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 perfect classic roast beef.
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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 ready in about half the time it would normally take in a regular oven.
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.
This air fryer roast is one of my favorites to serve, especially for a Sunday roast or a holiday dinner. If you like this recipe you should also try my recipe to roast lamb in an air fryer, and also my recipe for pork roast in an air fryer (especially if is has crackling as the hot air gets it super crispy!).
Scroll down for the recipe card for this air fryer beef roast recipe, or read on for all the details!
What cut of beef to use
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
- Prime rib roast
- Sirloin roast
- Eye of round roast
- Tri tip roast
Beef tenderloin is also great to air fry. The cooking times need to be halved due to the shape of this cut. For more details see my recipe: Air fryer beef tenderloin.
Rump roast and chuck roast are generally best suited to slow roasting as they can be tough and need the longer cooking times to get really tender.
Rump and chuck can still be air fried but will need to be sliced thinly against the grain for best results.
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 herbs will work. If you are using fresh rosemary, pick the leaves off and chop them up quite finely before using.
It is also important to season the beef with salt to bring out the flavor of the meat. I prefer flaked salt or kosher salt. Use approximately a half teaspoon per pound of beef.
I normally use light olive oil when cooking a roast in my air fryer, but you can use any cooking oil that you would usually use for a roast.
Choose one with a high smoke point to prevent your air fryer from smoking during cooking. Vegetable oil or avocado oil are both good options.
Prepare and season beef roast
Pat the beef roast dry with paper towels before seasoning it. It will only start browning after all the moisture has evaporated from the outer surface.
This is why it is really important to get the beef as dry as possible before starting cooking, so that this process can begin as soon as possible. It really helps that tasty crust to develop.
To season the roast, 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 in a skillet prior to air frying, but that adds extra time (and a pan to clean).
Instead, I start the cooking process at a higher temperature in the air fryer, 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 food in the air fryer.
You will need to preheat the air fryer to 400°F/ 200°C, and then cook for the first 5 minutes at this high temperature. Then lower the temperature to 360°F/ 180°C to finish cooking.
How long to air fry beef roast
As for how long to roast it, my rule of thumb for beef roast cooking times is 15 minutes per lb of beef for rare, then add five minutes for each degree of doneness that you like:
|How well done?||Rule||Time* (2lb roast)||Internal Temp.|
|Rare||15 min per lb / 450g||30 minutes||125°F/ 52°C|
|Medium rare||15 min per lb / 450g + 5 min||35 minutes||135°F/ 57°C|
|Medium||15 min per lb / 450g + 10 min||40 minutes||145°F/ 63°C|
|Medium well-done||15 min per lb / 450g + 15 min||45 minutes||150°F/ 66°C|
|Well done||15 min per lb / 450g + 20 min||50 minutes||160°F/ 71°C|
|*Including 5 minute sear|
Note: if you are cooking a tenderloin or other long or flat shaped cut, expect to halve the cooking time–around 20 minutes total for medium-rare for a 2lb roast.
The cook times in the recipe below are usually exactly right for my Philips Airfryer. If you have another powerful brand of air fryer like the Nuwave or a Ninja Foodi then expect cook times to be similar.
However, the best way to tell whether your beef roast is cooked is to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. For roast beef, it should be 145°F/ 63°C for medium.
Use an instant read thermometer to measure the temperature in the center of the thickest part of the meat for an accurate temperature reading.
The best meat thermometer I have found to use with an air fryer is the Meater*. It is a wireless meat thermometer, that allows you to monitor the internal temperature of the meat on your phone. It also calculates the cooking time based on how well you want it done.
It is perfect to use with an air fryer as you can check on progress without even opening the air fryer! However, an instant-read meat thermometer is also a great option (and more budget-friendly).
I like to serve roast beef medium-rare, with a little pink in the center. For medium-rare you are aiming for an internal temperature of about 135°F/ 57°C.
Remember that the temperature of the meat will continue to rise a few degrees while it rests.
Note: if you have a Meater thermometer* it will alert you to remove it in time so it reaches the right temperature while resting.
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 it 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.
For a quick and easy gravy, try this recipe for making a rich brown gravy from stock cubes.
If you also want to 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.
This is my process to cook roast potatoes in the air fryer when I am making this roast beef recipe:
- Prepare the potatoes, then air fry them for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the beef
- Remove the potatoes to a covered dish while you air fry the beef
- While the beef is resting, air fry the potatoes for a final 10-15 minutes until crispy.
Scroll down for the printable card for this air fryer beef roast recipe!
FAQs & Tips
Roasting is a way of cooking meat at high temperature. You can use an air fryer to roast meat and vegetables, or anything you might roast in an oven.
Some air fryers have different settings for air fry and roast. With some brands there is no difference between the settings other than the starting temperature (which you can adjust), but with some air fryers the ‘roast’ setting operates the fan at a lower level which will require different cooking times. If in doubt, use the air fry setting for this recipe.
My rule of thumb for cooking beef is 15 minutes per lb, and then an additional 5 minutes for how well you want it done. Use the table above to estimate cooking times.
Roast beef needs to be cooked at a high temperature to get a tasty crust on the outside. To prevent it from getting dry on the outside before the center is cooked, I reduce the temperature to cook the beef through after the initial 5 minutes. This allows the outside to sear, so the moisture is retained while it cooks.
It is also important to rest beef well after cooking to allow the moisture to reabsorb into the meat before you cut it.
Roasting food means cooking at a high temperature, usually with oil. To roast in an air fryer I would recommend cooking at least 360°F (180°C). You can roast without oil, but I find you get tastier results if you use at least a spray of oil.
How to cook classic roast beef in an air fryer.
- 2lb/ 900g beef roast
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons rosemary and thyme (fresh or dried)
- Preheat air fryer to 400°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.
- If using, peel onion and cut it in half, place onion halves in the air fryer basket.
- Place beef roast in the air fryer basket.
- Set to air fry beef for 5 minutes.
- When the time is up, change the temperature to 360°F/ 180°C. Flip the beef roast over half way through the cooking time if required by your air fryer [Note 1].
- 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. Check it early, and 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.
- Some air fryers require food to be turned over during cooking, some don't. Check your manual if you are unsure if this is required for your air fryer.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 212Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 83mgSodium: 282mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 33g
You may also like:
- Air fryer beef tenderloin
- Air fryer steak
- Air fryer roast pork
- Air fryer roast lamb
- Air fryer whole chicken
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