How to Roast Beef

Roasting beef means to oven-cook it, uncovered, in a shallow pan until gloriously browned on the exterior but still juicy inside. Because larger, thicker cuts benefit most from this hands-off style of cooking, consider roasting beef for family dinners, holidays, and entertaining.


Step 1: Choosing your roast

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There are many heftier cuts of beef that work well for roasting. The key is to choose a fairly tender cut that will benefit from this slow and dry form of cooking. When purchasing, look for meat that has good color and appears moist but not wet. Plan on 3 to 4 ounces per serving for boneless roasts and two to three servings per pound for bone-in roasts.

Good cuts for roasting include:

Boneless tri-tip roast

Eye round roast

Rib eye roast

Rib roast

Round tip roast

Tenderloin roast

Top round roast

Step 2: Preparing the meat for cooking

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Preheat the oven to the desired temperature, depending on the meat cut (see the chart below). Remove the meat from the refrigerator just before seasoning and roasting; the cooking times in the chart are based on meat removed directly from the refrigerator. Season the roast simply by sprinkling with salt and pepper, or rub all over with olive oil and apply an herb or spice rub. Place the meat, fat side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Roasts with a bone, such as a rib roast, do not need a rack. Insert an oven-going thermometer or probe thermometer into the center of the roast, making sure that it isn't touching the fat, bone, or pan.

Tip: A roasting pan is a shallow pan specifically designed for roasting. It has a rack, which keeps the meat above the juices and allows the heat to circulate around the meat. If you don't have a roasting pan, place a wire rack inside a 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

Step 3: Cooking the roast in the oven

Roast in the preheated oven, uncovered, to desired doneness (see the chart below). Remove the meat from the oven. Cover with foil and let stand for 15 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute, preventing them from draining out during carving. The meat temperature will rise about 10 degrees F while it stands (the timings and temperatures in the chart allow for this).

Tip: When roasting meat, it should be uncovered to allow the outside to brown. A roast weighing more than 8 pounds, however, should be loosely covered halfway through roasting to avoid overbrowning.

Step 4: Carving and serving the roast

Transfer the roast to a carving board, ideally one with a well around the edges to catch any meat juices. Use a large fork to hold the roast in place while carving slices off one end with a long, sharp carving knife. For a bone-in rib roast (prime rib), turn the roast on its side; remove a thin bottom slice if needed to stabilize the roast. Insert a large fork in the side of the roast, below the top rib. Carve across the front toward the rib bone and remove the slice; repeat with the remaining roast. Cut along the rib bone with the tip of the knife to release the slice from the bone. Transfer meat to a serving platter.

For roasted beef recipes, see:

Beef Roast with Vegetables

Sunday Beef Roast

Herbed Beef Roast

Mushroom-Stuffed Beef Roast

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