How Much Water You REALLY Need to Cook A Roast in a Slow Cooker


Many of us look forward to the weekend so we can relax and in some cases enjoy a traditional homecooked roast dinner. Cooking a roast can seem intimidating, especially if you haven’t made one before or you don’t normally cook at home. Luckily, you can cook a delicious roast in the slow cooker.

When cooking a roast in a slow cooker you’ll want to add around one cup of liquid. While this can be water, I prefer to use broth or gravy granules which add additional flavour. You don’t need to submerge or cover your roast in liquid, instead just allow the broth or water to fall to the bottom of the pan.

Adding the liquid will allow your meat to cook without sticking to the internal pot and burning. You’ll notice that the amount of liquid added to the pot is significantly less than if the meat was cooked in an oven.

This is because the liquid in an oven can evaporate, however, this isn’t possible in a slow cooker due to the lid. Many people prefer to cook a roast in a slow cooker instead of an oven because the lid also helps to trap the flavours of the meat which can otherwise be lost.

Obviously the drawback to this is the amount of time a roast takes to cook in a slow cooker when compared to an oven. If you do want the best of both worlds then you could look at finishing the meat off in the oven as the slow cooker insert is oven safe.

How Much Water You Need to Cook a Roast in a Slow Cooker 

The general consensus is that you do need water and/or other liquids when cooking a roast in your slow cooker. While the slow cooker uses dry heat, the water and other liquids are used to keep the roast from drying out and for adding flavor. 

You need around one cup of liquid to make the perfect roast in a slow cooker. While some people prefer that one cup of liquid be water, others want to add more flavour by using some broth, beer, or wine. You can also use broth cubes and let them slowly melt as the roast cooks in the slow cooker. 

To add flavor, you can also add around ¼ cup of flour with the broth and/or water, and a natural gravy will cook with the roast. This makes for a really cohesive and delicious roast! 

Can You Make A Roast in a Slow Cooker Without Water?

Yes, you can most certainly cook a roast in a slow cooker without water. However, it’s not recommended that you make a roast in a slow cooker without any liquid at all.

Using a slow cooker is much like cooking on a stove. If you don’t have any liquid involved, the roast will get too hot, stick to the bottom of the slow cooker, and could possibly burn. 

As mentioned above, you can use plenty of alternatives to water such as a broth of your choice, beer, and wine. You can also use a mixture of water and these alternate liquids.

I prefer these over water as they tend to add extra flavour and can be used as a broth or gravy when serving.

How Long To Cook Your Roast For In The Slow Cooker

How long you cook your roast in the slow cooker for will depend on a couple of factors; the meat type, the weight of the meat, the temperature / setting of your slow cooker.

When I first began using my slow cooker I followed this guide. Of course, that’s exactly what it is a guide, not a rule, you should adjust it and use your own experience as it develops when slow cooking to determine the timings and settings that work best for your meat and your taste.

Meat CutMeat WeightLow cook timeHigh cook time
Large pork roast6-7 lbs9 ½ hours7 1/3 hours
Pork Loin3-4 lbs6 hours5 hours
Poultry6 lbs7 1/2 hours6 ¼ hours
Beef Roast3-4 lbs8 hours5 ¾ hours
Stew meat3 lbs6 hours4 ¾ hours
Fish2 lbs3 ½ hours1 1/2 hours

Many people believe your meat has to be cooked on either high or low. However, the only difference between a high and low setting is the amount of time it takes for the slow cooker to reach the temperature at which the ingredients are being cooked.

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