Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy BBQ Pot Roast

Pot roast comes in many forms, I am learning. Take this recipe for instance. Billed as “pot roast,” it differs in flavor and ingredients from the classic pot roast I grew up eating but still manages to be mighty tasty. And the bonus is that it has a secret ingredient you can quiz your dinner guests about.

Any guesses? Don’t cheat and look at the recipe below…

Ok, I’ll tell you. Root beer.

The carbonated, sweet root beer combined with the mildly spicy enchilada sauce and kicky hot sauce pairs into one of the most delicious and tender roasts I’ve had in a long time. Even though the end result has flavors a bit different than a traditional pot roast, we still served this up with potatoes since the drippings from the roast made a tasty, flavorful gravy. Fantastic recipe and oh, so needed for those days that just scream “PULL OUT THE CROCKPOT, MAN!” Thanks, Emily!

P.S. Road Trip Update: We made it. Grumpy and safe, we made it. A big thank-you to pre-scheduled blog posts, Crayola window markers, dollar store toys, copious amounts of dark chocolate M&M’s, and Homeward Bound, which we watched no less than 58 times. I’ll be back on track soon to catch up to your comments/emails.

What To ServeThe sky is the limit for sides with this dish:  You could serve it with salt-crusted rosemary potatoes or our favorite cheesy potatoes. Throw in a steamed vegetable, dinner roll if you are so inclined, and/or a fruit or green salad and wow, that’s one delectable meal. 

One Year Ago: Hoisin Chicken Rice Bowls
Two Years Ago: Sticky Coconut Chicken

Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy BBQ Pot Roast

Yield: Serves 8-10

Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy BBQ Pot Roast

Note: I used to avoid recipes that called for browning the meat before adding it to the crockpot. Unnecessary, I thought! But I’ve since changed my ways, realizing that a quick sear in a hot pan can add a delicious dimension of flavor that is well worth the extra few minutes. Also, the leftovers of this roast, combined with some BBQ sauce make phenomenal BBQ beef sandwiches


  • 4-7 pounds boneless chuck roast, trimmed of large areas of fat
  • 1-2 tablespoons saute spice (equal parts garlic powder, salt and black pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 can root beer (if you use a brand other than A&W, please don’t tell my husband)
  • 1 can (around 9-ish ounces, the size of a soup can) red chile enchilada sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (I like the Tapatio brand)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ cup of water or milk


  1. Pat the roast(s) dry with a paper towel; then rub the saute spice all over the roast. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or pot until it is shimmering. Brown the roast on all sides in the hot oil, for about 1 minute on each side. The oil should be hot enough to get the roast nicely browned without burning it.
  2. Transfer the roast to a 4-8 quart slow cooker. In a bowl, combine the root beer, enchilada sauce, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce and pour over the roast. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 5-6 hours.
  3. Remove the roast, reserving juices in the slow cooker. Tent the roast with foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water/milk, stirring well until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Stir the cornstarch mixture into the juices in the slow cooker. Cook, uncovered, on high for 15 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Serve sauce over roast with mashed potatoes or any other sides that float your boat.

Recipe Source: adapted from Emily, a reader, originally from Southern Living Easy Weeknight Favorites

80 Responses to Slow Cooker Sweet and Spicy BBQ Pot Roast

  1. Sabina says:

    For any australians out there who can not find root beer, i used sarsaparilla and it worked well and tasted great.

  2. Maryann Rimoin says:

    Would this recipe be good for tacos? Would shredding the beef and then heating it up the next day for a party?
    Thanks, Maryann

  3. Brian says:

    Have you tried this in the Instapot yet? 🙂

  4. Katie says:

    How would you prepare in the oven instead of the crock pot?

  5. Kimberly says:

    Absolutely delicious!!

  6. Virginia says:

    Let me try that again…. I’m in Canada and cannot find red chile enchilada sauce in any of the local grocery stores. Someone above mentioned having the same problem. Anything comparable that could be substituted? And tips/tricks appreciated!

  7. Virginia says:

    Eek!!! I’m in the Great White North (Canada!!

  8. This looks perfect! Will definitely be adding this to my must-try list.

  9. Sarah says:

    I made this last night (my first recipe from your website!) and it was SO GOOD! Hands down the best pot roast I’ve ever had. And EASY! Will definitely be making this again. So excited to try other recipes from the site. A friend recently told me about your blog, said it has changed her cooking completely. So far I’m convinced!

  10. mangomama says:

    The meat for this turned out delicious– but be sure to follow Mel’s instructions to take the cooked meat out, then thicken the sauce and serve the meat and the sauce separately– I didn’t. Once the meat was done, I took it out, cut it up, (tasted it– yummy!) and after thickening the sauce, put the meat back in…not a good move—made the dish cloyingly sweet. Serve the sauce on the side as Mel says!

  11. Erin says:

    All we have in the house is coke. Do you think that will be ok? Not going to the store so I”m going to try it and let you know. I love your site. You are my go to site for meal planning. Keep it up!

  12. Carissa says:

    This roast has changed my life. It is by far the best way I’ve eaten a slow cooker roast and makes the best gravy I’ve ever tasted. And the fact that it is embarrassingly simple doesn’t hurt either 🙂 I’m not sure I’ll make a roast any other way. Ever.

  13. Tara says:

    Seriously yum!
    And really is there anything other than A&W?? 😉

  14. DD says:

    Sounds wonderful. If you only use two pounds of meat would you just halve the rest of the ingredients?

  15. Annisa Larsen says:

    Mel, how would this be for sandwiches on rolls? Would I need to add any more sauce to it?

  16. Becky Hayden says:

    Mel, I made this dish this past weekend. WONDERFUL! The next day, I took the left overs and warmed on the stove and added BBQ sauce and pulled the roast apart a little…..A HUGE HIT! Kenneth said, seriously baby make this again. We ate it just as a roast bbq dish and also as a sandwich. Thanks!

  17. Holly says:

    I made this one yesterday and we quite liked it. Saved the remainder for shredded beef sandwiches later this week. My dinner companion could not guess the secret ingredient, but did guess correctly on the hot sauce. 🙂

  18. Katie says:

    Looks so yummy! Making it tomorrow for dinner and had one question…how spicy is it? We are all kind of weak in the spice department at my house. I bought the mild enchilada sauce but wondering if the whole tablespoon of hot sauce makes it too spicy or just gives it a subtle bite?? Thanks!

  19. Sara Geiger says:

    Very tasty! Love the enchilada sauce flavor in it mixed with the root beer!

  20. jess says:

    Just made this last night and WOW! Super tender and soooo yummy! Thanks so much for this one!

  21. Carrie says:

    I made this pot roast yesterday and my husband and I both agreed that this is by far the best pot roast either of us have ever eaten!!! I have made lots of pot roast recipes in my crock pot over the years, but this recipe will be my “go to” from this point forward. I followed your recipe exactly Mel and it was just delicious!! The gravy was amazing! I made baked potatoes to serve with the pot roast and poured the gravy over them and they were so so yummy! Thank you for yet another wonderful recipe. I LOVE your blog!!!

  22. Eryka~Lynn says:

    I have this recipe in the slow cooker now!!!! Smells amazing….it will be a nice surprise for the husband when he gets home from his grueling 80 hour work week and 85 degree weather….thank you!

  23. Shannon says:

    Just tried this recipe this week. Awesome, as usual. It was on my menu plan but I wasn’t planning to cook it that night until I got a phone call for help that kept me out all day. It only took me a few minutes to get all this in the crock pot before I left home, and a few minutes to finish it up after I got home–important because of a commitment an hour after getting home. AND because I bought a 2 liter bottle of A&W, we had plenty leftover for root beer floats! What could be better?! Thanks for another great recipe.

  24. Deb says:

    Yum, this was really tasty! I didn’t mind the browning ahead of time and it did add alot of flavor. Came out very juicy and the sauce was delish!

  25. lynda says:

    Have you made the roast with potatoes and carrots in the crockpot? Thanks.

  26. Courtney says:

    Hi, Mel. I just made this recipe this weekand it was SOOOOOO good. I mean really, really good. I posted about it, gave you credit, and linked back. Here’s the link if you are interested: Thanks for providing such great recipes – and congrats on your upcoming new baby!

  27. […] I saw this recipe at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, I knew I’d found […]

  28. Stephanie says:

    Another winner! I served this with your herb roasted potatoes (sauce on top!) and roasted asparagus. I found a chili sauce in the Asian section of the market. I only bought a 3lb roast and kind of eyeballed everything. I don’t think it matters…..DELICIOUS! Thank you, again.

  29. Shannon says:

    I’ve made this recipe at least 5 times, just halved it (since it’s just me and my hubby), and I swear I won’t make roast in a crock pot another way – I’ve even converted my mom to this recipe! Anyway, I made it tonight, and had all the ingredients except for the Root Beer…but I did have Dr. Pepper. I wouldn’t normally sub such an important ingredient, but since I’ve made this numerous times before and new what it was supposed to taste like, I kinda wanted to see if there was a big difference…
    It tasted just as good! I would say there was a bit of a tasted difference, but not enough to make it not as good. And I only think those of us who’ve made the recipe numerous times would be able to tell the for those of you who might be Dr. Pepper drinkers, it works in this recipe too! Just FYI 🙂

  30. jane dees says:

    Love this website and have made many of the recipes from cookies to main dishes. Had my first problem ever, I made the BBQ sweet sour pot roast in the slow cooker section. You did not mention what size can of encillada sauce, since I am the Mother of 9 I only buy things in lARGE cans! It ended uo a bit soupy even though I didn’t use the whole can…the flavor was still wonderful but want ot know for next time!

    PS I live in one town and mentioned this wed site to my sister, it turns out the famous AUNT MARILYN is in her ward…small world!

    • Mel says:

      jane dees – what a great coincidence about Aunt Marilyn! I’m jealous your sister gets to live so close to her. I’m glad this recipe worked out alright for you and sorry for not giving more specific requirements on the can of enchilada sauce. I’ll edit the recipe!

  31. Kesa says:

    I cannot not say something about how delicious this recipe is! I live in Alaska and we cook with moose meat a lot and I have NEVER had a great moose roast. I’m sure others have done this already, but my Mom’s were always good growing up, but a little on the dry side and never pulled apart the way the meat did with this recipe. I have tried other recipes in hopes of better results, but nothing seem to change the taste or texture…until this killer recipe. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! My whole family loves your blog. Thanks for what you do! Seriously amazing food and the gravy from this sauce was killer with the potatoes and meat!

    • Mel says:

      Kesa – wow, I’m thrilled this recipe was such a hit, especially with a different kind of meat! Mostly, I’m glad you’ve finally lived up to the standard your mom set growing up. I have recipes like that – the ones I just can’t get to taste the same as my mom’s. Glad this one worked out!

  32. Reyna says:

    I knew you’d save the day. I had this roast in the freezer I really needed to use up, but I wasn’t in the mood for regular ol’ pot roast, so naturally I looked to see if you had any recipes–and of course you did! This was a fantastic Sunday dinner, and I’m super excited for the soft tacos I’ll be making with them tonight. Really versatile and tasty!

  33. Danelle says:

    Made this tonight & it was great! I substituted about 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes for the hot sauce b/c I am cheap & I didn’t want to have to buy hot sauce just for this one recipe. It tasted great with the substitution!

  34. Cammee says:

    I made the roast, but used a pork roast and we used it for pork tacos. The kids gobbled them right up!

  35. Emily says:

    The original recipe actually uses a 12oz bottle of Heniz Chili Sauce (found by the ketchup and hot sauce) not Red Enchilada Chile Sauce. That may be easier to find in Canada.

    • Mel says:

      Emily – thanks for clarifying the chili sauce issue. I never buy the Heinz chili sauce and am glad to know that either will work (since I used the red chile enchilada sauce and it was delicious!).

  36. lisa says:

    I made this last night for a family dinner and it turned out great. It was such a hit!! Thanks for the recipe!!

  37. kira says:

    Browning the meat adds great flavor! My mom taught me to put a little water in the bottom of a oven safe pot/pan, thrown the roast in after seasoning it, and put it on broil for 4-5 minutes. Flip the roast over, and cook another 4-5 minutes. For the summer, though, your way sounds great! I may have to give up my old ways and try it!

  38. Shawn says:

    Christine: I just did my pork roast on my blog, check it out! Turned out real good!

  39. Christine says:

    Would this also taste good with pork?

    • Mel says:

      Christine – I haven’t made it with pork but other commenters suggested they were going to try. I’m guessing it would work out just as well with a boneless pork roast.

  40. Tammy says:

    just wanted to say this was a big hit in my house!! My hubby and kids LOVED this! I shredded the roast and we had beef on a bun….so so delish! thanks for such a great recipe! thanks for so many great recipes! 😉

  41. Annie B says:

    Pot Roast made with a can of Guiness is a family favourite in our house.
    A & W has been hard to come by here in New Zealand but we have now found a supplier that imports it – yay ( my son discovered A & W on a sports trip to Canada many years ago and got us all hooked – there nothing like that here at all).

  42. BINGO! This is Vacation Bible School week and I’m teaching the 3s-Pre-K group (pray for me!) and I came here looking for delicious slow cooker recipes. PERFECT! Thanks, Mel. 🙂

  43. Tammy says:

    I’ve got this in my slow cooker right now….can’t wait till dinner time!

    Yvonne from Canada….I found enchilada sauce at Safeway where the taco stuff is. It comes in a jar. I have seen it at Sobey’s too in a can but not sure if you have that where you live.

    • Mel says:

      Tammy – I hope you like this dish and thanks for helping with the enchilada sauce question.

      Yvonne – here in the States, I find the red enchilada sauce in the Mexican foods aisle. It is simply titled “Red Enchilada Sauce” and can usually be found in mild or medium (to indicate spiciness). I’ve only ever found it in a can and it is usually a 10-12 ounce size. Hope that helps!

  44. CaSaundra says:

    I love using the slow cooker–but for some reason, I always
    forget about it during the summer. Thanks for the reminder!
    Looks great! 🙂

  45. Cindy says:

    Is that a small or large can of red enchilada sauce?

  46. oh my husband will LOVE this one!! 🙂 Thank you for all of your awesome recipes!

  47. That meat looks just amazing! I want to grab my fork and launch right into it. Your photo has done a perfect job of showing its beauty.

    P.s. Just tagged you for an award over on my blog!

  48. grace says:

    you mean there are brands of root beer other than a&w? i had no idea. 🙂

  49. Kelly says:

    Yay! I’ve heard of the “root beer pot roast” for ages and I’ve never seen the recipe. I’m so excited. I’ve also heard it is good with a pork shoulder.

  50. Yvonne says:

    Can you elaborate on ‘red enchilada sauce’? I’m not sure what that is. Being from Canada, we don’t have a ton of tex-mex ingredients other than the typical salsas. Thanks! Your recipes always inspire me!

  51. Emily says:

    Glad you liked the recipe!!! We almost always serve it with potatoes too because the gravy is just too good!

  52. Sook says:

    Love the color of this dish! BBQ sauce sounds great.

  53. Shawn says:

    This recipe sounds great! I love pork roasts so much better than beef, so I might try it with some pork! Yummy!

  54. StephenC says:

    I go back and forth with the browning thing. It does make sense to do it. Two slow-cooker recipes among the blogs I follow on the same day! Someone’s sending me a message.

  55. Shrek says:

    This looks great. I need to pull out the Crock Pot because it is way too hot for the oven.
    How many times did you hear, “Are we there yet?” I dislike that little phrase. I am so glad you made it safely and sanely. Tell child #2 to stay out of the road for me.
    Enjoy your vacation.

  56. Beth says:

    I love my crockpot and am always looking for new recipes to do in it. Thanks for this one. It is a must try next week with company coming!

  57. Kim in MD says:

    This looks amazing, and I love that you cook it in the crockpot (after a quick sear-brown food means delicious food!). This recipe won’t break my “don’t turn on the oven this summer” rule…yeah 🙂

    I’m so glad you made it to Wyoming safely. Have a great time, and thanks for posting while you are away! 🙂

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