Pot Roast with Parsnips

At the start of the stay-at-home order, Joey and I made our normal trip to the grocery store, planning to get ingredients for some meals that would yield plenty of leftovers for our freezer and keep us out of the public for a couple weeks.

We already had a roast in the freezer, so we were on the hunt for ingredients to put with it in the crockpot for a good, old-fashioned crockpot.

Unfortunately, we weren’t the only ones who made a trip to our local grocery store that day, and we found ourselves staring at a lot of empty shelves, especially in the produce section.

I was surprised to see there wasn’t a single potato to be had, and while I’d normally add carrots to my roast, there was only a tiny package of shredded carrots left, and I didn’t think that would do.

We weren’t sure how to pivot until Joey began examining the shelves for what was still available and wondered aloud what we could substitute for potatoes or carrots in our recipe.

A quick Google search yielded the solution: parsnips.

I’ve never cooked with parsnips before, but there they were, on the shelf, in abundance, so we bought a big bag and decided to see what would happen.

So, this week, I’m sharing with you how we normally put together a pot roast and highly recommending that you give parsnips a try.

Pot Roast with Parsnips

Pot roast is a versatile dinner. This roast was made using parsnips instead of potatoes and carrots due to quarantine shortages.
Course: Main Course
Keyword: beef, carrots, crockpot, mashed potatoes, onions, parsnips, pot roast


  • Chuck roast we normally get a 3- to 5-pound roast, thawed
  • 4 to 5 stalks celery cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 small yellow onion cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 to 5 carrots cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 2 pounds potatoes or parsnips cut into 1-inch pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3-4 cups beef broth or a medium to dark style of beer


  • While you prepare your vegetables, pull the roast from the refrigerator to get it closer to room temperature.
  • Start with adding the roast to the center of your crockpot and then sprinkle in the vegetables, herbs and spices around it. Pour over the broth and Worcestershire sauce and place the lid on the crockpot. You don’t need to have the broth all the way to the rim or completely covering the roast, but I’d recommend having it at least three-quarters of the way up the meat and veggies.
  • Cook on low for six to eight hours or on high for about three to five hours. (The cook time will really depend on how big your roast is, but that’s pretty standard.)
  • For proper doneness, a pot roast should be at least 145 degrees in the thickest part.
  • Check the doneness of the vegetables by piercing them with a fork. If they’re done to your liking, serve the roast by slicing it and then spooning lots of vegetables with it. We like to eat ours in a bowl so we can serve it with some of the juices from the crockpot.
  • Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Make sure you include juice in the containers, too. It will help it stay moist when you reheat it.

If you’re curious, a parsnip tastes a bit like a carrot but with a bit more of an earthy, nutty flavor. We didn’t miss the carrots or potatoes too much with the addition of the extra flavor.

There are probably a million ways people make pot roast. I have a friend who uses French onion soup mix, water and frozen, mixed vegetables in hers.

A lot of folks also like to thicken up the juices to make gravy and serve the roast over top of mashed potatoes.

The best part is that it’s a flexible dinner to make, and as we discovered, despite potatoes generally being considered a staple with pot roast, you can even get away with leaving those out, too.

Our local store is certainly returning to normal for the most part, but if nothing else, I suppose this quarantine has taught me how to be flexible—both in life and in the kitchen.

This piece first appeared in print on April 23, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.