I Tried a 1965 Recipe for Dr Pepper Pot Roast—Here’s What I Thought

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The intriguing blend of sweet and savory in this vintage Dr Pepper Pot Roast recipe was too good to resist.

Did you know that Dr Pepper soda has been around for more than 136 years? That makes it the oldest soda in the U.S., and with its intriguing (and top-secret) formula, it’s also one of the most uniquely flavored sodas out there. Not surprisingly, over the last century folks have found a lot of ways to enjoy this pop besides over ice. For example, it’s tasty as a hot drink.

I recently found a vintage 1965 cookbook called Cookin’ with Dr Pepper, a booklet created by the soda company that suggests more than 50 ways to play with a bottle of Dr Pepper, including in cakes, with vegetables, in dips, and especially for savory meat dishes. I decided to try the recipe that graces the cover of this retro cookbook: the flavorful Dr Pepper Pot Roast.

Look at all the ways you can use soda pop in your cooking!

Does Dr Pepper Make the Roast Tender?

Dr Pepper isn’t just here to flavor this roast: It works as a tenderizing ingredient, too. Marinades include acidic ingredients like vinegar or citrus juice—and in this case, Dr Pepper—that help break down fibers in tough cuts to make meat more tender and delicious after cooking.

Just how acidic is Dr Pepper? Let’s just say there’s a reason dentists warn their patients about drinking too much soda! Lemon juice and vinegar are highly acidic with a pH level of around 2, and Dr Pepper is pretty close to them with a pH of 2.9. The soda helps to turn out a perfectly textured roast.

Here are more tender chuck roast recipes.

How to Make a Dr Pepper Pot Roast

The only change I made to the original 1965 recipe was to brown the marinated roast just before putting it in the oven. This extra step helps create a deeper, meatier flavor in the final roast. A beef roast this size will serve between six and eight people.

Ingredients

Dr Pepper Pot Roast ingredientsNancy Mock for Taste of Home

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra for searing the meat
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup Dr Pepper soda
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3-4 pound beef roast or chuck roast

Tools You’ll Need

  • Garlic Press: Make quick work of those garlic cloves with this tool that easily peels and minces them for you.
  • Shallow Dutch Oven: A roomy shallow pan makes it easy to turn the beef roast during cooking. A roasting pan can also be used.

Directions

Step 1: Make the marinade

Dr Pepper Pot Roast marinadeNancy Mock for Taste of Home

Pour 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil into a medium skillet set over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the minced garlic. Stir and saute the garlic for 2-3 minutes until it’s fragrant—make sure you don’t let it burn! Remove the pan from the heat, and add in the Dr Pepper, ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, salt, dry mustard and black pepper. Stir until the mixture is thoroughly combined.

Step 2: Combine the meat and marinade

Dr Pepper Pot Roast combine meat and marinadeNancy Mock for Taste of Home

Place the beef roast in a shallow Dutch oven or roasting pan. Pour the marinade over the roast, then turn the meat several times to coat it on all sides. Cover the pan and refrigerate the roast for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Step 3: Sear the meat

Dr Pepper Pot Roast sear the meatNancy Mock for Taste of Home

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lift the beef roast from the marinade and pat it dry with a paper towel. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place the roast in the hot pan: Once it’s browned on that side, use tongs to turn it over to brown the other side, then the edges. Let each side sear for a few minutes.

Step 4: Put the beef in to roast

Dr Pepper Pot RoastNancy Mock for Taste of Home

Place the seared beef back in the pan with the marinade. Place the uncovered pan in the oven, and cook the beef for about two and a half hours. Turn the beef two or three times during roasting to re-coat all sides in the marinade. When finished move the pan to a cooling rack.

Step 5: Serve

Dr Pepper Pot RoastNancy Mock for Taste of Home

Let the beef rest for about 15 minutes before slicing. Serve slices with spoonfuls of the marinade and cooking juices from the pan.

Here’s What I Thought

Dr Pepper Pot RoastNancy Mock for Taste of Home

This is a mighty fine pot roast! When I first put it in the oven the heavenly scent of sauteed garlic in the marinade filled the kitchen, and then eventually that mellowed into an overall meaty aroma. The pot roast emerged from the oven beautifully dark and moist, and it was very tender, too.

The roast didn’t have the cherry-esque, slightly spicy flavor of Dr Pepper (I suspected that it wouldn’t after 2-1/2 hours in the oven) but I didn’t expect it to have such a deep and savory flavor. That rich flavor comes from soy sauce in the blend melded with caramelized sugars from the soda and ketchup. There was enough marinade left in the pan to spoon over the slices, and over the mashed potatoes I had on the side. Yum! This dish now resides in my recipe box, so I’ll definitely be “cookin’ with Dr Pepper” again.

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Nancy Mock
Discovering restaurants, tasting bakery treats, finding inspiration in new flavors and regional specialties—no wonder Nancy loves being a food and travel writer. She and her family live in Vermont and enjoy all things food, as well as the beautiful outdoors, game nights, Avengers movies and plenty of maple syrup. Find Nancy’s writing and recipes at her website: Hungry Enough To Eat Six.