Air fryer roast beef is simple to cook, but also tender and flavorsome. This recipe uses rosemary, thyme, salt and a little olive oil, for a perfect classic roast beef.
How to Roast Beef in an Air Fryer
You might think of roast beef as a fancy complicated dish to cook, but it’s actually very simple! Especially air fryer roast beef.
Air frying is a quick roasting method, so it’s easy in about half the time it would normally take. This stops the meat from drying out, and because the meat sits in a basket rather than in a pan of oil it absorbs less oil, but still retains the moisture making it tender and juicy.
What cut is best for air fryer roast beef?
Because air frying is a quick roasting method, you are going to want to be picky about the cut you get. Tougher cuts need a long roasting time to get really tender, so when air frying it is best to choose a more tender cut.
I have had good results air frying the following cuts of beef roast:
- Rolled Rib Roast
- Rib-Eye Roast
- Sirloin roast
- Tri tip roast
- Tenderloin (halve cooking times due to the shape of this cut)
Rump roasts and chuck roasts are generally best suited to slow roasting or pot roasts as they can be tough and need the longer cooking times to get really tender. They can still be air fried, but will need to be sliced thinly against the grain for best results.
How to prepare and season beef roast?
Dry the beef well before seasoning it. The meat will only start browning after all the moisture has evaporated from the outer surface, so it is really important to get it as dry as possible before so that this process can begin as soon as possible.
The recipe below calls for rosemary and thyme, but you can go ahead and switch in any other herbs you like (try oregano, sage, parsley). Fresh or dried will work. Salt is also important for bringing out the flavor of the beef, use approximately a half teaspoon per pound of beef.
I like to mix all the herbs and salt together with the oil on a plate and roll the beef in it. I find this helps to get it evenly covered with the seasoning.
How hot to air fry roast beef?
The aim when roasting meat is to get a tasty crust to develop on the outside while the inside is just cooked through. You could sear the outside of the beef prior to air frying, but that adds extra time.
Instead I start the cooking process at a higher temperature, to help the crust start to develop, and then lower the temperature for the beef to cook through.
It is important to preheat the air fryer so that the cooking process starts immediately once you have put the beef roast in.
You will need to preheat the air fryer to 390°F (200°C), and then cook for the first 10-15 minutes at this high temperature. Then lower the temperature to 360°F (180°C) to finish cooking.
How long to air fry roast beef
As for how long to roast it, I follow the general rule for beef roast cooking times of 20 minutes per lb of beef for rare, then add five minutes for each degree of doneness that you like:
|How well done?||Rule||Time for a 2lb roast||Internal Temp.|
|Rare||20 min per lb / 450g||40 minutes||125°F/ 52°C|
|Medium rare||20 min per lb / 450g + 5 min||45 minutes||135°F/ 57°C|
|Medium||20 min per lb / 450g + 10 min||50 minutes||145°F/ 63°C|
|Medium well-done||20 min per lb / 450g + 15 min||55 minutes||150°F/ 66°C|
|Well done||20 min per lb / 450g + 20 min||1 hr||160°F/ 71°C|
Note: if you are cooking a tenderloin or other long or flat shaped cut, expect to halve the cooking time – around 22 minutes for medium-rare for a 2lb roast.
These days, I always use a meat thermometer. There is just nothing more disappointing than overcooking a beautiful cut of meat (and I know from experience). If you don’t have one, please consider getting one. Think of it as an investment, you will never again ruin an expensive cut of meat by overcooking!
I recently discovered the Meater [affiliate link] – this is a truly wireless meat thermometer. It is like a skewer that you stick in the meat and then uses Bluetooth to tell your phone when the meat is ready (you have to keep your phone nearby). I use it way more than I expected, and it is just perfect to use with an air fryer as there are no wires.
I like a medium-rare roast, with a little pink in the center. For a medium-rare beef roast, you are aiming for an internal temperature of about 130°F. Remember that the temperature of the meat will continue to rise a little while it rests.
Serving roast beef
When the beef has finished roasting you will need to let it rest for at least 10-15 minutes. Just transfer it to a cutting board and cover loosely with tinfoil. This allows the juices to reabsorb into the meat and keeps it succulent.
When you are ready to carve, make sure you use a very sharp chef’s knife or carving knife and cut thin slices against the grain.
I love to serve a classic roast with roasted potatoes, and fresh steamed vegetables. If you want to also cook side dishes in the air fryer, you can pre-cook them for part of the cooking time before the beef, then put them back in the air fryer to finish cooking for 10 minutes while the beef is resting.
- 2 lb beef roast
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion (optional)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp rosemary and thyme (fresh or dried)
- Preheat air fryer to 390°F (200°C).
- Mix sea salt, rosemary and oil on a plate.
- Pat the beef roast dry with paper towels. Place beef roast on plate and turn so that the oil-herb mix coats the outside of the beef.
- Place beef roast into the air fryer basket.
- If using, peel onion and cut it in half. Place onion halves in next to the beef in the air fryer basket.
- Set to cook in air fryer for 15 minutes.
- When the time is up, change the temperature to 360°F (180°C). Some air fryers require you to turn food during cooking, so check your manual and turn the beef roast over if required (my Philips Viva airfryer doesn't need food to be turned).
- Set the beef to cook for an additional 30 minutes. This should give you medium-rare beef. Though is best to monitor the temperature with a meat thermometer to ensure that it is cooked to your liking. Cook for additional 5 minute intervals if you prefer it more well done.
- Remove roast beef from air fryer, cover with kitchen foil and leave to rest for at least ten minutes before serving. This allows the meat to finish cooking and the juices to reabsorb into the meat.
- Carve the roast beef thinly against the grain and serve with roasted or steamed vegetables, wholegrain mustard, and gravy.
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