How to Tell When Beef Roast is Done by the Degrees

by Fred Decker ; Updated September 28, 2017

A thermometer tells precisely how done a roast is.

Jupiterimages/ Images

There are any number of methods for determining the doneness of a piece of meat. Some would have you press the meat with a finger or utensil, gauging how cooked it is by the firmness. Others work from rules of thumb about temperature and cooking time. Ultimately, though, no traditional technique works as well as a thermometer for determining the doneness of a roast.

Select a thermometer to use with your roast. Traditional meat thermometers are inserted into the roast and left there, making it necessary to open the oven and lose heat to check the temperature. Probe thermometers connect to a digital readout, so you don't need to open the oven. Instant-read thermometers can't stay in the roast, so the oven must also be opened to take a temperature with the instant-read variety.

Check the temperature near the end of the cooking time, using whichever type of thermometer you have. Judge your estimated cooking time by the recipe or on a basis of 20 minutes per pound of roast.

Remove the roast from the oven when it reads 5 to 10 degrees lower than the desired end temperature, since it will continue to cook after it comes out of the oven. Very large restaurant-style roasts can increase as much as 20 degrees after being removed from the oven.

Decide what level of doneness you desire. Beef roast is rare at 120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, medium-rare at 130 to 135, medium at 135 to 145 and well-done at 160 degrees Fahrenheit.


  • The longer beef is cooked, the less juicy it will be. Leaner cuts are best suited to rare or medium-rare preparation, while fattier cuts are best if you prefer your beef well-done.

    Restaurants and other food service establishments use the temperatures listed in the body of the article. The USDA's temperature charts lean more to doneness, describing 145 degrees Fahrenheit as medium-rare, 160 degrees Fahrenheit as medium and 170 degrees Fahrenheit as well done.


  • "On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen"; Harold S. McGee; 2004
  • "Professional Cooking"; Wayne Gisslen; 2003

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images

About the Author

Fred Decker is a trained chef and prolific freelance writer. In previous careers, he sold insurance and mutual funds, and was a longtime retailer. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.