Did Arby’s Change Their Roast Beef? Examining the Evolution of an Iconic Sandwich

The roast beef sandwich has been the star of Arby’s menu since the very first restaurant opened in 1964. That familiar smell of thinly sliced slow-roasted beef greeted customers then, just as it does today. But over 50+ years of business has the preparation process changed? Let’s dig into the origin, rumors, and innovations around Arby’s signature roast beef.

A Roast Beef Revolution

Brothers Forrest and Leroy Raffel, inspired by the McDonald’s model, wanted to start a restaurant chain serving something other than burgers and fries. Roast beef was their bold choice for a unique flagship menu item.

The name “Arby’s” comes from the initials R.B., for Raffel Brothers. Despite the name, it was never meant to stand for “roast beef.”

In the beginning, Arby’s roast beef was sliced on site from whole muscle roasts. The beef was slow cooked for up to 8 hours in special commercial ovens to maximize tenderness. This original cooking method established the signature Arby’s roast beef flavor and texture.

Persistent Rumors: Fact or Fiction?

For decades, claims have circulated that Arby’s roast beef is not actual beef, but a gelatinous meat-flavored concoction shaped to look like sliced roast. Where did this rumor originate?

According to Arby’s, their roast beef arrives at restaurants as whole muscle, USDA-inspected beef. It is never a gel, paste, or liquid during shipping or prep. The company has refuted rumors vigorously and maintains complete transparency about its beef quality.

Some speculate the myth arose because Arby’s once used a powdered beef broth concentrate in the 1970s. This may have sparked questions about filler ingredients. Arby’s insists no fillers, binders or artificial flavors are used today.

Behind the Scenes: Changes to the Process

While the fundamentals remain the same, some aspects of roast beef preparation have evolved over time:

  • Cooking method – Once roasted on-site, it’s now precooked off-site in commercial ovens meeting Arby’s exact standards.

  • Slicing – Previously sliced in-restaurant daily, it now arrives presliced and ready to heat and serve.

  • Seasoning – A proprietary blend of natural flavors is added during cooking for consistent flavor.

  • Packaging – The beef is sealed in a bag with an Au Jus-style broth rather than sitting dry. This keeps it moist and flavorful.

  • Heating – Workers reheat the packaged roast beef in a turbo chef oven before serving.

These process tweaks improve food safety, quality control and efficiency without sacrificing the original recipe.

Why Make Changes?

Like many established chains, Arby’s has had to evolve with the times and competition. Some motivations behind their roast beef changes include:

  • Food safety – Centralized cooking and packaging minimizes risks.

  • Consistency – Preslicing and preseasoning ensures uniform taste across locations.

  • Efficiency – Eliminates on-site roasting and slicing to improve operations.

  • Quality control – Allows close monitoring of every step from a central facility.

  • Customer expectations – Meet demands for convenient, quick-service dining with foolproof prep.

The shift towards precooked, presliced roast beef improved logistics. But Arby’s insists the authentic recipe and ingredients remain the same as day one.

New Innovations: What’s Next for Roast Beef?

While staying true to its classic roast beef, Arby’s has unveiled creative new takes including:

  • Smokehouse Brisket – Thinly sliced brisket topped with crispy onions and smoky BBQ sauce.

  • Roast Beef Gyro – Seasoned roast beef, Mediterranean toppings and Tzatziki sauce wrapped in a warm pita.

  • Roast Beef Bacon Cheddar Melt – Loaded with aged cheddar, hickory smoked bacon and zesty ranch.

  • Roast Beef Slider – All the flavors of the original sandwich in a compact size.

  • Roast Beef ‘n Cheddar Baked Potato – Roast beef, cheddar cheese, chives and sour cream in a loaded potato shell.

These menu additions allow Arby’s to expand their offerings while keeping the integrity of their time-tested classic intact. The future looks bright for Arby’s and their iconic roast beef that started it all.

The Verdict on Arby’s Roast Beef

While preparation details have understandably changed over 50+ years, Arby’s maintains their roast beef still comes only from whole muscle beef with no fillers, gels or artificial additives. The slice you see today may be precooked for food safety, but the original recipe using high-quality beef endures. So rest assured, when you bite into an Arby’s sandwich, you’re enjoying the same iconic roast beef flavor generations have come to love.

The Truth About Arby’s Roast Beef


Why does Arby’s roast beef taste different?

A roast beef sandwich from Arby’s has a distinct flavor that you can’t get anywhere else, and it’s not just because of the onion roll or the added cheese sauce. Arby’s uses its own blend of seasonings to give its roast beef a unique taste that goes right down to the slice.

Did Arby’s ever use real roast beef?

They confirmed there’s absolutely no truth the story, and said that their roast beef is, in fact, completely beef. They’re well aware of the rumors, and Arby’s Jim Lowder wrote Snopes, “Thank you for doing your part to curb the urban legend about Arby’s Roast Beef.

Why is Arby’s roast beef green?

Meat contains iron, fat, and many other compounds. When light hits a slice of meat, it splits into colors like a rainbow. There are also various pigments in meat compounds which can give it an iridescent or greenish cast when exposed to heat and processing.

What exactly is Arby’s roast beef?

The claim basically says their roast beef is actually imitation meat, made from gels, liquids, or pastes, formed into a vaguely meat-shaped lump then roasted, cooled, and turned into sandwich filler. Nothing about it sounds good, and it’s a weirdly enduring story. They did some digging, and went straight to the source: Arby’s Quality Assurance.

Who owns Arby’s roast beef?

Arby’s roast beef has a rich history dating back to 1964 when the first Arby’s restaurant opened in Boardman, Ohio. The chain was founded by brothers Leroy and Forrest Raffel, hence the name “Arby,” which stands for R.B. – Raffel Brothers.

How are Arby’s roast beef sandwiches made?

Arby’s roast beef sandwiches have been prepared and marinated the same way since 1971 (via Arby’s). The beef is packaged, then roasted in the restaurant and sliced on-demand for each customer (via Business Insider ).

Does Arby’s have real beef?

From McDonald’s to Wendy’s to Taco Bell, no one is immune to scrutiny, and that includes Arby’s. But despite the rumors that have swirled around, Arby’s roast beef is made with 100% real beef, and that’s obviously the primary reason that it’s so good. No filler, no fake protein, and certainly no liquid meat .

Leave a Comment