English Sunday Roast

published Jan 21, 2024
English Sunday Roast Recipe

Make a traditional Sunday roast with rosemary roasted beef, carrots and parsnips, crispy potatoes, creamy horseradish sauce, and warm gravy.

Serves6 to 8

Prep30 minutes

Cook1 hour 30 minutes

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overhead shot of a serving platter with a full roast beef, roasted carrots and crispy potatoes.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

I love the ritual of a big Sunday dinner. Whether it’s a perfectly roasted chicken, a slow-simmered Sunday sauce, or a big pot of chicken chili (my family’s favorite when I was growing up), there’s something special about sitting down for a big meal once a week. So naturally, I was always going to love a Sunday roast.

Sunday roast, or roast dinner, is a traditional British meal of roasted meat, potatoes, and accompaniments like Yorkshire pudding, vegetables, stuffing, gravy, and various condiments depending on the meat. My recipe makes roast beef, roasted carrots and parsnips, the crispiest potatoes of all time, a creamy horseradish sauce, and a warm gravy for pouring over everything. It’s essentially a slightly pared-down version of traditional Christmas dinner. 

It’s ambitious for sure, but with a little bit of planning, it’s entirely possible to pull it off by yourself (take it from me — I live in an apartment with one oven). I’ll share my tips and tricks for how you can execute it without a hitch. 

The Origin of Sunday Roast

Sunday roast is originally from the British Isles, specifically Yorkshire. It was meant as a meal eaten after Sunday church service. Although there are ties all the way back to medieval times, the modern Sunday roast came to cultural prominence during the Industrial Revolution. In the late 1700s, people would place a large cut of meat in the oven to roast while they got ready for church. Then, just before leaving, they’d add the vegetables. When their family got home from church, dinner was nearly ready.

Types of Proteins Served in a Sunday Roast

While roast beef is perhaps the most quintessential centerpiece of a roast dinner, it’s common to utilize other proteins as well. Roast chicken, lamb, and pork all make delicious alternatives to beef. A rotisserie chicken would be a great stand-in when you don’t have the time for a longer roast.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

How to Make Sunday Roast 

This to-do list doesn’t exactly mirror the recipe below, rather it serves as a rough guide of the order I recommend making it in. 

  1. Make the horseradish sauce. Technically you can make this during any down time you have in the cooking process, but I like to make it a day or two ahead to get it out of the way and give the flavors more time to meld.
  2. Do all of your prep while the beef rests. The beef needs to rest at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before roasting, which is plenty of time to get the rest of your prep done. Cut all of the vegetables. Set the Yukon Gold potatoes in a pot of salted water on the stove until you’re ready to boil them. If you’re making Yorkshire pudding from scratch, make the batter and set it in the fridge until baking time.
  3. Roast the beef and vegetables. Cook until the beef is medium-rare (here’s a quick guide to beef internal temperatures for doneness) and the vegetables are tender.
  4. Boil and bake the potatoes. While the beef is roasting, boil the potatoes until tender, drain them, and shake to rough up the edges. Spread them out on a baking sheet and toss with duck fat (I’ve included more options below). As soon as the beef comes out, increase the oven heat and add the potatoes.
  5. Bake the Yorkshire pudding. As soon as the potatoes come out, bake the Yorkshire pudding. I like to make them in a muffin tin because they cook more quickly and are easier to portion when serving.
  6. Make the gravy. When everything else is nearly done, make a quick gravy with the pan drippings. 
  7. Reheat if needed. If you need to warm the beef back up, lower the heat to 200ºF and heat it, covered, for a few minutes.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

If You’re Making Sunday Roast, a Few Tips

  • Ask the butcher to tie the beef. Whether you use beef round or round roast, it will keep the meat well-shaped for presentation and even cooking. It’s not strictly necessary, but it’s nice if you can.
  • Make sandwiches with the leftover meat. Horseradish sauce, thinly sliced roast beef, and a little gravy make a delicious sandwich. Add a handful of greens, if you have them.
  • Keep the roast on the back of the stove, if you can. Set the (covered) roasted beef on the back of your stove if you have room. The heat from the oven will keep everything perfectly warm.
  • Slice the beef as thinly as possible. This is a lean cut, so aim for thinner slices.

More Accompaniments to Serve with Sunday Roast

Oven capacity issues aside, here are some more side options to serve with your meal to mix and match.

  • Peas. Simply boil frozen peas for an easy green addition.
  • Steamed vegetables. Broccoli, cabbage, or green beans are a great way to round out the meal and don’t require precious oven space.
  • Stuffing. Whether served in a baking dish or as stuffing balls (perfect for eating with Yorkshire pudding), it’s a flavorful addition.
  • Cauliflower cheese. This vegetable dish, which sometimes includes broccoli as well, is baked in a creamy cheese sauce similar to a gratin.
  • More condiments. Depending on the protein, English mustard, warm applesauce, red currant jelly, cranberry sauce, and mint jelly are all traditional toppings to serve alongside the meat.

English Sunday Roast Recipe

Make a traditional Sunday roast with rosemary roasted beef, carrots and parsnips, crispy potatoes, creamy horseradish sauce, and warm gravy.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


For the beef and vegetables:

  • 1 (about 3-pound)

    beef rump or round roast, preferably tied with twine

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

  • 1 pound

    medium carrots (6 to 8)

  • 1 pound

    medium parsnips (4 to 5)

  • 3 cloves


  • 3 sprigs

    fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish if desired

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

For the potatoes:

  • 3 pounds

    Yukon Gold potatoes

  • 1 tablespoon

    plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided plus more as desired

  • 1/3 cup

    melted duck fat, chicken fat, butter, beef tallow, bacon fat, or olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    garlic powder

For the horseradish sauce, gravy, and serving:

  • 1/2

    medium lemon

  • 1 small bunch

    fresh chives

  • 1/2 cup

    crème fraîche or sour cream

  • 1/4 cup

    prepared horseradish

  • 1 tablespoon


  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 cups

    beef broth, divided

  • 2 tablespoons


  • 2 tablespoons

    Worcestershire sauce

  • Yorkshire pudding

  • Flaky salt, for sprinkling


Make the beef and vegetables:

  1. Pat 1 (about 3-pound) beef rump or round roast dry with paper towels. Season all over with 2 teaspoons of the kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Let sit at room temperature for at least 1 or up to 2 hours. Meanwhile, peel 1 pound medium carrots and 1 pound medium parsnips. Halve crosswise, then halve or quarter each piece lengthwise so they are all about the same size.

  2. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375ºF.

  3. Finely grate 3 garlic cloves. Pick the leaves from 3 fresh rosemary sprigs, then finely chop (2 to 3 tablespoons). Place the garlic, rosemary, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a small bowl and stir to combine. Rub the mixture all over the beef. Place in the middle of a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet fat-side up.

  4. Scatter the carrots and parsnips around the beef. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper, and stir to coat. Arrange into an even layer.

  5. Roast until the outside of the roast is browned, about 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 275ºF. Roast until the beef is medium rare (registers 125ºF on an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part), about 1 hour more, checking the temperature after 30 minutes. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes.

Make the potatoes:

  1. Peel and cut 3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes into 1 1/2-inch chunks. Place in a large saucepan or pot and add enough cold water to cover by about 1 inch. Add 1 tablespoon of the kosher salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the potatoes are nearly knife tender but not totally soft, about 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then shake the colander to rough up the edges of the potatoes.

  2. When the beef is ready, transfer the beef and vegetables to a serving platter with tongs. Tent the platter with aluminum foil to keep warm. Reserve the roasting pan or baking sheet and the pan drippings. Increase the oven temperature to 450ºF.

  3. Place 1/3 cup melted duck fat, chicken fat, butter, beef tallow, bacon fat, or olive oil; the remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt; and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder on a rimmed baking sheet (do not use the one from the roast). Add the potatoes and gently toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer. Roast, stirring every 20 minutes, until golden-brown and very crisp, 60 to 80 minutes total. Meanwhile, make the horseradish sauce and gravy.

Make the horseradish sauce and gravy:

  1. Juice 1/2 medium lemon into a medium bowl until you have 1 tablespoon. Finely chop 1 small bunch chives until you have 1 tablespoon. Add the chives, 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream, 1/4 cup prepared horseradish, 1 tablespoon water, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to the bowl, and stir to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed.

  2. About 20 minutes before the potatoes are ready, place 1/4 cup of the beef broth and 2 tablespoons cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour any drippings from the roasting pan or baking sheet into a small saucepan. Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups beef broth and 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

  3. While whisking constantly, add the cornstarch mixture. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the gravy thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 8 minutes. Taste and season with kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Remove the saucepan from the heat and cover to keep warm.

  4. If desired, return the beef, carrots, and parsnips to a 200ºF oven to rewarm. Transfer the beef to a clean cutting board and cut across the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Serve with the carrots, parsnips, potatoes, gravy, horseradish sauce, and Yorkshire pudding. Lightly sprinkle the beef with flaky salt and garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs if desired.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The potatoes can be peeled and placed in the pot with the water and kosher salt and kept at room temperature for up to 4 hours before cooking. The horseradish sauce can be made and refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 days ahead.

Storage: Leftover Sunday roast components can be refrigerated in separate airtight containers for up to 4 days.