How To Make Roast Beef For Sandwiches


In this article, you will learn how to make roast beef for sandwiches. The types of roast beef you can use are prime rib and top sirloin. You have to let your meat rest after cooking it because that’s the only way you’ll get juice running through it. The redder the roast beef gets, the more juices it’ll have in it.

Roast Beef Sandwiches

  • Total: 1 hr 30 min
  • Prep: 1 hr 30 min
  • Yield: 6 main-course servings


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1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

6 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3/4 cup mayonnaise

3/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons jarred grated horseradish (with liquid)

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Freshly ground black pepper

Hot sauce

6 Kaiser rolls

12 slices vine-ripened tomatoes

24 ounces freshly sliced rare roast beef

3 loosely packed cups watercress or arugula, or a combination of bothAdd to Shopping List


  1. In a small bowl, mix together the onion and 1 tablespoon of the salt. Set aside for 20 minutes. Rinse the onions with cold running water. Drain and squeeze to remove excess liquid. Combine the onions and the vinegar and marinate at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, horseradish, zest, and 2 teaspoons salt. Season generously with pepper and hot sauce to taste. Refrigerate the horseradish sauce for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the broiler. Slice the rolls in half lengthwise. Using your hands, shallowly scoop out the inside of each half. Transfer the rolls to a baking sheet and arrange scooped-side up. Toast the rolls under the broiler for about 1 minute. Slather the inside of the rolls with the horseradish sauce. On each of the roll bottoms, layer 2 tomato slices and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top the tomatoes with some of the roast beef overlapped into “ruffles” and season with salt and pepper. Top the meat with some of the onions and watercress and cover with the tops of the roll. Serve immediately.

Deli Style Roast Beef

This easy method turns an economical cut of beef into super tender, flavorful Deli Style Roast Beef. Skip the deli and make your own lunch meat at home!

A pile of thinly sliced roast beef on a cutting board.

I’ve been a regular at the grocery store deli counter for most of my adult life. It’s so convenient to have sliced deli meat on hand when you have a lot of people to feed every day and lunches to pack for work. Since my husband requests deli roast beef be added to the grocery list every week, I decided it was time to try and create my own deli roast beef at home.

Friends, the result is nothing short of amazing! This recipe has opened my eyes to inexpensive cuts of beef and what can be done with them.

A roast beef sandwich sliced in half on a plate with chips.

There is technique involved in properly cooking an inexpensive beef roast. I go through that process in detail in my recipe for Tender Eye of Round Roast Beef with Gravy. This is the same base recipe but instead of slicing and serving it with gravy for dinner, it is chilled and thinly sliced to create the most delicious roast beef sandwiches we’ve ever had.

This recipe yields a Deli Style Roast Beef that is far lower in sodium than the store bought variety. You can reduce the sodium even more by adjusting the amount of salt used. Just one of the many benefits to making your own deli meat at home!

Ingredient Notes

All the ingredients needed to make Deli Style Roast Beef with text overlay.

The Best Cut for Deli Style Roast Beef

My favorite cut and the one tested for this recipe is the eye of round roast. It is a lean, flavorful, and relatively inexpensive cut of beef. It requires a special roasting technique to cook it to tender perfection. But fear not! It is incredibly easy and foolproof if you follow the directions. My local Costco regularly carries a two-pack of prime eye of round roasts at a great price. This cut should be easy to find at most grocery store chains.

Although I haven’t tested it for myself, I believe this recipe would also work well with a top or bottom round roast. One of my recipe testers used a top sirloin roast with a fabulous result leading me to believe that a sirloin tip roast would also be a good choice.

Roast Beef Seasoning Mix

A mixture of dry spices creates a flavorful crust as the roast cooks. I’m betting most, if not all of these spices are likely stocked in your pantry. Kosher salt has more oomph than table salt and I highly recommend using it in dry rubs like this one. Granulated garlic has a grainy texture and I prefer it over garlic powder for this spice mix but either can be used. In addition you’ll need freshly ground black pepper, rosemary, thyme, onion powder, and paprika.

Sliced roast beef on a cutting board.

How to Make Deli Style Roast Beef

The most important aspect to ensuring a perfectly pink and tender result is to watch the roast closely towards the end of the cooking time. Check the temperature as directed in the recipe card below with an instant read thermometer. Do not allow it to roast beyond 135 F. for the best result.

A seasoned beef on a wire rack before and after cooking.
  • Remove your roast from the refrigerator and allow it to rest on the counter for 1 hour to take the chill off. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Pat your roast with paper towels to dry the surface coat all sides of the roast with olive oil. Sprinkle all sides with the dry rub mixture. Place your roast on a wire rack on a foil lined baking sheet with the fat cap side facing up.
  • Transfer to the preheated oven and roast for 15 minutes or until nicely browned. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F and continue to roast for another 40 to 50 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 130 to no more than 135 degrees F. (medium rare). Begin checking the temperature after 35 minutes by inserting an instant read thermometer through the center of the roast from the side.
Thinly sliced roast beef on a plate in front of a meat slicer.
  • Allow the roast to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Even better, allow it to rest for 20 to 30 minutes then wrap it with foil and refrigerate it for several hours or overnight.
  • Slice it across the grain as thinly as possible. Whether you are using a meat slicer or sharp knife, it will be easier to get nice, deli style thin slices if the roast is chilled.

How to Store Cooked Roast Beef

Wrap the cooled, sliced roast beef in heavy duty foil and place the foil packet in a plastic storage bag. Label it with the date and refrigerate it immediately. It can also be stored in shallow, airtight deli meat container.

This Deli Style Roast Beef should be refrigerated and used within 3 to 4 days for the best quality and food safety concerns.

For longer storage, I recommend portioning it out and sealing it with a vacuum sealer. Vacuum sealed deli meat stored in the refrigerator will stay fresh for up to 10 days. Pop it in the freezer and store it for up to 2 to 3 months. Safely thaw frozen cooked meat completely in the refrigerator before serving. No vacuum sealer? Wrap the deli meat securely in wax paper and then a layer of heavy duty foil before freezing.

A close up of half of a roast beef sandwich on a cutting board.

Serving Suggestions

  • Pile it on your favorite bread or sandwich rolls with a variety of toppings for super tasty roast beef sandwiches for lunch or an easy dinner.
  • Add it to your next charcuterie tray, even if it’s just a casual Netflix and chill snacking session!
  • Smear slices with a little softened cream cheese and roll it around blanched asparagus for tasty Roast Beef Rollups.
  • Use it to make delicious Italian Roast Beef Sliders.

Homemade Roast Beef Deli Recip


Sandwiches are the unsung heroes of the kitchen. They can be as simple as spreading peanut butter and jelly, or melting a piece of cheese between two slices of bread. They can be piled high with healthy ingredients like avocados, cucumbers, and peppers, or battered and deep fried. In our family, we eat some kind of sandwich almost everyday. My latest favorite has been a roast beef sandwich.


Since we do a cowpool, a term I’ve just learned which describes our splitting a local grass fed cow amongst friends and family, it makes sense to make our own roast beef for sandwiches. Think about it, I could buy deli style roast beef in the store for $8-10 a pound. But isn’t it so much better to make my own lunchmeat from tender, organic, flavorful beef that only cost us about $4 a pound? If you’re still not sure, the answer is yes, yes, YES!

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure how to make roast beef for sandwiches at first.  So I tried making a basic roast that I would normally slice thick and slather with horseradish.  Once it was cooked and cooled, I simply sliced it as thinly as possible.

The meat was beautifully pink in the center with a dark crust of seasoning on the razor thin edges.  I’d found my answer in just one attempt, I just needed to make a roast beef, well, roast!

This is a perfect recipe for Hunger Action Week, because I quickly learned in my first year of the challenge that lunchmeat is VERY expensive. Even if you don’t share in a cow like we do, you can still save lots of money by cooking and slicing a roast that you buy from the grocery store. A 3 lb roast will fit in a food stamp budget (usually $10 or less) AND provide lunches for a week!

This is a very basic recipe using ingredients that most people already have in their pantry. For the spices, you can get them from the bulk spice section and pay just pennies for exactly the amount you need.

For the cut of beef, I have used everything from prime rib, to top loin, sirloin tip or top round.  The main thing is to remember that leaner roasts will get dried out if cooked too long, so err on the side of caution and check your meat’s temperature regularly.  I prefer my roast medium rare to keep it nice and tender.  Use the following list to determine how to get yours to the degree of doneness you prefer:

Rare 120° – 125°
Medium-rare 130° – 135°
Medium 140° – 145°
Medium-well 150° – 155°
Well done 160° and above

You may notice in the photos that we have a beautiful meat slicer.  That’s a new addition to our kitchen, but for years before getting it I simply sliced our own sandwich meat thinly with a knife, so don’t feel like you need one to make your own lunchmeat.

Okay, here’s my easiest roast beef recipe.  But I want to know, whether a roast for dinner or for sandwiches, how do you make roast beef?






PREP TIME5 minutes

COOK TIME50 minutes

TOTAL TIME55 minutes


  • 3lb beef roast (round, top, or sirloin are all fine)
  • 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder


  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  2. Rub olive oil all over beef roast.
  3. Mix salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder in a small bowl. Rub the spices into the beef, coating the entire roast, then place beef on a rack in a roasting pan.
  4. Roast for 25 minutes, then drop heat to 300 degrees.
  5. Roast an additional 20-40 minutes until meat reaches desired temperature (see temperature guide in the post above).
  6. Remove from oven and let cool before slicing thinly. Keeps up to a week in the fridge or six months in the freezer.


Approximate cost/serving: This should end up being around $2-4 a pound depending on the quality of meat and whether you get it on sale or in bulk. Even at $4/lb it’s still just 60 cents for a few slices, much cheaper than buying pre-sliced lunchmeat.

Gluten Free: Just make sure that the onion and garlic powder don’t contain gluten, I’ve seen a couple that have it sneaked in for anti caking.

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