is a cooking method that uses dry heat, whether an open flame,
oven, or other heat source. Roasting usually causes
caramelization or Maillard browning of the surface of the food,
which is considered a flavor enhancement.
Roasting uses more indirect, diffused heat (as in a oven), and
is suitable for slower cooking of meat in a larger, whole piece.
Meats and most root and bulb vegetables can be roasted.
Any piece of meat, especially red meat, that has been cooked in
this fashion is called a roast. In addition, large uncooked cuts
of meat are referred to as roasts. Roasting is a much
slower method of cooking. A roast joint of meat can take
one, two, even three hours to cook - the resulting meat is
tender. Also, meats and vegetables prepared in this way are
described as "roasted", e.g., roasted chicken or roasted squash.
For roasting, the food may be placed
on a rack, in a roasting pan or, to ensure even application of
heat, may be rotated on a spit or rotisserie. During oven
roasting, hot air circulates around the meat, cooking all sides
evenly. There are several theories for roasting meats correctly:
low-temperature cooking, high-temperature cooking, and a
combination of both. Each method can be suitable under
A low-temperature oven, 200 °F to 325 °F (95 °C to 160 °C), is
best when cooking with large cuts of meat, turkey and whole
chickens. This is not technically roasting temperature, but it
is called slow-roasting. The benefit of slow-roasting an item is
less moisture loss and a more tender product. At true roasting
temperatures, 400 °F (200 °C) or more, the water inside the
muscle is lost at a high rate.
Cooking at high temperatures is beneficial if the cut is small
enough—as in filet mignon or strip loin—to be finished cooking
before the juices escape.
The combination method uses high heat just at either the
beginning or the end of the cooking process, with most of the
cooking at a low temperature. This method produces the
golden-brown texture and crust, but maintains more of the
moisture than simply cooking at a high temperature, although the
product will not be as moist as low-temperature cooking the
whole time. Searing and then turning down to low is also
beneficial when a dark crust and caramelized flavor is desired
for the finished product. Note that searing in no way "locks in"
moisture: moisture loss is simply a function of heat and time.
In general, in either case, the meat is removed from heat before
it has finished cooking and left to sit for a few minutes, while
the inside cooks further from the residual heat content, a
phenomenon known as carry over cooking.
The objective in any case is to retain as much moisture as
possible, while providing the texture and color. During
roasting, meats and vegetables are frequently basted on the
surface with butter, lard, or oil to reduce the loss of moisture
by evaporation. In recent times, plastic oven bags have become
popular for roasts. These cut cooking times and reduce the loss
of moisture during roasting, but reduce flavor development from
Maillard browning. They are particularly popular for turkeys.
Until the late 19th century, roasting by dry heat in an oven was
called baking. Roasting originally meant turning meat or a bird
on a spit in front of a fire. It is one of the oldest forms of
Traditionally recognized roasting methods consist only of baking
and cooking over or near an open fire. Grilling is normally not
technically a roast, since a grill (gridiron) is used (in
English-speaking countries). Smoking differs from roasting
because of the lower temperature and controlled smoke
Most meat roasts are large cuts of
meat. Many roasts are tied with string prior to roasting, often
using the reef knot or, in the more traditional sense, the
packer's knot. Tying holds them together during roasting,
keeping any stuffing inside, and keeps the roast in a round
profile, which promotes even cooking.
Prior to roasting in an oven, meat is generally "browned" by
brief exposure to high temperature. This imparts a traditional
flavor and color to the roast. Red meats such as beef, lamb, and
venison, and certain game birds are often roasted to be "pink"
or "rare", meaning that the center of the roast is still red.
Due to food safety concerns, this practice is not recommended
with pork and poultry. Although there is a growing fashion in
some restaurants to serve "rose pork", temperature monitoring of
the center of the roast is the only sure way to avoid foodborne
In Britain and Ireland, a roast of meat may be referred to as a
joint, or a leg, if it is a leg.
Roasting is a preferred method of
cooking for most poultry, and certain cuts of beef, pork, or
lamb. Some vegetables, such as potatoes, zucchini, pumpkin,
turnips, parsnips, cauliflower, asparagus, squash, and peppers
lend themselves to roasting as well. Roasted chestnuts are also
a popular snack in winter.
Braising or pot roasting