How to Roast Meat


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If you crave the basic satisfaction of meat-and-potatoes home cooking, you're likely to be yearning for a juicy, fragrant, flavorful roast just out of the oven. There's nothing quite like it for making a meal feel like an occasion. That's probably the reason roasts are the focal point for holiday feasts and celebrations around the world and why we crave them.

To help you make the most of your roasts, we've compiled a basic roasting guide, plus more specific techniques for several of the most
popular types of roasts. Some of these roasts include prime rib, roast leg of lamb, and bone-in ham. We'll start with basic information on roasting.

Basic Roasting Method

This basic method for roasting is especially good for large cuts of meat, such as roasts and hams. Be sure that meat is at least 2 inches thick.
  1. When working with meat for roasting, be sure to place the meat, fat side up, on a rack in an open roaster. Do not add water. Insert a meat thermometer into thickest part of roast.

    Place meat, fat side up, on an open roaster.
    Place meat, fat side up,
    on an open roaster.

  2. Place the roaster in the oven and roast in the oven at 300°F to 350°F until the meat thermometer registers 10°F below the desired doneness.

  3. Allow the meat to stand for 15 minutes before carving. The roasting timetable on the final page of this article will help you determine approximate roasting times.

    Allow roasted meat to stand before carving.
    Allow meat to stand before carving.

Now let's get more specific, with tips on roasting prime rib in the next section.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • How to Carve Meat: Once you’ve prepared a succulent cut of meat, don’t ruin it by carving it poorly! Find helpful tips on carving all kinds of meat in this article.
  • Meat Recipes: Since meat is often the focal point of a meal, you want to make sure it tastes the very best it can. The meat recipes in our collection are sure to inspire greatness.
  • Grilling: Grilling isn't just for summertime barbecues anymore. Find out how to cook all your favorites on the grill, all year round.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Roast Prime Rib

The following tips on roasting prime rib are based on 6- to 7-pound, 3-rib standing beef roast, trimmed. Ask your meat retailer to remove the chine bone for easier carving. Fat should also be trimmed to 1/4-inch thickness.
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Rub seasonings over surfaces of roast.

  2. Place roast, bone side down (the bones serve in place of a meat rack), in shallow roasting pan. Insert meat thermometer in thickest part of roast, not touching bone or fat. Roast 15 minutes.

    Insert meat thermometer into prime rib.
    Insert meat thermometer into prime rib.

  3. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Roast 20 minutes per pound or until internal temperature is 120°F to 130°F for rare, 135°F to 145°F for medium.

  4. When roast has reached desired temperature, transfer to cutting board; tent with foil. Let stand in warm place 20 to 30 minutes to allow for easier carving. Temperature of roast will continue to rise about 10°F during stand time.

    Tent roast with foil when making prime rib.
    Tent roast with foil.

Leg of lamb is a true delicacy. Find out how to properly roast one on the next page.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • How to Carve Meat: Once you’ve prepared a succulent cut of meat, don’t ruin it by carving it poorly! Find helpful tips on carving all kinds of meat in this article.
  • Meat Recipes: Since meat is often the focal point of a meal, you want to make sure it tastes the very best it can. The meat recipes in our collection are sure to inspire greatness.
  • Grilling: Grilling isn't just for summertime barbecues anymore. Find out how to cook all your favorites on the grill, all year round.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Roast Leg of Lamb

The following tips for roasting leg of lamb are based on a 4-pound leg of lamb, well-trimmed, boned, rolled, and tied. For a bone-in leg of lamb, add 5 minutes per pound to roasting time.

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine ingredients for seasoning rub, as desired. Rub mixture over surface of lamb. At this point lamb may be covered and refrigerated up to 24 hours before roasting.

    Rub seasonings over surface of roasted leg of lamb.
    Rub seasonings over surface of lamb.

  2. Place roast on meat rack in shallow, foil-lined roasting pan. Insert meat thermometer in thickest part of roast.

    Insert meat thermometer into roast.
    Insert meat thermometer into roast.

  3. Roast 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Roast 20 minutes per pound until roast registers 150°F for medium.

  4. Transfer roast to cutting board; tent with foil. Let stand 10 minutes before carving. Temperature of roast will continue to rise 5°F to 10°F during stand time.

  5. Cut strings with scissors; discard. Carve roast into thin slices with carving knife.

Another way to enjoy this meat is by roasting a rack of lamb. Learn how in the next section.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • How to Carve Meat: Once you’ve prepared a succulent cut of meat, don’t ruin it by carving it poorly! Find helpful tips on carving all kinds of meat in this article.
  • Meat Recipes: Since meat is often the focal point of a meal, you want to make sure it tastes the very best it can. The meat recipes in our collection are sure to inspire greatness.
  • Grilling: Grilling isn't just for summertime barbecues anymore. Find out how to cook all your favorites on the grill, all year round.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Roast Rack of Lamb

The following tips for roasting rack of lamb are based on two 6-rib racks of lamb loin chops, 21/2 to 3 pounds.

  1. Trim fat from racks of lamb with chef's knife on cutting board.

    Trim fat from racks of lamb.
    Trim fat from racks of lamb.

  2. Spread mustard evenly over meaty side of lamb with thin spatula. Pat a mixture of breadcrumbs and herbs evenly over mustard.

    Pat breadcrumb mixture over mustard when roasting racks of lamb.
    Pat breadcrumb mixture over mustard.

  3. Place lamb racks, crumb sides up, on rack in shallow roasting pan. Roast in oven about 30 minutes or until instant-read thermometer inserted into lamb, but not touching bone, registers 135°F for rare, or to desired doneness.

  4. Place lamb on carving board. Slice between ribs into individual chops with large carving knife.

    Slice between ribs when making rack of lamb.
    Slice between ribs.

Find tips for roasting a bone-in ham on the next page.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • How to Carve Meat: Once you’ve prepared a succulent cut of meat, don’t ruin it by carving it poorly! Find helpful tips on carving all kinds of meat in this article.
  • Meat Recipes: Since meat is often the focal point of a meal, you want to make sure it tastes the very best it can. The meat recipes in our collection are sure to inspire greatness.
  • Grilling: Grilling isn't just for summertime barbecues anymore. Find out how to cook all your favorites on the grill, all year round.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

How to Roast Bone-In Ham

The following tips for roasting a bone-in ham are based on a 10-pound fully-cooked smoked ham.

  1. Slice away skin from ham with sharp utility knife. (Omit step if meat retailer has already removed skin.)

    Slice away skin when roasting bone-in ham.
    Slice away skin.

  2. Preheat oven to 325°F. Score fat on ham in diamond design with sharp utility knife; stud with whole cloves.

    Score fat on ham in diamond design.
    Score fat on ham in diamond design.

  3. Place ham, fat side up, on rack in shallow roasting pan.

  4. Bake, uncovered, 11/2 hours, basting with sauce or glaze, as desired. Insert meat thermometer into thickest part of ham, not touching bone. Bake 1 to 2 hours more until meat thermometer registers 140°F, basting with sauce two more times. Total cooking time for ham should be 18 to 24 minutes per pound.

    Bake uncovered. Baste ham with sauce.
    Bake uncovered. Baste ham with sauce.

  5. Let ham stand 10 minutes before transferring to warm serving platter.

Another useful tool when roasting meat is to know what the recommended temperatures for doneness are. The chart on the next page should help.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • How to Carve Meat: Once you’ve prepared a succulent cut of meat, don’t ruin it by carving it poorly! Find helpful tips on carving all kinds of meat in this article.
  • Meat Recipes: Since meat is often the focal point of a meal, you want to make sure it tastes the very best it can. The meat recipes in our collection are sure to inspire greatness.
  • Grilling: Grilling isn't just for summertime barbecues anymore. Find out how to cook all your favorites on the grill, all year round.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

Roasting Times

The best way to determine if meat is cooked properly is to use a thermometer. There are two types of thermometers that can be used for meat: meat thermometers and instant-read thermometers.

Meat thermometers are inserted into the meat before cooking and left in during cooking. Instant-read thermometers are inserted into the meat for about 10 seconds and then removed. Instant-read thermometers are not heat-proof, so they cannot be left in the meat while cooking. Test with an instant-read thermometer at the recommended minimum cooking time.

USDA Recommended Temperatures for Meat Doneness

Type of Meat
Recommended Temperature
Beef (all cuts but ground)
140°F (rare)

150°F (medium-rare)

160°F (medium)

170°F (well-done)

180°F (very well-done)
Ground Beef
160°F to 170°F
Pork/Veal
160°F (medium)

170°F (well-done)
Ham
140°F (fully-cooked)

170°F (uncooked)
Lamb 140°F (rare)

160°F (medium)

170°F (well-done)


When using a thermometer, insert it into the thickest part of the meat, not touching bone or fat. For larger cuts of meat, such as roasts
, it is recommended that the meat be cooked until the thermometer registers 5°F to 10°F below desired doneness. Allow roasts to stand about 15 minutes before carving. During the standing time, roasts will continue to rise 5°F to 10°F. Begin carving when the thermometer registers the desired temperature.

Find a helpful roasting time chart with weights and suggested cooking times and temperature in the final section.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • How to Carve Meat: Once you’ve prepared a succulent cut of meat, don’t ruin it by carving it poorly! Find helpful tips on carving all kinds of meat in this article.
  • Meat Recipes: Since meat is often the focal point of a meal, you want to make sure it tastes the very best it can. The meat recipes in our collection are sure to inspire greatness.
  • Grilling: Grilling isn't just for summertime barbecues anymore. Find out how to cook all your favorites on the grill, all year round.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.

Roasting Time Chart

While a thermometer is the best way to check for meat doneness, you can get an estimate of how long it will take to roast various cuts of meat with the handy chart below.

Cut of Meat
Weight (pounds)
Oven Temperature
Cooking Time (minutes/pounds)
Beef Rib Roast
4 to 6
325°F
26 to 30 (rare)
34 to 38 (medium)

6 to 8
325°F 23 to 25 (rare)
27 to 30 (medium)

8 to 10 325°F
19 to 21 (rare)
23 to 25 (medium)
Beef Tenderloin, whole 4 to 6
425°F
45 to 60 minutes total
Beef Top
Round Roast
21/2 to 4 325°F
25 to 30 (rare)
30 to 35 (medium)

4 to 6
325°F
20 to 25 (rare)
25 to 30 (medium)
Veal Loin Roast, boneless
2 to 3
300°F to 325°F
18 to 20 (medium)
22 to 24 (well)
Veal Rump Roast, boneless 2 to 3 300°F to 325°F 33 to 35 (medium)
37 to 40 (well)
Veal Shoulder Roast, boneless 21/2 to 3
300°F to 325°F
31 to 34 (medium)
34 to 37 (well)
Lamb Leg, bone-in 7 to 9
325°F
15 to 20 (rare)
20 to 25 (medium)
25 to 30 (well)
Lamb Rib Roast 2 to 3
375°F
25 to 30 (rare)
30 to 35 (medium)
35 to 40 (well)
Pork Tenderloin 1/2 to 1 425°F 27 to 29
Pork Loin Top Loin Roast (double, boneless)
3 to 4
325°F
29 to 34
Pork Loin Top Loin Roast (boneless)
2 to 4
325°F 23 to 33
Pork Crown Roast
6 to 10
325°F 20 to 25
Pork Leg or Fresh Ham (whole, bone-in)
12
325°F 23 to 25
Fully-Cooked Boneless Ham (with 1/2 cup water, covered)
11/2 to 2
325°F 29 to 33

3 to 4
325°F 19 to 23

6 to 8
325°F 16 to 20

9 to 11
325°F 12 to 16


Roasting meat will be a pleasure with the handy tips outlined in this article.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • How to Carve Meat: Once you’ve prepared a succulent cut of meat, don’t ruin it by carving it poorly! Find helpful tips on carving all kinds of meat in this article.
  • Meat Recipes: Since meat is often the focal point of a meal, you want to make sure it tastes the very best it can. The meat recipes in our collection are sure to inspire greatness.
  • Grilling: Grilling isn't just for summertime barbecues anymore. Find out how to cook all your favorites on the grill, all year round.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.