How to make the perfect Sunday roast

The Sunday roast is a British classic that has gathered families around the dinner table for centuries. Recipes and techniques have been passed down through the generations and each family has its own little twist on how the meal should be served. It is not the kind of dish where you need expert culinary skills. However, it is a meal that can easily go wrong if you are not exactly sure of what you are doing. Also, if you forget to include one of its traditional ingredients you could end up disappointing someone around the dinner table. This slideshow will help you select the right ingredients and provide you with some simple procedures towards making the perfect roast.


If you are looking to cook the ultra-traditional Sunday roast, then your choice of meat has to be beef. This meat is so synonymous with the dish in Britain that the French use the term “les rosbifs” to refer to English people. It is important that you source high-quality beef from a butcher, farmers’ market or supermarket. One of the most succulent and flavoursome cuts of beef is rib of beef, served on the bone. This is quite an expensive cut, so you may want to look at buying cheaper cuts such as topside. However, you must remember that what you save in pounds, you sacrifice in taste.

Other meats

Chicken, pork and lamb are probably the most common alternatives to beef when it comes to the Sunday roast. Chicken is a white meat and therefore considered a healthier option to red meats such as beef and lamb. Lamb is one of the most succulent and tender meats on the market and the best cuts for roasting include leg, loin and rack of lamb. When choosing your cut of pork you will need to decide if you want to have crackling, which is the crispy, fatty skin of pork. If you do, then you need to choose cuts with good portions of fat and rind. As with beef, these meats should be bought from a trusted source and the tastier cuts will probably be the more expensive ones.

Seasoning with salt

You should season your meat with salt to bring out its natural flavours. This can be done by rubbing salt onto the meat just before placing it on a roasting tin and into the oven. Certain cuts of beef and lamb can be sealed in a frying pan before the salt is applied. Pepper and certain herbs can also be used according to your tastes and the meat you are cooking with.

Cooking the meat

Beef, lamb and pork (Medium to large cuts) - Preheat oven to 220C (Gas Mark 7). - Cook for 30 minutes at this temperature. - Reduce heat to 160C (Gas Mark 3). For Beef and Lamb, continue roasting for: Rare – cook 20 minutes per Kg. Medium – cook 30 minutes per Kg. Well done – cook 40 minutes per Kg. For pork, cook for 50 minutes per kg.

Chicken - Preheat oven to 210C (Gas Mark 6) - Cook for 20 minutes at this temperature. - Reduce heat to 180C (Gas Mark 4). Roast for 40 minutes more for small chickens and 70 minutes extra for large chickens.

Yorkshire puddings

For many, no Sunday roast would be complete without Yorkshire puddings. They have been an essential part of the dish for centuries and are prepared as the meat is being cooked. Yorkshires, as they are also commonly called, are made by creating a batter mix from milk, flour and eggs. You also add salt, pepper and drippings from the cooking meat, before pouring the mix into preheated baking tins. You then pop them in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes and take them out once they are nice and fluffy.


To make the perfect Sunday roast, you need to forget about those packets of gravy granules stored in your cupboards and get back to basics. Gravy is essentially a sauce made from the juices of the meat. Once you have removed the meat from its roasting tin, drain the juices into a pan. Place the roasting tin on a low to medium heat and mix the caramelised brown bits together with salt, cornflour and red wine. Pour this liquid into the pan of juices and heat for 10 minutes.

Roast potatoes

Fluffy on the inside, with a crispy outer coating, the perfect roast potato should melt in the mouth after that first crunch. Once you have peeled and cut your potatoes into chunks, you should parboil them in salted water for six to eight minutes. Drain before transferring to a preheated roasting tin that has been greased with olive oil. Cook for about one hour, occasionally turning them.


Traditionally, the Sunday roast is accompanied by steamed or boiled vegetables, typically carrots, peas and the dreaded Brussels sprout. However, over the years, people have begun to experiment with different flavours. One option is to roast vegetables such as carrots, onions and parsnips in the oven, as this gives them a sweeter flavour. They will need to be roasted for between 45 to 55 minutes and you should stir and turn them three or four times during that period. However, you should be aware that steaming remains the healthiest option when it comes to cooking vegetables, as this method retains the most nutrients.

Vegetarian options

Vegetarians are not excluded from enjoying a good Sunday roast. There are a number of replacements for the meat dish, with the all time classic being the nut roast. Other alternatives include vegetable pies and tarts and there are recipes using imitation meat and tofu. There are also a whole host of recipes available to make vegetarian gravy.

Related: 8 Meals where you won't miss the meat


Selecting the right wine to go with your roast should not be an afterthought. If you match the wrong wine with your meat then you could end up spoiling the subtle tastes of both. Beef normally goes well with full-bodied red wines, while lamb suits a red with a fruitier edge. Chicken and pork can be accompanied by either red or white wines, although it is advisable to select a lighter style red.

Carving and serving the meat

Once removed from the oven, you should allow the meat to rest for between 20 to 30 minutes. Carving the meat in front of your diners is a good way to add a bit of showmanship to the meal and it helps make the occasion feel a bit more special. You will need a carving fork to keep the meat steady and a sharp knife.

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About the Author

Paul Costello has worked for BBC Online and a number of regional newspapers in the United Kingdom. Since moving to Buenos Aires, he has worked as a sports journalist, travel writer and translator.