Making simple, understated, delicious meals is an integral part of my approach to cooking. But, to me, the holidays aren't a time for subtlety. On special occasions, I want my dinners to feel celebratory, and nothing gets that job done better than a big, elegant roast at the center of the table. You've got a ton of options depending on your meat of choice, how much you want to spend, and how fancy you want to get. (If you've never tried a roast before, you'll be amazed at how easy it can be—though there are certainly more involved preparations out there, for those of you who want to make a day of it.) We've gathered 21 festive holiday roasts to suit all your needs, from the tenderest prime rib to a gorgeous crown roast of lamb, plus a 100% vegan vegetables Wellington that's so tasty, you'll never miss the meat.
Crown Roast of Lamb With Couscous Stuffing and Pistachio-Mint Sauce
Crown roast of lamb is undoubtedly one of the most luxurious dishes you can trot out to your dinner guests—it looks like something Henry VIII might have dined on. It's got a kingly price tag, too, so you'll want to cook it properly. To do so, use the reverse sear technique—cook the roast mostly through in a very low oven, then take it out to rest and crank the heat as high as it goes for a quick final browning.
Slow-Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb With Garlic, Rosemary, and Lemon
If you're intrigued by the idea of a lamb roast, but put off by its reputation for gaminess (or afraid your family will be), try a boneless leg of lamb: That gamy flavor is mostly concentrated in the fat, which is easily trimmed off when you're working with a boneless leg. Here, we season the meat with a marinade of garlic, rosemary, lemon zest, and—surprise!—anchovies, which boost savoriness without adding an overtly fishy aroma.
Grilled Garlic and Mint Pesto Stuffed Leg of Lamb
For a different flavor scheme, try a bright pesto made with mint, which pairs beautifully with lamb. If you're expecting warm weather during the holidays, cooking the lamb on the grill is a great way to go.
Sichuan Roast Leg of Lamb With Celery-Mint Salad
Lamb is popular in Muslim-influenced northwest China, so it's by no means a stretch to flavor it with spicy, tingly ingredients borrowed from Sichuan cuisine—cumin, dried red chilies, fennel seed, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns. To get the fullest flavor from your spices, toast them whole and grind them in a mortar and pestle.
Pork Loin Roast With Winter Vegetables
Easy and affordable but still impressive, pork loin is an excellent choice if you're on a budget—and plenty tasty even if money's no object. Here, we cook it with the same reverse sear technique that we use for lamb (low and slow first, then a quick sear to finish) for moist, tender meat from edge to edge. Serve it with roasted root vegetables, like carrots, parsnips, and turnips, and a simple olive tapenade sauce.
Ultra-Crispy Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder
Cooking a pork shoulder—another inexpensive yet crowd-pleasing option—at a low temperature for a good eight hours before blasting it with high heat gives you spoon-tender meat and shatteringly crisp skin. The only problem? After you make this once, your guests will expect it every time you have them over.
Crown Roast of Pork
Crown roast of pork takes a little longer to cook than its lamb counterpart, but otherwise the method is the same: Start low, finish high. It's a leaner option than, say, the porchetta below, but still wonderfully juicy and loaded with flavor. The exposed bone will get charred in the oven, which won't affect the meat, but you can simply wrap the bone in foil to protect it if you like.
A rich, slow-roasted, crisp-skinned porchetta is perfect for a holiday crowd, since every slice is exactly the same—no more bickering over who gets what portion! Though traditional porchetta calls for pork loin and belly, here we cut the loin out entirely and go all-belly for even cooking.
Sous-Vide City Ham With Balsamic Brown Sugar Glaze
City hams are precooked, so preparing them really just means reheating. To retain those juices, though, we recommend cooking your ham sous vide—after all, most hams come vacuum-sealed and ready for a warm bath. After it's heated through, throw it into a hot oven just long enough to set the simple glaze of brown sugar and balsamic vinegar.
Maple-Glazed City Ham
For the glaze here, we swap out the balsamic and brown sugar for a classic pairing of maple syrup with hot, pungent mustard. If you don't have a sous-vide setup, you can reheat the ham in the oven, though we suggest using an oven bag or wrapping it in aluminum foil to avoid drying it out.
Grill-Roasted Coke- and Pineapple-Glazed Ham
The smoky and sweet flavors of ham beg for a sweet-and-sour glaze. In this recipe, Coca-Cola and pineapple supply the sugar, and apple cider vinegar lends tanginess. If the weather isn't conducive to grilling, simply use the oven instead.
Perfect Prime Rib With Red Wine Jus
If you want the ultimate luxury for your holiday meal, there's only one choice: prime rib. Fortunately, considering the expense, it's easy to cook; in fact, if you've gotten this far in our roundup, you already know how to do it—it's all about the reverse sear. Serve it with a rich red wine jus and a side of tender braised oxtails.
Slow-Roasted Beef Tenderloin
Beef tenderloin is a subtler, tenderer, and more elegant alternative to prime rib. Because it's super lean, it dries out easily, so cook it slow and for less time than you might other cuts, and you'll end up with perfectly medium-rare meat and a well-browned, deeply flavored crust.
Grill-Roasted Herb-Crusted Standing Rib Roast
The intense flavor of a beef rib roast can stand up to a bold crust. For this grilled roast, we use a variety of herbs for seasoning—sage, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram—as well as Dijon mustard.
The Ultimate Beef Wellington
Beef Wellington makes a good argument for complementing your roast with other elements. In this version, we layer beef tenderloin with prosciutto, mushroom duxelles, and foie gras, and roll the whole thing in a crisp puff pastry crust. This is an old-school dish for a once-every-few-years kind of occasion, and while it takes quite a bit of work, the results are well worth it.
The Best Simple Roast Turkey With Gravy
The best way to cook an intact turkey is on a V-rack set on a baking sheet set on a Baking Steel: The V-rack/baking sheet combo improves air circulation to crisp the skin, and the Baking Steel focuses the heat on the legs, which need more cooking time than the breast. You'll end up with evenly cooked, moist meat in every slice.
Easy Stuffed Roast Turkey With Giblet Gravy
A whole stuffed bird is grand and picturesque, but it presents a problem of timing: By the time the stuffing cooks to a safe 145°F, your turkey is bound to be inedibly dry. Our secret is to give the stuffing a head start by par-cooking it, which ensures it gets adequately heated and your turkey stays moist.
Crisp-Skinned Butterflied Roast Turkey With Gravy
Longtime Serious Eats readers know the one true route to juicy, flavorful turkey isn't roasting it whole—it's spatchcocking (also called butterflying). By laying the meat out as flat as possible, you promote even cooking, and by keeping all the skin facing up, you can get it extra crispy. As a bonus, the flattened-out shape cooks much more quickly.
Want even better results for your holiday turkey? Don't mind throwing tradition completely out the window? By rolling up turkey breast with a curing mixture in its own skin and roasting it porchetta-style, you'll wind up with the juiciest turkey you've ever tasted.
Butterflied Roasted Chicken With Quick Jus
The spatchcocking technique works just as well for chicken as for turkey. Since you'll be cutting out the backbone anyway, while the bird cooks, you can use the backbone to make a quick, easy jus to serve alongside.
Vegetables Wellington (The Ultimate Vegan Plant-Based Holiday Roast)
Just because you're vegetarian or vegan—or have friends and loved ones who are—doesn't mean you're destined to cobble together a holiday meal out of sides and salads. Why should meat-eaters have all the fun of a beautiful centerpiece roast? Our vegetables Wellington is admittedly labor-intensive, but the results are stunning: Mushrooms cooked three ways, roasted carrots, dehydrated beans, braised cashews, and aromatics, all wrapped in a crispy phyllo crust, come together to make an incredibly flavorful and complex dish that no one will say no to.