Roast beef is such a treat that it’s hard to imagine having leftovers.
But if there is, what do you do with them?
In this article, I show you the best way to reheat your roast beef, as well as giving you some tips on storing it.
In a rush? Here’s the short answer.
The best way to reheat roast beef is in the oven. Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C) and wrap the beef loosely in foil, adding a few tablespoons of leftover juice or stock before sealing. Heat the beef until it has an internal temperature of 120°F (65°C).
You can also reheat beef in the microwave or in a skillet with gravy.
A note on my experiment
After roasting a joint of beef for my Sunday dinner, I set about reheating it on Monday using seven different methods in an effort to find the best one.
I tested the following reheating methods:
- In the oven (beef came out succulent and moist)
- In the microwave (heated evenly with no browned edges)
- In a water bath (fiddly to set up but the meat was perfect)
- In gravy or stock (tender with a great flavor)
- In an air fryer (not recommended, the heat is a bit harsh)
- In a skillet (the beef heated unevenly)
- By steaming (juicy and tender)
My favorite methods for reheating roast beef were using an oven, heating the beef in gravy, or steaming.
The water bath worked really well but was a bit fiddly.
I’d avoid the air fryer and the skillet because the results were pretty uneven.
Reheating roast beef in the oven
To reheat your roast beef in the oven, let the meat reach room temperature while the oven preheats to 300°F (150°C). Wrap your leftover beef loosely in foil, with a few tablespoons of leftover juices. Place the beef in the oven and let it warm until the internal temperature reaches 120°F (65°C).
How to reheat roast beef in the oven
- Take your meat out of the fridge and let it reach room temperature.
- Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C).
- Wrap the whole or sliced beef loosely in foil and drizzle leftover juices or stock over the meat.
- Place the foil package directly on a wire rack in the oven.
- Heat the beef until it reaches an internal temperature just below 120°F (65°C). You can use a meat thermometer to measure this.
- The time it takes depends on the weight. But it can take oven an hour for a whole joint, so be patient.
- Let the beef rest for a few minutes before serving it.
By allowing the meat to reach room temperature first, you’re encouraging even heating. And using a low heat will help make sure you’re just warming the meat instead of re-cooking it.
Don’t skimp on the juices. If you don’t have any spare juices use water flavored with herbs or Worcestershire sauce instead.
If you’ve got a whole roast beef, remove the foil for the last 15 minutes so that it doesn’t come out too soggy. You could even sear it in a hot pan before serving to crisp the outside.
This method was good and consistent if a little slow. The meat stayed pink in the middle and was succulent and moist.
It’s also the only method that’s suitable for big chunks of meat rather than just slices.
Reheating roast beef in the microwave
To reheat roast beef in the microwave, carve it into slices and place a few onto a microwave-safe plate. Drizzle a generous amount of leftover juices or stock over the beef. Cover the meat with plastic wrap or a damp paper towel. Microwave it on 50% power in 30-second intervals until heated through.
How to reheat roast beef in the microwave
- Carve your leftover beef into slices.
- Place the beef onto a microwave-safe plate.
- Drizzle it with a few tablespoons of leftover juices or stock. You can also use water or even apple juice!
- Cover the beef with plastic wrap or a damp paper towel to trap the steam.
- Microwave the meat on 50% power in 30-second intervals until the meat warms through.
- Let the hot beef stand for 1 minute before removing the cover and serving it.
Using 50% power and short time intervals ensures you won’t overcook the meat.
And always stick to heating two or three slices of beef at any one time.
If you overcrowd the microwave, it will start heating unevenly and you’ll get some dried-out, tough spots, and some cold spots.
Try to keep the slices even in terms of thickness too.
The microwave didn’t perform badly.
You’ll often be warned off using the microwave for reheating meat, but I’ve found as long as you go slowly, it works well.
My meat stayed juicy and pink and there was only a small amount of ‘browning’ of the cut edges.
Reheating roast beef in gravy
Cut the beef into thin, ¼-inch slices and let it reach room temperature. Make some gravy or use leftover gravy/juices from the previous day. Heat the gravy in a pan until it’s simmering, then take it off the heat and add the slices of roast beef. Heat the beef for 2-3 minutes, then serve.
How to reheat roast beef in gravy
- Take the beef out of the fridge and cut it into slices about a ¼ of an inch thick.
- Let the beef slices reach room temperature.
- Make some gravy or use leftover gravy from the day before.
- Heat the gravy in a pan until it is just simmering.
- Take the gravy off the heat and add the beef slices.
- Let the meat heat for 2-3 minutes in the gravy and then serve.
It is best if you can use the juices from the beef, but any gravy will do.
You can also use stock if you’re struggling. Or even some water flavored with Worcestershire sauce.
The slices should be thin enough to heat through quickly, but if they need some extra help you can put the pan back on the heat for a few minutes.
This was probably my personal favorite method. The beef was super tasty because it was covered in yummy gravy.
And the meat was still tender, although it wasn’t piping hot. So if you’re worried about food safety I’d avoid this method.
Reheating roast beef by steaming
Slice your beef and allow the slices to come to room temperature. Meanwhile, bring a poaching liquid made of stock and herbs to a simmer in the steamer. Add the beef slices and steam them for 3-4 minutes. Use a pot and a sieve or colander if you don’t have a steamer.
How to reheat roast beef in a steamer
- Take the beef out of the fridge and cut it into slices. Allow these slices to reach room temperature.
- Bring the liquid in your steamer to a simmer (you can use water, poaching liquid, or stock).
- Steam the beef slices for 3-4 minutes.
Steam is very hot, so the beef slices don’t need long to warm up. And I found that using thinner slices is better.
If the slices are too thick, the outside will overcook while the inside stays lukewarm.
If you want to avoid too much browning of the meat, wrap it in foil (with a few holes poked in it for the steam).
This will protect the meat but also increase the heating time slightly.
I was happy with how the meat came out, it was juicy and succulent.
It did cook a bit on the outside, but not so much that I minded. One quite big downside is that you can only heat a few slices at a time.
Reheating roast beef in a skillet
To reheat roast beef in a skillet, first, slice your beef into thick (1-inch) slices. Heat a pan over medium heat with a thin layer of oil or fat. When the oil is just bubbling add the roast beef. Quickly sear each of the slices on both sides. Remove the slices before they have a chance to cook.
How to reheat roast beef in a skillet
- Slice your beef into thickly cut slices. Around 1-inch thickness is good.
- Cover a skillet in a thin layer of oil or fat and heat it over a medium heat.
- When the pan is hot (i.e the meat sizzles when it touches the pan), place your beef into the pan.
- Quickly sear each side (for up to 30 seconds) and then remove the beef.
Avoid using too much oil or fat as it will make the beef greasy, although you can always pat any excess grease off with a paper towel if needed.
The reason for cutting the beef relatively thickly is to try and ensure there is still some pink meat in the middle.
If you don’t care about this, then thinner slices are fine too.
This method wasn’t my favorite.
The outside browned significantly and was extremely hot. And while the inside stayed pink, it was only lukewarm.
I prefer the methods that heat more evenly.
Reheating roast beef in an air fryer
To reheat roast beef in the air fryer, set it to 300°F (150°C). Cut the beef into slices and wrap it in foil, adding some of the leftover juices to keep the meat moist. Heat the beef for 5-10 minutes until it’s piping hot.
How to reheat roast beef in an air fryer
- Carve the beef into slices and leave them for a few minutes to come to room temperature.
- Preheat the air fryer to 300°F (150°C).
- Wrap the slices of beef in some aluminum foil and add any leftover juices or sprinkle some water over the meat.
- Heat the beef for 5-10 minutes.
The method I’ve outlined here essentially treats the air fryer like a mini oven.
You could leave the foil off for this method and it would be quicker, but you would have to accept that the edges of the beef may overcook and become quite tough.
Air fryers aren’t the best option for reheating beef and I wasn’t that happy with the results.
The harsh heat is abrasive and it’s easy to overcook the meat. The one upside is speed.
Reheating roast beef in a water bath (sous-vide)
To reheat roast beef in a water bath, heat a pot of water to 135°F (50°C), measured with a thermometer. Slice the beef into thin pieces and pack it into a vacuum or Ziploc bag. Squeeze all the air out and seal the end. Place the bag in the water and wait 10-15 minutes for the beef to heat through.
How to reheat roast beef in a water bath (sous-vide)
- Package thinly sliced beef in a vacuum or Ziploc bag. Remove all the air and seal.
- Heat a pot of water to 135°F (50°C), using a thermometer to ensure the water temperature is just right.
- Put the beef into the water and leave it until it’s hot (about 10-15 minutes for a few thin slices).
- Monitor the water temperature while the beef is heating and ensure it stays around 135°F (50°C).
Thinner slices will heat through faster, but you can also use thick slices if you have a bit of patience.
135°F (50°C) is the temperature you want for medium-rare beef. The meat will never get hotter than the water, so this is the perfect method if you are desperate to avoid overcooking.
If you have a sous-vide machine, temperature monitoring becomes a lot easier.
If you don’t have a sous-vide machine or a thermometer, you could ‘wing it’ with the water temperature and just keep it relatively hot. But your results may vary!
The moisture loss for this method is close to zero, which is perfect.
The meat remained rare to medium-rare and didn’t cook at all. It was as good as new!
But this method is pretty fiddly, and it’s difficult to know when the beef is heated through. Although since it won’t overcook, there’s no harm in leaving it a bit too long.
How to store roast beef
Let the beef cool down to room temperature, but don’t let it sit out longer than two hours. You can slice larger joints in half to ensure that the meat cools down in time. Once cool, wrap the beef tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
I avoid cutting the beef into slices for storage because this increases the surface area exponentially and means it will dry out a lot quicker.
If you do have slices of beef to store, I recommend putting them in a container or Ziplock bag with some drippings. The drippings will help keep the beef moist and juicy.
Can you freeze roast beef?
Roast beef will freeze well and freezing it allows you to extend its life by up to 3 months. It’s best to freeze bigger chunks of meat so you can lock the juices in, but be aware these will take a long time to defrost so you’ll have to plan ahead when you want to eat it.
How to freeze roast beef
- Allow the roast beef to reach room temperature and then place it in the fridge for a few hours to cool down.
- If needed, divide the beef into portions but try to avoid cutting it into slices.
- Wrap the beef tightly in a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil.
- Label and date the packaging before placing it in the freezer.
- The roast beef will last for 2-3 months when frozen.
The beef will remain safe to eat after 3 months, but the quality will start to deteriorate.
The double layer of wrapping helps protect the beef from freezer burn.
Slices of beef are also more susceptible to freezer burn, and they will dry out quicker than bigger cuts of beef.
If you must freeze slices, place them in a freezer bag with some leftover juices. The juices will help to keep the meat moist.
How to thaw and reheat frozen roast beef
Always thaw your beef in the fridge before reheating it. If you reheat roast beef from frozen, it will heat very unevenly. Whole joints of beef can take up to a day to fully defrost. Once the beef has thawed, you can reheat it in the oven or slice it up and use the microwave.
If you have slices of beef, you can speed up the thawing process by holding the slices under cold running water or using the defrost setting on your microwave.
How To Reheat Roast Beef
- 1 portion roast beef
- 3 tbps juices or stock
- Take your roast beef out of the fridge and let it reach room temperature.
- Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C).Wrap the whole or sliced beef loosely in foil and drizzle leftover juices or stock over the meat.
- Place the foil package directly on a wire rack in the oven.
- Heat the beef until it reaches an internal temperature (use a temperature probe if you have one) just below 120°F (65°C). The time it takes depends on the weight. But it can take up to an hour for a whole joint, so be patient.
- Let the beef rest for a few minutes before serving it.