What Happens if I Cook My Roast in My Slow Cooker Too Long?

The last thing you want if you're trying out a slow cooker pot roast recipe is an overcooked meal. Here's what happens if you cook the roast for too long, as well as a tried-and-tested pot roast recipe you can rely on.

The last thing you want if you’re trying a slow cooker pot roast recipe is an overcooked meal.
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Tip

Depending on your slow cooker’s settings and the amount of water you’ve used, you could end up with either a soggy or tough pot roast if you cook it for too long.

Read more: A Roast Beef Recipe That Makes for the Perfect Entrée and Next-Day Sandwiches

Slow Cookers and Overcooked Meat

According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, slow cookers cook food between 170 and 280 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooking food, including meat, in a slow cooker is safe because the direct heat from the cooker and the trapped steam — along with the lengthy cooking time — ensure that all the bacteria in the food is destroyed.

If you're making a slow cooker pot roast, the North Dakota State University (NDSU) explains that it should be "fork tender," which means it should be easy to cut with a fork.

So, what happens if you cook the roast for too long? Well, that depends. The University of Wisconsin notes that food doesn't usually burn in a slow cooker, even if it is kept for longer than required. If you've added liquid to the cooker, the food may get more tender if it's cooked for too long, because the liquid doesn't boil away like it does in other methods of cooking.

However, you could also end up with a tough pot roast. The University of Wyoming explains that the collagen in the muscle fibers of the meat dissolves into gelatin when cooked in moist heat. This tenderizes the meat and allows the fibers to separate easily. However, the muscle fibers in the meat do the opposite when cooked in moist heat; they shrink and become tougher. The higher the temperature, the more they shrink.

All in all, you could end up with a mushy or tough pot roast if you cook it too long. If your slow cooker is a newer model, it may automatically switch to a warming setting so that your food doesn't overcook while you're away.

Read more: 8 Deliciously Simple (and Healthy!) Slow Cooker Recipes

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Recipe

One way to ensure you're not overcooking your meat is to follow a tried-and-tested recipe. LIVESTRONG.com lists an easy and healthy slow cooker pot roast recipe. You will need:

  • A 4-pound chuck tender roast
  • 16 ounces of vegetable broth
  • 234 grams of raw carrots
  • 1 cup of onions
  • 3 medium-sized white potatoes
  • 3 ounces of raw celery
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Here's what you need to do:

  • Brown the meat: Season the roast with salt and pepper and then cook it in a skillet on medium-high heat for approximately four minutes on each side, until it's brown all over.
  • Add the ingredients to the slow cooker: Put the meat, vegetable broth, carrots, onions, potatoes and celery in the slow cooker.
  • Cook the roast: Cover the slow cooker and let it cook on the low heat setting for eight to 10 hours.
  • Check that it's done: The USDA recommends using a food thermometer to ensure that the meat has crossed the temperature threshold that is considered safe for consumption. This helps ensure that any bacteria in the meat has been destroyed and that it is safe to eat. Per the NDSU, medium roasts should exceed 145 F and well-done roasts should exceed 160 F.

This meal is a good source of protein, but it also contains a significant amount of sodium. According to LIVESTRONG.com, one serving provides 290 calories, 42 grams of protein, 15 grams of carbs, 7 grams of fat, 120 milligrams of cholesterol and 673 milligrams of sodium.

Read more: 5 Healthy Red Meat Recipes That Satisfy

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