guide to hosting holiday beef dinner

Prepare the Perfect Beef Roast for the Holidays, Plus Tips for Hosting

Oct 1, 2021 |  ,

The holiday season is right around the corner, and with it, guests, decorations, gifts, and delicious meals. While we all love a good Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham, the holidays are an excellent time to serve a tender, mouthwatering beef roast. Whether you enjoy a classic chuck roast with root vegetables, a delicious prime rib with twice-baked potatoes, or fork-tender beef tenderloin with cranberry drizzle, Natural Angus beef takes any occasion to the next level.

In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know about hosting a dinner around Natural Angus beef. From choosing the right cut of beef, to how much roast beef you need for each person, to cooking methods and pairing ideas, we’ll make sure you’re set to impress your guests.

Choosing the Right Roast or Beef Cut

You can’t go wrong with a beef roast for the holidays, and steak cuts also make for a delectable meal for a smaller crowd. While any roast or beef cut is a tasty addition to your holiday meal, you should choose a cut based on the recipe you want to make and how many guests you’ll be hosting.

Popular Steaks for the Holidays

Ribeye steaks, beef tenderloin, and New York strip steaks are all popular cuts for special occasions due to their marbling and tenderness. If you’re hosting a small party, serve up this New York Strip with Béarnaise sauce. Featuring a sear from a cast-iron skillet and topped with smooth, creamy sauce, this dish provides a restaurant-level experience for any gathering.

If you want to serve steak as the main course but are planning a larger party, try pepper-crusted beef tenderloin. One full tenderloin roast can serve up to 7 guests and provides a memorable holiday meal.

beef tenderloin

Another easy tip for preparing steak for the holidays? Try preparing steak sous vide. This “set it and forget it” cooking method allows you to prepare side dishes, entertain your guests, or indulge in your favorite wine while your steak cooks. And, it results in the perfectly cooked steak, every time. Get more steak preparation tips.

Christmas and Holiday Roasts

Prime rib and chuck roll roasts are by far the most sought-after during the holiday season. Known as “the king of beef cuts,” prime rib roasts are abundantly marbled and full of flavor, making prime rib the go-to cut for Christmas and other holiday dinners. Be sure to plan accordingly, as preparing prime rib can take anywhere from 2-7 hours to roast to perfection.

Chuck roll roasts are an excellent option for their versatility. You can enjoy them slow-roastedbraised, or in dishes like beef stroganoff. Strip roasts and tri-tip roasts are also good contenders for the centerpiece of an exceptional dinner.

Beyond your preferred cooking method and recipe, you’ll also want to consider how many guests you’ll be serving when choosing a roast.

How big of a roast do I need? And other FAQs

It can be challenging estimating how much food to prepare when meal planning for the holidays. You don’t want to come up short, and you don’t want too many leftovers (luckily, leftover beef can be tasty in plenty of dishes). However, determining how much roast you’ll need doesn’t have to be a guessing game. Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about choosing a beef roast.

How much roast beef for each person?

If beef roast is the main dish, the general rule of thumb is to get at least a half-pound of beef for every person (8 ounces). If there’s a possibility of additional unexpected guests or if you’d like leftovers, you can round up and buy about 3/4 pound per person (12 ounces) or even a pound per person (16 ounces). If you are serving beef in a stew or as part of another dish, assume each person will consume 1/3-1/4 pound of beef.

How Much Roast to Buy per Person (Chart)

Number of guests Pounds of beef
4 people 2-3 pounds
6 people 3-4 pounds
8 people 5-6 pounds
10 people 6-7 pounds
12 people 8-10 pounds
14 people 9-11 pounds

Preparing the Beef Roast: Seasonings, Sides, and Pairings

Now that you have your roast, it’s time to grab seasonings, sides, and pairings. Here are few ideas to help get you started.

Seasonings for Beef Roast

Full of beefy flavors, beef roasts don’t require seasoning beyond salt and pepper (sea salt and freshly ground pepper are our favorites). However, thyme, garlic powder, garlic salt, and onion powder are cupboard staples that are excellent for accompanying vegetables like carrots, onions, and potatoes. Some cooks also enjoy using Italian seasoning or fresh basil. Side dishes, the recipe you’re making, and your flavor preferences can all help determine which options you’ll use.

beef with pears

If you’re preparing a classic chuck roast, for example, use fresh thyme, chopped garlic, a bay leaf, and salt and pepper. Cooking vegetables with the roast will create additional flavor. If you’re cooking a dish like Balsamic Beef with Pears, you’ll need bay leaves, thyme, garlic, and garlic powder (along with balsamic vinegar and other ingredients).

Tips for Preparing Roast Beef: How to Cook Beef Roast

You have your ingredients, pairings, and extras, and you’re ready to get cooking. Luckily, a beef roast is relatively easy to prepare. Whether you choose a Dutch oven, casserole dish, or a roasting pan, after you season and brown the roast, cooking it really just comes down to waiting.

cooking full chuck roll roast

Here are some general steps to follow when cooking a classic chuck roll roast:

  • Set your oven to 400°F.
  • Season roast liberally.
  • Brown the roast on all sides in a pan (coat the bottom of the pan with oil).
  • If using onions, brown onions also.
  • Transfer roast and onions to a casserole dish or roasting pan.
  • If desired, add red wine or porter to the pan.
  • Lightly cover the dish or pan with foil.
  • Once the oven preheats, place the casserole dish or roasting pan into the oven.
  • After 20 minutes, reduce the temperature to 325°F and continue cooking based on the size of the roast.
  • Use a meat thermometer to determine doneness—every roast takes a different amount of time to cook.
  • Let the roast rest for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Resting helps juices redistribute to the rest of the roast.
  • The final internal temperature should be at least 145°F (medium) before serving for optimum food safety.

Sides for Your Holiday Beef Roasts: From Classic to Adventurous

Cooking carrots, onions, potatoes, and root vegetables with roast beef is a tradition for a reason. The vegetables and beef enhance the flavor of one another and it’s a hearty, fulfilling, and juicy meal. However, if you’re looking for a way to switch it up, try Greek Lemon Garlic Mashed Potatoes for a citrusy twist. Stone fruits and plums can create an autumnal feel, or you could serve brussels sprouts and kale sauté for a lighter, savory side dish.

Some other sides that go well with beef roast include:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Roasted asparagus (or other roasted veggies)
  • Creamed green beans
  • Okra
  • Mushrooms
  • Egg noodles
  • Mashed potatoes with chives
  • Polenta with balsamic glaze

Perfect Drink Pairings for Beef Roast

Full-bodied red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, and Merlot all go well with beef roast. Italian reds like Brunello di Montalcino also pair well with beefy flavors and are great wines for special occasions. If you prefer beer or want to try something different, stouts and porters also go well with roast beef (you can also cook beef with them, as with red wine!).

Like white wine? It is a myth that only red wine can be served with beef! A balanced white wine can be paired with high-quality Natural Angus and will complement the rich flavors of the beef. Try Chardonnay, White Burgundy, Chenin Blanc, or Hermitage Blanc.

Serving Roast Beef: Plating, Table Settings, and More

Beef makes a good hero for any meal, and beef roast is one of the easiest dishes to serve. You can slice it or use two large forks to shred the roast into chunks. Serve with or without gravy—either will be flavorful.

When it comes to table setting, a beef roast is itself a centerpiece. Accents such as raspberries and faux pine needles will add a Christmas-inspired feeling to the plate. For Thanksgiving, try a rustic vibe like the one below.

rustic table setting for beef

Image credit: Southern Living

White or neutral-colored tablecloths provide an attractive backdrop for beef, wines, and colorful side dishes on the table itself. Citrus fruits, holly and greenery stems, cranberries, apples, or grapes also work well as garnishes and decor, adding a festive appeal and contrast to the light backdrop. Gold and vintage silverware both go well with beef as a centerpiece.

white table setting for roast with festive decor

Image credit: Pizzazzerie

Everything You Need to Know about Natural Angus Beef

Now that you’ve learned what you need to host your holiday around beef, it’s time to get cooking! Download this helpful guide to screenshot or print and you can quickly have all of these tips and tricks at your fingertips as you plan and prepare meals for the holiday season.

Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for cooking inspiration this holiday season, and check out our blog for more tips on how to prepare Natural Angus beef.