60 minutes
Rare roast beef from the Instant Pot - not only possible, but quick and easy. It doesn't heat up the kitchen, and makes terrific beef to slice for sandwiches.
  • 3 lb (about 1.4 kg) blocky boneless beef roast (rolled sirloin tip, rump, eye of round)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) neutral oil (canola or grapeseed)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) your choice of liquids (beef stock, flavorful beef broth, or half and half red wine and water)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) beef or mushroom base (optional but a big flavor boost)
  • dried thyme
  • dried rosemary
  • granulated garlic, or garlic powder
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • OR use your favorite seasoning mix: Montreal Blend, Back of the Yards butcher rub, etc.

My family loves roast beef, and we have a preference for rare to medium-rare. But in hot weather, who wants to run the oven? Here’s an Instant Pot rare roast beef recipe that I’ve found to be reliable. After some initial preparation, it’s a fairly hands-off process. I love easy cooking.

Note added July 2020: my Instant Pot is a 6-quart model, which has a minimum liquid requirement of 1 cup. If you have an 8-quart model, you’ll need at least 2 cups of liquid, so adapt accordingly. 


prepare the uncooked roast

Mix the seasonings for the rub, or use your favorite blend. I have used a garlic-pepper blend called “Back of the Yards” from the Spice House. McCormick makes a reasonably equivalent “Montreal Seasoning“. I’ve come to prefer a more herbal rub, so I like thyme and rosemary, and have shown what I use here. Amounts? I don’t usually measure, but I’d guess 1-2 teaspoons each of the thyme and the rosemary, 1 teaspoon each of the garlic powder and the salt, and maybe half a teaspoon of the black pepper. Taste as you go, and you’ll do fine. Whatever you choose, rub the uncooked roast on all sides, including the ends. Set it aside for now.

prepare liquids for the pot

This recipe requires a cup of liquid – but you have choices here, too. Start with a 2-cup measuring cup, and put in one cup of flavorful beef stock, or half red wine and half water, or half red wine and half beef stock, or part Shaoxing wine and part water, or even, in a pinch, canned beef broth. You decide, but whatever you choose, use only 8 ounces (about 240 ml), and make it flavorful, because who wants bland? To the liquid in the measuring cup, add a couple cloves of garlic and a bay leaf to your chosen liquid. If you like, stir in a tablespoon of beef base or mushroom base for a flavor boost.

start the instant pot then sear the roast

With the inner steel pot in place, select Sauté (browning), and let it fully heat. Place the rubbed beef into the cooking pot, and let it sear just a bit on all sides. You want some color, but you won’t need to brown it fully. If there’s a fat cap on your roast, put that side down first, then let it sear 20-30 seconds. Turn, and sear about 10 seconds on each of the other sides. When you have finished searing all sides, remove the roast to a plate.

change over to pressure cooking

Stop the pot. Pour your liquids and add-ins into the pot. Put the trivet (that came with the pot) in place, and position the roast on the trivet. If there’s a fat cap, make sure the fat side is up.

Lock the lid in place and close the pressure valve. Set the pot using the Manual function to low pressure, 4 minutes. Don’t cancel the Keep Warm function – you want it to enter that state when pressure cooking has finished. When the unit beeps, wait about 45 minutes – see note below on adjusting this time for different sizes of roasts.

check for doneness, let stand, then serve

Open the lid to check the temperature of your roast with an instant-read meat thermometer. For a very rare roast, you’re looking for 115-120˚F; for medium-rare, 125-130˚F. If the roast is not up to the desired temperature, replace the lid and continue with the Keep Warm cycle. Once the roast has reached your desired temperature, remove the roast, cover it with foil, and let stand 15-20 minutes before slicing.

The roast will continue to cook while standing – this is carry-over cooking, and is quite normal. That’s one reason my suggested temperatures are so low. In addition, the moisture within the roast will be somewhat re-absorbed during standing time. If you cut into it right away, much of the internal moisture would leak right out, leaving you with a dry cut of cooked meat.

For the very thinnest slices, chill the roast overnight in the refrigerator. It’s very difficult to get neat thin slices from a hot roast.

what about that liquid?

Some folks like to use the liquid as a dip (French Dip sandwiches, anybody?) It will make a good liquid for a gravy, and of course will form part of an excellent soup. Don’t throw it out, even if you don’t want gravy or juice with your roast beef! If you don’t know what else to do with it, strain it, save it and chill it. When it’s fully cold, lift off any fat from the top, then freeze the liquid. Use this (thawed) for your next roast!

a note on slicing

The lovely thin slices shown in my photo came from a chilled roast. In fact, my local family-run supermarket has a wonderful policy: their deli staff is always ready to slice a cooked roast for their customers. Your grocery store may offer the same service. If you’re slicing the roast on your own, use a very sharp knife. 

a note on cooking/keep warm times

Naturally, you’ll need to adjust the Keep Warm time for a larger or smaller roast. For a 2-pound roast, I’d suggest you begin checking the internal temperature at 30 minutes. For a 4-pound roast, start checking at 60 minutes. That is, for every pound of roast over/under 3 lbs, add or subtract 15 minutes.

The shape of the roast will also affect these times. A longer but thinner roast will cook sooner. The good thing about the Keep Warm cycle on the Instant Pot is that opening the lid doesn’t stop the heat, so if the roast isn’t done yet, just close the lid, wait a bit more, and check again later.


24 Responses

  1. Do you release the pressure after the 4 minutes and keep on warm or allow natural release and keep on warm?

    • Release the pressure after 4 minutes (manually) and check the temperature. If the internal temperature is not where you want it, replace the lid and let the residual heat (keep warm) bring the roast to the temp you like.

  2. This has become my absolute favorite recipe! I make it at least twice a month.

  3. I fell upon this article because I have done a lot of sous vide cooking at low temperatures for a long time. I was hoping that the pressure cooker could be set at medium rare temperature and cook it for a long time (hopefully less time) . I can see from here that pressure cookers don’t have very good temperature controls. That’s why you have to open it up and check the temperature of the meat, and then repeat. However , Im glad that you are thinking in that direction.

  4. I found I needed to cook my 3.3 lb. roast much longer to bring up the internal temp. After the first round of your instructions the temperature was 98. I did a second low pressure cook for 4 minutes and the internal temp was 101. Third round was on high pressure for 5 minutes, followed by 5 more at keep warm and we reached an internal temperature of 124. Kind of threw off the timing of the rest of dinner, however, the roast was delicious.

    • I’m sorry to hear the timing didn’t work out for you – and I have no particular insight as to why. Perhaps you started with a roast that was much colder than mine was? Good luck with this in future — what I’m happy about is that we can add pressure cooking minutes or standing minutes, and it will work out.

  5. I would love to receive your recipes and or cooking advice. I am culinary school trained, but always interested in new ideas. Today I purchased an instant pot duo and can’t wait to try your rare roast beef ideas. After all recipes are ideas to be played with. Well done on your article, I had a few chuckles along the way.
    Best cooking

  6. I just used this method to make a boneless lamb shoulder roast. I will never cook lamb any other way again. I used onion powder, garlic powder, thyme and rosemary for the rub, (Mom is salt restricted and allergic to black pepper) and chicken stock with a couple of bay leaves and half a dozen whole peeled cloves of garlic for the liquid. Wow! Thanks, milady!

    • That sounds wonderful! I’ll have to look for a lamb roast.

  7. I found this recipe in a search for ideas for Christmas dinner, and I can’t wait to try it out. I have one question: while the rareness sounds absolutely heavenly to me, my prospective guests like their roast medium. How long should I have it “Keep Warm” to reach that level? Are there other adjustments to make?

    • You know, that’s a really good question – and one I cannot answer. In my family, we all like rare beef, so I have never tried to let it stand longer. If you try this, I’d love to hear back from you: what timing worked?

  8. Please help me – I have just bought an Instant Pot.
    My Query: I would like to make rare roast beef for tomorrow night. I have been researching and found that most of the recipes are similar (seasonings differ of course). The one thing that is different is this; MOST of the recipes call for Manual HIGH. I have found 2 recipes and yours that call for LOW pressure. Which one is correct and will it make much of a difference in those 4 minutes?

    • As to which is correct – low pressure or high – when I do it, I use low pressure, as stated here. It’s always worked well for me. Best wishes for a great meal!

    • When I make it, I use low pressure just as in the post. I hope you have a splendid meal, and a lovely holiday.

  9. Just tried this recipe. We are presently enjoying it. Turned out magnificently. I used an eye of round roast!

  10. Thank you for sharing this fabulous recipe! Just made it and hands down, it’s the best rump roast we’ve ever eaten. We added a little red wine to the beef liquid and thickened with a 1 Tbl. spoon of cream cheese and 2 Tbl. spoons of almond flour for gravy.

    • I’m so glad to hear this! Your gravy is ingenious.

  11. I followed the instructions with a 1.8kg roast (almost 4 lb). After an hour in the stay warm function the roast wasn’t close to being ready. It needed to sit for 90 mins minimum. Be ready if you’re timing other food…

    • My guess is that the timing may vary with the shape of the roast: longer and skinny will cook faster than compact and blocky. And of course rare will be ready sooner than medium.

  12. I assume the neutral oil is for the searing step ? I’m new.

    • Yes, exactly!

  13. This was my first time making roast beef in the instant pot. The cook times were spot on! I had a 2 lb bottom round roast and was worried about over cooking it. After the 30 minute warm setting it was a perfect 125. I didn’t tent it with foil because I was afraid the temp would go up too much.

  14. Excellent recipe! I am just learning to use my instant pot, and I have had trouble with everything drying out. However, your recipe and comments were perfect. The roast was juicy and actually was medium rare. Thank you so much for posting.

    • I’m glad you liked it! I confess I was surprised when I tested this recipe, but it has become a standby.

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