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What can I add to a roast for more flavor?

Adding flavor to a basic roast can really take it to the next level. There are many simple ingredients and techniques you can use to make your roast juicier, more aromatic, and packed with extra taste. Read on for tips on how to give your roast a flavor boost.

Use aromatics

One of the easiest ways to add great flavor to a roast is to use aromatics. Aromatics are ingredients that impart tons of flavor without a lot of effort. Here are some great aromatics to use:

  • Herbs – Rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, and bay leaves are all excellent herbs to use. Place sprigs or whole leaves in the pan and baste the roast with the aromatic juices.
  • Spices – Rubbing the roast with spices like garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cumin, and chili powder gives great flavor. Make a quick dry rub by combining spices.
  • Vegetables – Onions, garlic, carrots, and celery lend sweetness and depth. Place them in the bottom of the roasting pan.
  • Citrus – Lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit juice and zest give brightness. Coat the roast or squeeze juice over it as it cooks.

Combining a couple aromatics is a simple way to take a basic roast from bland and boring to tasty and complex.

Use flavorful fats

Roasting a beef, pork, or poultry roast in an flavorful fat rather than plain oil makes a huge difference. The fat bastes the meat from the inside out. Here are excellent flavorful fats to try:

  • Bacon grease – Excellent for beef, pork or poultry. Keep some reserved from cooking bacon.
  • Duck fat – For rich, savory flavor with poultry or pork. Can find jars of rendered duck fat.
  • Butter – Baste beef or poultry with melted butter for richness.
  • Olive oil – Coat leaner meats like pork loin or turkey breast to add flavor.

Choose a fat that pairs well with the type of roast. Go over the top by using a combination, like duck fat with a splash of brandy!

Make a flavorful crust

Adding a flavorful crust gives your roast tons of texture and taste. There are several easy ways to do this:

  • Herb coating – Blend fresh herbs, oil, garlic, salt and pepper and pat the paste over the roast.
  • Spice rub – Make a dry rub with spices, salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder. Coat roast evenly.
  • Mustard coating – Smear spicy mustard, whole grain mustard or Dijon on the meat for tang.
  • Breadcrumb coating – For pork or poultry, coat meat with mustard, then breakcrumbs for crunch.

Searing the coated roast before adding to the oven will help form an extra crispy, caramelized crust.

Make a pan sauce

An easy way to pull together all the flavors from your roast is to make a quick pan sauce. Here’s how:

  1. Remove the roast from the pan and let rest on a cutting board.
  2. Place the roasting pan with drippings over medium high heat. Add a splash of wine or broth and deglaze, scraping up browned bits.
  3. Whisk in a few tablespoons of butter. The sauce will come together as the butter melts.
  4. Season to taste with salt, pepper and any other flavors like lemon juice or herbs.
  5. Slice the roast and serve drizzled with the glossy, delicious pan sauce.

The pan sauce takes all the flavorful fond from the pan and turns it into an easy sauce. Much better than plain gravy!

Marinate overnight

For the ultimate in juicy, flavorful roast, marinate it overnight. Try a wet marinade or dry rub marinade. Here are a few options:

Wet Marinade Ideas:

  • Red wine, garlic, rosemary
  • Soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger
  • Yogurt, lemon, honey

Dry Rub Marinade Ideas:

  • Chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic
  • Smoked paprika, brown sugar, salt
  • Coriander, mustard powder, pepper

The longer the roast marinates, the more flavor it will have. Let it soak up all the flavors overnight for best results.

Inject flavor

For quick flavor infusion, inject a marinade deep into roasts with an injection needle. Ideas for injectable marinades:

  • Beef or lamb roast – Red wine, rosemary, garlic
  • Pork roast – Cider vinegar, garlic, maple syrup
  • Turkey or chicken – Lemon juice, herb butter, garlic

Inject the marinade into a few places throughout the roast. As it cooks, the marinade flavors the meat from the inside out.

Stuff it

For bone-in pork or poultry roasts, add flavor by stuffing aromatics under the skin or in the cavity. Ideas for stuffings:

  • Herbs – Sage, thyme, rosemary
  • Fruit – Chopped apples, oranges, onions
  • Vegetables – Chopped carrots, celery, potatoes

This infuses moisture and flavor right into the meat. Spice and herb rubs also stick well when rubbed directly onto meat under skin.

Baste it

Brushing or drizzling the roast with flavorful liquid while cooking adds tons of moisture and taste. Whip up a quick baste with ingredients like:

  • Melted butter
  • Broth or wine
  • Fruit juice
  • Vinegar or mustard
  • Herb oil
  • Spice and garlic paste

Baste every 20-30 minutes for super juicy and tender meat.

Smoke it

Smoking is a great way to add complex, wood fire flavor to a roast. There are a few easy ways to smoke a roast:

  • Use a smoker – For real deal smoked BBQ flavor with any type of roast
  • Add wood chips – Soak chips in water, then add directly to coals or gas grill
  • Use liquid smoke – Brush on liquid smoke before or during cooking

Smoked roasts pair perfectly with zesty BBQ sauces or rubs. Just a light smoke enhances beef, pork, poultry or lamb without overpowering it.

Boost the braising liquid

For pot roasts or other braised roasts, the braising liquid provides tons of flavor. Bump up the taste with:

  • Wine, beer or broth
  • Tomatoes or tomato paste
  • Chiles or hot sauce
  • Soy sauce or Worcestershire
  • Herbs and garlic

Let the roast braise low and slow so the liquid reduces down to an ultra savory sauce.

Top it off

Add flavorful toppings during the last 15-30 minutes of cooking to finish a roast:

  • Cheese – Melted blue, feta, Parmesan, etc.
  • Herb butter
  • Caramelized onions or mushrooms
  • Chili or BBQ sauce
  • Sauteed vegetables
  • Crispy bacon

Layer on multiple toppings for an insanely tasty roast straight from the oven.

Let it rest

Finally, let your roast rest before slicing into it. Letting it rest:

  • Allows juices to redistribute back into the meat
  • Makes the meat easier to carve
  • Maximizes juiciness and flavor

Let roast beef, pork and lamb rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing. Poultry and turkey should rest at least 5 minutes. This simple step takes the roast to perfect.


With a few easy ingredients and techniques, it’s simple to take a basic roast to new heights of flavor. Aromatics, marinades, bastes and toppings all infuse roasts with taste. Allowing the roast to rest before serving ensures super juicy, tender meat. Use these tips to give your next roast an extra flavor punch.