Pot roast is a braised beef dish, typically made by browning a roast-sized piece of beef in order to induce a Maillard reaction, then slow-cooking in or over liquid in a covered dish. Tougher cuts such as chuck steak, boneless chuck roast, and 7-bone pot roast are popularly cooked using this technique; while the toughness of their fibers makes them unsuitable for oven roasting, slow cooking tenderizes them, while the liquid exchanges its flavor with that of the beef. The result is tender, succulent meat and a rich liquid that lends itself to gravy. In North America, where it is also known as "Yankee pot roast", pot roast is often served with vegetables such as carrots, potatoes and sometimes onions simmered in the cooking liquid.
Pot roast is an American variation of the French dish boeuf à la mode, modified by influences from German immigrants.
French immigrants to the United States are known for a cooking method called à l'étouffée for tenderizing meats. Their influence through New Hampshire and Maine can be seen as reasonable evidence for this origin. Later immigrants from Germany to Pennsylvania and the Mid West cooked sauerbraten and marinated roasts, larded and slow cooked for taste and tenderness. In New Orleans, daube was a popular dish. An early cook book titled The Yankee Cook Book, by Imogene Wolcott, has a recipe for pot roast that includes raisins along with the traditional ingredients.