- 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)
- SEASONING RUB
- 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.