Roast beef is a classic centerpiece on the holiday dinner table, and for very good reason. Tender and covered with herbs, this cut of beef was made to wow. While it might seem complicated to make, it’s actually quite simple to prepare. With a good piece of meat and some simple herbs, you can have roast beef that's way more tender and flavorful than any store-bought kind. Here’s everything you need to know:
The best cut of beef for roast beef:
There's no single cut of beef that is necessary to make roast beef; some common cuts include top-round roast, top sirloin roast, bottom-round roast, and eye of round roast. We usually use a top-round roast, but a bottom-round roast would work too. If you're unsure, ask your butcher! Since the meat is slow-roasted for a long amount of time, tougher, lean cuts of meat are ideal because they will still come out tender. Just be aware that if you choose a particularly lean cut of meat, it should be sliced relatively thin to avoid being too chewy.
The secret to making tender roast beef:
It's all about cooking low and slow. With a cut of meat like this, a longer cook time will give you better, more tender results. Ideally, all roasted meats would be seared on all sides in a hot skillet to develop a golden, delicious crust. With something like a top-round roast, searing can be next to impossible (AKA, it's WAY too big and heavy to move around in a skillet). Starting with a hot oven gives the roast a chance to get that beautiful crust without bringing out a pan. After you've got a head start on that crust, you can lower the temperature to 325°, and the meat will start cooking from the inside out.
How to make the best roast beef:
— Seasoning. This is where you can really get creative. We kept things simple in this recipe: just garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Feel free to swap in any of your favorite herbs (sage, parsley, oregano, etc.) or use dried if you prefer. Spices like cumin or coriander seeds would be delicious as well, do what feels right to you! Just don't be shy about the flavorings; this is a big cut of meat, and the more flavor, the better. Tip: We suggest 1 teaspoon of salt per pound.
— How long should I cook my roast beef? That depends on two things: the size of your beef, and your desired doneness. Our 4-lb. roast was medium after 2 hours. If you prefer it done medium-well, roast for 2 hours and 15 minutes.
— Use a meat thermometer. It takes the guesswork out of cooking big pieces of meat, and we swear it'll come in handy more than just this once. Pro tip: make sure you're inserting your thermometer far enough to hit the center of the roast for an accurate reading. For a medium-rare pot roast, aim for an internal temperature of about 130°F, for medium aim for 145°F. The temperature of the meat will continue to rise a bit as it rests as well.
— Slicing your roast beef. I know it's tempting to dig right in when your roast comes out of the oven, but resist! Transfer your meat to a cutting board and let it rest for 30 minutes to allow all the juices to redistribute throughout the muscle.
Storing roast beef:
Leftover roast beef can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To help the meat retain moisture, don't slice any uneaten parts of the roast before storing. Slice servings from the cold roast before reheating. To freeze, wrap the remaining roast in plastic wrap and store it in a freezer-safe bag for up to 3 months.
Have you made this recipe? Rate it and leave a comment below!
Yields: 8 servings
Prep Time: 2 hours 10 mins
Total Time: 4 hours 10 mins
(4-lb.) round roast
extra-virgin olive oil
cloves garlic, minced
chopped fresh rosemary
chopped fresh thyme leaves
freshly ground black pepper