Joints Of Beef For Roasting


So you want a joint of beef for roasting, but you don’t know what to look for when buying it. Lucky for you, I’ll be showing you how to pick the best joint of beef for your needs!

The three basic joints of beef for roasting are the rib, rump and loin. There is no specific cut that is best, they all have their own attributes which make them suitable for different types of cookery but there is a general rule of thumb as to the cooking times and temperatures that you should follow.

Beef – Roasting Joints off the Bone

There are a number of different beef roasting joints and it can be difficult to choose which one is suitable for your occasion. We have listed all our joints below with their various attributes. Boneless joints have the advantage of being easy to carve but do not have the benefit of the flavour which comes from the bone. However you can always ask for some bones to roast the beef on top of.


The ultimate in luxury roasts, fantastic flavour and very lean. It is the centre cut of the fillet and can either be cooked as a roast or you can use it to cut your own fillet steaks. This is a joint best cooked rare and sliced thinly.


This is a basic boned sirloin. It is well marbled and has a good level of cover on the outside to give it great flavour. Also if you like to cut you own sirloin steaks so that you can define the thickness yourself, choose this joint as it is what we cut sirloin steaks from.


The rolled sirloin is the striploin rolled and tied using the mysterious butcher’s knot. Rolling the striploin allows for the juices to remain in the joint and gives nice round slices when carving.


When the sirloin includes the undercut it means that the rump end of the sirloin roast is boned and rolled so that it contains both the sirloin and the rump fillet, the two best cuts, combining tenderness and great taste.


This is cut from the fore rib and boned and rolled resulting in a tasty joint that is more economical than a rolled sirloin.


The centre of the fore rib muscle, this joint is the same cut as the rib eye steak. It has the same generous seam of fat running through the centre which melts away when cooking to give a fantastic tasting joint.


Probably the big favourite of all the roasts, this is a lean joint but as it comes from the hard working hind muscles it is not as tender as the rib and sirloin joints – it has great flavour though cook it rare and slice it thin!


Again from the hind muscles, this is a good pot roasting joint. It is extremely lean so the method of cooking requires a constant baste.


Minutes / pound
Minutes / kilo
Gas Mark
Rare10/lb + 20 mins
25/kg + 20 mins
Gas 6
200 °C
400 °F
Rest for up to 30
minutes after cooking
Medium15/lb + 20 mins
35/kg + 20 mins
Gas 6
200 °C
400 °F
Rest for up to 30
minutes after cooking
Well Done20/lb + 20 mins
45/kg + 20 mins
Gas 6
200 °C
400 °F
Rest for up to 30
minutes after cooking

Roast beef

Roast beef

The centrepiece to a quintessential British Sunday lunch, flavoursome roast beef deserves the spotlight

Whether you like it rare, medium or well done, tender juicy slices of beef with all the trimmings are hard to beat. Here are our top tips on how to achieve the perfect roast beef. 

1) Choose the right cut

The go-to joint for a succulent beef roast is a wing rib of beef, which has an eye of tender, marbled meat. Taken from the back of the loin, it can also be cooked off the bone by rolling it into a sirloin joint. 

Fore rib is a great alternative – taken from further up the loin, it has a seam of fat running through it, giving it lots of flavour. 

Beef cuts

For a leaner roast, topside is an excellent choice and for a slightly fattier cut, top rump is also a good option. Both are best served rare/medium rare and are delicious served cold in sandwiches and salads.

2) Size matters

Try to buy a joint slightly larger than you actually need, as smaller joints tend to shrink a little in the oven; use any leftovers for delicious midweek meals.
As a general rule, when you’re buying a joint of meat on the bone you’ll need to allow approximately 400g meat per person. So to feed 6 people you’ll need a joint that weighs around 2.5kg, which will usually be a 2 or 3 rib joint. For lean joints off the bone, allow 200 – 250g meat per person, so choose a joint around 2kg for 6 people. 

Beef prep

3) Prep for perfection

Take large joints out of the fridge one hour before cooking to allow the meat to reach room temperature and cook more evenly. Smaller joints need 30 minutes out of the fridge. Don’t remove the fat as it adds flavor and keeps the joint moist – if you prefer not to eat it, simply remove it after it’s cooked.

Season your joint with a little salt just before it goes into the oven. Salt draws moisture from the meat, so if you season too early you could dry out the joint. Add a grinding of black pepper or rub a little English mustard powder into the fat to add a ‘crust’ on the meat.

4) Get cooking

Calculate the cooking time according to the guide below, with the meat positioned in the centre of the oven. Choose a roasting tin that’s a little larger than the joint – not too large or your precious gravy juices will evaporate. Add a peeled and halved onion and few sprigs of herbs such as thyme or rosemary while your beef cooks. This will caramelise the onions and add more flavour to your gravy.

Preheat your oven to the correct temperature to ensure your cooking time is accurate: 220C/Gas 7/fan 200C. Cook larger roasting joints on a high heat for the first 20 minutes to let the heat really penetrate the meat and give it a good crust on the outside. Remember to reduce the temperature after 20 minutes and deduct the 20 minutes from the total cooking time – leave the oven door open for a couple of minutes to help it cool down. There’s no need to cover your beef while it cooks; you want to get a good crust on the outside and foil won’t help with this.

Medium rare – 20 minutes per 500g

Medium – 25 minutes per 500g

Well done – 30 minutes per 500g

5) Baste your meat

Basting simply means spooning the juices from the roasting tin back over the meat while it cooks. Take the roasting tin out of the oven and tilt the tin slightly so that the fat and juices collect in one corner. Use a spoon or turkey baster to scoop them up and drizzle them over the meat. Baste the beef 2 or 3 times while it’s cooking and remember to shut the oven door while you do this, so you don’t lose heat.

6) Check your meat is cooked properly

Rare, medium or well done? Our guide to cooking times will help you cook the beef to your liking. Check your beef is cooked by piercing the thickest part of the joint with a skewer – if the juices are pinky-red, the meat will be medium-rare, slightly pink and it’s medium, and if you want it well done, they should run clear. A meat thermometer is useful for large joints. Push the probe into the meat as close as possible to the centre (avoiding any bones) and leave it for 20 seconds before taking the reading. Rare beef should read 50C, medium 60C and well done 70C.

Carved beef resting

7) Take a rest

It’s crucial to rest any roast meat after it’s cooked. Resting allows the juices on the outside of the meat to settle back into the middle and throughout the joint, making it juicier and easier to carve. Top rump joints are best served medium-rare and will benefit from an even longer resting time of 30 minutes or more.

Transfer your cooked beef joint to a warm platter or clean board and cover with foil. Leave it to rest for 20 minutes minimum before carving. It’ll give you time to make the gravy and finish off any last minute trimmings too.

What to drink with beefThe intense savoury flavour of a rib of beef demands depth and backbone making the reds of Bordeaux an excellent match. Particularly those from the Left Bank, such as Saint-Estèphe or Haut-Médoc, which traditionally have more Cabernet in the blend. Scientists have even suggested the high levels of tannins in Cabernet help break down the proteins in beef making it easier to digest. Sounds like a great reason to open your best claret.

How to choose the perfect cut for a great roast

The best parts of an animal to use for a roast dinner will depend on the dish you want to cook, your mood, and budget.

Beef - hindquarter - rolled silver side.

You can learn a lot from a pig’s thigh. Just ask Mark White, AKA “Marky Market”, who works as a kind of personal shopper at Smithfield, London’s giant meat market. Plonk a leg of pork in front of him, and while he won’t be able to tell you the animal’s age or star sign, he will at least be able to state its sex.

If there’s a reddish patch high on the inner thigh, it was a male. “That’s where there were a lot of blood vessels near its testicles,” White explains, although “testicles” isn’t quite the word he uses.

Why does this matter? Because when you’re buying pork, you ideally want it to come from a female pig. With males, there’s always the possibility – a tiny one, to be fair – that the meat has been tainted by testosterone during the slaughter process. Now you’ve learned this fascinating fact, don’t feel guilty if you forget it. There are more important considerations when planning your perfect roast …


First of all, you’ll need to decide what cut you want. “You can roast so many bits of a cow,” notes Richard Turner, executive chef at the Hawksmoor steak restaurants. Classic cuts, however, include silverside (no 1 in the illustration below), topside (2), rump (3), sirloin (4), fillet (5) and fore rib (6). All but the last are usually sold boneless. If you’re nervous about carving meat, this may be tempting, but is it best for flavour? “Personally, I roast on the bone,” says Turner, who loves a rib roast with plenty of fat. “You end up with a more succulent piece of meat.” If you must go boneless, he says, “My favourite cut is rump, although it’s not often sold as a roasting joint.” For a smaller joint, you could do a lot worse than rolled ribeye (7), cut from the centre (or “eye”) of the ribs.

Any buying tips? “I wouldn’t buy meat from a supermarket,” Turner says. “I’d always go to a proper butcher or a market. And don’t buy meat that’s vacuum-packed or clingfilmed. Meat sweats. It needs air to stay in prime condition, and to age properly.” Beef should hang at a low temperature for at least 14 days – dehydration concentrates the flavour and enzymes tenderise the meat.

What does a good piece of beef look like? “It should be dry to the touch and smell slightly sweet,” Turner says. “Unless it has just been cut that second, it should not be bright red. Bright red indicates it’s been kept in an oxygen-free environment.” There should be fat, he says, but don’t get hung up on visible marbling – often the fat that adds most flavour is hidden in the fibres of the meat, barely discernible.

Ask your butcher questions, Turner adds. Such as? “What breed it is. I wouldn’t buy crossbreeds myself, because they grow too quickly, and flavour takes time. The words to look out for are ‘pure breeds’ or ‘native breeds’. My favourites are Longhorn, Galloway, Dexter and Angus.”


Shoulder (1) is a good choice for lamb too, alongside rack (2) (a row of unseparated chops, basically), chump (3) and, of course, leg (4). “If you want to do a slow cook – something that you can leave in the oven and not worry about too much, I’d always go for lamb shoulder,” says Marky Market. “It’s a very forgiving joint. It’s hard-working muscle, so it needs a slow cook to break down the fibre and sinews, but the fat in there bastes them. It’s so easy and there’s no precise timing like there is with a rack of lamb, where it has to be all nice and pink.”

What should you look out for at the butchers? “Traditionally matured lamb should have a slightly darker colour than un-matured lamb,” is the advice from online butchers Donald Russell. “It also has good marbling with small creamy-white flecks of fat throughout the muscle. This is critical to the flavour of the meat, as the fat melts during cooking to make the meat juicy and tasty.”

Standard cuts from beef, pork and lamb.


Again the advice is to avoid supermarkets, where almost all pork comes from bland-tasting hybrids known simply as “commercial pigs”. So what should you buy for the best flavour? Rare breed, says Jasper Aykroyd, the chef-turned-curing-expert known as the Bacon Wizard. “It’s not only the flavour – it will roast better. Two of the more common breeds are Gloucestershire Old Spot and Duroc, and – if you can get hold of them – Berkshire pigs are incredible for roasting. And there’s a new kid on the block called Mangalitsa. They’re the furry pigs that look like pig-shaped sheep.”

It helps that rare breed pigs are typically raised in good conditions. Chefs and butchers all agree that happy, healthy pigs make for tastier meat. This is particular true of the hours and minutes just before slaughter, where stress can spoil the flavour and texture of the meat.“Old breeds and higher welfare standards tend to go hand in hand,” says Aykroyd. “There’s just no point having a rare breed and putting it in indoor intensive farming. The best stuff you can get has been roaming around in woodland. Pigs love to grub around, and if they’re getting lots of tannin-rich tree bark, oak roots and things like that, you will find that the fat is a lot better quality.”

Fat is essential to a good pork roast, he adds, basting the meat as it cooks and improving the flavour. If you’re worried about fat in general, he says: “Unlike any other common domestic animal, pork fat is more than 50% monounsaturated – the type you find in olive oil. And it’s quite high in things like oleic acid and omega-3s and 6s.”

Which cuts are best for roasting? Rib’s (1) good, and loin (2), and even the relatively small jowls or cheeks (3) if you can get them when they’re really fresh. But, he says: “Shoulder (4) is the really good one. It has both kinds of fat – the solid one on the top, which produces lovely crackling, and the marbling within the muscle. And there’s connective tissue. Normally this would be very tough, but if it’s roasted nicely it breaks down and becomes lovely and gelatinous. I also love pork belly. It’s very fatty, but you can press it after cooking to remove some of that.”

“I would always buy British pork,” Aykroyd adds, “rather than, say, Dutch or Danish. For a start, our welfare standards are ahead of the curve as far as Europe is concerned.”


Where should you get your chicken? “A farm shop is almost always the best place,” says Mark Diacono, author of River Cottage’s Chicken & Eggs handbook. “Even if the chicken isn’t from their farm itself, they’re likely to have a close relationship with their supplier. The more the seller can tell you about the bird and where it comes from, the happier you should be to buy from them.”

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