How Long Should I Cook a 3 Pound Roast Beef? The Ultimate Guide

Roast beef is a classic main dish that’s perfect for Sunday dinners and special occasions. A 3 pound roast feeds about 6-8 people, making it a great size for most families. But how long should you cook a 3 pound roast beef to get it tender, juicy and flavorful?

In this complete guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to cook a 3 pound roast beef to perfection. You’ll learn about:

  • Estimated cook times
  • Key internal temperatures
  • Roast cooking methods
  • How to tell when it’s done
  • Carving and resting tips
  • Common mistakes to avoid
  • Delicious seasoning ideas

Plus plenty of tips from my years of experience cooking roasts for holiday meals and backyard barbeques. Let’s get started!

Estimated Cook Time for a 3 Pound Roast

A good rule of thumb for calculating roast beef cook time is to allot about 15-20 minutes per pound in the oven.

For a 3 pound roast, that equals:

  • 45 minutes at 20 minutes per pound
  • 60 minutes at 15 minutes per pound

So you can expect your 3 pound roast to take roughly 50-75 minutes to cook in a 350°F oven

This can vary slightly depending on:

  • Oven accuracy – Get an oven thermometer if it runs hot or cold
  • Roast shape – More compact roasts cook faster
  • Fat cap – Extra fatty roasts may take a little longer

The best way to know when your specific roast is done? Use a meat thermometer (more on that below).

Key Internal Temperatures for Roast Beef

Taking the internal temperature of your roast beef is the only surefire way to know when it’s safely cooked.

Aim for these target temperatures for different doneness levels:

  • Rare: 120-125°F
  • Medium rare: 130-135°F
  • Medium: 140-145°F
  • Medium well: 150-155°F
  • Well done: 160°F+

The most popular and recommended doneness for roast beef is medium rare, between 130-135°F. This ensures the roast is hot and safely cooked but still pink and juicy inside.

Use an instant read meat thermometer to check the temp in the thickest part of the roast. Don’t rely solely on the oven cooking time or checking color/firmness.

Best Cooking Methods for Roast Beef

To yield tender, flavorful results, use one of these cooking methods:

  • Oven roasting – The standard roasting method. Preheat oven to 350°F. Use a rack in a roasting pan for air circulation.

  • Sear then oven – Quickly brown all sides in a hot pan before roasting. Adds caramelized flavor.

  • Slow cooker – Cook on low heat 6-8 hours. More hands off but can lack browning.

  • Sous vide – Cooks in hot water bath for precise temp control. Requires special equipment.

I find oven roasting to be the easiest, most foolproof way to cook a 3 pound roast beef for optimal texture and flavor.

How to Tell When Roast Beef is Done

Check these signs to determine your 3 pound roast is fully cooked and ready to carve:

  • Internal temperature – Reads at least 130°F for medium rare doneness

  • Color – Exterior is nicely browned. Meat looks less pink inside.

  • Firmness – Feels firmer when pressed. Meat should not feel squishy.

  • Time – You’ve reached or slightly exceeded the estimated cook time.

  • Juices run clear – Interior juices will run clear, not red or pink, when meat is pierced.

The temperature and firmness are the most reliable ways to assess doneness. If unsure, keep roasting until it passes the tests.

Let Roast Beef Rest Before Carving

Never slice into the roast straight out of the oven! Letting it rest is critical.

After removing the roast from oven or slow cooker, allow it to rest for 10-20 minutes tented loosely with foil.

This resting period allows the juices to reabsorb back into the meat. If you skip this step, the roast will leak juices everywhere when carved.

Once rested, use a sharp knife to thinly slice the roast across the grain for tenderness. Now you’re ready to serve!

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Dodge these pitfalls for a flawlessly cooked 3 pound roast:

  • Not using a meat thermometer – This leads to over/undercooking.

  • Cooking at too high temperature – Slow and low is best to prevent drying out.

  • Forgetting to let rest before slicing – Causes juice loss during carving.

  • Carving with the grain – Always slice perpendicular to the grain for tender bites.

  • Neglecting to trim fat cap – Excess fat can make roasts greasy.

  • Adding sauce too early – Wait until the roast is cooked before basting.

Follow the tips in this guide and your 3 pound roast beef will impress every time!

Delicious Roast Beef Seasoning Ideas

Beyond just salt and pepper, try these tasty seasoning combos:

  • Herb crusted – Fresh rosemary, thyme and garlic make a flavorful crust.

  • Onion soup mix – For an “Onion Bomb” roast beef. So simple but so good!

  • Coffee rub – Finely ground coffee adds richness without being bitter.

  • Chimichurri – A zesty Argentinean marinade and baste.

  • Balsamic-Dijon – Bold, tangy flavors that complement beef.

  • Southwest spice – Chili powder, cumin and cayenne add spicy kick.

Get creative with marinades, spice rubs and compound butter to make each roast unique.

The Takeaway

Cooking a 3 pound roast beef to tender, juicy perfection just takes a little know-how. Estimate 50-75 minutes of oven roasting time for a 3 pound size. But always rely on a meat thermometer to assess final doneness, not just the clock.

Rest, slice and serve your roast beef the right way for a main course sure to impress. I hope these tips give you roast beef success for your next meal!

Classic Roast Beef


How long does it take to cook a 3 pound roast?

Approx weight
Rare (125 °F)
Medium (145 °F)
2 lb
31 min
42 min
3 lb
45 min
55 min
4 lb
1 hr
1 hr 10 min

Is it better to cook a roast at 325 or 350?

When roasting meat and poultry, set the oven temperature to 325°F (163°C) or higher. Explore the charts below to learn how to get great results every time you cook.

What is the cooking time and temperature for roast beef?

Preheat Oven to…
Roast For…
Premium oven roast (prime rib, sirloin, tenderloin)
425°F (220°C)
30 min.; reduce heat to 300°F (150°C) and cook 2-2 ½ hours.
Oven roast (inside round, outside round, sirloin tip, cross rib)
425°F (220°C)
40-50 min. (20 min per lb)

Do you cook roast beef covered or uncovered?

Remember to reduce the temperature after 20 minutes and deduct the 20 minutes from the total cooking time – leave the oven door open for a couple of minutes to help it cool down. There’s no need to cover your beef while it cooks; you want to get a good crust on the outside and foil won’t help with this.

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