What is Roast Beef Made Out Of? A Guide to Roast Beef Cuts

Roast beef is a beloved dish, a fixture on holiday tables and deli sandwiches alike. But what cut of meat actually makes the best roast beef? Here’s a guide to understanding the different beef cuts used for roast beef and how to choose the right one.

Overview of Roast Beef

Roast beef refers to oven-roasted beef dishes. It involves seasoning a large cut of beef and then roasting it slowly at low heat which makes the meat incredibly flavorful and tender.

While many people associate roast beef with holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, it can be enjoyed year-round.

Common Cuts Used for Roast Beef

There are several beef cuts that work well for roast beef recipes:

  • Top round roast – From the cow’s hind leg. Lean and moderately tender. A budget-friendly option.

  • Top sirloin roast – From the hip region. Lean with good flavor. Slightly tougher than other cuts.

  • Eye of round roast – From the rear leg. Very lean so can be tougher. Best sliced thinly.

  • Bottom round roast – From the upper leg. Economical cut, can be tougher. Great for pot roasts.

  • Ribeye roast – From the rib section. Excellent marbling for tenderness and flavor. The most expensive cut.

While ribeye makes the most tender and flavorful roast beef, top round is also a good choice that is more affordable. Bottom round works well too, especially for pot roasts.

What to Look for When Buying Roast Beef

Keep these tips in mind when purchasing roast beef cuts:

  • Select roasts that are 2-4 pounds to serve 4-6 people. Larger roasts may not cook evenly.

  • Choose roasts with good marbling for tenderness and flavor. Ribeye has the best marbling.

  • For pot roasting, pick a more economical cut like chuck, bottom round or rump roast.

  • For oven roasting, splurge on a ribeye roast or opt for top round or sirloin tip.

  • Inspect the color – it should be bright red and not brown or gray.

  • Avoid roasts with large pockets of fat throughout the meat.

Preparing Roast Beef

Follow these steps for delicious homemade roast beef:

  • Season the roast – Generously season with salt, pepper and herbs. Garlic, thyme and rosemary are classic herbs.

  • Sear the meat – First brown the roast on all sides in a hot pan to develop a flavorful crust.

  • Roast at low heat – Cook at 325°F, allowing at least 1 hour for a 3-4 lb roast. Use a meat thermometer to check doneness.

  • Let it rest – Let sit for 15-30 minutes before slicing to allow juices to redistribute.

  • Slice against the grain – Cut crosswise across the grain for tender slices.

Roasting Methods for Roast Beef

There are two main methods for cooking roast beef:

Oven Roasting

This involves cooking the roast uncovered in the oven. It uses higher heat to initially sear the meat, then lower heat to finish cooking. Best for ribeye, sirloin tip or top round cuts.

Pot Roasting

The roast is browned then cooked covered in a small amount of liquid like broth or wine. Ideal for tougher cuts like chuck, rump or bottom round.

Serving Suggestions for Roast Beef

Roast beef is delicious served:

  • Sliced as the main course with gravy, potatoes, vegetables and Yorkshire puddings

  • On sandwiches with mayo, lettuce and tomatoes

  • In salads paired with greens, cheese and vinaigrette

  • Chopped in pasta dishes, risottos or frittatas

  • Thinly sliced for French dip sandwiches au jus or beef rolls

  • Diced in tacos, nachos, enchiladas and quesadillas

Get creative with leftovers! Roast beef is very versatile.

Common Questions

What is the most tender cut of roast beef?
The ribeye roast has the best marbling which makes it the most flavorful and tender cut for oven roasting.

What is the cheapest cut of roast beef?
Chuck roast, bottom round roast and rump roast are some of the most economical cuts. They work well for pot roasts.

How long should you cook a 3-4 lb roast beef?
Cook a 3-4 pound roast for at least 1 hour at 325°F until it reaches the desired internal temperature. Rest at least 15 minutes before slicing.

Can you freeze leftover roast beef?
Yes, slice the leftovers and freeze in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. It’s great for roast beef sandwiches!


While ribeye makes an incredible roast beef, more affordable cuts like top round, bottom round and sirloin tip can also produce delicious results. Searing the meat and slow roasting is the key to tenderness. Slice roast beef across the grain and serve it in sandwiches, salads and beyond!

Frequency of entities:

  • roast beef: 23
  • beef: 16
  • ribeye: 5
  • top round: 3
  • bottom round: 3
  • tender: 2
  • sirloin: 2

How to Cook Perfect Roast Beef | Jamie Oliver


What type of meat is roast beef?

Top Round Roast (AKA Inside Round) – this cut of beef is similar to the top sirloin in fat and flavor and is the most common cut used for roast beef.

What animal is roast beef made out of?

The top round roast is cut from the upper thigh of the hindquarters of the beef cow. The top round is not a heavily worked muscle, which results in a roast that’s more tender and flavorful than other cuts from the round.

What is deli roast beef made of?

Most delis roast lean cuts of meat, usually bottom, top or eye round from the cow’s rump, an economical choice. I tested all three, roasting them low and slow so they stayed juicy and rare. All made very fine sandwiches.

What’s the difference between beef and roast beef?

What is the difference between roast beef and other beef? Roast Beef is beef that has been roasted. Roasting is a cooking method with dry heat, most typically in an oven. In a less technical sense, braising is frequently called roasting, even though it’s wet.

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