Nicely done Beef


Answers to any questions you have about preparing a holiday roast, including Prime Rib

A beef roast is the perfect entrée for special meals. Roasts are extremely easy to prepare and make an impressive centerpiece. There's a beef roast to suit every budget and every size gathering. And beef is complemented by a variety of accompaniments, from traditional choices like Yorkshire Pudding to roasted vegetable, rice pilaf or couscous.

Beef 101

No roasting rack? No problem. Make your own as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Which beef roasts are best for entertaining?

There's a roast for every occasion.

  • For a classic dinner, choose: beef rib roast, beef ribeye roast or beef tenderloin roast (Tip: order rib or ribeye roasts from the small end.)
  • For the health-conscious party planner, choose: beef round tip roast or beef eye round roast.
  • For small gatherings, choose: small beef tenderloin roast, beef tri-tip roast or beef eye round roast.
  • For the easiest to carve, choose: boneless roasts such as beef round tip, beef eye round, beef ribeye, beef tenderloin or beef tri-tip.


What is prime rib?

"Prime Rib" is not a specific cut of beef but is actually a preparation method for a Beef Rib Roast. If you know the standard meat roasting method, you can make “Prime Rib” out of several types of Beef Rib Roasts. "Prime" rib does not refer to the grade of beef.


What is a "standing rib roast"?

The rib section of the beef carcass contains seven rib bones. A Beef Rib Roast is one that contains two or more of the bones. A Beef Rib Eye Roast is the large center muscle with the bones removed. Most rib roasts today are sold boneless. A "standing" rib roast uses the bones to form a natural rack in the roasting pan. 

Ribeye-Roast-Bone-In_2
Fresh Ribeye Roast, Bone In

Courtesy of the Beef Checkoff

How do I buy a rib roast?

Rib roasts are usually sold as either small end (cut from near the loin section) or large end (cut from near the chuck section). Small end rib roasts are more tender, contain less fat and are usually priced higher than large end cuts. The large end contains an outer muscle called the rib cap or rib cover and another layer of fat.

When purchasing a bone-in rib roast, ask the butcher to cut or remove the chine bone and separate the backbone from the ribs for easier carving. 


How to select a beef roast?

Beef is sold by quality grades - Prime, Choice and Select - each based on the amount of marbling (flecks of fat within the lean) and the age of the animal. Quality refers to palatability characteristics such as tenderness, juiciness and flavor. Prime has the most marbling - it is produced in limited quantities and usually sold to restaurants or specialty meat markets. Choice falls between Prime and Select. Select has the least amount of marbling, making it leaner but often not as tender, juicy and flavorful as Choice or Prime. Most supermarkets offer Choice or Select.


Roast Seasoning


What's the best way to season a roast?

Roasts can be cooked without any seasonings or they can be "dressed up" with seasoning rubs. Combine favorite herbs and seasonings and spread over the surface of the roast prior to cooking. Dry seasoning combinations might include: black pepper, basil and thyme; garlic powder, marjoram and parsley; or lemon pepper and rosemary. Check out the many prepared dry seasoning combinations now available in supermarket spice sections; they are ready to use as purchased.


What size beef roast to purchase?

For holidays and special occasions, it's a good idea to call your meat retailer in advance and order the type and size of roast you need. Think about second helpings when deciding what size roast to purchase. Plan about 6-8 ounces of cooked beef per serving for "holiday helpings", or about a 1/2 pound per person. Generally, a boneless beef roast will yield three to four cooked, 3-ounce servings per pound of uncooked meat. A bone-in rib roast will yield about 2-1/2 servings. Check the roasting chart which includes roasting times for large-size roasts.


What size beef roast to purchase?

For holidays and special occasions, it's a good idea to call your meat retailer in advance and order the type and size of roast you need. Think about second helpings when deciding what size roast to purchase. Plan about 6-8 ounces of cooked beef per serving for "holiday helpings", or about a 1/2 pound per person. Generally, a boneless beef roast will yield three to four cooked, 3-ounce servings per pound of uncooked meat. A bone-in rib roast will yield about 2-1/2 servings. Check the roasting chart which includes roasting times for large-size roasts. 


What's the best way to season a roast?

Roasts can be cooked without any seasonings or they can be "dressed up" with seasoning rubs. Combine favorite herbs and seasonings and spread over the surface of the roast prior to cooking. Dry seasoning combinations might include: black pepper, basil and thyme; garlic powder, marjoram and parsley; or lemon pepper and rosemary. Check out the many prepared dry seasoning combinations now available in supermarket spice sections; they are ready to use as purchased.

How do you cook a roast?

Three easy steps ensure a perfect roast:

  1. Heat oven to temperature as specified.
  2. Place roast (straight from the refrigerator), fat side up, on a rack in shallow roasting pan. Season roast as desired. Insert ovenproof meat thermometer so tip is centered in thickest part of roast, not resting in fat or touching bone. Do not add water or cover.
  3. Roast according to timetables. Transfer roast to carving board; tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let roast stand 15 minutes.


Why is standing time necessary?

During standing time, the internal temperature rises and the roast finishes cooking; the roast firms up, making carving easier.


Baffled by doneness?

Here's how to tell. With roasts, the internal temperature is a better indicator of doneness than visual inspection. Cooking times provided in recipes are a guide to help determine doneness, but the most accurate method is to use a meat thermometer. Two common types are:

  • Ovenproof dial meat thermometer - thermometer has an easy-to-read dial with temperatures ranging from 120° F to 200° F. To use, insert the thermometer into the center of the thickest part of the roast, not resting in fat or touching bone, before placing roast in oven. This type of thermometer remains in the roast during the entire cooking process.
  • Instant Read or Rapid Response Thermometer - Use this thermometer to check meat temperature periodically during cooking. It is not oven safe, so it cannot be left in the roast while it is in the oven. The temperature range on this type of thermometer is from 0° F to 220° F. To use, insert the thermometer into the center of the roast from either end, making sure it is inserted to the indentation on the metal shaft, or at least two inches into the meat. The slim stem permits frequent testing without the loss of meat juices.


Check out the Roasting Guidelines

Temperature & Color Doneness Chart

Beef Doneness Guide 

Medium Rare: Internal temperature 145° F. 

Medium: Internal temperature 160° F. 

Well Done: Internal temperature 170° F.

Can we serve pink roast beef?

The USDA recommends serving beef roasts at medium rare (145° F) to medium (160° F) doneness. To achieve the desired serving temperature, roast should be removed from the oven when the thermometer registers 5° F to 10° F below the desired doneness. During the 15 minute standing time, the temperature will continue to rise and reach the desired serving temperature.

Roast Carving
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Want to carve like a pro?

Start with a sharp knife. If you don’t own one, please go buy one and you will thank yourself many times over.

Roasts are firmer and easier to carve when allowed to stand 15 to 20 minutes prior to carving. Uniform slices are the result of holding the knife at the same angle for each cut. The more tender the roast, the thicker the slices can be. For example, a tender rib roast can be carved ½ to ¾ inch thick, whereas round tip roast (less tender) should be no more than ¼ inch thick.

The structure of meat determines how it should be carved. Most beef cuts should be carved across the grain (grain is the direction that the muscle fibers run). Cutting across the grain shortens the fibers and makes the meat easier to chew. Some cuts (e.g., corned beef brisket and flank steaks) should be sliced diagonally (or on the bias) across the grain – hold your knife at an angle. Some roasts are composed of several different muscles running in different directions. What to do? Start carving on one end, and if you see long muscle fibers, turn the roast and carve in a different direction!

If you have leftover roast, leave it whole because a solid piece of meat will hold its moisture longer than slices. The flavor usually tastes better, too. 

Tips for Cooking Very Large Roasts

  • Before purchasing very large roasts, make sure there is enough room in the refrigerator for proper storage.
  • Check the size of the roasting pan – is it big enough? There should be at least an inch between the roast and the pan for proper heat circulation. If the correct pan size is not available, consider cutting the roast in half to make 2 smaller roasts. Place each roast on a rack in separate roasting pans.
  • Is there enough room in the oven? There should be enough space between the roasting pan(s) and the oven walls to allow the heat to circulate properly from side to side, top to bottom and even between pans. It may be necessary to rotate the pans half way through roasting for even heating.
  • How long to cook 2 roasts? It will take slightly longer to cook 2 roasts, but it won’t take double the time. Prepare the roasts as indicated above – it is best if both roasts are of similar size and weight. If possible, insert a meat thermometer into each roast so it is easy to monitor the temperature of both roasts at once. Determine a roasting time from the roasting chart. If the roasts vary in size and weight, use the timing for the smallest roast. At the end of the roasting time, check the temperature of each roast. If more time is needed, continue roasting for 15 to 20-minute intervals until the desired internal temperature is reached in each roast. Allow roasts to stand as indicated in the chart.

Roasting Timetables

Beef Cut Weight Doneness Total Cooking Time
Rib Eye Roast, small end 3 to 4 pounds Medium Rare 1½ to 1¾ hours
    Medium 1¾ to 2 hours
  4 to 6 pounds Medium Rare 1¾ to 2 hours
    Medium 2 to 2½ hours
  6 to 8 pounds Medium Rare 2 to 2¼ hours
    Medium 2½ to 2¾ hours
@ 325° 8 to 10 pounds Medium Rare 2½ to 3¼ hours
    Medium 3 to 3¾ hours
Rib Eye Roast, large end 3 to 4 pounds Medium Rare 1¾ to 2¼ hours
    Medium 2 to 2½ hours
  4 to 6 pounds Medium Rare 2 to 2½ hours
    Medium 2½ to 3 hours
  6 to 8 pounds Medium Rare 2¼ to 2½ hours
    Medium 2½ to 3 hours
  8 to 10 pounds Medium Rare 1¾ to 2¼ hours
    Medium 2¼ to 2¾ hours
Standing Rib Roast, chine bone removed 4 to 6 pounds (2 ribs) Medium Rare 2¾ to 2¼ hours
    Medium 2¼ to 2¾ hours
  6 to 8 pounds (2-4 ribs) Medium Rare 2¼ to 2½ hours
    Medium 2¾ to 3 hours
  8 to 10 pounds (4-5 ribs) Medium Rare 2½ to 3 hours
    Medium 3 to 3½ hours
Maple Glazed Roast with Roasted Acorn Squash 

The holidays are just around the corner and what better way to celebrate than with a delicious Rib Roast at the center of your table. This Maple Glazed Roast with Roasted Acorn Squash is easy to prepare before guests arrive, giving you the gift of time with family and friends! . Get the recipe.