There’s really nothing like a perfectly cooked roast. It’s savory, juicy delectableness makes your whole home smell amazing — and, real talk, it just looks gorgeous sitting on a holiday table.
Masterfully preparing a roast can be tricky, but we’ve taken the guesswork out of the process by whipping together some tips that walk you through it step-by-step.
1. Choose your meat
Bone-in prime rib cuts include the first rib roast (tender, most rib-eye), center-rib roast (less rib-eye, still quite tender), and the sixth and seventh rib roast (fattier, tougher, but some say more flavorful). Boneless prime rib roasts are sometimes called Delmonico or rib-eye roasts.
Strip loin, tenderloin and top sirloin roasts are tender, but lean. Sirloin tip and tri-tip roasts are a little tougher to begin with, but they have more fat, which breaks down during cooking for flavorful, juicy meat.
Some round roasts are quite tough and best used for stews or in wet cooking methods (like pot roast). Others, like eye of round, top round, inside round, outside round and rump roasts are OK for making roast beef — they won’t get as tender, but they’ll have good flavor and tend to be less expensive than rib or loin roasts.
2. Salt it ahead of time
Salting the meat a day ahead of time will season the meat more deeply, and the salt, along with a rest in the fridge overnight, uncovered, will keep the surface of the roast dry. This will help you get the most browning when it’s in the oven.
3. Bring it to room temperature
Let the roast come to room temperature before you cook it. Letting it rest on the counter for about an hour before it goes in the oven will help it cook evenly.
4. Use a rack
Cook your roast on a rack in a roasting pan. The even flow of air around the meat will help it cook and brown evenly. You can even roast the meat directly on the oven rack, with an aluminim tray below to catch any drippings.
Up next: Cook it low and slow
Originally published April 2016. Updated December 2016.