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Beef Roasts: Holiday Roasting Tips


Get the Most
From Your Holiday Roast

Which roast?
Premium roasts such as ribeye, rib and tenderloin are very popular at holiday time. However, more economical roast choices – round tip, top sirloin and eye round – are also delicious holiday options.

Order in advance.
During this busy season, it’s a good idea to order the type and size roast you need in advance from the supermarket or butcher shop.

How much to buy?
The amount of beef you need to buy varies with the cut selected. Cooked yields per pound are related to the amount of bone, fat trim and cooking method.

Guidelines to determine what size roast to purchase.

  • Boneless roasts, such as tenderloin, round tip, eye round, top sirloin and tri-tip will yield 4 three-ounce servings of cooked, trimmed beef per pound. (For example, a 3-pound roast will yield 12 three-ounce cooked servings.)
  • Ribeye roasts, which have more trimmable fat, will yield 3 three-ounce servings of cooked, trimmed beef per pound. (For example, a 3-pound roast will yield 9 three-ounce cooked servings.)
  • Bone-in rib roasts will yield 2-1/2 three-ounce servings of cooked, trimmed beef per pound. (For example, a 3-pound roast will yield 7-1/2 three-ounce cooked servings.

Shop smart.

  • Choose meat last when shopping to ensure that beef stays as cold as possible.
  • Choose beef with a bright cherry-red color, without any grayish or brown blotches. A darker purplish-red color is typical of vacuum-packaged beef. Once exposed to oxygen, beef will turn from a darker red to bright red.
  • Choose packages that are cold, tightly wrapped and without tears or punctures or excessive liquid.
  • Purchase before the “sell by” date printed on the package label.

Store properly.

  • Refrigerate or freeze beef roasts as soon as possible after purchasing. Roasts wrapped in transparent film can be refrigerated 3 to 4 days (or frozen up to 2 weeks) without rewrapping.
  • For longer freezer storage, repackage in heavy-duty aluminum foil, freezer paper or plastic freezer bags, removing as much air as possible.
  • Refrigerate in meat compartment or coldest part of refrigerator, or freeze at 0°F or colder.

Cook properly.

  • Season the roast prior to cooking or after, depending on personal preference. (Always add salt after cooking.)
  • Make sure to use a meat thermometer to check doneness.
  • To prevent overcooking, remove roast from oven when thermometer registers 10°F below desired doneness and let it stand, tented with aluminum foil. During the 15 to 20 minute standing, the temperature will rise to the desired doneness.


  • For example:
         • For medium rare doneness (145°F), remove roast from oven when thermometer registers 135°F.
         • For medium doneness (160°F), remove roast from oven when thermometer registers 150°F.
  • Important: Do not cover or add water during roasting.

Stand time!

After removing roast from the oven, the temperature will rise to reach the desired temperature and juices redistribute, making carving easier.

Carve correctly.

A sharp carving knife is a must. For uniform slices, hold the knife at the same angle for each cut. The more tender the roast, the thicker the slices can be. Rib, ribeye and tenderloin roasts can be sliced 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Round tip, top sirloin, eye round and tri-tip should be 1/4 inch thick or less.

Always practice food safety.

Defrost frozen roasts in the refrigerator to prevent bacterial growth. Allow 4 to 7 hours per pound to defrost a large roast; 3 to 5 hours per pound for a small roast. Do not defrost at room temperature.

    To avoid cross-contamination:
    • Wash hands well in hot soapy water before and after handling raw beef. Also wash utensils, counters, cutting boards and other surfaces raw meat has touched.
    • Keep raw meat and meat juices separate from ready-to-eat foods, both in the refrigerator and during preparation.
    • Don’t place cooked foods on the same board, tray or platter that held raw meat. For example, do not carve a cooked roast on the same board used in preparing the raw roast.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association - 

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