Coffee-Braised Pot Roast with Caramelized Onions

Coffee-Braised Pot Roast with Caramelized Onions

38 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine, Fall 2004

This recipe is reminiscent of a pot roast made with onion-soup mix, but the flavors are true and pure—and nobody misses the excess sodium. (For a slow-cooker variation, see below.)

Ingredients 10 servings

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Original recipe yields 10 servings
Nutrition per serving may change if servings are adjusted.
  • 1 4-pound beef chuck roast, (see Ingredient note), trimmed of fat
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¾ cup strong brewed coffee
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced (4 cups)


  • Active

  • Ready In

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Season beef with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook, turning from time to time, until well browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the pot. Add onions, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until softened and golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and thyme; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in coffee and vinegar; bring to a simmer. Return the beef to the pot and spoon some onions over it. Cover and transfer to the oven.
  4. Braise the beef in the oven until fork-tender but not falling apart, 2½ to 3 hours. Transfer beef to a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest for about 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, skim fat from the braising liquid; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook, whisking, until the gravy thickens slightly, about 1 minute. Season with pepper. Carve the beef and serve with gravy.
  6. Slow-Cooker Variation:
  7. In Step 2, transfer the browned beef to a slow cooker. In Step 3, use just ½ cup coffee. Add the onion mixture to the slow cooker. In Step 4, cover and cook until beef is tender, 4½ to 5 hours on High or 7 to 8 hours on Low. In Step 5, pour the liquid into a medium saucepan and continue as directed.
  • Make Ahead Tip: The pot roast will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat meat slices and sauce, covered, in the oven, microwave or on the stovetop.
  • Ingredient Note: Although it is not the leanest cut of beef, chuck is still our choice for pot roast because it doesn't dry out during braising. You will find pockets of fat as you carve it, but they are easy to remove.
  • For easy cleanup, try a slow-cooker liner. These heat-resistant, disposable liners fit neatly inside the insert and help prevent food from sticking to the bottom and sides of your slow cooker.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: about 3 ounces meat & ⅓ cup gravy
  • Per serving: 209 calories; 7 g fat(3 g sat); 1 g fiber; 4 g carbohydrates; 30 g protein; 15 mcg folate; 88 mg cholesterol; 2 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 4 IU vitamin A; 2 mg vitamin C; 23 mg calcium; 3 mg iron; 73 mg sodium; 293 mg potassium
  • Carbohydrate Servings: ½
  • Exchanges: ½ vegetable, 4 lean meat

Reviews 38

December 26, 2016
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By: EmilyK
Best Christmas dinner I've made. Thank you! This was flavorful and easy. The slow cook method made the meat tender. I will make this again for guests. It goes great with a side of roasted carrots and bacon green beans.
August 12, 2016
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By: TxrancherMama
My rancher pilot agrees--toss all other pot roast recipes out! I didn't have the Cafe Bustelo on hand but used Folger's Columbian roast at double strength--made in the crock pot on low and it won rave reviews from my testosterone crew with mushrooms thrown on top for the last hour and a side of cauliflower fauxtatoes. I will definitely use this as a comfort-meal standby! The sauce at completion is a delicious French onion soup flavor--I couldn't turn it into gravy--it was delicious as is.
April 09, 2015
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By: EatingWell User
Nutritional Accuracy 4 pounds of meat is 64oz how are we getting that a serving is 3 ounces and that there are 10 servings? Pros: Tasted great, slow cooker was wicked easy.
February 17, 2015
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By: EatingWell User
Great Crock Pot Meal Took out as much fat as possible. Seasoned meat and browned. Caramelized onions. Threw it all in a crock pot. Used full amount of coffee and added water. Added cremini mushrooms and mushroom bouillon last hour along with penne rigate. Turned into a great beef with pasta dish. Pros: Versitle recipe Cons: Needs more seasoning for my taste
November 17, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Delicious! This recipe required very little tweaking and the sauce was delicious. Pros: Easy and tasty
October 02, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Best Effortless Pot Roast I have made pot roasts in the past typically with a soup mix and found them far too salty and not nearly tender enough. This roast on the other hand is just the opposite. After searing I braised my beef in the onion, coffee concoction for 2 1/2 hours, occasionally basting the roast with the juices in the pan really just for fun. I let it rest while I steamed green beans and carrots and finished the gravy. I recommend adding a splash of red wine (cab sauv works nicely) and a little more coffee to the gravy and reducing before adding the thickening agent. It makes for a richer gravy without adding too many calories or salt. For the salt lover give them the shaker and let em go to town - but I assure you they probably won't need it. Delicious to the last bite. Pros: Pros: Easy, delicious, low sodium, natural.
February 23, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Made the crock pot variation tonight and it was a hit. My husband said to throw away all the other pot roast recipes and use this one from now on. The coffee and juice from the meat makes a delicious gravy. But it was not quite enough gravy to go with the leftovers. Next time I will add some the full cup of coffee instead of the 1/2 cup. Pros: Easy
December 20, 2012
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By: EatingWell User
Must have been good, it was gone quick My picky husband was happy...and there was confusion who would get the last serving...I won! I used fresh thyme, did not bother making the gravy as the broth was already good...did cook last hour with sweet potatoes, carrots, string beans...last 20 min with mushrooms and celery...I like all the veggies done in one pot...u could have skipped the browning as I see no difference in taste. Pros: Easy
December 16, 2012
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By: EatingWell User
Cooked roast in the crock pot per directions and it came out SO GOOD! Family approved and my husband raved about it. Tips: Cook 4 lbs roast for 5 hours on high Add a cup of beef broth to make extra gravy. The juices and seasoning from the roast make an excellent gravy! Next time I'll omit the balsamic vinegar because I prefer a less sour taste. Will definitely make this again. So easy!!
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