My crockpot roast beef has the best aroma ever but the flavor of the finished product is only average. I had a 4 pound tri-tip roast and seasoned it with the usual onion, garlic, worcestershire sauce, cumin, basil, beef gravy packet, and enough beef broth to just cover roast in the crockpot. We walked in the door and the delicious aroma filled the whole house. But, when eating the roast, it was just okay. Lots of delicious aroma but very little flavor in the roast beef.

Why is this?

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    Please provide the full recipe and method for any hope of a reasonably helpful answer. – SAJ14SAJ Mar 2 '14 at 23:48
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    Also please give details of the beef you used: what cut is it and what grade/quality. – GdD Mar 3 '14 at 10:04
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    It would be much easier to identify if this whole smell-ivision ever took off... – rfusca Mar 3 '14 at 19:44
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    I'm going to put this on hold for now since we don't have a good way to tell what's going wrong. Penny, if you come back, just edit your post and add a little detail, and we'll reopen it right away so you can get some answers! – Cascabel Mar 3 '14 at 20:06
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    Its probably important to note that on a 4 pound cut of meat, whole, no seasoning is going to penetrate the interior of the meat. That's what sauces are for :) – rfusca Mar 5 '14 at 21:53

10 Answers 10


If we're talking about a solid, four pound cut of beef - the only flavor you're ever really going to get is on the exterior and just a little bit into the interior of the meat.

That said, cooking in the spices/components you list still may provide liquid gold. I would simply take some of the liquid that's leftover in the slow cooker after the roast has cooked and make a gravy out of it. You'll get the flavors you put in and have something to sauce the interior of the meat - that have been flavored with the juices of the meat as well.

Otherwise, if you're looking to 'infuse' more flavor into the beef itself, you'll need to consider something like a stew rather than a whole cut.

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    I like your suggestion about making a gravy from the leftover liquid to sauce the interior of the meat. Sounds wonderful! Thank you for that suggestion. :) – Penny B Mar 7 '14 at 6:50

We walked in the door and the delicious aroma filled the whole house.

This is actually a strong hint as to what might be going wrong. Whenever you smell a delicious aroma during cooking, that's aromatic compounds that would otherwise add lots of flavor being lost to the air. When simmering a sauce, for example, it's not just water that is boiling away. If it was, you wouldn't smell that delicious aroma.

The higher the cooking temperature, the more of these flavorful aromatics will be lost. It's for this reason that many recipes recommend reducing sauces on as low a simmer as possible.

The smaller and lighter those [aromatic] compounds are, the more likely they are to jump out of the pot with the evaporating water and float off into the air.

J. Kenji López-Alt, Ask the Food Lab: Do I Really Need To Reduce Wine Separately?

It seems like the chemistry behind all this isn't really that well understood, but experimenting with two pots (of stock, for example) cooked at different temperatures and tasting the difference proves it to be true.

In summary: try cooking at a slower temperature for longer. An alternative to this would be to use a pressure cooker. The cooking temperature will be higher (thus reducing the length of time needed) but due to the pressure cooker being a sealed container, the aroma compounds aren't lost to the air.

  • It's in a crockpot, so it's already long and slow – rfusca Mar 8 '14 at 13:38
  • I'm not sure knowing it's being done in a crockpot alone means we can know it's being cooked long and slow. – jcorcoran Mar 8 '14 at 13:41
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    I guess so but it would be unusual to use a slow cooker for not cooking slow – rfusca Mar 8 '14 at 13:42
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    (Although I do think a sealed Dutch oven in a 200 degree oven is a far better method of slow cooking) – rfusca Mar 8 '14 at 13:44
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    Apologies - I've just googled crockpot and it's not what I thought it was. Indeed, it's probably being slow cooked. Still, the points still stand, at least as something to give some consideration to. – jcorcoran Mar 8 '14 at 13:45

I had the same problem for months. My final solution was to beat up the roast a bit before I put in the slow cooker, and occasionally stab a few holes in the roast so the tasty liquids can get inside. I also reuse the left over liquid as a gravy. Presentation wise the roast looks like it got hit by a truck, but who cares when every bite is juicy and tasty.


Also consider that long exposure to heat actually removes the flavour from a lot of herbs and spices that really need to be added at the or near the end of the cooking.

You could try infusing flavour into the meat with a syringe, or making sure to sear the entire outside very well prior to placing the roast into the slow cooker.

Also, proper seasoning (salt and pepper) goes a long ways to bringing out natural flavour in meat.

  • Thank you for your suggestion. I like the idea of using a syringe to infuse flavor. – Penny B Mar 7 '14 at 6:51

When you cook the meat in a closed dish then lots of liquid comes out. I have trouble understanding how flavour can enter the meat when cooking is extracting the liquid. Injecting the meat with a flavour (herbs etc) seems likely to be the only way of getting flavour in (unless you consider vacuum extracting moisture and then adding it back with flavour added?


I had the same problem. This is what I did. I took my already cooked rump roast, shredded the meat, melted some better over medium heat in a large pan. I added the shredded meat and a few splashes of broth from a beef bouillon cube. (just enough to moisten.) Then I seasoned it with garlic powder, salt, pepper, meat tenderizer, and Mrs. Dash table blend. Then I stirred the mixture and let it heat thoroughly til the meat soaked up the broth. Hope this helped.


I golden brown the roasts after seasoning with steak or roast seasoning. put in oven or crockpot. add a little water, cover and cook until about half way. then I remove while the roast is still firm to cut through, making about 3/4 in slices. lay them back in the broth after tasting the broth and see if it needs more of something. by cutting, the juices will permeate the meat and when you serve, you'll have nice lovely slices. Finish cooking/baking until they are fork tender..oh my! delish :)


I realize this is an old question, but I must have missed it. If you want your roast to have internal goodness (I.e. From the juices in the Dutch oven or marinade) you need to perferate the meat.

You can use an ice pick to do this. On the cutting board, make a grid of holes about 1 inch (or 2cm) apart. This allows the juices or marinade to reach the interior.

Little secret here. Celery juice is a natural nitrifier, which makes meats taste OMG delicious. If you take a whole celery heart and food process it into slush and then use a Baster to inject the celery juice into the ice pick holes you will have an amazing end product.


marinade your whole roast over night in the liquid my roast come out full of flavor every time I use beef onion soup mix and beef broth


The very first thing that came to my mind is that you are using too much liquid -- which when evaporates while cooking, emites pleasant odors, but makes the meat over tender.

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