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How to Cook a Roast Beef to a Perfect Medium-Rare Pink

by Jon Mohrman, studioD

For a full burst of juicy, flavorful goodness when you sink your teeth in, roast beef really needs to stop cooking at medium-rare. Don't rely on sight alone, though -- use an instant-read meat thermometer to guide your meat to perfect doneness. If you start with a naturally tender cut with nice fat marbling throughout -- preferably graded prime -- there's little work involved in roasting the beef. To prevent overcooking, remember that meat continues to cook while it rests.

Set the roast out at room temperature up to 2 hours ahead of time -- but no longer -- and season it well with sea salt or coarse kosher salt. A roast cooks less evenly and less efficiently if it goes into the oven cold. Salting this far in advance allows moisture to be drawn from the meat, seasoned and reabsorbed.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit half an hour ahead. You won't stay at this high a temperature, but starting at high heat helps brown and crisp the outside of the beef. Prep your roasting pan, too. Line the bottom with foil to keep juices from cooking on and oil or spray the rack to prevent sticking.

Season the roast with desired herbs and spices to taste. Use freshly cracked black pepper or whole peppercorns for a peppery preparation. Dried thyme or oregano adds a nice touch, or apply a light coating of chipotle or cayenne pepper for some kick.

Place the beef on the roasting pan and put it into the center of the oven. Turn the temperature down to 325 F after 15 minutes. Continue cooking until your instant-read meat thermometer shows the beef is 125 F in the middle of its thickest part. Cooking time differs by cut and size, whether it's a bone-in or boneless cut, the color and material of your roasting pan, oven performance and other considerations. In general, expect to roast for 10 to 20 minutes per pound.

Move the roast beef onto a serving tray to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Its temperature rises another 5 to 10 degrees, putting it at 130 to 135 F for a perfectly pink medium-rare. Juices also get reabsorbed into the muscle fibers during resting, sparing you the unfortunate loss of flavor and moisture that results when unrested beef is cut.

Items you will need
  •  Sea or coarse kosher salt
  •  Roasting pan
  •  Cooking oil or spray
  •  Herbs and spices
  •  Instant-read meat thermometer
  •  Serving tray


  • Store fresh beef below 40 F for up to three to five days, then use or freeze it. Airtight wrapping helps prevent freezer burn. Thaw a frozen roast for a day or two in the refrigerator, depending on its size.


  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking roast beef to a minimum internal temperature of 145 F.

About the Author

Jon Mohrman has been a writer and editor for more than seven years. He specializes in food, travel and health topics. He attended the University of Pittsburgh for English literature and San Francisco State University for creative writing.

Photo Credits

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