How to Make Roast Beef for Sandwiches

Start to Finish: 2 hours plus marination time.

Servings: 8

Difficulty: Beginner

Roast beef is a classic comfort dish. Oven roasting the beef for a long time at a low temperature produces a tender, juicy, highly flavorful dish. Top sirloin butt roast, a naturally lean, tender cut, is conventionally used for roast beef, as it gives meat a slight chew and a full, earthy flavor. This recipe is adapted from Saveur and the New York Times.


  • 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons and a 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3-pound top sirloin butt roast
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup broth


Marinate the Roast

Cut a shallow diamond pattern on the fatty side of the top loin roast. Make 1/2- to 1-inch crosshatches, not more than 1/8-inch deep in the fat.

In a small bowl, mash the garlic, dried thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper and 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil with the handle of a knife to make a medium-thick paste. Thin out the paste with 1/2 teaspoon of wine as needed so that the paste is easily spreadable.

Rub the paste directly into the crosshatches and all over the surface of the roast. Place the roast, fat-side up, in the baking pan and cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the roast for at least three hours, but preferably overnight.

Cooking the Roast

Bring the roast out of the fridge two hours before cooking it, to bring the roast to room temperature. Heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and place a rack in the center of the oven.

Brush the bottom of a roasting pan with the 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Add the red wine and broth to the baking pan, and place the pan on the center rack of the oven.

Roast the beef slowly for 75 to 90 minutes. Spoon juices from the pan over the roast every 15 minutes to keep the roast moist.

Remove the beef from the oven when the internal temperature reaches 130 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. The required temperature depends on how well done you would like the roast to be. Test the temperature after 75 minutes, and again every 10 minutes afterward.

Rest the roast beef, tented with foil, until it is completely cooled, around 30 minutes. Trim the cap of fat off the roast beef, then carve it into 1/8-inch-thick slices.

Change Things Up

Let the beef cool completely before refrigerating the roast beef. Roast beef is easier to slice when it is cold.

Marinate the roast beef for up to 24 hours to achieve a deeper, richer flavor.

Other lean cuts can also make for a good roast beef. Other cuts that could be used include top sirloin steak, tri-tip or even boneless prime rib roast. Avoid using well-marbled cuts of beef, as the slight chewiness from rare or medium-rare beef is best suited for a roast beef sandwich.

Serving Suggestions and Variations

Change the type of spices used to marinate the roast beef, depending on personal taste. Other seasoning combinations that can be used include:

  • Minced onion, garlic powder, chili flakes and dried oregano
  • Worcestershire sauce, paprika, sage and shallot
  • Whole grain mustard, brown sugar, garlic powder and cracked black pepper

Serve the roast beef, warm, room temperature or cold, on crusty French bread, such as a freshly baked baguette.

Roast beef sandwiches can be served plain, sprinkled with extra salt and pepper if desired. Other common condiments include Dijon mustard or horseradish.

Serve roast beef sandwiches with sliced tomato, crisp green lettuce and thinly sliced, aged cheddar cheese for a more substantial sandwich.

Hot roast beef sandwiches can be served with pan gravy, made using the drippings in the baking pan after cooking. Serve the gravy on the side, and dip the sandwich into the sauce.