21 Impressive Roasts for the Holidays

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[Photographs: J. Kenji López-Alt, Vicky Wasik, Daniel Gritzer]

The holidays are a time for celebration, and few things make a holiday dinner feel as fancy as a beautiful centerpiece roast. Depending on your budget and how much time you're willing to spend, we have a ton of options for you, from simple and affordable pork shoulder, to luxurious prime rib, to the more intricate Beef Wellington. You're bound to find something to suit your needs in this collection of 21 of our favorite holiday roasts—we've even got a vegan recipe for Vegetables Wellington that both vegetarians and carnivores will love.

Lamb

Crown Roast of Lamb With Couscous Stuffing and Pistachio-Mint Sauce

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

If you want to go all out this holiday season, there are few centerpieces as impressive as a crown roast of lamb. This regal, ultra-impressive dish has a price tag to match, so you don't want to mess it up. Using a reverse sear—a low temperature roast followed by a quick blast of high heat for browning—gives you perfect meat every time. Looking for a simpler preparation of rack of lamb? Sous vide is the way to go.

Get the recipe for Crown Roast of Lamb With Couscous Stuffing and Pistachio-Mint Sauce »

Slow-Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb With Garlic, Rosemary, and Lemon

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Worried that your family won't be into lamb? Most of its gamy flavor is in the fat—buying boneless leg of lamb lets you trim off a lot of the fat and tones down the meat's gaminess. There are a couple ways to cook leg of lamb. In this recipe we slow roast it with garlic, rosemary, and lemon zest, but if you have a sous vide device, try these recipes, which are flavored with black olives or mint, cumin, and black mustard.

Get the recipe for Slow-Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb With Garlic, Rosemary, and Lemon »

Sichuan Roast Leg of Lamb With Celery-Mint Salad

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[Photograph: Daniel Gritzer]

Sichuan peppercorns aren't exactly a traditional ingredient in American holiday cooking, but if you're feeling adventurous, give this dish a shot. Inspired by the cuisine of northwest China, we flavor a leg of lamb with cumin, dried red chilies, fennel seed, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns. I know it seems like a lot of extra work, but grinding whole toasted spices in a mortar and pestle really does bring out the fullest flavor.

Get the recipe for Sichuan Roast Leg of Lamb With Celery-Mint Salad »

Pork

Pork Loin Roast With Winter Vegetables

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Pork loin is one of our favorite choices for entertaining on a budget—it's impressive enough for a holiday celebration and it doesn't break the bank. It takes well to the same reverse sear technique that we use for lamb; a low-temperature roast ensures that it stays tender from edge to edge. Many of us have been taught to cook pork to death, but we pull this roast from the oven once its interior hits 140°F (60°C).

Get the recipe for Pork Loin Roast With Winter Vegetables »

Ultra-Crispy Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

In my mind, an even better option for feeding a crowd on the cheap is pork shoulder. As affordable as it is, it's even more delicious. Set it in a low oven and let it roast all day, then crank up the heat for 20 minutes. You wind up with meltingly tender meat and incredibly crisp skin. A whole shoulder can feed up to a dozen people. Don't worry if you've got a smaller group—the leftovers are amazing.

Get the recipe for Ultra-Crispy Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder »

Crown Roast of Pork

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Cooking crown roast of pork is pretty much the same process as cooking its lamb counterpart—it takes a little longer in the oven, but you still start low and finish high. Juicy and flavorful while still fairly lean, this roast is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. The high heat of the oven will char the exposed bones—it doesn't affect the flavor, but you can wrap the bones in foil if you don't like the look of the char.

Get the recipe for Crown Roast of Pork »

All-Belly Porchetta

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

This ultra-rich roast is the perfect holiday indulgence. Porchetta is already a rich dish, but we take it even further by replacing the pork loin with extra belly. It's not just a matter of decadence, though—with traditional porchetta it's basically impossible to prevent overcooking the loin. Our all-belly version is incredibly tender all the way through.

Get the recipe for All-Belly Porchetta »

Sous Vide City Ham With Balsamic Brown Sugar Glaze

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Preparing a city ham poses a problem—since they're already cooked, roasting them can lead to overcooked meat. Since most hams come vacuum-sealed anyways, it's actually easier to reheat them sous vide, which warms the ham while keeping it juicy. Once it's heated, glaze the ham with brown sugar and balsamic vinegar and give it just enough time in a hot oven to achieve a nice crust. (While sous vide may be the best way to reheat a city ham, you can always use an oven, as we do in this recipe for Maple-Glazed City Ham. Use an oven bag or wrap the ham in aluminum foil to keep it as juicy as possible.)

Get the recipe for Sous Vide City Ham With Balsamic Brown Sugar Glaze »

Beef

Perfect Prime Rib With Red Wine Jus

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

There's no holiday roast that's as simple and luxurious as prime rib. While I may sound like a broken record, there is no better method for cooking prime rib than the reverse sear. We like to serve prime rib with a red wine oxtail jus, because a side of braised oxtail is exactly what you need with a huge slab of prime rib, right?

Get the recipe for Perfect Prime Rib With Red Wine Jus »

Slow-Roasted Beef Tenderloin

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Prime rib may be our favorite beef roast, but there is a clear appeal to the more understated, elegant, meltingly tender beef tenderloin roast. Because tenderloin has virtually no intramuscular fat, it is very easy to overcook. Anything beyond medium-rare is going to be dry—I'd aim for at least the very center to still be rare.

Get the recipe for Slow-Roasted Beef Tenderloin »

The Ultimate Beef Wellington

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Beef Wellington is a relic of another era that's as delicious today as it ever was. It does take a little more work than most of our roasts—wrapping the beef tenderloin in puff pastry with prosciutto, mushroom duxelles, and foie gras is a bit of a project. The crisp crust, flavorful fillings, and tender meat are totally worth it, though.

Get the recipe for The Ultimate Beef Wellington »

Poultry

The Best Simple Roast Turkey With Gravy

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

I'll get to our favorite turkey technique in a minute, but some of you probably want to prepare an intact turkey for the sake of presentation. To do so, cook the bird on a V-rack set on a baking sheet (which allows for better circulation than a roasting pan). Then set the whole thing on a preheated Baking Steel or pizza stone, which will focus extra heat on the legs so that they cook through before the breasts dry out.

Get the recipe for The Best Simple Roast Turkey With Gravy »

Easy Stuffed Roast Turkey With Giblet Gravy

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

One of the main arguments for cooking a whole turkey is that you can stuff it. Stuffing is tricky, though—you need to cook it to 145°F (63°C) for it to be safe, and by the time it gets there the bird itself will become dry as cardboard. Our solution is to par-cook the stuffing so that it reaches a safe temperature by the time the meat is done.

Get the recipe for Easy Stuffed Roast Turkey With Giblet Gravy »

Crisp-Skinned Butterflied Roast Turkey With Gravy

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Truth be told, I haven't cooked an intact turkey in years because spatchcocking provides such fantastic results. Roasting a butterflied bird is better in basically every way—it cooks more evenly, the skin gets extra crisp, and the cooking time is reduced dramatically. You lose out on the traditional presentation, but it's worth it for meat this tender.

Get the recipe for Crisp-Skinned Butterflied Roast Turkey With Gravy »

Cajun-Spiced Spatchcocked Turkey

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Spatchcocked turkey comes out so moist and flavorful that it doesn't really need any seasoning besides salt and pepper, but that doesn't mean you can't make things more interesting if you want. Here we go with a Cajun-inspired rub made with paprika, cayenne pepper, coriander seed, cumin, black pepper, onion and garlic powders, and dried oregano and thyme. If your guests like some heat, feel free to increase the amount of rub you use by fifty percent.

Get the recipe for Cajun-Spiced Spatchcocked Turkey »

Chinese Red-Sauce-Glazed Spatchcocked Turkey

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

"Red braising" is a Chinese technique in which meats are cooked in a broth of soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, sugar, and aromatics like ginger, cinnamon, and anise. In this recipe we turn those ingredients into a salty-sweet glaze for roast turkey. Don't apply the glaze until the last 20 minutes of cooking, otherwise the sugar in it will burn.

Get the recipe for Chinese Red-Sauce-Glazed Spatchcocked Turkey »

Porchetta-Flavored Spatchcocked Turkey

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Classic porchetta flavorings—thyme, sage, fennel, and garlic—are a perfect match for roast turkey. Rather than rubbing the ingredients onto the bird we stuff them under the skin. This both gives the meat extra flavor and protects the flavorings from scorching. While this recipe was developed for a spatchcocked bird, you could do it with an intact turkey, too.

Get the recipe for Porchetta-Flavored Spatchcocked Turkey »

Turkey Porchetta

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Flavoring a roast turkey like porchetta is good and all, but you can take it a step further by rolling up a turkey breast in its own skin and roasting it. It'll turn out great, but for even juicier meat and crispier skin try this sous vide, deep-fried version.

Get the recipe for Turkey Porchetta »

Butterflied Roasted Chicken With Quick Jus

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

If you're only cooking for a few people, a whole roast turkey is probably overkill. Instead, try roasting a chicken with the same spatchcocking technique. When you spatchcock the chicken you cut out its backbone, which you can then use to make a simple jus while the bird cooks.

Get the recipe for Butterflied Roasted Chicken With Quick Jus »

Crisp-Skinned Roast Goose and Gravy

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

Goose is a traditional Christmas roast, but it's probably not something you've actually ever cooked. The most important part of roasting a goose is getting all of its fat to render. We accomplish this by pricking the skin and blanching the bird before roasting. Our prune and apple stuffing is a particularly tasty dish to serve on the side.

Get the recipe for Crisp-Skinned Roast Goose and Gravy »

For Vegetarians

Vegetables Wellington (The Ultimate Vegan Plant-Based Holiday Roast)

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

If you're vegetarian or vegan, holiday dinners usually leave you to make up a meal out of various sides and salads. That's not necessarily the worst thing in the world, but it's not fair that the fun of an elegant centerpiece is reserved for carnivores. If you're willing to put in a little—okay, a lot—of effort, you can make a vegan roast at least as impressive as anything else on this list. Our Vegetables Wellington is a show-stopper made by wrapping mushrooms cooked three ways, roasted carrots, dehydrated beans, braised cashews, and aromatics in a phyllo crust.

Get the recipe for Vegetables Wellington (The Ultimate Vegan Plant-Based Holiday Roast) »