How to Roast Meat

Roast meat

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Roasting is one of the easiest ways there is to cook a large cut of meat, whether it's beef, pork or lamb.

Roasting at low temperatures (between 275 F and 325 F) provides the most flavorful, juicy and tender results. Lower temperatures also minimize shrinkage and help the meat cook evenly. Generally, the larger the cut of meat, the lower the roasting temperature should be.

The only problem is that these lower temperatures don't produce a brown, flavorful crust on the exterior of the meat. Therefore, we'll typically begin roasting at a high temperature to get the meat nice and brown and then lower the temperature for the duration of cooking.

How It's Done

The steps below apply to any large cuts of meat that would typically be roasted, both boneless and bone-in, including:

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: About 2 to 4 hours

Here's How

  1. Season the meat ahead of time (like the night before you plan to roast) so that the flavorings have enough time to penetrate the meat. Seasonings can include Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, as well as various spice rubs, fresh or dried herbs, garlic and so forth. Take it out of the fridge about half an hour before you plan to roast it.
  2. Preheat the oven to a high temperature—usually around 450 F, but for slow roasted pork shoulder, we start at 500 F.
  3. Set the seasoned roast on a rack, fat side up, in a roasting pan. The pan's sides should be relatively low so that the hot air can circulate around the roast. Using a rack (rather than placing the roast directly on the bottom of the pan) also promotes even airflow. Don't cover the pan.
  4. If you are using a meat thermometer (analog or digital), insert the probe into the center of the roast, being careful not to hit bone.
  5. Place the meat in the oven and cook for 20 to 30 minutes at the high temperature. Then lower the temperature to between 275 F and 325 F and roast until done (see doneness guidelines below).
  6. Remove the roast from the oven and let it rest, covered in foil, for 15 to 20 minutes before carving. Resting the meat before slicing it results in a much juicier roast. That's because cooking tends to drive all the meat's natural juices into the center of the roast. Resting it before slicing gives the protein molecules a chance to reabsorb some of that moisture, so those juices don't all spill out onto your cutting board.
  7. While you're waiting for the roast to rest, you can prepare a sauce. Here's a list of sauces for beef and pork. Alternately, you can make a simple velouté sauce by whisking the pan drippings and some additional stock into a butter-flour roux.


  • A meat thermometer (the kind you leave in the roast while cooking) is better than an instant-read thermometer when you're roasting a big piece of meat because the instant-read type requires you to poke a new hole every time you measure the roast's temperature. An electronic meat thermometer can be programmed to beep when the meat hits the target temperature.
  • Beef and lamb are medium rare when the internal temperature of the roast has reached 135 F; medium is 140 to 145 F. Pork should be cooked to 145 F. Veal is usually served medium (145 to 150 F) or medium-well (155 F).
  • Remember that the temperature of an average roast can rise another 10 degrees after you take it out of the oven. Therefore, you're going to want to take the roast out of the oven when the thermometer shows a reading about 10 degrees lower than you want it.
  • Don't baste! Every time you baste, you have to open the oven door, and that lowers the oven temperature. Roasting the meat fat side up allows the fat to drip down over the roast as it melts, thereby keeping the exterior nice and moist.