I finally decided to recreate the world-famous Cracker Barrel roast beef recipe from scratch! If you thought it was tasty before, wait until you try my version!
This project took quite some time. But I refused to give up until I had something equally good! Luckily, in this case, I ended up with a pulled roast beef recipe that’s arguably even better!
This dish is packed with tender textures, loaded with juices, and has a deliciously balanced profile of savory, umami flavors. Give it a try! You won’t be sorry!
Why I Am Obsessed With This Copycat Cracked Barrel Roast Beef Recipe
I honestly experimented with this classic restaurant dish for months before I finally came close to the real thing. And honestly, I may even be more in love with my version than theirs!
But either way, nobody can deny that a meaty, juicy, and fork tender roast beef isn’t to die for!
This recipe is pretty hands-off once the prep is done. All that you need to spend some time on is browning the meat and sauteeing the onions. That’s it!
Then, everything goes into the pressure cooker, which is left to its own devices for about 1 hour.
After that, you’ll be greeted with luscious, flavorful roast beef and a rich gravy that is sure to be the star of your Sunday night dinners.
What Meat To Use For This Cracker Barrel Beef Roast Recipe?
I prefer using chuck roast cuts for slow-cooked recipes, like this one. It’s a meat that does well with this type of technique because it can become uber-soft and absorbs A TON of flavor.
You can use chuck tender roast (usually the option I try going for), chuck eye roast, arm chuck roast, blade chuck roast, or cross rib chuck roast.
Just make sure to always invest in super fresh quality meat.
Other Ingredients and Substitutions
Coating: I used all-purpose flour, fine salt, and freshly ground black pepper to coat the roast beef.
Oil: I used regular frying oil to brown the meat. You can also use vegetable oil, olive oil, or any other type you prefer.
Aromatics: Diced onions and minced garlic are the aromatics I used for this recipe. You can also add more aromatics like carrots, celery, dried oregano, and other herbs as desired.
Sauce: The base of the sauce is made with a combination of mushroom soup, beef broth or beef stock, and bay leaves. To enhance the flavor of this dish, you can also add French onion soup, red wine, Worcestershire sauce, and other herbs.
Thickening agent: To thicken the sauce, you can add a cornstarch slurry made with water. This will help create a rich gravy that coats the roast beef nicely.
Tips And Tricks For Making The Perfect Cracker Barrel Roast Beef Recipe
Tip 1: Sear or brown the roast
A crucial step is to brown the meat properly. This adds more color AND a caramelized, umami, meaty flavor. If you skip this step, the pulled roast beef will simply come out bland – more like boiled!
For the best-browned meat, there are 2 essential steps. The first is patting the meat dry so the flour sticks to it much better. The second is to work in smaller batches when frying it on a frying pan or hot skillet.
Tip 2: Use a “High” pressure setting.
When setting the time and temperature for the pressure cooker or instant pot, make sure to use the “high” pressure setting. In this setting, the meat will take 60 minutes to cook. But if you use a low-pressure setting, the cooking time will drastically increase. to a couple of hours. You can also do that for a more hands-off recipe.
Tip 3: Don’t put more liquid.
You shouldn’t need more liquid for this dish. The meat also releases juices as it cooks. But if it looks a little dry to you, feel free to add more beef broth. Don’t just add water, or you will dilute the flavor.
When releasing the pressure from the pressure cooker, use a long wooden spoon to do so. This creates some space between you and the steam!
There are many ways you can vary this recipe if you want. Here are some ideas:
- Add other vegetables: Carrots, onions, mushrooms, and celery all make great additions for more flavor.
- Use different seasonings: You could use a combination of Italian herbs or paprika. Or even rosemary and thyme.
- Try using a slow cooker: You can cook the roast beef in a slow cooker or crock pot on low for 8 hours, or high for 4 hours.
- Try using a Dutch oven: You can also cook this dish in a Dutch oven set to 300 degrees for 3-4 hours.
- Spice it up: Try adding some cayenne pepper or chili powder for a bit of heat or dash a bit of hot sauce before you serve it.
How To Serve Your Juicy Pulled Beef Roast
There is no shortage of ways you can serve your pulled copycat Cracker Barrel roast beef. In fact, you can even incorporate it into some of my other recipes.
A great example is my Spinach And Feat Empanadas or this Chicken Pasteles En Hoja recipe. You can replace these fillings with this pulled beef roast alternative. Just make sure it’s not too juicy, or the dough won’t seal properly.
Alternatively, you can serve this beef roast with mashed potatoes, flatbread, on a brioche bun, or alongside some Crispy Air Fried Potato Wedges.
And, for a fresher side dish, try one of my famous salad recipes. I especially love the freshness of this Cucumber And Onion Salad.
How to Store
Refrigerator: You can store the leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days. Just store it in an airtight container for maximum freshness.
Freezer: You can also freeze your leftovers for up to 4 months. Freeze it in a sealed, airtight bag or container.
Reheat: To reheat, place the roast beef in an oven-safe container and reheat at 300-350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. If you’re using a microwave, reheat it on high for 2-3 minutes per side. For stovetop heating, reheat the roast beef on medium-low for about 5 minutes per side.
Roast is a cut of beef that’s made from the rib or round area. Chuck roast is a cut of beef that’s taken from the shoulder blade and neck area. Roast tends to be more tender than chuck roast, but both are perfect for pressurized cooking.
No, you don’t necessarily need to marinate your roast beef from Cracker Barrel before cooking, but if you want to add some extra flavor or moisture it can be a great way. You can use a simple marinade of olive oil, herbs, garlic powder, and spices to add some complexity.
The Ultimate Copycat Cracker Barrel Roast Beef Recipe
- 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp fine salt
- 1/3 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds lean roast beef
- 3 tbsp frying oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can mushroom soup
- 1 cup beef broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 3 tbsp water
- To start, combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Make sure you mix the ingredients well to distribute the flavors evenly.
- Next, pat each piece of beef dry with a piece of paper towel.
- Then, place it inside the flour mixture and make sure it's covered well. Shake off any excess flour and set it aside. Repeat this process with all the beef pieces.
- Next, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan. Use medium-high heat to preheat the pan.
- Once heated, add some flour-coated beef pieces and leave them to fry for 3-4 minutes on each side. The pieces should become beautifully browned. But keep in mind, they will not be cooked through, and that's perfectly fine.
- While the beef is browning, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a separate frying pan over medium heat. Add the diced onions and minced garlic. Leave them to saute for about 5 minutes.
- Once the beef is browned and the onion mixture has been sauteed, remove both from the heat.
- Next, combine the sauteed onion and garlic mixture, mushroom soup, beef broth, and bay leaves in the pressure cooked. Carefully add the pan-fried beef so the liquids don't splash.
- Close the pressure cooker lid. Cook on high pressure for 60 minutes. Once it beeps, carefully release the pressure and remove the beef.
- In a separate large bowl while the meat is still hot, pull the beef with two forks into smaller pieces. Set it aside.
- Whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl until it forms a smooth slurry. Slowly add some of the leftover gravy (in the pressure cooker) to the slurry to thin it out.
- When it's thinned, add the leftover gravy and slurry mixture to a saucepan. Bring it to a boil while whisking often. This will create a thicker gravy.
- Once boiling, add the shredded beef and lower the heat slightly. Leave the mixture to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Finally, serve your delicious pulled roast beef with some gravy on flatbread, in a bun, or over freshly cooked rice.