How to Barbecue Roast Beef

Keep your cool in the kitchen by firing up the barbecue instead of the oven next time you want to make roast beef. Placing the roast over an indirect fire allows you to slowly cook it without burning the outside before the interior is done. Bon Appetit recommends using hardwood instead of charcoal briquettes for optimal flavor with just the right amount of smokiness.

Setting up the Grill

For juicy, tender results, grill the roast using the indirect grilling method. This technique mimics oven roasting by placing the food near -- but not directly over -- the lit coals. To set the grill up, barbecuing expert Steven Raichlen recommends:

Clean the grill to remove any food residue from the grates or ash from the bottom.

Add two sheets of wadded up or crumpled newspaper to the bottom of a chimney starter. Fill the top portion with charcoal, place it at the bottom of the barbecue and light the newspaper.

Let the fire spread to upward to the coals. Once all the coals are glowing, which typically takes 15 to 20 minutes, dump them on either side of the center of the grill.

Position a disposable aluminum drip pan in the center of the two piles of coals to catch drippings and reduce the likelihood of flares.

Place the cooking grates over the coals. Oil the grates lightly before placing the roast over the drip pan.

Preparing the Roast

Prepping a beef roast for cooking on the grill isn't much different than preparing it for oven-roasting. Trim any fat from the outside of the roast, if desired, before rubbing the exterior of the roast with a little olive oil. Keep the seasonings as simple as salt and freshly ground black pepper or use flavorful extras such as minced garlic or fresh herbs, such as rosemary or thyme. Let the seasoned roast rest at room temperature to infuse it with flavor while you fire up the barbecue.

Barbecuing Tips

Following a few simple tricks can make it easier to achieve a tasty, juicy barbecued beef roast.

  • Searing the roast before you start barbecuing it over the unlit portion of the grill helps give it a deep, complex flavor and an attractive, caramelized exterior. Place it directly over the hot coals for a few minutes on each side until it's golden. Then, move it to the unlit portion of the grill to slowly roast it with the lid down.
  • Measuring the temperature of the grill with a thermometer is great, but it's not the only way. If you don't have a thermometer, use the "one-one-second method" -- if you can hold your hand approximately 5 inches above the grate for three to four seconds, you can safely estimate that the grill is approximately 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you can hold it there longer, you need more heat.
  • Using the vents of the grill controls the heat. Closing the vents decreases the fire's oxygen supply, cooling the fire, while opening them gives you hotter temperatures. Aim to maintain temperatures ofapproximately 325 to 350 F.

Timing and Checking for Doneness

How long the roast takes to barbecue depends on the size of the beef roast and the cut of the meat. In general, a boneless or bone-in rib roast should take 1 1/2 to to 2 3/4 hours at 350 degrees F, depending on its size. Tougher cuts such as bottom round, eye round and rump roasts take 1 1/2 to 2 hours at 325 degrees F.

To check to see if the meat is done, insert an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the beef roast. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking beef roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F, with a minimum of three minutes of resting time before slicing. Depending on personal preferences, you may want to let the roast barbecue to an internal temperature of 140 F -- for medium-rare, or longer if you prefer the beef to be more well-done.