How to Make Roast Beef in the Oven Without Drying It Out

Follow these four steps for a melt-in-your-mouth beef roast that makes the perfect entrée for weekend dinners, holidays, and entertaining.

Roast beef is one of the easiest ways to cook beef. It's true that due to their size, most beef roasts will take a couple of hours to cook, but you can't beat their set-it-and-forget-it nature (not to mention the enticing aromas that'll fill your kitchen). We'll teach you how to cook roast beef so you can make recipes including ribeye roasts, tenderloin roasts, rib roasts, and more. You'll also learn whether to cook a roast covered or uncovered (spoiler: almost always uncovered) for the juiciest results. Get ready to wow the family at future Sunday dinners or special occasion meals with these tips for how to cook a beef roast.

Roast Beef with Beets and Chicories
Blaine Moats

How to Cook Roast Beef

Before we get into the roasting times and tools needed when learning how to cook roast beef in the oven, it's important to choose a tender cut that will benefit from this slow and dry form of cooking.

Step 1: Choose Your Roast

There are many cuts of beef that work well for roasting—most have the word "roast" right in their name. 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 6 to 8 ounces per serving for bone-in roasts. Here are the best cuts of beef to look for when you want to roast beef:

  • Boneless tri-tip roast (bottom sirloin)
  • Eye round roast
  • Ribeye roast
  • Rib roast (chine bone removed)
  • Round tip roast
  • Tenderloin roast
  • Top round roast

Step 2: Prepare the Meat for Roasting

Preheat the oven to the temperature dictated by your beef cut (be sure to check our roasting chart); unless the chart specifies otherwise, roast at 325°F. You can choose to simply season your beef with just a sprinkle of 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, don't need a rack. Insert an oven-safe thermometer or probe thermometer into the thickest part of the roast, making sure it isn't touching the fat, bone, or pan. Do not add water or liquid and do not cover the roast. Covering the roast would result in more steaming than roasting in the oven so we cook a beef roast uncovered.

Test Kitchen 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. Ideally, the roasting pan sides should be 2 to 3 inches high. If you don't have a roasting pan, place an oven-safe wire rack inside a 13x9-inch baking pan.

Step 3: Cook Roast Beef in the Oven

How long to cook roast beef depends on which roast you're cooking—and its size. You can expect a 1½-pound roast to cook as quickly as 30 minutes for medium-rare (135ºF), while an 8-pound roast can take up to 3½ hours to reach medium (150ºF) doneness. Check our roasting chart for specific times and temperatures. When cooking a roast in the oven, keep it uncovered until roasted to the desired doneness. After removing from the oven, tent with foil and let stand 15 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute, preventing them from draining out during carving—and preventing dry, disappointing meat. Note that the meat temperature will rise about 10°F while it stands, but the timings and temperatures in our roasting chart allow for this.

Test Kitchen Tip: We've already said to roast your beef uncovered, which allows the outside to brown, but there is a caveat to determining whether to cook a roast beef covered or uncovered. Roasts weighing over 8 pounds should be loosely covered halfway through roasting to avoid over-browning.

Peppercorn Roast Beef Herbed Yorkshire Puddings
Kritsada Panichgul

Step 4: Carve and Serve the Roast Beef

Time for the best part! Transfer the roast to a carving board, ideally one with a well around the edges to catch any 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 beef 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 beef. Cut along the rib bone with the tip of the knife to release the slice from the bone. Transfer meat to a serving platter and enjoy!

That Christmas rib roast is going to need sides! Before it's time to dig in, plan on preparing some make-ahead side dishes or simmer some in your slow cooker for less stress.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles