Pulled Braised Beef and Onions

I think I may have just blown my mind a little bit. What’s left of it, anyway. I’m pretty sure there’s still a scrap in there somewhere.

I spent the day with Eric Akis today, a writer for the Victoria Times-Colonist for the past 14 years, who was in town promoting the 6th in his cookbook series, Everyone Can Cook Slow Cooker Meals. This involved me prepping the food last night for his appearance on BT this morning, and reassembling it for an interview with Gwendolyn this afternoon, which meant making a couple batches of his slow cooker pulled beef and onions. Easy. And it’s no secret that I’m a die-hard fan of the slow cooker. I don’t have to tell you they’re great, right?


There was the extra batch he assembled on air. (This is how it happens on TV – all the ingredients are ready to go, the cook shows the audience how to do it, and voila – the precooked dish is whisked out. Typically there’s then the uncooked but assembled ingredients left to clean up and take home or toss out. Guess which I lean towards?) But they needed to recruit every spare slow cooker I had (turns out I have 3) for the class he was teaching this evening, and they had to get them going this morning so that the food would be ready by dinnertime. Which meant I had this raw sauced roast and onions and no slow cooker to toss it into. No matter – I pulled out my Le Creuset knockoff (have I mentioned I forgot to marry rich?), dumped it in and slid it into the oven set at 280F and left it there from late morning to late afternoon.

Again, this is something I already know. You can braise (cook for a long time over low heat with some liquid) on the stovetop or in the oven or in a slow cooker. I suspected it would come out a little thicker than the slow cooker versions, having a lid but not as tight a seal – a slow cooker really traps all the moisture in a dish-in fact you generally wind up with more liquid than you started with.

But look. Do you see? The dark stickiness? The meat joy? Have I captured it?

It was wonderfully thick and intense. The boys ate it scooped into buns straight after school, as did the 12 year old next door who forgot his house key, and his friend, and they all oohed and aahed and told me how rad it was, and I’m sure I ruined their dinners. But it was pretty rad.

And easy. You couldn’t get much lower maintenance. I didn’t even time the thing.

Eric’s book is somewhere downstairs, and so I’m going to try to summon the recipe by memory, as my legs have ceased to work and are lying there thumping like a cartoon thumb that has just been whacked by a hammer. I’ve finally crawled into bed, having started the day at 5:30 and finished with a 4-hour schmoozy sneak peek at the new Chinook Centre expansion, at which it must be said there’s a (first? only?) stand-alone Le Creuset store, right around the corner from Phil & Sebastien. Now that I’ve rekindled the flame, I may just be able to justify dropping some dineros on the Real Thing. Some girls buy shoes and sunglasses – I’d rather buy a pot. I can better justify spending money on food than fashion. (As anyone who saw me at the event tonight can attest…)

And hey, I might as well have the most fashionable beef on the block.

Eric’s Slow-Cooker (or Oven-Braised) Pulled Beef


Yields1 Serving

canola or olive oil, for cooking
1 eye of round or top round beef roast
2 onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups beef stock
1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. grainy mustard
a few cloves of garlic, crushed


In a heavy skillet, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat and brown the roast on all sides. Meanwhile, toss everything else together in a slow cooker or ovenproof casserole; top with the browned meat. Cover and cook on low (in the slow cooker) for 6-8 hours, or cover and bake at 275F-300F for 6ish hours. Using two forks, pull the meat apart in the sauce and serve on soft buns. Serves about 10 (depending on the size of your roast).


 canola or olive oil, for cooking
 1 eye of round or top round beef roast
 2 onions, halved and thinly sliced
 1 1/2 cups beef stock
 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce
 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
 2 Tbsp. grainy mustard
 a few cloves of garlic, crushed



In a heavy skillet, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat and brown the roast on all sides. Meanwhile, toss everything else together in a slow cooker or ovenproof casserole; top with the browned meat. Cover and cook on low (in the slow cooker) for 6-8 hours, or cover and bake at 275F-300F for 6ish hours. Using two forks, pull the meat apart in the sauce and serve on soft buns. Serves about 10 (depending on the size of your roast).

Eric’s Slow-Cooker (or Oven-Braised) Pulled Beef

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47 comments on “Pulled Braised Beef and Onions

  1. Jess
    September 29, 2010 at 5:10 am

    That is one good looking hunk of meat, Julie!

  2. Jennifer Jo
    September 29, 2010 at 5:26 am

    That looks DELICIOUS!

    I used the same method for peposo—beef shanks with LOTS of black pepper, red wine, and garlic. There is no pre-browning though, so it’s even easier. It’s one of our favorites, sopped up with some crusty bread and a glass of red alongside.

    I want to try this (yours), though. And soon. It’s making my mouth water.

  3. Kristin
    September 29, 2010 at 6:51 am

    That looks amazing! This might be a dumb question, but are meat cuts called by differnt names in CA? I’m having a hard time imagining what I think of round roast being looking like your picture. It looks more like what I think of as chuck. But than again, I’m hardly a meat expert so what do I know?! I do know I’m going to be making this, hopefully soon!

  4. Theresa
    September 29, 2010 at 8:04 am

    Looks like jacked up French Onion Soup. mmmmmm. Must try this!!

  5. Jacquie
    September 29, 2010 at 8:04 am

    It’s moments like this that I wish we had scratch and sniff computer monitors… Will make it this weekend for the kiddies, we have to rake the leaves and do a final yard cleanup before it gets cold.
    I desperately want a Le Creuset in the “Cassis” colour, may need to make a roadtrip to Calgary to visit my brother. 🙂

  6. Sue. D
    September 29, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Looks so amazing – and my hair is still wet from the shower and I haven’t had my coffee yet, and usually food at this hour is anything but appealing – but I think I could quite happily tuck into a bowl o’that!

  7. June
    September 29, 2010 at 9:38 am

    I’m likely one of the few people that hate slow cookers and love cast iron and a slow oven. There’s no way on God’s green earth you could have achieved the same result any other way. I can’t wait to make this!

  8. the other Al
    September 29, 2010 at 10:45 am

    “THE MOST FASHIONABLE BEEF ON THE BLOCK” Mike must be flattered.

  9. Manon from Ontario
    September 29, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Double what Jess said ;p

  10. akaJB
    September 29, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Beef doesn’t agree well with me. Do you think it would be possible to make this with a pork roast? Are there any set “rules” for changing the type of meat in a recipe?

    • Krista
      September 17, 2018 at 2:23 am

      You would have excellent results doing the same recipe with a pork shoulder. But depending on size you will need to check it after 3 hours. And the braising liquid will be much more fatty. But you can put the liquid in the fridge, and pull off the fat cap the next morning, then add that braise back to your shredded pork. Some picked cilantro leaves, mint leaves, and green onion raw at the end would make it amazing!

      • Julie
        September 19, 2018 at 6:47 pm

        Oh yes, that would be spectacular!

  11. Katharine
    September 29, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Yummy, Julie. You captured it. My mouth is watering. Thank you, again.

  12. Jennifer Jo
    September 29, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    How much does that roast weigh?

  13. Sandy
    September 29, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Take the plunge and get a real Le Creueset, Julie. You’ll not regret it. We got ours for a wedding gift 36 years ago and it is used every week, I’m sure. Love it! Must try this beef recipe.

  14. Ruth
    September 29, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    I’m with you on buying kitchen gear instead of fashion. Almost my entire Christmas list is made up of kitchen gear. At the top this year: tart tins with removable bottoms!

    I have a kitchenaid porcelin cast iron pot that I’ll be cooking this mouthwatering dish in soon! What type of BBQ sauce did you use? Do you think it matters?

  15. Laurie in Burnaby
    September 29, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    AkaJB I don’t eat beef, either. I was running through my mind what I’d replace it with as I was reading. You could try bison or veal, but I’m going to go with pork or goat. It looks so lucious. I’m going to put it in the cast iron saucepan on the stove top and see what happens.
    Thank you, Julie 😀

  16. Erica B.
    September 29, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    That sauce looks better than anything I’ve seen from a jar (fancy gourmet stores included) – going to have to give this a try asap. Thank you for sharing!

  17. rea
    September 29, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    meat joy! ha!

  18. molly
    September 29, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Yeah, I kind of consider braising a religion.

    No actual slow-cooker here, but my $4 garage sale Le Creuset (no joke; best day ever) gets pressed into service for all-day beef often. With leftovers turned into beef barley soup (like, ahem, tonight).

    But oh, barbecue sauce? Balsamic?? Brown sugar?! I’ve only ever done onions, S&P. The wheels are a-churnin’…

  19. Rambles with Reese
    September 30, 2010 at 2:08 am

    This looks absolutely DELICIOUS! I love cooking, but I’ve been hesitant to buy a slow cooker – possibly because I don’t want to spend the money or that I grew up with a mother that had more than 3 expensive slow cookers.

    But, you’re making me think again. I have question though – can you make this without using a slow cooker?

  20. Rambles with Reese
    September 30, 2010 at 2:12 am

    oops….just read the last bit of the recipe instruction. So, definitely possible to cook this without a slow cooker. Although, 6 hours in the oven means I really have to make sure that I don’t burn it if I try it.

    Thanks Julie!
    p.s. it’s always fun to read about your experiences.

  21. Jan @ Family Bites
    September 30, 2010 at 7:47 am

    That photo is mouth-watering. I adore anything braised and can only imagine how delicious this is. I will have a house full of boys this weekend as we attempt to host an official (non-family) sleepover, and this may just be the thing to make.

  22. Karen
    September 30, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Gosh i love your website!! I look to it every day for inspiration 🙂 In this receipe how much beef did you use?

  23. JulieVR
    September 30, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Sorry guys, I’m slow to keep up with questions! I made two of these, and the first roast was bigger, but this one was fairly small – about 3-4 pounds? It still fed a ton of people, with leftovers!

  24. Eric Akis
    September 30, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Hi Julie

    Thanks for posting this recipe and for helping me out while I was in Calgary. You are the best; no wonder you have such a following! I have another recipe on my website http://www.everyonecancook.com/ people can try from the book called Pork Back Ribs With Bourbon, Chipotle And Maple. Very tasty!

    Eric Akis, Victoria Times Colonist Food Writer

  25. sarah
    September 30, 2010 at 10:55 am

    This recipe looks great—wondering if one can get away with less bbq sauce…all that sugar…could one put in more stock and less bbq sauce? thanks,Sarah

  26. JulieVR
    September 30, 2010 at 11:01 am

    sarah – of course! you can use any liquid in a braise – just make sure it comes halfway up the sides of the meat.

  27. Sharon
    September 30, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I’m going to use beef ribs because that’s what I have.

    Did you know how great crabapples would be in bison chili? No? You do now. It also had brown sugar, cider vinegar, one-half vat ratatouille, coca and the usual. Must go eat now. 😉

  28. Sharon
    September 30, 2010 at 11:59 am


    “To me, it’s not whether or not you can cook; it’s whether or not you have the desire, the confidence and the inspiration to do so.”

    Lord how times have changed. I’m a lifetime cook, and my lifetime sits around 70. There were no what ifs: you were a woman? You cooked. Fortunately I did love it, and began at about age six. Still I’m learning so much from Julie, and you–well, I’ll reserve judgment although it’s lookin’ good so far.

    I was getting really bored with my repertoire. Longing to stand at the supermarket door and beg someone to exchange grocery lists with me. Then I found here. I’m revitalized. Such interesting new twists and unheard of variations to old standbys. I check in everyday to see what I’m going to be cooking.

  29. JulieVR
    September 30, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    OK, I must make that chili. Must. Half vat of ratatouille you say?

  30. Sharon
    September 30, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    I was thinking of that photo where you pulled a lot of things out of your freezer and made a fantastic emergency dinner. Voila. This ratatouille was mostly red/green/orange bell peppers, onions and garlic. When they’re on sale!

    I chopped the crabapples and put them in a container of concretized brown sugar about three weeks ago. I pulled them out last night. Thanked them and hucked them into the slow cooker, all kind of brown sugar crusty.

  31. Lana in South Mountain (ON)
    September 30, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    I am with you. Would way rather spend money on food than clothes!

  32. Robyn in Mountain (Ontario that is)
    September 30, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Mmmm! And I’m not even a pork fan. Gotta try this one though. Cheers!

  33. Jennifer Jo
    October 2, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Made this and posted it (http://bit.ly/9s4OkG). It was a HUGE hit. Thanks!

  34. Tiffany
    October 3, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Made this tonight along with a big side of mashed potatoes! What a hit! Great for the first real dinner of fall. Love your site and check it daily for new ideas. Thanks for taking the time to keep it up with everything you have going on.

  35. June
    October 5, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Made this last night for dinner and served it on a baked potato. Amazing flavor and so easy to put together. Thanks Julie. You’re the best!

  36. Janet
    November 2, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    I made this on Saturday for my annual Halloween Spooktacular. Actually, I made 2 versions because I bought a monster-sized roast from Costco and it wouldn’t fit it my slow cooker. So I made a batch in my slow cooker and a batch in the oven. Both were fabulous, although I think the oven version was just a little bit better. But it was a hit. Adults were pushing over toddlers in order to get seconds!

  37. Jennifer
    March 18, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I made this with two pork tenderloins instead of beef…yummy!!!

  38. Cleo Rupley
    July 5, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Learning the proper amount about irrigating is necessary, when red roses really are watered inadequately they can die and when they’ve been watered a lot of the root beginnings becomes superficial along with cannot take in nutrients. Full sprinkling is key towards strong roses mainly because small watery will certainly stimulate fungus success, still their particular renders has to be stored free of moisture to avert disease.

  39. Tegan
    August 24, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Making this dish for the second time. I cooked it in a dutch oven in the oven rather than a slow cooker. I cooked the onions down a bit after I browned the meat. Delicious!

  40. Anne Rubal
    November 19, 2012 at 12:36 am

    check my reference

  41. Sheri
    January 12, 2015 at 5:59 am

    can you make this with chuck roast????

    • Julie
      January 12, 2015 at 5:58 pm

      I’d think so Sheri!

  42. Susan
    January 20, 2019 at 2:57 pm

    Can I substitute the onion for carrots and celery? I can’t have onions.

    • Julie
      January 22, 2019 at 8:15 pm

      Sure, or just leave them out!

  43. Isabel
    November 21, 2021 at 12:56 pm

    Oh my is all I can say! I usually do pulled pork in the crockpot, and have never fixed pulled beef until today. I used a 2.5 pound chuck shoulder roast and followed your recipe exactly. I cooked it in the oven on 300 for 3 hours and it turned out wonderful! Cooking the roast in the oven adds another dimension of flavor. The house smells great and my mouth is watering. I can’t wait until dinner is served. We are serving the pulled beef on onion rolls. Coleslaw and corn on the cob are the sides. Thanks for sharing an easy, delicious recipe. Not sure I will go back to the crockpot for pork or beef. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

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