What is Roast Beef?

Roast beef is a classic dish of oven-roasted beef that is commonly served as the main course of a meal. It is widely regarded as a national dish in England. Here’s a complete guide to understanding roast beef:

Origins and History

  • Roast beef has long been associated with England and English cuisine dating back to the 1700s.

  • However, it was not commonly eaten in medieval England. Meat roasting became more popular during the 1800s.

  • The French nickname for the English is “les Rosbifs” referring to their love for roast beef.

  • In the US, roast beef became a mainstream Sunday dinner option by the early 1900s.

Where on the Cow is Roast Beef Cut From?

  • Roast beef is prepared from larger cuts of beef taken from the following areas on the cow:

    • Chuck (shoulder)

    • Rib (ribcage area)

    • Sirloin (lower back)

    • Round (hind leg)

  • Common roast beef cuts are chuck roast, rib roast, top round, eye round, sirloin tip etc.

  • The rib section yields the most tender and prized roast beef cuts like ribeye roast and prime rib.

Roasting Methods

There are two main methods for roasting beef:

  • Oven roasting – The beef is seasoned and roasted uncovered in the oven at 300-350°F. Meat thermometer should read 120-135°F for medium rare doneness.

  • Grill roasting – The beef is grilled on a rotisserie or grill at high temp 400-450°F to get a nice crust. Core temp for medium rare is same.

  • Lower oven temps are ideal for large beef cuts to ensure even, gentle cooking.

  • Use a meat thermometer to check internal temp instead of time.

  • Resting the roast after cooking is also important to allow juices to redistribute.

Serving Traditions

  • In England, roast beef is classically served with Yorkshire pudding (popover-style baking), gravy and roasted potatoes/veggies.

  • Horseradish and horseradish cream are frequent condiments paired with roast beef.

  • In the US, roast beef gravy, mashed potatoes, bread stuffing, and vegetables like carrots, green beans or creamed spinach are common sides.

  • Sliced roast beef between bread slices makes an iconic roast beef sandwich.

Leftover Uses

Leftover roasted beef can be used in the following innovative ways:

  • Chopped or shredded for roast beef hash recipes

  • Added to tacos, pizzas, nachos, salads etc.

  • Used in chunky soups like beef barley or beef vegetable soup

  • Layered into sandwiches and paninis

  • Stuffed into omelettes or breakfast burritos

Buying and Carving Tips

  • Opt for good marbling while buying a roast beef cut for maximum flavor and tenderness.

  • USDA Prime grade is the highest quality beef though expensive. Lower grades like Choice or Select are more economical.

  • Let the roast sit at room temp for 1-2 hours before cooking for more even roasting.

  • Use a sharp carving knife to slice the beef across the grain into thin slices for easier chewing.

  • Slice only as much roast beef as needed to prevent leftovers from drying out.

How to Cook Perfect Roast Beef | Jamie Oliver


What type of meat is roast beef?

There’s no single cut of beef that is necessary to make roast beef; some common cuts include top-round roast, top sirloin roast, bottom-round roast, and eye of round roast. We usually use a top-round roast, but a bottom-round roast would work too.

What does roast mean in beef?

In the context of roast beef, “roasting” refers to the cooking method used to prepare the beef. Roasting is a method of cooking where food is placed in an oven and cooked by dry heat. The heat can come from all sides, but most commonly from the bottom, which allows the food to cook evenly.

What does roast beef taste like?

Roast beef is served as a main course and cut into thin slices as a deli meat. This item has a meaty texture and may be a bit fibrous, but still very easy to chew. A meaty mineral flavor is the predominant taste to this umami and somewhat salty dish.

Is roast beef good meat?

Roast beef is high in protein, which is an essential part of any healthy diet. It’s what your body uses to build muscle and repair damaged tissue. Protein also helps to boost your metabolism, which is how your body breaks down and uses the nutrients in your food and burns the fat stores in your body.

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