Why it’s so good!

This pulled beef is tender, slow-cooked shredded beef in a rich gravy and it’s all kinds of delicious. The beef is rich and meaty with the right touch of sweetness and tang from tomato passata and Worcestershire sauce. It’s great served in a crusty roll just with the gravy, au naturale, for a wonderfully comforting meal.

What’s more, it makes a big batch and freezes beautifully so you can have a hearty dinner ready in minutes in the middle of the week.

The flavour of the gravy, while seriously delicious in it’s own right, is perfect for using as a blank canvas. Add more tomatoes and tomato paste to turn it into a delicious beef ragu for pasta or add some taco seasoning and reheat it in a pan on the stove for tacos, or my fajita seasoning and turn it into fajita nachos! Keep things simple with a pulled beef sandwich or sliders!

I specifically steered away from a BBQ flavoured pulled beef because I was looking for a thick gravy to recreate the classic beef and gravy roll. If you would love this recipe with a BBQ sauce, use my slow cooker BBQ brisket recipe.

Pulled beef piled high in a black bowl.

Ingredients notes

Ingredient for pulled beef on a baking tray.

Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.

  • Best cuts of beef: I tested topside roast and brisket. For flavour, the topside won this race but it did have a drier texture compared to the silkier brisket. I preferred the flavour of the topside but both tasted great and both cooked in the same time. Brisket has more fat running through the meat, while topside is actually quite lean with a fatcap on the outside – this is what creates the difference in texture. Once the gravy is all over it though, it becomes less noticeable as the gravy adds so much moisture. Other cuts of meat work well too, like beef chuck roast or bolar blade. Normally a tough cut of meat, these will be fall apart tender after some time in a slow cooker.
  • Onion: Just 1 large brown onion creates great flavour and after slow cooking adds the classic onion flavour with a little natural sweetness too.
  • Passata: Passata is just pureed tomatoes, nothing else. Sometimes you can buy passata that has had garlic or herbs added. Those are fine too. You could used tinned tomatoes in it’s place too.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic cloves will give you the best oomph and flavour. Fresh garlic is much better here than garlic powder.
  • Beef stock powder: You can of course use already made-up beef stock but stock powder is really good too. I’m using it more and more these days after becoming tired of throwing away half cartons of stock that I seemingly never get around to using before their use-by date and always forget to freeze. Stock powder, if you buy a good one, is more convenient and still has the same great flavour. Plus you can add more – aka flavour – without increasing the liquid just like I do in this recipe. If using liquid beef stock, use 1 cup, then add either a teaspoon of beef stock powder or 2 teaspoons of soy sauce to the sauce.
  • Worcestershire sauce: This stuff is amazing. It reminds me in flavour of an umami rich vinegar. It’s tart but almost beefy and adds great flavour to gravy and beef dishes like this.
  • Thyme: I use fresh thyme here and it just adds a hint of herbal notes to the gravy which is lovely. You can swap it for a sprig of rosemary or 2-3 bay leaves, even fresh oregano would be lovely. You can swap it for dried too. Just use 1-2 teaspoons of dried thyme or other dried herbs to the sauce before cooking.
  • Cornflour (cornstarch): Where I live, cornflour is the name given to cornstarch. It’s the fine white powder used to thicken sauces.

How to make pulled beef

What I love about slow cooking is, for comfort food fiends like me, it’s great all year-round. In winter, you’ll love the hearty, cosy meals and in Summer you’ll love that you can have juicy meat for burgers or tacos without standing over the stove or turning on the oven.

It all about minimal effort and maximum flavour and this pulled beef au jus has that in spades. Au jus is a French term meaning “with juice” and refers to meat dishes served with the juices naturally created while cooking the meat.

Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.

1. Sear the beef

While this step is optional, caramelising the outside of the beef adds so much flavour so I really recommend it. Just heat a little oil in a pan, cut the beef into 3-4 large chunks and cook it just until each side gets a little brown. It does not need to cook through.

Chunks of beef in a pan getting brown.

2. Start the slow cooking

Add the sauce ingredients, onion and garlic to the pot of a slow cooker and give it a stir. Add the beef and turn it over in the sauce, then wack on the lid and cook for 8-10 hours on low until it’s tender and pulls apart easily with forks.

Chunks of beef and onion with sauce in a slow cooker before cooking.
The beef after being slow cooked, still in it's sauce in the slow cooker.

3. Cook the gravy (or the jus)

Transfer the cooking juices to a saucepan over medium high heat and start to reduce it by bringing it to a boil. Use an immersion blender (or stick blender) to blend it to the smoothness you like. You can do this in a regular blender too, just make sure the vent at the top is open and hold a tea towel loosely over it (this allows steam to escape so the hot liquid doesn’t explode out of the blender).

The gravy bubbling in a saucepan.
Blending the gravy with an immersion blender.

4. Thicken the gravy

Once it’s reduced a little naturally, you want to use some cornflour to thicken it. The reason is two fold; if you let it reduce all the way through boiling, you won’t have enough gravy to coat all the shredded beef. The second reason is the richness and saltiness of the sauce may be too overwhelming if you let all the water evaporate.

Using cornflour is very easy. Just mix it with some water to what’s called a slurry. Add that into the boiling gravy whilst stirring or whisking. If you don’t whisk it immediately, the cornflour slurry may just set in lumps.

The gravy after being thickened, still simmering in a pan.

5. Shred the beef

Pulled beef or shredded beef is named as it is for the way you pull the meat apart. Using two forks, just pull at the meat so that it tears away in shreds.

The shredded meat on a chopping board.

6. Add them back together

Now, add the pulled beef and the gravy back together and stir to coat it well.

Pouring the gravy over the beef in the slow cooker.
A slow cooker dish half full with shredded beef in gravy with a pair of tongs to the side.

How to use pulled beef

This pulled beef is such a versatile recipe going from hearty comfort food to an easy weeknight dinner. I serve this up as beef and gravy rolls – just buns, and beef in gravy; they need nothing else. I love to serve it up in my pulled beef burgers too with a spicy mayo.

Leftovers are great for things like;

  • Roast style: Serve it up with some sweet roasted carrots and perfectly crunchy roast potatoes.
  • Beef tacos: mix in some taco seasoning, then heat in a pan. Serve in tortillas with all your favourite taco toppings.
  • Quesadillas: mix through some black beans, salsa and lots of cheese all piled onto a tortilla. Fold the tortilla over or add a second one on top and cook in a pan until crisp on the outside.
  • Pasta ragu / lasagna: Add some tomato paste and tinned tomatoes to taste, maybe some cooked mushrooms and heat it up in a pan. Stir it through cooked pasta or use it as layers in a lasagna.
  • Nachos: Add some fajita seasoning (I love using this on nachos) and cook up some sliced capsicum/bell pepper in a pan. Add the beef and cook until heated through. Pile it onto tortilla chips with loads of cheese and bake for 10-12 minutes. Serve it up with sour cream, jalapenos and avocado.
  • Over rice: Cook up some plain rice (maybe cooked in chicken stock for extra flavour) then heat up this beef and top the rice. Top that with this lovely jalapeno relish or a chimichurri sauce – such a gorgeous combo.
  • In soup: Add a cup of pulled beef to your next batch of tomato soup. Yum!
  • Make a meat pie: Cook up some mushrooms and use it in place of the steak in this steak and mushroom pie.
  • Pizza: Add it to a pizza base with all your favourite toppings.
  • Beef enchiladas: Sub for the meat in my steak enchiladas recipe.
Closeup of the pulled beef.


This pulled beef will feed quite a few people but stores well in the fridge or freezer. I use silicone freezer storage cubes to portion and freeze the meat, then transfer it to an airtight container or ziplock bags once solid, knowing that I can take just as much as I want and I know the exact quantity easily.

Souper cubes (avail on Amazon) are great for freezing in portions but I actually own the Smash brand (if you’re in Australia, these are available in Woolies). They start around $20 but you use them over and over again so well worth the investment.

Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Top down view of pulled beef in a bowl with burger fixing around it.

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A batch of slow cooker pulled beef in a black bowl.
5 from 2 ratings
This slow cooker pulled beef is tender and so delicious. Bathed in onion gravy, it's so easy to make and great for tacos, sandwiches, burgers, pasta and more.


  • 1.8 kg beef brisket, chuck roast or topside roast (or other slow roasting beef), cut into 3-4 large chunks (4lb)
  • 1 large brown onion, thickly sliced
  • ½ cup tomato passata (pureed tomatoes, or sugo)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed with the side of a knife)
  • 2 teaspoons beef stock powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 teaspoons cornflour (US cornstarch), for thickening the gravy

For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided


  • Slow cooker


  • OPTIONAL BUT WORTHWHILE: Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet or frying pan over medium high heat and saute the beef on each side just enough to caramelise the outside. You don’t need to cook it through, you just want it to brown a little on the outside.
  • Meanwhile, add the 1 cup of water, the passata, stock powder, salt, Worcestershire sauce, thyme sprigs, onion and garlic cloves into the bowl of a slow cooker and give it a stir.
  • Add the seared beef to the top and turn it over in the sauce. Place the lid on and cook 8-10 hours on low until easy to shred. If you can, turn it over in the sauce every so often. Timing will depend on your cut of beef and size.
  • Transfer the beef to a chopping board.
  • If there is a layer of fat over the sauce in the slow cooker, skim out some of the fat by laying a spoon to the surface just so that the oil seeps onto the spoon, leaving the cooking juices behind. You can discard that or refrigerate and use it as a cooking oil.
  • Pour the sauce into a large saucepan. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Use an immersion blender to blend to a smooth sauce. If you don’t have an immersion blender, do it in a regular blender with the steam vent open and a tea towel placed lightly over the top. Pulse to blend being careful as the heat can make it splash.
  • Bring the gravy to a boil and cook for 2-3 minutes to naturally reduce a little. Mix the cornflour with 2 teaspoons of water. While stirring the gravy, pour in the cornflour slurry. Continue to cook down until it’s the consistency you like.
  • While the gravy thickens, shred the beef with two forks and place it back into the slow cooker on the keep warm setting.
  • Pour over enough gravy to moisten the meat to your liking then serve. I use it all.
  • Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.


  1. Tablespoons: I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons). Check yours before measuring.
  2. Which beef to use: There are many cuts of beef you can use here and the results will depend on the amount of fat. I like topside for it’s rich and beefy flavour however it does have a tendency to turn out drier than brisket, for instance, as it doesn’t have much fat, if any, running through it. The gravy is so important when using topside. Brisket works really well too, tastes good and it’s fattier so the meat tends to turn out more moist. Beef chuck is good too, flavourful and has a little more fat through the meat making it more moist but fattier.
  3. Beef stock: If using pre-made beef stock from a carton, use 1 cup, then add either a teaspoon of beef stock powder or 2 teaspoons of soy sauce. This additional stock or soy adds a little salt while adding umami as well.
  4. Nutrition details are approximate only – scroll below the recipe to find the full nutritional information.
Have you tried this recipe?Don’t forget to leave a rating and comment below and let me know how it was! I love hearing from you. Nutrition information is approximate and derived from an online calculator. The brands you use may cause variations.
Nutrition Facts
Pulled Beef
Amount Per Serving
Calories 284 Calories from Fat 153
% Daily Value*
Fat 17g26%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 9g
Cholesterol 104mg35%
Sodium 327mg14%
Potassium 578mg17%
Carbohydrates 3g1%
Fiber 0.5g2%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 29g58%
Vitamin A 86IU2%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 34mg3%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.