This post is all about the best beef for roasting, here we will compare several types of beef, and decide which one tastes the best. So lets get started! If you love barbecuing everything from hot dogs to nuts, then beef is the meat for you. And there’s no better cut for that purpose than a shoulder roast.
Learn all about different cuts of beef, from steak to short rib, plus top tips to help you buy the best, prepare and cook to perfection.
What is beef?
The classic choice of meat for a British Sunday roast. Beef is full of flavour, as well as being a good source of high-quality protein, iron and B vitamins. But it’s not just a one-dish ingredient – the wide range of cuts available, from expensive sirloin steak to the much more affordable brisket, mean it’s pretty versatile.
British-reared breeds, such as Aberdeen Angus, Longhorn and Hereford have traditionally been considered to be among the best beef in the world, but the reputation of other premium breeds such as Wagyu, which originated in Japan, are increasingly on the rise.
Most beef cuts are sold ready-prepared, so it’s generally a fairly easy meat to cook.
How to prepare beef
If desired, certain cuts of beef can be marinated to add flavour and moisture and to tenderise a little further. Alternatively, cuts such as steaks and fillets can be pounded with a meat mallet or rolling pin to break down the fibres, which will produce a more tender meat; cover the beef with parchment on both sides first, and try to keep the meat the same thickness all the way along, so that it cooks evenly.
Before it goes in the oven, beef should be at room temperature, so take it out of the fridge 30-60 mins before cooking. Keep it covered, in a cool place.
How to cook beef
Find out how to cook the perfect roast beef. For lots of recipes see our roast beef recipe collection.
Topside is a really versatile cut that can be slow cooked, or flash cooked and serve rare. Find out how to cook topside including lots of recipes.
If you’re looking for fall-apart beef, to use in curries, tacos or slow cookers, see our guide.
You can also buy beef short ribs, which need low and slowing cooking, as the fat melts and the meat falls of the bone. Try this Tom Kerridge recipe for beer-braised short ribs.
Brisket also needs to be cooked for a long time to break down the fibres until shreddable and tender.
If you’re looking to cook steaks, here’s a guide to cook the perfect steak, including different cuts, flavourings and timings.
For plenty more cuts of beef see our guide or cheaper cuts and how to buy beef.
How to store beef
Pre-packed beef in airtight packaging, as well as vacuum-packed beef, should be stored in its packaging at the bottom of the fridge. On the day of using, remove all packaging, pat with kitchen paper, and keep uncovered on a plate in the fridge. This will allow the beef to air dry and you’ll get a better crust when searing. You can also season the beef now as a ‘dry-brine’, before cooking to season the beef, and retain juiciness when cooked.
Make sure beef doesn’t touch any cooked foods or anything that will be eaten raw. Any cuts that are bought loose will keep for up to 2-4 days. Larger cuts for roasting will keep up to 4 days (check all use by dates). Minced beef should be eaten within a day of purchase or frozen. For vacuum-packed meat, follow the use-by date on the packaging.
How to buy beef
Always buy beef from a source that you trust – a good supermarket, local butcher, farmers’ market or shop, or a website mail order company. Of those five sources, the last four will usually be able to tell you the most about the meat – where it comes from, how it was reared and slaughtered, as well as if it was hung, and for how long. Traceability like that is crucial in ensuring that the beef you are buying has been humanely treated while alive, had the shortest possible journey to the slaughterhouse (long journeys are highly stressful for all livestock) and has been expertly handled once killed – all of which will have an impact on the meat’s flavour and tenderness.
Organic beef, and beef from rare breeds, is the most expensive, as the highest farming standards will have been adhered to at all stages of the animal’s life. The length of time for which beef has been hung will also determine how flavoursome and tender it is; 10-14 days is a good length, though some super-premium beef is hung for longer, up to six weeks.
Many different cuts of beef are available – what you buy depends on how you want to cook it. For roasts, the best cuts include rib (on the bone or boned and rolled), sirloin, top rump and fillet. For quick cooking, try fillet, entrecôte, rib eye, sirloin or rump steaks. Brisket, topside and silverside are good for pot roasts, and stewing and braising steak are good for stews and casseroles. Minced beef makes great burgers and pies.
Watch our video on how to roast and carve rib of beef:
When choosing any cut of beef, look for firm, fine-grained meat; it should be moist, rather than dry or slimy. A light marbling (ie thin streaks) of fat running through the meat is a good sign – this gives succulence and flavour and, without it, the meat will be dry once cooked. Any fat on the outside of the beef should be creamy-coloured or yellow hued would indicate it’s aged. Properly hung beef should be deep burgundy in colour, rather than bright red. Go for cleanly cut, neatly trimmed pieces of beef, with no fragments of shattered bone.
Perfect Roast Beef
Roast beef might sound fancy and complicated to make, but it’s actually quite simple! With a good piece of meat and some simple herbs, you can have roast beef that’s way more tender and flavorful than the store-bought kind. Below, we break down what’s most important to know when preparing this classic dish.
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
– Eye of round roast
We usually use a top round roast, but a bottom round roast should work too. If you’re unsure, ask your butcher! Since the meat is slow roasted for a long amount of time, even tougher, more lean cuts of meat will be 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.
This is where you can really get creative. We kept things simple in this recipe: just 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 on the flavorings, this is a big cut of meat and the more flavor, the better. We suggest 1 teaspoon salt per pound. Alliums like onions, garlic, and scallions would be delicious additions as well. I prefer to mix all my flavorings with olive oil to make a paste — it allows for more even distribution and ensures your beef gets seasoned all the way around. (Don’t forget the bottom!)
You might be wondering why you have to change the temperature of the oven 15 minutes into cooking. I swear, there’s a good reason! 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 and the meat will start cooking from the inside out.
Dropping the temperature down to 325° lets the meat cook slowly and allows all of the tight muscle fibers to relax and will give you that tender slice of meat you’re hoping for. A longer cook time for a cut like this will give you better results. No need to rush things! If you are looking for something a little faster, try our Instant Pot Pot Roast!
Meat Temperature Myth
Conventional wisdom says to bring pretty much any meat you’re cooking to room temperature — especially big pieces of meat like turkey breasts, whole chickens, and roasts. The logic: Putting a roast in your oven straight from the fridge would cause the exterior layers to be fully cooked (or overcooked) while the center remains undercooked. But the truth is that letting meat sit at room temperature raises the temperature by only a negligible amount. If your goal is to get meat to room temperature by letting it sit out, you really shouldn’t. A cut this large (e.g, roast beef) would take several hours to come to room temperature, which is not ideal.
As far as post-cooking temperatures, we prefer a medium to medium-rare roast, with a little pink in the center. In our opinion, the meat stays more tender and flavorful this way. If you prefer not to see any pink, you can roast longer! One thing that’s not optional, though, is a meat thermometer. It takes the guess work 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.* The temperature of the meat will continue to rise a bit as it rests as well.
*Note: The USDA recommends cooking whole cuts of beef to 145°F, which will yield a medium pot roast.
I know it’s tempting to dig right in when your roast comes out of the oven. 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. If you cut it right away, all those flavorful juices will end up on the cutting board and your meat will be dry and sad. 😢When it’s time, make sure to use your sharpest carving knife or chef’s knife to get nice thin slices.
Leftover cold roast beef is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It’s so versatile! Use it in French dip sliders, in a breakfast hash, or just cold, straight from the fridge. We won’t judge!
Have you made this recipe? Rate it and leave a comment below!
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
- Recommended: let roast sit uncovered on a wire rack set in a baking sheet in the refrigerator 1 hour, up to overnight.
- Preheat oven to 450°. In a small bowl, combine oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Rub all over roast.
- Place roast in roasting pan fitted with a roasting rack. Roast for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325° and roast 1 hours 45 minutes more for medium, or 2 hours for medium well done.
- Remove from oven and let rest 15 to 30 minutes before serving.
The Best Cuts of Beef for an Oven Roast
There are a variety of ways to cook beef and different cuts to choose from! Selecting a cut of beef can be challenging if you’re unsure which is best for your method of cooking. Whether you would like a new family recipe for your Sunday roast or would like to cook a roast beef dinner to perfection, we are here to help you choose the best cuts of beef for an oven roast.
Sirloin is a cut of beef typically used to cook a delicious steak in a skillet, but it is also one of the best pieces of meat for oven roasting. Sirloin joints usually come boned and rolled so that it is easier to carve and serve.
A sirloin beef joint is tender and doesn’t carry as much fat as other cuts of beef, but it must be roasted correctly to ensure it does not dry out.
To oven roast a sirloin, you should first cook the beef at a higher temperature of 220C or 200C fan for around 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn your oven down to 180C or 160C fan and cook a further 10 to 15 minutes depending on how well done you would like your beef. Sirloin is also one of the best cuts of beef for slicing as it has so much flavour and will be sure to impress the whole family.
A topside of beef is an incredibly popular choice for oven roasting. Topside beef is a lean cut which not only tastes good but is a great source of protein, making it the perfect addition to a roast beef dinner. Topside beef comes from the hindquarter and is more tender than silverside, as well as affordable to buy.
To oven cook topside, season the meat and place it in a roasting tin. Heat your oven to 220C or 200C fan and roast for around 20 minutes. The oven should then be turned down to 170C or 150C fan and roasted for 10 to 15 minutes per 500g depending on how you would like the beef cooked.
Beef topside also pairs wonderfully with beef gravy, which can be made with beef stock and served with the roast.
Top rump is a delicious beef cut to cook for an oven roast; it comes from the back of a cow and has a huge amount of flavour that helps to create an incredible roast beef dinner.
Top rump is tender but the muscles have less marbling than other cuts of beef.
Top rump is cooked in a similar way to sirloin and topside; the joint should be cooked in the oven for 20 minutes at a temperature of 220C or 200C fan. After 20 minutes, continue roasting your seasoned top rump at a temperature of 180C or 160C fan and cook to your preference.
Top rump is also a cut of beef that is ideal for slow cooking; the lean beef can be tough but a slow-cooked top rump will give you a succulent and flavoursome piece of meat. A rump roast is an amazing meal to try out for the next time you cook.
A rib of beef can be purchased with or without a bone and is one of the best cuts of meat for a roast beef dinner as it has a large amount of marbling. The marbling of a beef rib is the fat between the muscle and gives extremely juicy and rich flavours that are ideal for a rib roast.
Ribeye is another cut of beef that comes from the rib and can be used to make a delicious ribeye roast.
To cook a rib roast, season the joint and roast for 20 minutes at 220C or 200C fan. The oven should then be turned down 170C or 150C fan for 20 minutes per 500g of beef.
Roasting times must be calculated dependant on the weight of your rib. For a rib of beef and any other cut, you must leave the meat to rest at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes after it has been cooked. Resting your beef after you have cooked it allows the juices and flavour to distribute evenly throughout the joint.
A fillet of beef is a tender cut of meat that is another great option for a roast beef dinner. Fillet of beef is lean which makes it a great source of protein and makes a great cut of beef for a roast paired with bacon or prosciutto. The addition of bacon or prosciutto stops the fillet of beef from drying out to ensure you serve a succulent and delicious piece of beef for your roast.
A fillet of beef can be roasted in a faster time than other cuts of beef; it only needs about 20 to 30 minutes in the oven at 200C or 180C fan, depending on whether you would like a rare, medium-rare or well-done piece of beef.
Make sure you season your cuts of beef with olive oil, salt and pepper before roasting so that you can serve an enjoyable and tasty meal that you’ll be sure to want to make again. There is a range of recipes available for each beef cut so find one that will help you to cook your beef just as you and your family like it. Choose a cut of beef and create the perfect roast this Winter.