?
The most flavoursome gravy is made with the meat juices produced whilst cooking the meat. This recipe cooks the beef in red wine and beef stock, which is then reduced, seasoned and tweaked at the end – so literally nothing goes to waste. I can’t explain to you how good the red wine gravy in this recipe is!
It’s important that the gravy is the right thickness, too watery and it won’t have much taste, and too thick it won’t pour – so ensure you reduce it adequately after the meat is cooked. If you go too far either way you can either add some boiling water, or reduce further till you reach a consistency you’re happy with.
It’s really not necessary to use an expensive bottle of wine – don’t be fooled into thinking that using a more expensive bottle will make the gravy taste better. Any bottle of red you have in the cupboard will be absolutely fine.
What vegetables should I serve with Roast Beef?
You can serve whatever vegetables you like with roast beef – the list is pretty much endless. When we ate the beef you can see in the pictures (yes, we do eat everything we make!), we served it with roast potatoes, winter greens, and carrot and swede mash.
You could also serve roast beef with:
- Brussels sprouts
- Cauliflower (or cauliflower cheese!)
Vegetables aside, don’t forget your Yorkshire Puddings!
Topside Beef in Red Wine Cooking Times
The cooking times stated in the recipe card are for a 2kg rolled topside joint, cooked from room temperature. Whilst this is a good starting point, the best way to determine if your beef is cooked to your liking is by checking the internal temperature of the meat using a meat thermometer.
The following temperatures are a good guide. Don’t worry if you go slightly over, and bear in mind the temperature of the beef will continue to rise as it rests.
Well done: 70C
Slow Cooker Roast Beef
- 1 kg (2.2 lb) topside or top round beef
- 500 ml (2.1 cups) beef stock
- 187.5 ml (0.8 cups) red wine – ¼ bottle
- 2 carrots – roughly chopped
- 1 onion – sliced
- 6 tbsp cornflour
- 3 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Add the carrots and onions to the slow cooker, then add 3 tbsp of cornflour and stir to ensure an even coating. Rub a little oil all over the beef and season well with salt and pepper. Sear the beef all over in a hot pan, and transfer to the slow cooker.
- Add the beef stock, red wine, tomato puree and sugar, ensuring that the beef is mostly covered by the liquid. Cook on low for 6 hours, or high for 3.5 hours. Once cooked, remove the beef from the slow cooker and cover with foil to keep warm. Rest the beef for up to 30 minutes.
- Reduce the remaining liquid and vegetables in the slow cooker to a gravy consistency, adding 3 tbsp of cornflour to thicken (remove a little liquid, mix in the cornflour to make a paste, and mix it back into the gravy). If you've got a slow cooker with a metal pot (see the equipment list for a recommendation) you can do this by transferring it straight to the hob, if not, you'll need to transfer the contents of the slow cooker to a pan.
- When you're ready to serve, slice the beef with a sharp knife and coat with plenty of red wine gravy!
Cooked Beef Internal TemperatureInsert the beef thermometer into the middle of the beef and wait for the temperature to settle. Use the following temperatures as a guide, depending how you like your beef to be cooked: Rare: 50C
Well done: 70C The temperature will continue to rise slightly once the beef is removed from the slow cooker.