Best Cut Of Beef For Roast

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I’ve been asked many times what is the best cut of beef for a roast, and here’s my answer to that question. If you’re anything like me, you love a good roast dinner. But which bit of the cow are you supposed to roast? Is it topside? Or maybe shin of beef? It’s all a bit confusing when you first start looking for your cut of beef for roast.

The best cuts for roasting beef and tips on how to cook it

Want to cook a joint of beef for a dinner party or special occasion? Whether you like it rare, medium or well done, our easy-to-follow guide explains the best cuts for roasting beef, plus tips on how to cook it to perfection. Find recipe links at the bottom of the page, too.

Check out our advice to help you get the most out of a beef joint.

The best cuts for roasting beef and tips on how to cook it

What’s the difference between cuts of beef?

Fore ribs

One of the prime roasting cuts because the main lean muscle is nicely marbled and the whole joint is covered with a natural layer of fat. It is usually roasted on the bone. However, it is important to ask your butcher to chine the backbone for you, i.e. saw through the bones to semi-detach the backbone from the ribs. This makes carving easier.

Rib of beef with red wine sauce

Sirloin

Can be roasted on the bone, but because of its size it is commonly boned and rolled, enabling the butcher to prepare smaller joints. Sirloin carries less fat than the rib and is very tender, so it is one of the more expensive cuts.

Beef sirloin with oyster mushrooms, Bordelaise sauce and whipped potatoes

Topside, silverside and top rump

These three prime cuts are all fantastic for roasting, as they are very tender and can be carved into large lean slices. However, because the muscles used for these cuts carry less marbling, they are usually sold ‘barded’.

This means that thin sheets of fat, usually taken from the flank of the same animal, are wrapped around the outside of the rolled muscle then tied in place with string to produce a neat, cylindrical joint.

Roast topside of beef with roasties and gravy

Fillet

This lean cut of beef can be roasted in one piece but benefits from the addition of bacon or some ‘barding’ fat to stop it drying out during roasting. Used to make the classic dish, beef Wellington.

Beef fillet with sherry vinegar and shallot jus

Tips for roasting beef

  • Let the meat come to room temperature before you cook it.
  • Roast the beef at  a high temperature (240°C/fan 220°C/gas 9, or as high as your oven will go) for about 15 minutes to get the heat through to the centre of the joint. Then reduce the temperature to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas 5 and continue to roast for 12-13 minutes per 500g for rare, 17-18 minutes per 500g for medium, or 22-24 minutes per 500g for well done.
  • Rest the meat before carving. This allows the meat fibres – which contract in the oven – to relax again, so the meat will be more tender.

THE BEST CUT OF MEAT FOR ROAST BEEF

The rich, filling flavors of good roasted beef can’t be topped. From holiday dinners to weekend hangouts, you can have an amazing meal with a simple roast.

But what cut do you choose? Chuck? Rump? Prime rib? Well, that depends on the experience you want to have. Use this handy guide to pick the perfect roast, and remember — grass-fed, ethically-raised beef is always better.

We’re going to cover:

  • What roast beef is
  • Best practices for choosing roast beef
  • The best cuts of meat for roast beef
  • How to cook roast beef
  • Our favorite roast beef recipes

WHAT IS ROAST BEEF?

Roast beef is, as you’d expect, any beef that has been roasted.

Roasting is simply cooking something in an oven or over a fire. Many of us have different conceptions of what roast beef is. For some of us, it may be a rich, filling pot roast. For others, it may be the deli slices at the local sandwich shop that we love.

Regardless of the cut you choose, as long as you cook it by roasting it, then it is considered roast beef. All you have to do is season it and let heat do its thing.

CHOOSING THE BEST ROAST BEEF CUT EVERY TIME

If you want to know how your uncle Rob always has the best beef during the holidays or how your favorite restaurant seems to nail the consistency in every dish you try, then this is how.

1. Don’t skimp on quality

The first secret of choosing the best cut for roast beef is to always opt for the best beef possible.

This won’t always be an option if you’re trying to save money, but by choosing the right beef provider, you can dramatically raise the quality of your meal.

The best beef providers use 100% grass-fed beef, don’t use hormones or antibiotics, and don’t use pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertilizers.

US Wellness Meats was founded in 2000 in Monticello, Missouri (pop. 98) by visionary farmers, who saw that big-business cattle-raising practices were taking a toll on our animals and our health.

By returning to rotational grazing practices that are good for the planet and good for our cattle, we led the way in introducing a new generation to the unmatched taste, tenderness, and healthiness of grass-fed beef.

2. Choose a cut based on what you’re cooking

Because roast beef is a broad term, the second secret is to choose the right cut based on how you’re going to use it. There are better cuts for pot roast than a quick oven bake, and those cuts are different than what you should use for deli slices.

The first step is to figure out what you want, and we’ve divided our advice by the four most common ways to have roast beef:

  1. For nicer meals when you want really tender meat as your main.
  2. For weeknight meals when you want to eat beef as your main entree but don’t want to spend a ton of money.
  3. For deli slices that are perfect for sandwiches.
  4. For pot roasts that pair perfectly next to mashed potatoes.

The right choice varies for each of those options, so we’ve broken them down for you here. We start each category with what to look for and then offer some specific recommendations. If you have any questions, ask one of our beef experts.

THE BEST CUTS OF MEAT FOR ROAST BEEF

At a glance:

  • Ribeye Roast
  • Tenderloin Roast
  • Prime Rib Roast
  • Shoulder Petite Tender
  • Sirloin Tip Center Steak
  • Bottom Round Steak
  • Eye of Round Roast
  • Sirloin Tip Roast
  • Chuck Roast
  • Beef Rump Roast

Ask your butcher for any of the recommendations under your chosen category, and you’ll be in good shape.

1. The best roast beef for fancy, melt-in-your-mouth cuts

Sometimes you need to have a classy night in. Whether it’s for a new promotion, holiday dinners, or an anniversary, these cuts are top shelf — and for good reason. Each of these cuts are wonderfully rich in flavor and texture.

What you’re looking for:

  • Cuts that are tender, rich, and prized.
  • The perfect blend of fat and beef that yield wonderfully tender roasts.
  • Beef that pairs well with a nice red wine.

Specific beef cut recommendations:

  • Ribeye — Ribeyes are a classic at events and holidays. With its generous marbling and coveted taste, a ribeye is always a good choice for a treat!
  • Beef Tenderloin — Beef tenderloins are known around the world as a lean and delectable cut. The combination of moisture and richness makes it a treat anytime you have it. It is usually cut into small slices, and it pairs really well with a red wine sauce!
  • Prime Rib — Prime rib and au jus is a combo so delicious that it will never go out of vogue. It is extremely tender and super juicy, and your guests will love you for it.

2. The best roast beef for weeknight meals

Looking to get the fix of a fancy meal without spending the same amount? That’s where these cuts come in. They aren’t top-shelf, but they get the job done and can emulate your favorite cuts.

What you’re looking for:

  • Cuts that are great value for your money.
  • Cuts that are versatile.
  • Beef that has a good mix of tenderness and beefiness.
  • Cuts that achieve a similar effect to more expensive cuts without having to pay a premium.

Specific beef cut recommendations:

  • Shoulder petite tender — If you want to get close to a beef tenderloin but can’t justify the price for a Wednesday night meal, then go with a shoulder petite tender cut.
  • Sirloin tip center steak — The circular sirloin tip center steak is even more tender than sirloin tip side steaks, and it works best when you marinate it in advance.
  • Bottom round steak — Bottom round steaks are thick, inexpensive, and easy to pair with almost any side.

3. The best roast beef for deli meats

The best roast beef sandwiches are made with large slices of beefy meats that taste good whether served cold or hot. We have two cuts in particular that we love for roast beef slices: the eye of round roast and sirloin tip.

What you’re looking for:

  • Lean and dense cuts.
  • Even shape.
  • Large muscles for full slices

Specific beef cut recommendations:

  • Eye of Round Roast — This lean and super tasty cut is the deli roast beef staple. If you want the most classic deli experience, go with this cut.
  • Sirloin Tip Roast — This lean cut also has an ideal shape for slicing thin into deli meat, and you can generally find this roast for a good price at your local butcher.

4. The best roast beef for pot roasts

Contrary to the other categories, it’s better to opt for tougher cuts with pot roasts. These cuts usually have a beefier flavor, and overtime the connective tissues break down and make that perfectly stringy texture you know and love in a pot roast.

What you’re looking for:

  • Tough cuts — these usually have a beefier flavor.
  • Cuts with lots of connective tissues.

Specific beef cut recommendations:

  • Chuck Roasts — Chuck roasts are from the shoulder area of the cow and are generally a bit tough and beefy. This makes it ideal for slow-cooking methods like braising and crockpots. The 7-Bone chuck, in particular, has a wonderful flavor and is one of our favorite cuts for homemade pot roast.
  • Beef Rump Roast — Rump roasts are well, from the rump. Movement and use of muscles make the meat tougher, so rump roasts tend to be great for pot roasts.

BEST PRACTICES FOR COOKING ROAST BEEF

The leaner the cut, the smaller the slices.

The less excess fat a cut has, the thinner you should slice it. Lean cuts need time and proper slicing to really make them tender, so don’t rush this!

Always season, salt, or marinate in advance.

Most pro chefs salt their cuts a day in advance. This gives time for the salt to permeate throughout the meat through the processes of osmosis and diffusion. It makes a big difference in how tender and flavorful your meat will be!

Don’t be shy on flavorings.

People criminally under-season meat. Pick an avenue like classic BBQ or herb and commit to it!

Use a meat thermometer to get the perfect temperature.

Guessing when you aren’t a complete pro is a safe bet to a less-than-ideal roast. Play it smart by investing in a meat thermometer.

Slice against the grain.

The lines in meat are protein strands and connective tissues. By cutting against those strands, you are essentially snapping the protein “cords”, which makes the meat much more tender.

WHAT IS THE BEST CUT FOR ROAST BEEF?

Roast beef is a family favourite, and one of the simplest and tastiest ways to prepare beef. All it requires is picking the right cut, seasoning it and letting the oven do all the hard work. While the simplicity of this classic Sunday night dinner makes it reasonably foolproof, there are a few tips that will help you put the perfect roast on the table.

Choosing your cut

When it comes to choosing a cut for roast beef, the good news is this dish is very versatile. Aim for a marbled piece of beef with a nice outer layer of fat.  There’ll be plenty of good options at your local supermarket or butcher – and remember you can always ask your local butcher for a recommendation if you’re not sure.

The most popular cuts for a roast are:

  • Prime Rib Roast
  • Rump Roast
  • Topside
  • Whole Sirloin or Striploin
  • Bolar Blade Roast
  • Eye Fillet Butt
  • Rump Cap

Prime Rib Roast

Roasted whole on the rack, prime rib is a popular choice when it comes to Sunday roast. It is well marbled and full of flavour and tenderness.

While many beef roasts do not need to be trussed or netted, this cut will benefit from it. Tying the meat using individual pieces of string in 4-5 cm intervals will create a compact shape allowing even cooking and slicing. You can also tuck herbs into the string for added flavour – try rosemary or thyme.

Ensure the silverskin has been removed before cooking, otherwise this thin membrane will shrink during cooking and the meat will curl up.

Rump Roast

Rump is often bought as a steak, but when left whole it can be roasted. It is a boneless piece of beef from the well-exercised hindquarter of the animal, contains high amounts of collagen and connective tissue, and generally doesn’t have a lot of marbling. This means when cooked incorrectly it can be tough and chewy.

Slow roasting a piece of rump is one of the best ways to turn this cut into a flavorful, juicy and tender piece of meat

While roasts usually steer towards tender cuts of beef, if cooked on a low heat over a longer period of time the collagen and connective tissue of the rump cut will melt, increasing the tenderness.

Other key elements to the perfect rump roast is browning the meat in a frying pan before placing in the oven fat side up, and when serving keep the slices thin.

Topside

A topside roast is extremely lean and has a lot of connective tissue as it comes from the inner thigh muscles of the hind leg. This cut is best roasted as a whole joint and is usually on the cheaper side of your roast choices. It can have a slightly tougher texture but it is still flavour-packed.

You may like to season this cut and sear it in a hot pan before cooking for a delicious and crisp exterior coating.

Whole Sirloin or Striploin

Sirloin is from the large part of the T-bone area. It is full of taste and flavour, and is a great choice for a roast.

While this is on the medium to higher end of roast pricing options, it is a great choice to give you a tender piece of meat while being friendly to your wallet.

When selecting your sirloin, look for a top cut as this will be the most tender, and make sure you brown the meat before placing in the oven.

Bolar Blade Roast

Beef bolar blade is an excellent choice for the family dinner. It’s also a more affordable option per kilo than some of the other roast options. Taken from the shoulder blade of the animal, the cut contains a fair amount of connective tissue and sinew, so it does need a long time for this to break down. But if prepared well, you’re left with a full flavoured and tender cut of beef.

Eye Fillet Butt

Taken from the butt fillet, this is a cut that delivers on both rich flavour and tenderness. At the pricier end of the scale, it is a more decadent roast option but its beautiful intense flavour will not disappoint.

Rump Cap

A favourite of many meat aficionados, rump cap is an excellent, and underused, cut for roasting. Also known as picanha, this cut is the top piece of the beef rump and doesn’t take too long to cook, so make sure you have a meat thermometer handy to ensure you don’t overcook it.

Roast Beef Cooking Tips:

  1. For a tender texture and even cooking, leave the beef out of the fridge to reach room temperature before cooking in the oven.
  2. Cooking the roast lifted out of the pan on a roasting rack improves air flow and will result in more even browning.
  3. Place the beef fat side up.
  4. If netted or tied, leave this on until after the meat has been cooked and rested. This will help the meat keep its shape and look more impressive when you carve.
  5. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the roast is cooked to perfection. Make sure you insert the probe into the centre of the cut and avoid hitting the bone for the most accurate reading.
  6. Before serving, remove the roast from the pan and rest the beef for 15 to 20 minutes loosely wrapped in aluminium foil. This will allow the juices to redistribute and lets the meat fibres, which contract during the cook, relax for ultimate tenderness.
  7. Always carve against the grain to break down and shorten the muscle fibres for a tender dish.

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