Kitchn Love Letters

The Incredibly Flavorful, Budget-Friendly Cut of Meat I Buy Every Chance I Get

published Oct 6, 2022
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Eye of round roast sliced on a platter
Credit: Laura Rege

I first encountered my favorite “secret” cut of beef while working at a restaurant in Piedmont, Italy, where veal eye of round is the star of a dish called veal tonnato. The tapered roast is gently poached until rosy (medium-rare), cooled, and very thinly sliced. It’s served on top of a creamy tuna-based mayonnaise sauce with capers as a luxurious appetizer. Any meat we didn’t serve after carving often went into the staff meal, to be served on rosemary focaccia — in other words, the world’s best roast beef sandwiches.

I don’t see veal eye of round in the U.S. much, but I do see beef eye of round occasionally and always snap it up because it’s super delicious and also an incredible bargain. (Right now it’s $6.49 per pound at my local Safeway, and Costco regularly sells it in packs of two for the same price per pound.) If you don’t see it in the case at your local market, ask the staff in the meat department. They’re often happy to sell you the less-sought-after cut.

Credit: Ivy Manning

What’s So Great About USDA Choice Beef Eye of Round Roast?

Eye of round comes as a tapered roast cut from the round (the hindquarter) between the inside and outside round sections. It’s got a lighter color than most other roasts (it’s light pink instead of steak-y red) and you’ll notice there’s not much marbling. But what it lacks in fat, it makes up for in beefy flavor.

What’s the Best Way to Use USDA Choice Beef Eye of Round Roast?

Eye of round isn’t the most tender cut, so it’s best roasted to medium-rare or medium and carved very thinly with a sharp, thin bladed carving knife, like we do in this Instant Pot roast beef. It’s delicious served as a roast beef dinner with roasted carrots and horseradish cream or mashed potatoes and gravy from a mix (the roast doesn’t produce much in the way of drippings, so there’s nothing to base a gravy on). 

Because the eye of round roasts are usually around three to four pounds, you’ll likely have leftovers. That’s part of the draw of this little-known cut: The leftovers make delicious roast beef sandwiches! In fact, it’s the cut most delis use when they sell sliced roast beef. 

Other options for this super-lean cut is to cut the raw roast into very thin slices (partially frozen meat will make for easier slicing) and add them to pho, where they’ll cook in the hot broth almost instantly. Or you can tenderize the meat and braise it (a la Swiss steak), butterfly the roast and stuff it with sautéed vegetables and cheese, or slice the meat to make braciole, the Italian American stuffed braised beef rolls. No matter which way you choose to prepare this economical cut, I promise you’ll be convinced. This is beef on a budget that feels like luxury.

Find it in stores: USDA Choice Beef Eye of Round Roast, $6.49 per pound at Safeway

What budget-friendly meat are you regularly adding to your cart? Tell us in the comments.