Roast beef: how to cook beef so it's perfectly pink in the middle

Want your roast beef centrepiece to look the part as well as taste it? Here’s a hack that’ll ensure your joint is cooked through but pink in the middle

roast beef
(Image credit: Getty)

Succulent roast beef with a fabulously caramelised brown outside and a pink inside is a treat for the eye as well as the palate. The key to getting it that way? It's easier than it seems – even a beginner cook can tackle this Sunday classic. Here's how we like to cook roast beef.

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How to roast beef

1. First, the maths part. Weigh the joint and then do your sums. If the meat is to be medium rare or medium so it stays pink in the middle, you need to cook it for 20 minutes per 500g for medium rare, or 25 minutes per 500g for medium.

2. Use an oven temperature of 240°C for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180°C for the rest of the cooking time you worked out.

3. To ensure it’s done but still retains its pink colour inside, you can pierce the joint with a skewer and check out the juices. A pinky red colour equals medium rare, and pink means medium.

4. Even better than this for pink perfection but cooking through, though, is using a meat thermometer. Push it into the centre of the meat and read after 20 seconds. It should read 50°C for rare, and 60°C for medium. Beware of the thermometer meeting a bone, though, if your joint has one, as this isn’t the temperature you should be checking and it will be higher than that of the meat and lead you astray.

How to prevent roast beef from drying out

There's one very clever trick with roast beef that will ensure that your meat comes out succulent and tender, not dry: it's all about the temperature. The lower the temperature you cool your roast beef at, the less chance it will dry out. Make sure than the high-temperature searing stage is no longer the 15-20 minutes, and turn the heat right down to 180°C for the rest of the cooking time. Even 200°C will dry out the meat.

The other crucial element to moist roast beef is resting the meat properly. Ideally, you need to roast your beef joint for a full 10-15 minutes before carving, longer if you can. Don't worry about the meat being cold – just make sure you rest it away from open windows.  

Sarah Warwick
Freelance Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart, decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper. For, Sarah reviews coffee machines and vacuum cleaners, taking them through their paces at home to give us an honest, real life review and comparison of every model.