Difference between Pot Roast and Roast Beef

Pot roast and roast beef sometimes refer to the same dish. However, there are some differences in the two meals, and we will explore them in the following article.


Pot Roast vs Roast Beef
Braised pot roast in a vessel

Pot roast may refer to a variety of beef dishes cooked in a pot, as the name suggests. However, there are many recipes that suggest using ovens, slow cookers and other instruments for cooking pot roast. Generally, this meal is distinguished from other types of beef meals by a cooking method known in French as à l’étouffeé, which suggests slow cooking and various tricks to tenderize a tougher cut of meat.

This way of cooking a cut of beef has been known in France for centuries as Boeuf à la mode (translates as “beef in the style”), and is an equivalent of American pot roast. Several stages are required in order to enrich a true pot roast: marinating, braising in a liquid (red wine, tomato sauce, herbs, root vegetables, and other ingredients depending on a particular recipe), and finally, removing the liquid which would later serve as a side dish to pot roast.

An easy traditional style pot roast recipe:


  • 4 pounds bottom round beef (frozen)
  • Chunked celery
  • 6 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 4 teaspoons of beef bouillon powder
  • 2 tablespoons of flaked onion
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of madrone


  1. Take a big slow cooking vessel. Add the water; add the beef bouillon powder, the soy sauce, the flaked onion, the garlic powder, the chopped garlic, and the madrone. Stir the mixture. Even if it looks like there is not much water, remember that meat itself contains a lot of juice, which is going to be released, adding up to the overall volume of the liquid.
  2. Put the beef into the vessel. Add vegetables, so they are evenly spread around the meat. If they are slightly uneven, it doesn’t matter, because while they cook, they will merge with one another and will make a uniform mass. Put a lid on the vessel.
  3. Because we are using frozen meat, we want to put it on high heat. Then cook it for 6 to 7 hours. If the initial piece of meat is not frozen, then keep it on low heat.
  4. After the pot roast is cooked, separate the roast from the vegetables. The vegetables with the juice can be added to a side dish.

Your traditional style pot roast is ready!

Roast beef
Roast beef

Roast beef refers to any beef which is roasted, hence its name. Normally it is roasted in an oven, but there are some roast beef cooking methods that do not require an oven.

Roast beef is the cornerstone of a traditional English meal, and as such bears a cultural meaning. Writer Henry Fielding even wrote a famous patriotic ballad “The Roast Beef of Old England” back in the 18th century. The poem starts with

“When mighty Roast Beef was the Englishman’s food,

It ennobled our brains and enriched our blood.”

In some American states, roast beef sandwich is served, which is made of bread, roast beef (usually cold), and various additions, such as mustard or red pepper. Kelly’s roast beef diner in Massachusetts invented this type of now famous sandwich.

An easy American roast beef recipe:


  • 3 pounds beef
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In order for the cooking time to be accurate, it is best to leave the meat stand on a counter at room temperature for about 45 minutes.
  2. If the beef is not already tied (it is often sold as such) then use a kitchen twine to tie the beef at approximately 1 inch intervals. This is to hold the meat together and help it cook more evenly.
  3. Place the roast on a rack in a roasting pan.
  4. Now let’s make a seasoning. Mix the salt, the garlic powder, and the black pepper in a small bowl with a fork. Rub the mixture into the meat with the hands.
  5. Put the beef into a preheated oven and cook it for 60 minutes. The rule of thumb for cooking meat is 20 minutes per pound, so you can adjust it in case you have a bigger or smaller roast. At 150 degrees Fahrenheit, the heat will be medium.
  6. When cooked, remove the roast from the oven and cover it loosely with foil. Let it rest for approximately 15 minutes to redistribute juices before you slice it.

Your all American roast beef is ready.

Pot Roast vs Roast Beef

What is the difference between Pot Roast and Roast Beef?

While roast beef may be cooked in a pot, and as such, be referred to as pot roast, this wouldn’t be correct from the historical perspective. Roast beef is generally cooked in the oven in its own juices.

While pot roast is a traditional French dish, roast beef originates in England. Both dishes migrated to the United States and became popular over there.

Pot roast is tougher in texture compared to roast beef; the latter being the most tender meat meal around.

Pot roast is cooked slowly in order for the ingredients to reach a perfect blend and consistency. This is why a slow cooker may be a perfect way to cook it. Roast beef, on the other hand, can be cooked at various speeds.

Comparison chart

Pot Roast Roast Beef
Originates in France Originates in England
Is less tender Is more tender
Is cooked slowly Can be cooked with various speeds