Slow Roasted Mouthwatering Tender Roast Beef

Learn how to cook a delicious mouthwatering roast beef in the oven.
Oven Roasted Tender Roast Beef

By Mark Hinds | Updated November 29, 2023

This tender roast beef recipe includes everything you need to cook a juicy, flavorful beef roast in a couple of hours.

A long-time staple of Sunday dinners and holiday feasts, cooking roast beef at home has somewhat fallen out of favor, which is a bit of a travesty. 

Roast beef has so much to offer, with deep garlic and herb flavors and a crisp crust. It can be the centerpiece to a nice dinner, the starting point for fantastic roast beef sandwiches, or sliced paper-thin and served as a cold appetizer. It’s also pretty tasty as a late-night snack.

To develop this simple roast beef recipe, we wanted to respect the techniques and ingredients that made the dish a classic while adapting it to how people cook today. That meant figuring out what type of beef roast to use, which seasonings highlight the beef’s flavors, and the best way to cook it.

It also meant figuring out the answers to perennial questions, such as do you cook a roast covered or uncovered, sear it in a pan or brown it in a hot oven. How long it should cook, what’s the right temperature to take it out, and how long should it rest. After a lot of research and many roasts, we have answers to all of these questions and more.

Served Roast Beef
Even though it’s easy to make and affordable – roast beef feels like a special occasion

We also wanted the recipe to be easy enough to use and so delicious that people would make it over and over again. 

For the Love of Roast Beef

There is a reason why slowly cooked, mouthwatering roast beef has been a traditional dish since the Middle Ages. With its ability to take on flavors from a wide variety of herbs and spices, beef serves as a canvas for cooks, letting them build entire meals around a coherent set of flavors.

It’s also communal; whether it’s a small sirloin roast or massive prime rib, beef roasts are meant to be shared with family and friends.

The Sunday roast is a staple of English cuisine, dating back to the Middle Ages when large roasts would be hung on a spit and roasted over an open fire. In Consider the Fork, Bee Wilson describes how the English love of spit-roasting beef during preindustrial times led to breeding dogs with short legs and long bodies who were tasked with walking on treadmills to keep everything turning while the meat cooked.

For those who weren’t lucky enough to live in a large house, a roast would be dropped off at the local baker on Sundays to be cooked for dinner alongside Yorkshire Pudding, roasted potatoes, and vegetables.

Cooking a 3 to 5 lb piece of meat can feel extravagant the way most people cook these days. However, the intention has always been that leftovers from Sunday dinner would be a part of what fed the family the following week in sandwiches, pies, stews, and other dishes.

The Best Cut for Roast Beef

There are many choices when picking out a beef roast, including size, quality, and cut. 

By definition, a roast is considered any piece of meat suitable for roasting, which isn’t very helpful when choosing something to cook. In practice, roast generally means a larger cut intended to serve multiple people, which means it can come from almost any part of the steer. 

Primal Beef Cuts
Roasts can come from almost every part of a steer.

The USDA grades beef for tenderness, juiciness, flavor, and the amount of usable lean meat. The grades include Prime, known for its abundant marbling, which is generally sold to restaurants and hotels.

Most beef found in grocery stores and butcher shops will be graded Choice, known for its high quality but with less marbling than Prime, and Select, which is uniform in quality but has less marbling than the higher grades. 

The best cut for roast beef will be graded Choice or Prime, which are flavorful and can be thinly sliced after roasting. The beef should always appear fresh, with a strong reddish color, and appear slightly slick but not wet. Beware of pieces with lots of brown or have an off-putting odor.

Everyday Roasts

Our go-to roast when making roast beef for dinner or having it in the house for sandwiches or leftovers is an eye of round roast. During testing, eye of round was more tender and just as flavorful as similar cuts when it’s slow roasted and sliced thin. Its compact shape and uniform thickness give it an advantage over similarly priced roasts.

A top round roast or bottom round roast is also a good choice. All of the round roasts come from a steer’s hindquarters. Rump roasts, sirloin tip roasts, and strip roasts are other cuts that work well for dinner, as leftovers, or for making deli style roast beef.

Special Occasion Roasts

If you’re making dinner for a special occasion or the holidays and want a complete show stopper, make a standing rib roast. They come in various sizes, are incredibly flavorful, and, thanks to still being on the bone, look amazing when carved tableside. Beef tenderloin and ribeye roasts are also good choices for special occasions when you’re willing to spend a little extra. 

Prime rib is a fantastic choice when you’re going all out for a special occasion; with tons of marbling and unparalleled tenderness, it almost deserves to be in its own category.

Just be sure you’re getting the real thing by checking that the purchased roast has been graded Prime and is a rib roast. Sometimes, standing rib roasts graded Choice will be incorrectly labeled prime rib. 

Not so Great for Roasting

Many other cuts, such as chuck roasts and brisket, are better braised, grilled, or smoked. A general rule is if the beef is going to be shredded or pulled, it should be braised and not roasted. 

How to Cook Roast Beef in the Oven 

Underseasoned or overcooked meat is the very definition of blah. The best roast beef recipes find ways to embed flavors deep into the beef while creating a crisp crust on the outside with meat so tender it can almost be cut with a fork.  

Preparing the Roast

There are a million ways to season a roast. This recipe uses fresh herbs and lots of garlic to create intensely flavored roast beef with a traditional flavor profile. The rosemary adds bright, herbaceous notes, while the garlic gives the beef depth and helps to bring out its natural umami flavors.

Using fresh rosemary and garlic makes a difference; they impart so much more flavor than their dried or powdered versions and do a better job of infusing their flavors into the roast.

A challenge in seasoning larger roasts is figuring out how to infuse every bite with flavor. So often, bites with the outside crust are tasty and delicious, while those without are bland and boring.

To flavor the whole roast, cut tiny slits around the outside to slide in slivers of garlic, creating pathways for the flavors in the garlic and spice rub to work their way into the interior. We also baste the meat while cooking to concentrate its flavors and add moisture.

Prepped Roast
Cutting slits in the roast helps the flavor from seasonings soak in

The ideal time to season a roast is the night before, letting the flavors sink in overnight. It will also turn out delicious if its seasoned when it comes out of the fridge. 

An optional step is to truss the roast using kitchen twine. Trussing can be helpful to even out irregularly shaped roasts, giving them a more uniform shape and helping them cook evenly. A uniform shape also makes them easier to carve.

Roasting

Learning how to cook tasty roast beef that is tender and juicy is easy once you have the basic technique down and know a few helpful cooking tips.

To start, let the beef come to room temperature before roasting. This usually takes an hour or two and allows it to start at a consistent temperature.

Roast In Oven
Using a roasting pan with a rack helps everything cook evenly.

To cook it evenly from edge to edge, use a roasting pan with a rack to let the hot air circulate around the roast. We recommend this stainless steel roasting pan that comes with a removable rack.

The best way we’ve found to create a nice crust on the outside of a roast is to start it in an oven that has been preheated to 450℉ (232℃). Once the beef has been in the oven for 15 minutes, the heat should be turned down to 325℉ (163℃) and cooked until it reaches the desired internal temperature.

Browning a roast in a hot oven is significantly easier than trying to sear it in a skillet. The heat from the oven is more even than the heat in the skillet and, when done correctly, makes just as lovely a crust.

To keep the roast from drying out, add some liquid to the roasting pan to create a small steam bath. Beef or chicken stock works well, especially if the drippings will be used to make gravy. 

Adding liquid to the pan also provides something to baste the meat with, helping to deepen its flavor. If the cooking liquid will be used to make a gravy or pan sauce, use sodium-free or a low-sodium stock or broth so the liquid doesn’t get too salty as it reduces.

The roast should be cooked uncovered and on a roasting rack to help it develop flavor and texture. 

There’s a big difference between roasting and braising. While technically, cooking it in the oven means it’s being baked, elevating the beef and keeping it uncovered is the best way to approximate using a rotisserie to roast the beef over an open fire.

Braising is a great technique to use with a chuck roast or other tougher roasts that benefit from being cooked covered in a liquid when the goal is to break down the connective tissue in the meat so it becomes fall-apart tender. Braising is a poor choice when the goal is to thinly slice the beef before serving.

Carving a Roast

Here are a few tips for properly carving a roast. When the meat has finished cooking, leave it in the roasting pan on top of the rack, covered lightly with aluminum foil for 15 to 20 minutes. 

Leaving the roast on the rack while it rests, allowing the air to circulate underneath, keeping the crust crisp while the juices redistribute themselves.

Roast Resting
Letting the roast rest after cooking gives it time to relax before coming to the table

To slice the roast, use a sharp knife and cut across the grain while holding it in place with a pair of tongs or a serving fork. In general, the leaner the cut, the thinner it should be sliced.

For more deli style roast beef, let the roast cool before slicing it very thin with a very sharp knife or a meat slicer.

Roast Beef Cooking Times & Temperatures

The secret to fabulous roast beef is to cook the beef to your desired level of doneness. The simplest way to keep track of the meat’s temperature is to use an oven-safe meat thermometer and remember that the internal temperature will rise around 5℉ while it rests.

A general rule of thumb for cooking time for roasts is:

  • 18 minutes per pound for rare
  • 20 minutes per pound for medium rare
  • 22 minutes per pound for well done

Here is a temperature guide for doneness and a reminder that using a meat thermometer is more accurate than a clock.

DonenessDescriptionTemperature Range
Very RareVery red, bloody, and coldBelow 125℉ (52℃)
RareCold red center & soft to the touch125℉ (52℃) to 134℉ (56℃)
Medium RareWarm red center, firmer with a bit of spring135℉ (57℃) to 144℉ (62℃)
MediumPink all the way through & firm to the touch145℉ (63℃) to 155℉ (68℃)
Well DoneGray and brown all the way through, very firm156℉ (69℃) to 165℉ (74℃)
Way Over DoneDark and crusty inside and out166℉ (74℃) plus

A few other ways to make roast beef include Sous Vide Roast Beef, which is tender and juicy from edge to edge with an almost velvety texture, and using a smoker to make a Smoked Beef Roast that is dynamite for barbecues and picnics. 

Making Beef Gravy and Au Jus

An advantage to adding liquid to the roasting pan is the whole time the beef is cooking, it’s flavoring the base for the sauce, deepening the amount of umami flavor.

To make a simple beef gravy from drippings, use the meat juices that remain in the pan with enough sodium-free or low-sodium beef stock to have 2 cups of liquid that can be combined with a simple roux.

Another simple way to make a Savory Beef Gravy is to fortify stock or broth and combine it with some fresh herbs, spices, and a touch of creamy horseradish. For additional tips and tricks, read A Better Gravy Recipe.

Beef Gravy
It only takes a few minutes to make a simple beef gravy.

The remaining liquid and the beef drippings can be used to make an au jus by combining them in a small pan along with some mirepoix before straining it. Simply use the beef broth to deglaze the pan and simmer it with any leftover cooking liquid while the roast rests.

Serving Roast Beef

A tip that brings the flavors in the beef alive is to sprinkle a tiny bit of salt across the slices right before they’re served. It’s almost magical how the salt brightens up the flavors and makes everything pop.

There are lots of ways to serve roast beef. One of our favorites is to thinly slice the roast to make French dip sandwiches that can be dipped in a homemade au jus sauce.

If we’re serving it for a dinner party, we like to slice it tableside along with White Cheddar and Horseradish Mashed Potatoes. To gild the lily, we’ll serve some roasted or Grilled Mushrooms tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh herbs that people can spoon across the top of their slices.

A few other side dishes that pair well with this recipe are Sautéed Rainbow Chard and  Green Beans with Balsamic Vinegar. As far as drinks go, you’re not going to do much better than a Classic Old Fashioned or a Boulevardier.

Adding Salt
A dash of salt brings the beef’s flavors to life

Leftover roast beef will last in the fridge for a week or so after it’s been cooked. It can also be frozen for later and will last for 3 to 6 months in the freezer.

The best way to reheat leftover roast beef, sliced or whole, is in a covered baking dish placed in a 300℉ (149℃) oven until warmed through. Drizzling a little au jus or beef broth over the top before it goes into the oven will help retain moisture.

Whether it’s being served for dinner or as roast beef sandwiches, we love to put some horseradish sauce and a few good mustards on the table for people to choose from, along with a little dish of salt that they can sprinkle on top.

Oven Roasted Tender Roast Beef

Classic Roast Beef Recipe

4 from 29 votes
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients

Roast Beef

  • 3 lb beef roast, eye of round, rump roast, or sirloin tip roast
  • 3 tsp rosemary, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cups beef stock, recommend sodium free or low sodium 

Beef Gravy from Drippings

  • 2 cups liquid, combination of beef drippings & additional stock
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions

Roast Beef

  • Take the beef out of the fridge an hour before putting it in the oven to let it come to room temperature.
    3 lb beef roast
  • Slice the garlic into small slivers and mince the rosemary.
    3 tsp rosemary, 3 cloves garlic
  • Combine the rosemary, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper with the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and olive oil to make the spice rub.
    3 tsp Kosher salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp lemon juice, 2 tsp olive oil
  • Using the tip of a sharp knife, make small slits in the roast. Insert the garlic slivers into the slits. Spread the rub on the outside, covering the whole thing.
  • Set the roast on a rack in a roasting pan. Then pour the stock into the bottom of the pan.
    3 cups beef stock
  • Place the roast into an oven that has been preheated to 450℉ (232℃) for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 325℉ (163℃) and cook the beef uncovered until the internal temperature has reached 135℉ (57℃). For a 3 lb roast, this takes around an hour.
  • Baste it with the pan juices a couple of times while it's cooking. We use a turkey baster every 25 minutes or so.
  • When the meat has reached the desired temperature, take it out of the oven, keep it on the rack while covering it loosely in foil, and let it rest covered for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Slice the roast beef into thin slices against the grain and sprinkle a tiny bit of salt across the top of the slices right before serving.

Beef Gravy from Drippings

  • Once the roast has finished cooking, remove the beef drippings from the pan and add enough stock to have 2 cups of liquid. Recommend using low-sodium or sodium-free stock or broth.
    2 cups liquid
  • In a saucepan, make a roux by whisking the butter and flour together over medium heat. Once the roux has turned golden brown, slowly pour in the liquid while continuing to whisk.
    1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter
  • Add the salt and pepper and continue stirring until the sauce has reached the desired consistency. This usually takes 5 to 7 minutes.
    1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper
  • The gravy will start to thicken as it cools.

Notes

The roast can be seasoned a day or two in advance and stored in the fridge.
Use a low-sodium or sodium-free stock to help control the gravy’s saltiness. It can also help to taste the sauce before adding the salt. 
Tried this RecipeRate the recipe (we love lots of stars) & leave your thoughts in the comments.
Nutrition
Calories: 291kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 113mg | Sodium: 1277mg | Potassium: 596mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 212IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 4mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate based on available ingredients and preparation.

Mark is an experienced food writer, recipe developer, and photographer who is also Umami’s publisher and CEO. A passionate cook who loves to cook for friends, he can often be found in the kitchen or by the grill testing new recipes.

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Responses

  1. Alexandra

    Would you suggest this method or sous vide for a 3- pound rump roast? I’d like to serve it for dinner and then have cold leftovers. Thank you 😊.

    1. Mark Hinds

      I’m a big fan of both methods, but when it comes to cold leftover roast beef I really love the flavor in this roast beef recipe that comes from inserting the garlic cloves into the roast before it’s cooked.

  2. K

    Delicious! Will adjust the salt next time but it was delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Mark Hinds

      Glad you liked the roast beef, and thanks for leaving the comment!

  3. Patty

    The meat was perfect! The gravy was very salty though. Good, but salty. I didn’t even salt the meat before slicing as was recommended. I definitely would make it again, but work half the salt.

    1. Ernie

      Meat turned out very nicely. I do agree with a previous post… the gravy was very salty. I feel like the rub was as well. I would cut the amount of salt in half and/or use a low sodium broth. Very good recipe overall, besides the saltiness.

      1. Mark Hinds

        Thanks for the feedback. We updated the recipe to recommend using low sodium or sodium-free stock to help control the saltiness in the gravy. Something that can definitely be impacted by how much the cooking liquid reduces while the roast is cooking. We also added a note recommending that folks taste the gravy before adding the salt.

    2. Citidog

      Just make sure you are using kosher salt and not table salt in the rub. Kosher salt (or cooking salt) is a larger or courser grain than table salt