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Instant Pot Herb-Crusted Holiday Chuck Roast

make way prime rib, there's a new kid in town!

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Holiday Chuck Roast, a great paleo, healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free, whole30 recipe.

Holiday Chuck Roast, a great paleo, healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free, whole30 recipe.Holiday Chuck Roast, a great paleo, healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free, whole30 recipe.Holiday Chuck Roast, a great paleo, healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free, whole30 recipe.Holiday Chuck Roast, a great paleo, healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free, whole30 recipe.Holiday Chuck Roast, a great paleo, healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free, whole30 recipe.Holiday Chuck Roast, a great paleo, healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free, whole30 recipe.Holiday Chuck Roast, a great paleo, healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free, whole30 recipe.Holiday Chuck Roast, a great paleo, healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free, whole30 recipe.Holiday Chuck Roast, a great paleo, healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free, whole30 recipe.Holiday Chuck Roast, a great paleo, healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free, whole30 recipe.

Edit 2018: this chuck roast is one of the many 36 recipes in my new Instant Pot for Beginners eBook!  Click below to get your copy!

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By-and-large, I favor a prime rib roast for celebratory meals (and non-celebratory meals, if we’re being honest).

It’s also known as a standing rib roast and can be recognized by the signature large rib bones running along the length.  Although, for reasons unbeknownst to me, some butchers will remove these bones.  It comes from the center ribs of the cow and for the most part, has very little connective tissue and a more-than-decent amount of fat.  A perfect combo, IMO.  Asking for # bones (how they are sold: “I’d like a 3-bone prime rib, please!”) closer to the chuck end will guarantee you’ll get more flavorful meat due to a higher amount of cap meat.

All that said, a grass-fed 3-bone prime rib roast will cost you at least $60 (I know since I’ve purchased them), which can make this awesome cut of meat off-limits to those feeding larger families or anyone just plain on a budget.

So if we’re doling out second place, the chuck absolutely wins. As I noted above, a high amount of cap meat makes this a very tasty piece of meat.  It’s a cut I enjoy pretty regularly.  It has a *much* higher amount of connective tissue when compared to prime rib so traditional cooking methods lend to low-and-slow until the fat has melted and the connective tissue is fully broken down, generally resulting in a shredded meat situation.

With lots of trial and error around cooking chuck roasts, both slow cooked and under pressure, I’ve found there’s a bit of a goldilocks spot when it comes to breaking down that connective tissue.  Taking it all the way to shredded can actually leave it a bit dry if you aren’t careful.  So with that in mind, I decided: why not cook a chuck roast like a prime rib?!

As you may have already guessed, the results were pretty great (or I would likely not be sharing).  Cooking at the lowest setting your crock pot or Instant Pot will manage is a great way to keep it from drying out while still breaking down the connective tissue.

Truss it to keep it together and you’ll get some great slicing action just like a prime rib, but with an arguably more juicy, melt-in-your-mouth bite.  Crazy, right?!

It’s a great no-fuss recipe that make you the star of your holiday spread.  It is fairly hands-off and can be 90% prepped days ahead of the big meal.  Read through the directions fully before starting!  The use of an Instant Pot vs traditional slow cooker may impact cook time.  It’s perfect when a bit of meat can be pulled off the end but the whole thing stays intact and doesn’t fall apart when moved.

Curious about the egg white? It’s what gets that gorgeous herb mix to stick to the outside and allows it to get all crispy when baked! <3

Get a printable PDF of the recipe

Holiday Chuck Roast

Yields: 4-6 servings

3 lb. beef chuck roast

6 cloves garlic

1/2 white or sweet onion

Palm full of fresh thyme sprigs (~1/2 oz)

1/4 c. dry white wine

4+ c. bone broth or stock of choice, salt-free or low sodium

2 bay leaves

1/2 c. chopped fresh herbs of choice

(any combo of basil, rosemary, and thyme works well)

1 tsp. sea salt

2 tsp. black pepper or pink pepper

1 egg white

Equipment needed: slow cooker, kitchen twine, roasting pan with a rack


  • Minimum 1 day before serving:  pull out the chuck roast to come to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Remove any silver skin visible on the exterior of the roast (as shown in the first 2 images of the raw roast above).
  • Form into a log:  maneuver the flesh of the meat to elongate and compress it together to form a longer length.  The nature of chuck is that many different types of muscle exist in one roast and you’ll notice there are more-or-less “sections” that naturally start to fall apart the more you handle it (generally-speaking, this is where the fat and connective tissue runs through).  Do not pull the sections apart entirely but gently loosen them until you can rearrange the shape from a thick bulky piece into a nice long log, as shown above.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, since we’ll be tying it up with twine!
  • Truss it:  cut 5 1-foot lengths of kitchen twine (you’ll need more if your roast is bigger).  Decide which is the more attractive side and flip so that side faces down.  Starting in the middle, slide a length of twine under the roast and tie with a double knot, crossing the string over 3 times before tying the second knot.  This will hold the string in place on the roast in a more secure way than a regular double knot.  Repeat this working outward toward both ends, spacing the twine every 2″ or so.  Season lightly with sea salt & black pepper on all sides (more seasoning is added later so go easy here).  Allow it to rest a full 30 minutes out of the fridge.
  • The aromatics:  while the roast is resting, add minimum 2 tablespoons high-heat cooking oil or fat to a wide, heavy-bottomed skillet (I used my 12″ cast iron to fit the 11″ length of roast) and heat to medium.  Add the garlic cloves, onion, and half of the fresh thyme sprigs to the hot oil (caution: the herbs will pop).  Sauté until the garlic and onion are golden.  Move everything to the bowl of your slow cooker.
  • Brown the roast:  add more fat to the pan, as needed, turn to medium-high heat, and add the roast.  Brown on all sides until dark golden.  This hunk of meat needs *a lot* of cooking time so don’t worry about overcooking it here.  The more dark color you get, the crispier a crust you’ll have at the end.  Add more fat to the pan if it begins to appear dry.  Once browned, move the roast to the center of the slow cooker.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine and scrape all the browned bits off the bottom.  Pour the juices and bits into the slow cooker.  (Note:  if you have a smaller roast, you can use the Instant Pot’s “Sauté” function for the browning.  I opted for the cast iron instead due to the roast being too long to fit comfortably in the bottom of the IP. Though after searing, shrinkage of the meat allowed it to fit perfectly in my 8-qt IP.)
  • Slow cooking the roast: add enough bone broth to come halfway up the height of the roast, as shown.  I have an 8-quart Instant Pot and 4 cups of broth was perfect.  Add the bay leaves, the remaining thyme leaves, and cover with a lid.  Slow cook on the “less” (low) setting for 12 hours, vent on venting.  Check the done-ness by pulling a small piece off one end with kitchen tongs or a fork.  If the end pries off easily, it’s ready.  Once it reaches this point, you can keep the roast on a “keep warm” setting for up to 6 hours before needing to remove it to prepare for serving.  (Note: I have only tested this with the slow cook function on my Instant Pot, which runs cooler than many traditional slow cookers. If not using an IP, you may want to check doneness at around 8 hours to be sure it hasn’t started to fall apart.)
  • (Note: you can refrigerate the roast at this stage and continue with the remaining steps just before serving.  If doing so, make sure to rest the roast out of the fridge for 30 minutes before covering with the crust and baking.)
  • Preparing the crust:  preheat the oven to 450F.  Have ready a roasting pan with rack inside.  Remove the roast and place it on a clean surface.  Mix the herb crust by combining the 1/2 c. herbs, 1 tsp. sea salt, and 2 tsp. pepper of choice (a food processor is the easiest way to prepare this). Whip the egg white to a stiff peak by hand or with a mixer.  Coat the roast generously with the egg white on the top and sides.  Sprinkle with the herb mixture until fully used up, working to coat evenly across the egg white.  Gently move the coated roast over to the rack.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the exterior is crisp to the touch.  Tent the roast very loosely with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.
  • The jus:  while the roast is cooking, turn the Instant Pot to “sauté” to reduce the juices (or move them to a stock pot over the stove for traditional slow cookers).  Cook until the juices have reduced halfway.  Strain and season with sea salt and black pepper, to taste.  Optionally, you can reserve the onion sections and blend together with the reduced sauce to achieve more of a gravy consistency.

Notes for larger sized roasts:

My 3-lb. roast came to about 11″ long once trussed.  A larger roast may turn out longer and will necessitate more trussing.  Stick to a rule of about 1 knot every 2″.

If larger than 3 lb., add 1-1.5 hours cooking time per pound of roast.  Check the roast within the last 2 hours of cooking for doneness.  I should be easy to pull pieces off the end but it should not be falling apart.

Up to about 8 lb. roast size, you will not need more than 1 egg white.

For the herb coating, scale the herbs and salt and pepper directly to the size of the roast.  For example, a 6 lb. roast will need a mix of 1 cup fresh herbs, 2 teaspoons sea salt, and 4 teaspoons pepper.

The oven time needed to crisp the herb crust should not vary much by the size of the roast.

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