Cooked right, the eye of round can go from tough to tender.
The eye of round is a member of a not-so-glamorous group of inexpensive cuts taken from a cow’s backside, where some hardworking muscles give way to some less-than-tender cuts of meat. And while it’s true the eye of round can certainly be tough at times, with the proper care and attention, this super affordable cut can reach its full, most tender potential in no time.
Due to the location of the eye of round, on the rear leg of the cow, it’s a super lean cut of meat lacking in much fat. Because of this, the eye of round can dry out easily, especially when cooking with a dry heat method, like grilling and roasting. Therefore, some of the most ideal cooking methods for this cut are slower, moist-heat cooking methods that allow the round to retain its moisture and take on a tender and succulent texture.
Though the eye of round comes with a small price tag, following these instructions will make your bargain priced beef feel like a luxurious experience.
Watch: How to Make Classic Beef Pot Roast
Though this dry heat cooking method has the potential to dehydrate the meat, it can be a simple and effective way to cook this cut. However, it’s pivotal to marinate the eye of round roast prior to cooking.
While this marinade can vary significantly, depending on the flavors you love and the type of cuisine you’re inspired by, we’d recommend starting with a classic combination like 1 cup beef broth, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, and Italian seasoning.
Combine your marinade ingredients and add them to a plastic Ziploc bag with your eye of round. Allow your roast to marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours, but ideally overnight.
When you’re ready to roast, scrape off any excess marinade and pat your roast dry with a paper towel before seasoning with salt and pepper. Add your roast to a shallow roasting pan fitted with a rack, and cook for 15 minutes at 450 degrees to develop some delicious browning on the surface. Then, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and cook for an hour more before checking the temperature to ensure the roast has reached 125 degrees before removing. Allow it to cook an additional 10 minutes if it still hasn’t risen to the proper temperature.
Once removed from the oven, tent your roast with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes, during which the internal temperature will rise to 135, the ideal for medium rare meat. Slice the meat thinly against the grain, and serve.
You can also opt to pan roast your eye of round, as in this Eye of Round Roast with Pan Juices recipe, by cooking your beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat until browned, before adding it to a 425 degree oven for 50-55 minutes and serving with a delicious sauce made from its pan drippings.
Once you’ve mastered the traditional eye of round roast, think outside the box with flavorful combinations like a Spicy Marinated Eye of Round, or Roasted Lime Cilantro Eye of Round shredded and served with tortillas and taco toppings.
Or, coat your roast in a flavorful rub, roast, and chill overnight before slicing thinly into delectable sandwich meat with this Chili and Coffee-Rubbed Eye of Round recipe.
Braising is a fantastic cooking option for the eye of round, given the naturally tougher and dryer qualities of this cut. Not only will braising guarantee your beef will retain plenty of moisture, but it’s also a great way to infuse this cut with tons of flavor.
To begin the braising process, trim the fat from your eye of round and rub the beef all over with a spice rub of your choosing. While this rub can vary, and is completely customizable to your tastes, we’d recommend a combination of salt, pepper, paprika, and marjoram for a Spanish-inspired take on braised beef.
In a large Dutch oven, heat a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat before adding your beef. Cook the meat for 5 minutes, flipping it frequently to brown all of the sides, then remove it from the pan to create your braising liquid. While the braising liquid can vary, we’d suggest adding 1 cup of red wine or dry sherry and 1 cup of beef broth to the pan, scraping the brown bits off the side. Then, return the beef to the liquid along with the diced vegetables of your choice, like onion, peppers, and tomato.
Add your covered Dutch oven to a 350-degree oven and braise for 3 hours. You’ll know the meat is ready when it can easily be shredded with a fork. Remove your beef and slice into thicker pieces or shred.
Alternatively, you can opt to braise your eye of round completely on the stovetop. Begin with the same browning steps as the above method, cooking your beef for 5 minutes before removing it and creating your braising liquid in the Dutch oven. Then, return the beef to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook over medium low for 2 hours, turning the beef halfway through, until it’s perfectly tender to the fork.
You can also opt to stuff your eye of round before braising, as in this Stuffed Eye of Round recipe, which packs the roast with a flavorful chorizo, smoked ham, olive, and pimiento mixture before securing it with twine and roasting on the stovetop.
Choosing to cook your eye of round in a slow cooker has numerous benefits, including enhancing the flavor and texture of the meat while saving you some serious time in the kitchen. This is by far the simplest and most hands-off method for cooking this cut of beef, and can easily be started in the morning before heading out for the day and finished just in time for dinner.
Start by cutting your roast in half to ensure full and even cooking, and place it in a 5-quart slow cooker with the vegetables of your choice, like sweet onions and peppers, and about 5 cups of the liquid or sauce of your choice. We’d recommend this flavorful Spicy Sauce, which will help execute a perfect Slow Cooker Spicy Marinated Eye of Round.
Cook your roast on high for 9 hours in the slow cooker before reducing the heat to medium-low and letting the meat to cool slightly before slicing. Add the sliced meat back to the slow cooker before heating for 1 more hour and serving.
For more flavorful takes on the eye of round, check out these recipes for Eye of Round Roast with Roasted-Garlic Sauce, Eye of Round Roast with Onion Sauce, and Eye of Round Roast with Horseradish Cream.