Coca-Cola Braised Roast Beef

I’ve often made braised meats with beer or wine; I love the depth of flavor that alcohol gives to meat. However, I have had a lot of people ask me what they can use if they don’t want to use alcohol for a number of reasons. Seeing as how I have always been curious about braising roast beef with Coca-Cola, I thought, let’s give it a go in the crock pot! I was really pleased with the result. The meat was amazingly tender, juicy, and had a beautiful caramelized color on the outside, even having been cooked in a slow cooker.. When using something carbonated in cooking, it’s easy to understand why! I love using beer in my cooking because the acids in it help to tenderize the meat, and the Coca-Cola did the same thing, but I was more surprised as the color of the outside of the meat. I’ve cooked many a meal in a crock pot with a bottle of beer thrown in there, but the extra sugar in the cola had a wonderful caramelizing effect on the roast and left it with a lightly sweet and sticky exterior (I’m sure the brown sugar didn’t hurt, either). It was fantastic! Don’t get me wrong, though; this isn’t a very sweet roast beef by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t think that anyone unaware of how the meat was prepared would know that it was cooked with soda! And before anyone gets on my case about it, yes, I know how many chemicals are in Coca-Cola, but I still wanted to try this and it was absolutely delicious. Besides, if you don’t want to use cola, by all means, use beer!

This sandwich was one of my favorites meals this month. I’m a simple girl and I like my food simple, as this sandwich clearly is. There was still a lot going on; the slight heat from the red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper, the wonderful smell from the oregano and ground mustard, and the boldness of the ground cumin. The Worcestershire sauce adds a welcome touch as well, with its light acidity and combination of special seasonings; it is a natural combination with red meat. I piled my sandwiches high on homemade Italian bread with the strained carrots, onions, celery, and garlic and topped it all off with Swiss cheese. This is most certainly a husband-approved, family-friendly meal.

Coca-Cola Braised Roast Beef
What you’ll need (minus the vegetable broth; I didn’t end up using it).

Coca-Cola Braised Roast Beef
Thinly slice your onions and celery.

Coca-Cola Braised Roast Beef
Slice your carrots.

Coca-Cola Braised Roast Beef
And thinly slice your garlic.

Coca-Cola Braised Roast Beef
Place all of the vegetables in the pot, along with the meat and other ingredients. Stir everything together a bit and turn your crock pot on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

Coca-Cola Braised Roast Beef
Check the meat to see that it’s done.

Coca-Cola Braised Roast Beef
Take the meat out with a pair of tongs and place on a cutting board. With a mesh strainer or colander, strain the vegetables from the juices. Use the veggies as toppings and pour the juices over the meat and/or your sandwich as desired.

Coca-Cola Braised Roast Beef
Slice your beef or pull it apart with two forks, whichever you prefer. Both make a great sandwich!

Coca-Cola Braised Roast Beef
Pile your sandwich high with the beef, vegetables, a slice of Swiss cheese, and the au jus!

Coca-Cola Braised Roast Beef
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
  • 3 pounds chuck roast (or a similar cut of beef)
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced thinly
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly (I used two because mine were super tiny)
  • 3 carrots, sliced thinly
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 can regular Coca-Cola
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground mustard
  • 10 slices bread of your choice (to make 5 sandwiches)
  • 10 slices Swiss cheese (or whatever cheese your prefer)
  1. Spray your crock pot with non-stick cooking spray. Add in the sliced vegetables, then the beef, then the rest of the ingredients (except for the bread and cheese, of course). Mix everything up and turn your crock pot on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
  2. When the meat is ready, remove from the pot with tongs and place on a cutting board. Strain the juices from the vegetables and set aside. Slice or shred the beef (whichever is your preference) and add some juices if needed (I added about 2 or 3 tablespoons of juices to the meat before plating the sandwiches).
  3. Lay two slices of Swiss or other cheese on one slice of bread, followed by the beef, then the vegetables, then the top slice of bread (add some more juices if you like or serve on the side for dipping). Makes 5 sandwiches.


28 Responses

  1. […] Try this unusual but delicious-sounding recipe and let me know what you think: Coca-Cola Braised Roast Beef. […]

  2. Dana says:

    The pictures look so good, that’s a sandwich I wouldn’t mind eating. When I read the title, though, I must admit I cringed a little. But trying new things is what it’s all about, and so long as it didn’t turn out sweet (which you say it didn’t), it looks like a really viable option for cooking for people who are concerned about alcohol being in their food.


  3. Kathleen says:

    This sounds delicious to me. Interesting that it wasn’t overly sweet. Good to know 😉

    • Sydney says:

      Kathleen: I was really surprised that it wasn’t sweet, too! I was expecting something at least mildly cola-tasting, but it didn’t at all. Someone suggested that I should use root or birch beer next time, so I’m going to do that, maybe mixed with some molasses, to see if I can get a sweeter tasting roast beef, just for fun!

  4. Chef Tony says:

    I’ve used Dr Pepper for years as a braising liquid for hams & wild game. Never thought to use a soft drink for beef. Now you got me thinking DP & beef, Thanks! :-)

  5. Stephanie says:

    Mmmmm that sounds great! I wonder what root beer would taste like too – you should definitely try it and share with us!

  6. Mom says:

    I think Hansons is a natural soda

    • Sydney says:

      Mom: That’s true, too! I’m not sure if they only come in fruit flavors, though? They used to have them when I worked at Mood Swings – I just remember that the diet ones sucked so much! They tasted like air, hahah.

  7. Adrian!!!!! says:

    Hey FOOLS GUESS WHERE I AM???! I’m at the air port and i am getting on a jet plane to Vegas!! Time to have a blast! I’m making all of your food while staying in the hotel =)

    • Sydney says:

      Adrian: You SHOULD be getting on a jet plane to New York but have fun in Vegas! You should go out there for Halloween again this year because we’ll be there! Unless you can find time in your busy schedule to come to NY instead. We miss you!

  8. Angela Mears says:

    Ok, have to make this… what kind of bread did you use for the buns? Any suggestions? Something really soft, or a heartier bread, like ciabatta?

    • Sydney says:

      Angela: I would use something a bit heartier, but not necessarily something as thick or tough as ciabatta. I just used the end part of my homemade sandwich bread. I think if you toasted some thick-sliced bread, you’d be fine!

  9. Cassie says:

    i was watching foodnetwork over the weekend and sandra lee made beans with root beer. i bet root beer would be excellent in this receipe.

  10. Mmmmm, this recipe looks divine! I’m wondering how Coca Cola with real sugar rather than Coca Cola with corn syrup would change the consistency of the sauce? I’m totally try this one!

    • Sydney says:

      Bit of Butter: The sauce was more of an au jus, so I don’t know that the consistency would change much, but it would probably taste better! Let me know how it goes if you do try it!

  11. Chef Tony says:

    Heya Sidney,

    The Dr Pepper worked very well w/a lamb roast. I used a bit more mustard (Dijon 1/2 tsp) fresh rosemary (1/4 oz chopped med) along w/searing the lamb to render some fat. In the fond I also used a 1/2 cp of a red blend reduced then followed the recipe. Very, very yum. I can’t wait till deer season to try this too.

  12. It’s been my experience that a lot of ham recipes call for soda. I’m so happy that lots of companies are doing throw back, pure sugar versions. I think they caramelize nicely. Thanks for the article :)

  13. vicks says:

    Coca-cola is a great chemical, I mean – ingredient to use! I haven’t tried putting ’em food in a crock pot with Coke though, I started off using Coke for cooking Asian-style: But I find the saltiness of the dark and light sauces overpowers the Coke taste. Still, it smears an interesting mixture of salty-sweet onto the tastebuds!

    Yes, I’m totally lovin’ the coating and tenderness that Coca-cola gives to the meat! Gonna have to try usin’ the crock pot one day to make such a sandwich. Oooo, real tasty!

    • Sydney says:

      Vicks: I could see the sauces overpowering it. It isn’t a super strong taste in this roast beef, but it’s just enough to add that special coating and tenderness!

  14. Andrew says:

    I noticed you have vegtable broth in the picture but the recipie does not list it. Did you end up using it and if so how much?

  15. Sarah says:

    Hey just so you are aware–I am Korean and this is how we make bulgogi. My grandmother taught me, of course most of the other spices are different but the cola is key for the bulgogi flavor.

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