Pepper Crusted Roast Beef

This 4 ingredient pepper crusted roast beef recipe is super easy – cooked at high heat for a short time, no fussing with temperature changing, foiling or basting: set and forget (until ready!) The peppercorn crusted meat is fully exposed to the oven’s dry heat, on all sides, resting up on a roasting rack.

The result? A gorgeous and thick peppercorn crust with a soft pink roast inside. The perfect special occasion dinner. There’s no easier way to impress than with a large piece of succulent roast beef, covered in a deliciously crispy, thick crust, and so tender to be carved with ease.

Sliced roast beef top sirloin crusted with crushed peppercorns and coarse sea salt.

Serving a keto roast dinner

A 3 pound roast will generously serve 4 to 6 people, depending on what side dishes you’ll be adding to the menu. The peppercorn crusted beef is really the main attraction, so you can serve it with fairly simple sides like roasted keto veggies or fresh green salads – like this ultra colorful arugula salad with balsamic vinaigrette.

Only 4 ingredients recipe

Salt and pepper, a bit of olive oil, and the meat. That’s all you are going to need for the LikeHotKeto pepper crusted roast beef recipe!

The meat – You can use any oven roast that’s reasonably lean, like top sirloin or sirloin tip, or eye of round. You can also use beef tenderloin. I like to use top sirloin, as it is (reasonably) affordable, and very tender and juicy when cooked to medium or medium-rare.

Ingredients for the keto peppercorn crusted beef roast.

Coarse salt and pepper – For an interesting, fun crunchy texture that’s also great to look at, use as coarse as you can get salt and crushed peppercorns. I use an adjustable mill grinder for the peppercorns. As for the salt, I put the “rocks” as they are (as it’s traditionally done in Brazilian barbecue, and it’s awesome!).

To crush the peppercorns by hand, put them inside a couple of coffee filters or in a sturdy plastic bag and crush with the flat part of a mallet or the bottom of a heavy skillet.

Make pepper less hot

For a beautiful beef roast with a thick peppercorn crust, you need a fairly large amount of pepper. If you are not used to the heat, this can make eating a bit uncomfortable.

To make the crust less spicy, but still fairly thick, sieve the crushed peppercorns though a mesh and discard (or save for other recipes!) the powdered and smallest bits of peppercorns.

Another idea to make the peppercorns milder: If possible, crush the peppercorns well in advance – a few days, at least. Ground pepper (or any spices, really) taste stronger when fresh, as soon as they are ground, and lose flavor and pungency as time goes by.

How to make

Slather the meat in extra virgin olive oil, just enough to help the pepper stick. Then, rub the extra coarse grain salt all over the roast. Press the crushed peppercorns onto the meat, with care to evenly cover the whole surface – don’t forget the sides!

Rest the meat on a rack in a shallow roasting pan, to maximize the contact of all the peppercorn crusted surface with the oven heat and get a dry and crispy crust all around.

Start pre-heating the oven while the meat rests and takes in the salt and pepper flavors. These extra time will let the surface temperature of the roast increase, allowing for better crust formation once in the oven.

Insert the thermometer (if using) into the very center of the meat, and take into the oven when it’s fully preheated to 190 °C (375 °F).

Keto roast beef dinner, with pickles and greens on a white plate, with a glass of red wine.

How to tell when roast is done

Cooking time for a thick 3 pound roast would take about 50 minutes to one hour for medium-rare, 10 to 15 minutes longer for medium. The time in the oven is dependent on several factors, so I give these numbers as an approximation only.

How long it takes for the beef roast to get ready depends on so many factors. From the top of my head:

  • The exact oven temperature;
  • The temperature of the meat when it entered the oven;
  • The distance of the meat to the heat source;
  • The material and dimensions of the roasting dish;
  • The thickness of the cut, and not so much the weight. If you have a longer but thinner cut, even if it weights the same, it will get done faster because there’s more meat exposed to the heat.

The most challenging part of any large roast recipe is usually knowing when’s the right time to remove it from the oven. I’ll share with you the “official, safe and adult” way to do it (with a meat thermometer) and my way to do it 😎

1. Using a meat thermometer

The meat thermometer should be inserted all the way to the center of the roast to measure the internal temperature correctly. Because the roast is thick, there’s plenty of heat left on the outside that will continue irradiating towards the center and continue cooking the meat after it leaves the oven – this is called carryover cooking.

So, to guarantee that the pepper crusted roast won’t overcook and get tough, ideally it should be removed from the oven a few degrees before reaching the target temperatures.

For medium rare or very pink, you can remove the roast from the oven when it reaches 51 – 54° C (125 – 130 °F). For medium (light pink), remove the roast when it reaches 57 – 60 °C (135 -140 °F). For different temperatures, check here.

Half sliced roasted beef with thick crushed peppercorn crust,  on a wooden board next to cutting knife.

2. Test roast doneness by touch

To be honest, although I have an ultra gadgety thermometer, I rarely have the patience to use it. I’m a daredevil. I just throw my meat in the oven and take it out when it looks ready. I mean, I don’t actually go by looks only… I go first by smell, then touch.

When the roast smells ready, I poke it. You know, when cakes should feel springy when done? Meat is similar. Give it a poke with your finger, if it’s still too raw it’s going to feel soft, maybe squishy, like it did when rubbing the spices, but hot. It’s also not going to bounce back. Leave it in the oven a bit longer. Or not, if bleu or rare is what you want.

For medium to medium-rare with some pink in the center, which (I think) is ideal for this recipe to get super tender and juicy, the meat will feel soft when poked, and it will spring back. If it’s done (or over cooked) it will be firm and not bounce at all.

You need to have some intimacy with your meat to be able to do this. If you get irked by raw meat, use gloves to handle it, and a spatula to rub in the spices, this method is not for you and you’d better stick with the thermometer. You need to have experience “feeling” the meat to be able to tell doneness by touch.

Side view of a peppercorn crusted beef roast resting on a wooden board.
Shhh, the roast is resting

Resting the meat

It’s physically painful to wait to cut into this glorious pepper crusted roast, I feel you. I have committed the mistake of not waiting long enough enough times. But with patience comes great rewards. As in, a juicier roast that’s easier to carve.

When you remove the roast from the oven, rest the meat for about 15 minutes. It gives time for the carryover cooking to happen (assuming you removed from the oven at the right time), for the proteins to firm up a bit and give you neatly cut slices, and for the flavorful meat juice to reabsorb into the roast.

Tip: If you fear you might have left in the oven for too long, just carve it straight away. This will stop the cooking process immediately.

Storage and leftovers

The roast keeps well refrigerated for at least 3 days. So, if you have leftovers, you are in luck! I love making a huge roast so we can eat without cooking again throughout the week. You can reheat (very gently to avoid cooking it further), but we prefer to eat it cold.

To enjoy your roast leftovers, cut into thin slices to make a filling sandwich with a pan fry keto protein bread, use to top a salad, or make it into taco wraps using these easy keto tortillas.


Sliced roast beef top sirloin crusted with crushed peppercorns and coarse sea salt.

Pepper Crusted Roast Beef

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

This peppercorn crusted oven roast beef is easy to make with only 4 ingredients! Tender and juicy with a crispy and thick pepper crust!

Ingredients

Instructions

    1. Remove outside fat (if any) and pat dry the roast with a paper towel.
    2. Spread a coat of olive oil, then rub the coarse salt.
    3. Evenly cover the whole roast with the crushed peppercorns, pressing against the meat to have them stick.
    4. Lay the meat on a grilling rack over a shallow pan, and let it rest for 30 minutes, while pre-heating the oven to 190 °C (375 °F).
    5. Insert thermometer into the center of the roast and take it to the oven, uncovered.
    6. Remove roast when meat thermometer reaches about 51 - 54° C (125 - 130 °F) for medium rare; 57-60 °C (135-140 °F) for medium.
    7. Transfer roast to carving board and let it stand for at least 15 minutes to finish cooking. Temperature will continue to rise to about 57 °C (135 °F) for medium rare; or 63 °C (145°F) for medium.
    8. Slice the roast against the grain, and serve.

Notes

Don't foil the meat during resting time, the vapor might reduce the crispiness of the peppercorn crust.

For less hot peppercorns, crush or grind them a few days in advance, and sieve through a mesh. Use only the larger pieces, not the powder.

Cooking time for a 3 pound roast will take roughly around 50 minutes to 1 hour for medium-rare, and about 10 to 15 minutes longer for medium. These are just an approximation and depend on many factors. If not using a meat thermometer, see post for other methods for checking doneness.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 420Total Fat: 15.6gNet Carbohydrates: 0.9gProtein: 69.1g

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6 Comments

  1. Your tip for making the peppercorn crust milder is fantastic! I have made a similar recipe before but my husband couldn’t stand the heat from the pepper. I followed your instructions for this roast (I still used the temperature probe, maybe next time I’ll try your method) and it came out perfect, the crust is thick and crunchy with pepper but my husband loved it this time! Thank you so much!

  2. I can’t get enough simple meals on busy weeknights, and this roast beef is a favorite because it’s only 4 ingredients! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!

  3. This is such a simple recipe yet you get such a beautiful and flavorful piece of meat. My family is going to love this roast beef.

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