How to Cook a Tasty Beef Heel of Round Roast

Beef heel of round roast can make for a delicious and economical dinner option. However, as it comes from a well-worked muscle, this cut requires special preparation to become tender and flavorful. With the right technique, you can transform this affordable cut into a mouthwatering roast the whole family will love.

What is Beef Heel of Round?

The heel of round sits above the leg joint on the back leg of a steer. It’s essentially the muscle that controls the animal’s ankle joint. As a result, it gets a lot of exercise and becomes quite tough.

While many butchers reserve this cut for stew meat or grind it for hamburger, you can also roast it whole. When braised slowly or roasted gently, the connective tissues in the meat break down to become deliciously gelatinous. With the right prep, heel of round makes a tasty and budget-friendly roast.

Benefits of Cooking Heel of Round Roast

There are several advantages to preparing a heel of round roast

  • Flavor – The leg muscles get more use than many other cuts, developing deep beefy flavor. When cooked right, this roast is exceptionally savory and satisfying.

  • Affordability – Because it’s so tough, heel of round costs much less per pound than tender cuts like ribeye or tenderloin. You can enjoy delicious roast beef at a fraction of the price

  • Versatility – Roast heel of round works for everything from weeknight dinners to holiday feasts. Slice it for sandwiches or dice it up for salads, soups, and stews.

  • Nutrition – With lots of protein, vitamins, and minerals but minimal fat, heel of round is a healthier red meat choice. An affordable 3-4 lb roast can feed your family for days.

With the right prep heel of round is delicious nutritious, budget-friendly, and versatile. Now let’s look at how to cook it.

Tips for Buying Heel of Round Roast

When purchasing your roast, keep these tips in mind:

  • Look for a roast that is 2-4 pounds as this size works well for slow braising. Larger cuts take much longer to become tender.

  • Choose a roast that has a uniform shape for even cooking. Avoid oddly shaped or very thick pieces.

  • Pick a roast with good marbling – those white lines of fat running through the meat. This keeps the roast moist during cooking.

  • Make sure the meat has a bright red color with little to no browning, which indicates freshness.

  • For the best value, purchase it on sale when possible. Heel of round often goes on sale for as little as $3-4 per pound.

Getting the right size roast with decent marbling ensures you’ll end up with a tender, flavorful meal. Now let’s go over the cooking methods.

Braising the Roast for Tenderness

To break down the tough connective tissues in heel of round, moist-heat cooking methods like braising work best.

Braising involves:

  • Browning the meat first to develop flavor (optional).
  • Cooking the meat very slowly in a small amount of liquid.
  • Keeping the pot partially covered to control evaporation.

As the roast simmers, the collagen melts into the cooking liquid, turning it into a delicious gravy or sauce. Here are two braising options:

Braise in the Oven

  • Sear all sides of the roast in a pan with oil to brown it. This adds color and flavor.
  • Place roast in a Dutch oven or oven-safe pot with lid.
  • Add 1 cup broth or wine to the pot, enough to come about 1/3 up the roast.
  • Cover and braise in a 300°F oven for about 3 hours, until fork tender.
  • Turn the roast halfway through cooking so it braises evenly.
  • Once cooked, let rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Braise on the Stovetop

  • Season all sides of the roast with salt and pepper. No need to sear first.
  • Use a heavy bottomed pot with lid, large enough to fit roast snugly.
  • Brown the roast on all sides in the pot over high heat.
  • Add 1 cup broth, wine or water. Bring to a simmer.
  • Partially cover and cook at a gentle simmer for 2-3 hours, turning occasionally.
  • Cook until the meat is fall-apart tender when pierced with a fork.

The moist heat environment gently breaks down the tough muscle fibers into a super tender, pull-apart texture while infusing with flavor.

Roast It Low and Slow

Roasting uses dry heat, but cooking the roast low and slow still yields delicious results:

  • Preheat the oven to 275°F. Use a roasting pan just large enough to fit roast.
  • Season all sides with salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried thyme, etc.
  • Sear the roast first on the stovetop to develop flavor (optional but recommended).
  • Place roast in the preheated 275° oven.
  • Cook for approximately 90 minutes per pound, until fork tender.
  • Halfway through, turn the roast so it cooks evenly.
  • Let rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing to allow juices to redistribute.

The low temp gently breaks down connective tissues over time without drying out the exterior.

Tips for Preparing the Perfect Heel of Round Roast

Follow these tips to ensure roast success:

  • Trim off any large excess fat to prevent greasiness. Leave a bit for moisture.
  • Season generously with salt, pepper and herbs like garlic, rosemary, thyme.
  • Sear or brown the meat first for the best flavor (optional but recommended).
  • Cook to an internal temperature of 195-205°F for maximum tenderness.
  • Let the cooked roast rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing to retain juices.
  • Slice across the grain into thin slices for a tender bite.
  • Save the cooking liquid to make gravy, or use it to braise vegetables.

Sample Side Dishes for Heel of Round Roast

Here are some tasty sides that pair beautifully with braised or roasted heel of round:

  • Mashed or roasted potatoes – Classic comfort food.
  • Buttery noodles – Soak up the delicious gravy and sauce.
  • Sauteed mushrooms – Earthy flavors complement the beef.
  • Roasted vegetables – Crisp-tender and full of flavor.
  • Braised greens like kale or collards.
  • Yorkshire pudding or roll – Gives a carb boost.
  • Crisp salad with vinaigrette – Cuts the richness.

With the right sides, heel of round makes a satisfying and well-rounded meal.

What to Do with Leftover Roast

You’ll likely have tasty leftover roast after dinner. Here are some delicious ways to use it up:

  • Sliced on sandwiches with cheese, lettuce, and tomato.
  • Diced or shredded into stews, soups, pasta sauce, omelets, etc.
  • Stir fry leftovers with vegetables and rice or quinoa.
  • Pile sliced roast on top of salad greens for a protein boost.
  • Mix with mayo, mustard, and pickle relish for an easy roast beef dip.

With a little creativity, you can repurpose leftover roast into all kinds of hearty, delicious dishes.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

To ensure your heel of round roast turns out juicy and delicious

How to Cook a Top Round Roast


What is heel of round roast good for?

A heel roast isn’t the most tender cut of beef but it is very flavorful. Roasting a heel roast in a Dutch Oven is a wonderful way to slow cook the beef and results in a wonderful tender meal. Add carrots and potatoes and you have a complete one pot tasty meal.

How do you cook eye of the round so it is not tough?

This cut of beef is tougher than others, so following a steak recipe and using cooking methods that allow for long, slow cooking times work best for eye of round steak. Slow-cooking, braising, and cooking sous vide are some of the best cooking methods for eye of round steak.

Does round roast get more tender the longer you cook it?

Essential Tips for a Tender Top Round Roast More specifically, we mean to cook it using low heat and over a long period, both of which work together to break down fat and tenderize the meat. If you cook it too fast, the natural tenderization process won’t have time to work its magic.

Is eye of round roast tough or tender?

Eye of round is a lean muscle that is part of the primal beef round—the upper hind leg of the beef. Being a leg, most of the round is very tough, which makes it great for stewing, but the eye of round is relatively tender. It often comes with a fat cap, but may come trimmed bare.

How do you cook a heel of round roast?

Heel of round is a very flavorful roast that is tougher than many of the other beef cuts because of its location: above the heel on the cow. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub the roast with olive oil and season it with salt and pepper to taste. Place the roast in the pan and pour the water or stock over it.

What is heel of round?

It is often used to make ground beef. Heel of Round’s redeeming factor is its very flavourful meat. See also main entry for “Beef Round.” Long, slow cooking with moist heat. AKA: Denver Pot Roast, Diamond Roast, Heel of Round, Horseshoe Roast, Pike’s Peak Roast

What is beef heel of round roast?

Beef heel of round roast is a lesser-known cut of beef that is located above the hock on the cow. It is composed of many small muscle groups and has a lot of seam fat, which makes it one of the least tender cuts of beef. This cut is often reserved for making beef stock or for use as stew meat, and it can be difficult to find in grocery stores.

What temperature should a round roast be cooked to?

For medium, aim for 140-150 degrees Fahrenheit. Once your beef heel of round roast has reached your desired level of doneness, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before carving. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and result in a more tender and flavorful roast.

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