When it comes to roast beef sandwiches, the cut of meat you choose can make all the difference. The right cut will be flavorful, tender and easy to slice or shred for sandwiches. So which cuts of roast beef make the best sandwiches?
Top round is one of the leanest and most affordable roast beef cuts. It comes from the cow’s hindquarters, or round primal cut. Top round has very little marbling or fat content, which means it can end up a bit chewy or tough if overcooked. However, when sliced paper thin and piled high while still warm and juicy right after roasting, top round makes excellent roast beef sandwiches. The key is to roast it no more than medium rare so it stays tender and doesn’t dry out.
Bottom round comes from the bottom part of the cow’s round primal cut. Like top round, it’s very lean and budget-friendly. Bottom round requires careful cooking to prevent it from becoming too tough. Cook it slowly at a low temperature, roast it no more than medium rare and always let it rest before slicing across the grain. Shredding or slicing bottom round paper thin makes it work well for French dip sandwiches or Philly cheesesteak-style sandwiches.
Eye of Round
Eye of round is a small, cylindrical roast cut from the end of the round primal. It’s one of the leanest cuts of beef, with very little fat. Eye of round roast needs to be cooked properly to prevent it from drying out and becoming tough. Cook it to no more than medium doneness, slice it very thin across the grain and serve it right away. The thin slices of tender, rosy eye of round make great roast beef sandwich meat.
Tri-tip roast comes from the bottom sirloin primal cut near the cow’s hindquarters. It’s a small triangular cut that is more tender than other round cuts. Tri-tip has more marbling than top or bottom round, so it remains juicy and flavorful when roasted. Cook tri-tip to medium rare, let it rest, then slice it thinly across the grain. The thin slices of juicy, tender tri-tip work wonderfully in a roast beef sandwich.
For the ultimate roast beef sandwich, it’s hard to beat ribeye. Ribeye roast comes from the rib primal cut and has beautiful marbling throughout. This keeps ribeye roast tender and juicy as it cooks. Cook a ribeye roast to medium rare so it stays moist and sliceable. The ample marbling gives each slice of ribeye rich beefy flavor. Using ribeye roast for sandwiches may be pricier, but the exceptionally tender, flavorful meat is worth it.
Chuck roast comes from the shoulder area of the cow. It’s often sold boneless and well-marbled with fat. The fat content and connective tissue in chuck roast keep it moist, tender and flavorful, even when cooked to well done. Cook chuck roast slowly until very tender, then shred or slice it across the grain. The tender shreds or slices make incredibly juicy, messily delicious roast beef sandwiches.
Brisket is cut from the chest area of the cow. It’s a nicely marbled cut that becomes meltingly tender when cooked low and slow. Cook a whole brisket for 8-12 hours until extremely tender. Slice across the grain and pile it high on bread for amazing roast beef sandwiches. The residual smoky flavor from barbecuing or smoking the brisket adds even more flavor.
Rump roast comes from the back end of the cow, near the sirloin primal cut. It’s a flavorful cut that benefits from being cooked slowly to medium rare doneness. Slice rump roast across the grain as thinly as possible. The thin slices of tender, rare roasted beef work great for roast beef sandwiches. Rump roast also takes well to marinades, so consider marinating it overnight before roasting for extra flavor.
Sirloin Tip Roast
The sirloin tip roast comes from the hip area of the cow. It’s fairly lean but has enough marbling to keep it moist when roasted. Cook sirloin tip roast to medium rare, let rest, then slice thinly across the grain. The tender, rosy slices of sirloin tip make tasty, inexpensive roast beef sandwiches.
Top Sirloin Roast
Top sirloin roast is cut near the cow’s hip region. It’s a leaner cut that benefits from being roasted slowly at a lower temperature. Cook top sirloin roast to medium rare so it stays tender and juicy. Slice it paper thin across the grain. The thin slices make great roast beef sandwiches at a lower cost than pricier cuts.
Factors to Consider
When choosing a roast for sandwiches, consider these factors:
- Tenderness – More tender cuts like ribeye and tri-tip work best.
- Fat content – You need some fat marbling for flavor and moisture.
- Cook time – Cook slowly to medium rare for best texture.
- Grain – Always slice across the grain for tender meat.
- Price – Budget-friendly cuts can also make great sandwiches when sliced thinly.
Best Cooking Methods
These cooking methods all work well for making roast beef sandwich meat:
- Roasting – Cook in a low oven to medium rare doneness.
- Braising – Cook in flavorful liquid on the stovetop or in the oven.
- Slow cooking – Use a slow cooker or Instant Pot.
- Smoking – For rich smoky flavor (great with brisket).
Follow these tips when carving roast beef for sandwiches:
- Let roast rest 10-15 minutes before slicing to retain juices.
- Use a long sharp knife for clean slices.
- Slice very thinly across the grain.
- Keep slices as consistent as possible.
- Return any uneven or end pieces to roast and shred for serving.
Roast beef sandwiches taste great on these breads:
- French baguette – For classic French dip sandwiches.
- Ciabatta roll – The soft interior soaks up meat juices.
- Dutch crunch roll – Adds crunchy texture.
- Sourdough bread – Sturdy enough to hold stacked slices.
- Rye bread – Tangy flavor contrasts the rich meat.
- Brioche bun – Sweet, buttery richness.
Complement roast beef’s richness with these tasty toppings:
- Provolone or Swiss cheese
- Sautéed mushrooms
- Caramelized onions
- Roasted red peppers
- Horseradish sauce
- Aioli or herbed mayo
- Lettuce, tomato, onion
Serve your roast beef sandwiches with these condiment options:
- Mustard – Yellow, Dijon, whole grain
- Barbecue sauce
- Steak sauce
- Horseradish sauce
- Hot sauce
Drizzle or dip these delicious sauces on your roast beef sandwich:
- Jus – Roasting meat juices thickened into a gravy.
- Au jus – French dip sandwich broth.
- Beef broth
- Mushroom gravy
- Peppercorn sauce
- Bourbon caramelized onion sauce
Try these creative roast beef sandwich recipes:
- Philly cheesesteak – Thinly sliced beef, sautéed peppers and onions, melted cheese
- French dip – Roast beef on a baguette served with hot au jus broth for dipping
- Rachel sandwich – Roast beef, coleslaw, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese on rye bread
- Patty melt – Roast beef slices with onion and cheese between sliced bread and pan-grilled
- Roast beef panini – With sliced roast beef, tomatoes, spinach and pesto mayo grilled pressed in a panini maker
Roast beef is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals:
- High quality, lean protein for building muscle
- Iron supports oxygen circulation
- Zinc boosts immune function
- Vitamin B12 aids red blood cell production
- Niacin improves cholesterol levels
- Selenium acts as an antioxidant
For exceptional roast beef sandwiches, choose a well-marbled cut like ribeye, tri-tip or brisket. Cook it slowly to medium rare, let rest, then slice thinly across the grain. Pile the tender rare slices on a crusty baguette or soft bread. Add cheese, vegetables, condiments and sauces to complement the beef. With the right cut and cooking method, roast beef makes one of the most crave-worthy and nourishing sandwich fillings.