22 Show-Stopping Roasts for Your Holiday Table
If your extended family only gets together for dinner a couple times a year, you should make each meal count with a show-stopping centerpiece. This holiday season cooks across the country are going to be making elegant roasts, and you should join them. We have 22 festive recipes that are sure to satisfy, regardless of what meat you’re looking for, what budget you’re working with, and how much effort you’re willing to put into the dish. From prime rib and pork shoulder to glazed ham and even a vegan Wellington, keep reading to find the perfect roast for your holiday dinner.
Crown Roast of Lamb With Couscous Stuffing and Pistachio-Mint Sauce
Crown roast of lamb is without question one of the ultimate holiday roasts—it’s gorgeous, delicious, and luxuriously expensive. Given the price, you definitely want to cook it right. That means using a technique called the reverse sear, which involves cooking the meat most of the way in a very low oven, then blasting it under the most intense heat your oven is capable of to brown the surface.
Slow-Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb With Garlic, Rosemary, and Lemon
I love the gamy taste of lamb, but I understand that it is a little much for some people. Most of that flavor is found in the fat, so by trimming it off of a boneless leg of lamb you can make a roast that is mild enough for the whole family. There are lots of ways to flavor leg of lamb—here we go with a marinade of garlic, rosemary, lemon zest, and anchovies (which enhance the lamb’s savoriness without making it taste fishy).
Grilled Garlic and Mint Pesto Stuffed Leg of Lamb
Lamb and mint is a classic combination, so here we stuff a leg of lamb with mint pesto (plus lots of caramelized roasted garlic for extra flavor). You could cook this with the same reverse sear technique as our previous leg of lamb, but if you’re celebrating the holidays someplace warm and want to save space in the oven then consider firing up the grill instead.
Sichuan Roast Leg of Lamb With Celery-Mint Salad
Sichuan ingredients like cumin, dried red chilies, fennel seed, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns might seem out of place on an American holiday table, but since lamb is popular in northwest China we think that this is a totally appropriate way to flavor your roast. To tame the heat from the spice rub, serve the lamb with a refreshing salad made with celery, cucumber, radishes, carrots, mint, and cilantro.
Pork Loin Roast With Winter Vegetables
Pork loin is easier on the wallet than lamb, but cook it right and it will be just as tasty. Use a reverse sear and don’t cook the meat to death—modern pork is totally safe cooked to medium, so don’t be afraid of a little pink. We love pairing roast pork with roasted root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and turnips.
Garlic and Herb Roasted Pork Loin with Crackling and Spiced Apple Chutney
Making this extra-impressive roasted pork loin is going to require getting friendly with your local butcher—ask them to get you a loin with the skin and fat cap left on. If you score the skin and dry-brine the loin for a few days before you roast it you’ll end up with tender meat underneath crispy crackling. You’ll also want your butcher to partially detach the bones so you can stuff the pork with thyme, rosemary, and garlic.
Ultra-Crispy Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder
Pork shoulder has to provide one of the best ratios of effort to reward of any roast I know. All you have to do is season the pork with salt and pepper and toss it in the oven for eight hours—for that minimal work you’ll be rewarded with meltingly tender meat, shatteringly crisp skin, and amazed guests.
Traditional porchetta is made with pork loin cut so that the belly is still attached. This is problematic because the two cuts cook totally differently—get the belly hot enough for long enough to tenderize it and the loin is going to be totally dry. Our solution is to just get rid of the loin entirely and make an all-belly porchetta instead.
Crown Roast of Pork
Looking for the same centerpiece presentation as crown roast of lamb in a leaner, more affordable package? The pork version is similarly juicy and flavorful and looks just as impressive. You can cook it with the same reverse sear technique—just know it will take a little bit longer. For the cleanest presentation, wrap the exposed bone in foil so it doesn’t char.
Sous-Vide City Ham With Balsamic Brown Sugar Glaze
You need to be careful with city hams—they’re precooked, so it’s easy to dry them out when reheating. We like to take advantage of the fact that most hams come already vacuum-sealed and reheat them sous-vide, only putting them in the oven long enough to set the glaze (here we use brown sugar and balsamic vinegar).
Maple-Glazed City Ham
If you don’t have a sous vide circulator you’re not out of luck—you can reheat a city ham in the oven pretty well by using an oven bag or aluminum foil to protect it from the heat. Cook the ham covered until it hits 120°F, then cook it uncovered with the glaze—in this case maple syrup, dark molasses, and whole-grain mustard—for another 15 minutes.
Grill-Roasted Coke- and Pineapple-Glazed Ham
Don’t have a sous vide setup or room in your oven? You can also warm up a city ham on the grill by wrapping it in foil in the same way you would when using the oven. Our last ham glaze complements the pork’s smokey flavor with a sweet-and-sour mix of pineapple, Coca-Cola, and apple cider vinegar.
Perfect Prime Rib With Red Wine Jus
If there’s anything that can challenge the holiday dominance of crown roast of lamb it is prime rib—this high-end cut just screams “celebration.” As with the crown roast, you’re going to want to protect your investment and I bet you can guess how to do that (yup, the reverse sear is back again). To ensure a nice and crispy exterior and to deeply season the meat, we suggest salting the roast at least the day before and letting it sit, uncovered, on a rack set in a sheet pan in your fridge overnight.
Grill-Roasted Herb-Crusted Standing Rib Roast
Beef rib roasts are packed with meaty flavor, which means that they can stand up to all sorts of intense seasonings. For this roast, which we prepare on the grill, that means a crust of sage, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, and Dijon mustard.
Slow-Roasted Beef Tenderloin
Where prime rib is big, brash, and intensely flavored, beef tenderloin is more subtle, tender, and elegant. It’s also extremely lean, which makes it a less forgiving cut to cook. If you pull it from the oven even a few degrees past medium-rare it’s going to be dry, so I’d recommend taking it out just shy of 130°F.
The Ultimate Beef Wellington
Sometimes food can go so far out of fashion that it becomes retro-cool. I’m not sure that beef Wellington has reached that point yet, but I think that this old-school dish, made by wrapping up beef tenderloin, prosciutto, mushroom duxelles, and foie gras in a crisp puff pastry crust, is ready for a comeback.
Crisp-Skinned Butterflied Roast Turkey With Gravy
Spatchcocking (or butterflying) is the absolute best way to cook a turkey—laying the bird out flat means evenly cooked meat and incredibly crispy skin. You lose out on the classic whole-bird presentation, but we think that’s a small price to pay for the juiciest, most flavorful turkey you’ll ever eat.
The Best Simple Roast Turkey With Gravy
I know, I know—the holidays are all about traditions, and grandpa isn’t too keen on the idea of a spatchcocked turkey. If you really need to cook the bird intact, the best way to do it is on a V-rack set on a baking sheet (for maximum air circulation and crispy skin) set on a Baking Steel (to radiate heat towards the slower-cooking legs). It might not be quite as good as a spatchcocked turkey, but it comes pretty close.
Easy Stuffed Roast Turkey With Giblet Gravy
Once you’ve decided to cook your turkey whole you have another problem to deal with: stuffing. A stuffed bird is great for presentation, but the stuffing needs to hit 145°F to be safe to eat, and by that time the turkey is going to taste like cardboard. Our solution is to par-cook the stuffing so that it hits a safe temperature just as the bird finishes cooking.
Spatchcocking is the best way to cook a whole turkey, but it’s not my favorite turkey recipe. That honor goes to this totally untraditional turkey “porchetta,” made by rolling a turkey breast up with a curing mixture and roasting. Actually, that’s a lie—my real favorite turkey recipe is this deep fried, sous vide turkey porchetta, which is almost unbelievably juicy and flavorful.
Butterflied Roasted Chicken With Quick Jus
Spatchcocking isn’t just for turkey—it’s also the best way to roast a chicken. The technique requires cutting out the backbone, which has the added benefit of giving you some bones to make a simple jus with while the bird cooks.
Vegetables Wellington (The Ultimate Vegan Plant-Based Holiday Roast)
We’ve already given you a whole roundup of meat-free holiday mains, but wanted to remind you of the importance of thinking about your vegetarian and vegan loved ones. This vegan taken on beef Wellington is certainly more work than some other roasts, but the mix of mushrooms cooked three ways, roasted carrots, dehydrated beans, braised cashews, and aromatics turns into an absolutely stunning centerpiece.