This air fryer roast beef is simple to cook, and the result is tender and juicy beef with a beautifully caramelized exterior. This recipe uses rosemary, thyme, salt, and a little olive oil, for perfect classic roast beef.
Why you’ll love this recipe
This recipe takes the traditional roast beef and gives it a flavorful twist using an air fryer. The air fryer locks in the flavors and ensures even cooking, resulting in a perfectly cooked roast beef every time.
Air frying is a quick roasting method, so it’s ready in about half the time it would 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 for a Sunday roast or a holiday dinner, but it is so quick and easy to make you can serve it any night of the week! For some other quick and easy air fryer roast recipes, check out this recipe to roast lamb in the air fryer, or try cooking pork roast in the air fryer.
Scroll down for the recipe card for this air fryer beef roast recipe, or read on for all the details!
What do you need?
Because air frying is a quick roasting method, you need 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.
The following cuts of beef roast are ideal to use for this recipe:
- Rolled rib roast
- Prime rib roast
- Sirloin roast
- Eye of round roast
- Tri-tip roast
Beef tenderloin is also great to air fry, however the cooking times are much shorter for this cut. For more details, see my recipe for air fryer beef tenderloin.
Rump roast and chuck roast are generally best suited to slow roasting as they can be tough and need longer cooking times to get really tender. These cuts are also perfect for making slow cooker beef pot roast or Instant Pot chuck roast. Or try making air fryer beef jerky.
Rump and chuck can still be air fried but will need to be sliced very 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 half a teaspoon per pound/ 450g of beef.
I normally use light olive oil when cooking a roast in the air fryer, but you can use any cooking oil that you would usually use for a roast. Vegetable oil or avocado oil are good choices.
When air frying, choose a cooking oil with a high smoke point to reduce the chance of your air fryer smoking.
Another great way to add flavor to this dish is to add an onion to the air fryer basket with the beef. Cut it in half or into quarters.
How to roast beef in an air fryer
Prepare and season beef roast
Pat the beef roast dry with paper towels before seasoning it. 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.
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.
How long to air fry beef roast
The exact cooking times for a roast in the air fryer depend on a few factors, including the exact size and shape of the beef joint you are using, as well as how efficient your air fryer is.
However, my rule of thumb to calculate beef roast air fryer cooking times is: 15 minutes per pound (450g) of beef for rare, then add five minutes for each degree of doneness that you like. Use this as a starting point, and monitor the internal temperature of the beef when it is close to the end of the cooking time until it is cooked to your liking.
Estimated roast beef air fryer cooking times
|How well done?||Rule||Time* (2lb roast)||Internal Temp.|
|Rare||15 min per lb / 450g||30 mins||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 mins||145°F/ 63°C|
|Medium well-done||15 min per lb / 450g + 15 min||45 mins||150°F/ 66°C|
|Well done||15 min per lb / 450g + 20 min||50 mins||160°F/ 71°C|
|*Including 5 minute sear|
These cook times 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 medium-done roast beef, it should be 145°F/ 63°C. Or, for medium-rare roast beef, with a little pink in the center, 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.
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. However, an instant-read meat thermometer is also a great option (and more budget-friendly).
>> Read more: Meater probe review
Serving roast beef
I love to serve a classic roast with potatoes, fresh vegetables, and rich brown gravy. Here are some side dishes that go well with this recipe:
Also want to air fry a side dish?
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 for cooking 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.
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.
Air Fryer Roast Beef
- 2 lb 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, and set to air fry 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.
Nutrition information is an estimate and provided for informational purposes only.