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Learn the art of making smoked roast beef, so you can build your own hot or cold roast beef sandwiches at home.
Creating your own deli-style roast beef for sandwiches is now simpler than ever, thanks to this easy recipe. Smoked for tenderness, it’s the ideal way to craft your personalized deli meat.
Table of Contents
What is roast beef?
If you’re a sucker for a roast beef sandwich, this is the perfect recipe for you.
In this recipe, I share how to make smoked roast beef at home so you can make your favorite fast food-style roast beef sandwich or deli-style sandwich.
The cooking process for roast beef usually involves roasting a large piece of beef for a couple of hours, until it is cooked through and tender.
Several different types of beef cuts will work for this roast beef sandwich recipe, including eye of round, top round, top loin roast or London broil.
I usually use eye of round, which is the same cut I use for making beef jerky.
When seasoning the roast, choose your favorite flavors for beef.
The beef in Arby’s roast beef sandwiches contains sodium phosphates, which help aid moisture. We’re going to skip that process and dry brine the beef instead.
I like kosher salt, black pepper, granulated garlic, granulated onion and sometimes thyme, chile or cumin. Refrigerate it overnight to allow the flavors from the rub to permeate the beef, adding a deep flavor.
Instead of roasting the beef in the oven, I cook it on the smoker to a medium doneness.
Cooking it slowly allows the heat to break down the muscle fibers so that you’re left with tender slices of meat for the best roast beef sandwiches.
Once your roast is cooked. It’s important to let it cool completely before slicing it, especially if you like those really thin slices.
To get that perfectly sliced, deli roast beef, I use a meat slicer like they use at the grocery store deli counter.
- Eye of Round Roast: I used the eye of round roast as it’s a less expensive piece of meat, and it has just enough marbling to make it tender despite being a leaner cut of meat.
- Beef Rub: Pick up your favorite beef rub or make your own blend of spices. Start with kosher salt and black pepper and add onion powder and garlic powder. You can also add a touch of brown sugar for sweetness and cayenne pepper for heat.
Optional Sandwich Toppings
- Buns: I pile roast beef onto a sesame seed bun, but you can also use a hamburger bun, onion roll, hoagie rolls, French roll or even just plain sandwich bread.
- Cheese: For hot roast beef sandwiches, a spoonful of cheddar cheese sauce is great. Adding a slice of American cheese is also a good choice.
- Condiments: Consider condiments like Arby’s Sauce, mayonnaise, mustard, BBQ sauce or ketchup.
See the full recipe card below for servings and a full list of ingredients.
How to smoke roast beef
There are a few phases to this roast beef recipe. First, the beef will go through a dry brine process. Then, it gets smoked. Then, it needs to be chilled to help you get those perfectly thin slices.
I like to smoke the beef on a pellet smoker. You can also use a gas grill, charcoal grill or Ninja Grill to cook the roast beef.
- STEP ONE: Trim the excess fat and silver skin from the eye of round roast.
- STEP TWO: Apply the rub on all sides of the meat.
- STEP THREE: Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 6 hours. This is essentially a dry brine, which will help flavor the meat on the inside. You could inject the meat if you prefer or use a wet brine, but this method tastes great and is less work.
- STEP FOUR: Heat your smoker to 250F. Remove the plastic wrap from the meat.
- STEP FIVE: Place the roast on the smoker over indirect heat and smoke until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 135F degrees. This will take 1 1/2 to 2 hours. If you prefer to cook it longer than medium rare, adjust accordingly.
PRO TIP: For best results, insert a leave-in thermometer into the roast from one end toward the center of the meat. Set the thermometer to 135F. It will sound an alarm when it’s ready.
- STEP SIX: Remove the meat from the smoker. Let the meat rest on the counter for 30 minutes. Wrap the meat in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- STEP SEVEN: Using a meat slicer or very sharp knife, slice to your desired thickness.
How to make a roast beef sandwich
Brush the cut-side of the buns with some melted butter. Then, quickly toast them in a hot skillet, butter side down, for about 30 seconds or until they’re golden brown. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
For classic roast beef sandwiches, pile a mound of warm thinly sliced deli-style roast beef on the bottom bun. Then, add the top bun.
For more excitement, you can add cheddar cheese sauce, creamy horseradish sauce or caramelized onions.
For a cold sandwich, spread some mayonnaise on a couple slices of bread and add layers of lettuce, tomato, red onion and cold sliced roast beef.
If you want to make this delicious recipe for your kids’ lunches, make some roast beef and cheese roll-ups and serve those up alongside some chips or fruit for the ultimate balanced school lunch.
Leftover roast beef can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. It can also be frozen for up to 2 months.
To freeze roast beef leftovers, place individual slices into plastic bags and seal them. Write the date on each bag and pop it into the freezer. Then, thaw them in the refrigerator and they’ll be on hand when you want to make a quick sandwich.
GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips
- Season your roast beef and let it dry brine overnight
- Hickory, oak and cherry woods complement beef well
- Fully chill your smoked beef before slicing
Frequently Asked Questions
Several different types of beef cuts will work for this recipe, including eye of round, top round, top loin roast or London broil.
Yes. Slicing cold beef will be a lot easier than trying to slice warm beef. Plus, slicing cold beef makes it much easier to get those thin slices like on a deli sandwich.
Roast beef sandwiches taste great with sharp cheddar cheese, American cheese, provolone cheese and pepper jack cheese.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, the FDA recommends heating deli meat before eating it to reduce the risk of listeria monocytogenes.
By making homemade lunch meat and limiting the time the sliced meat is in the refrigerator, the risk is lower.
More sandwich recipes
More beef recipes
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Homemade Smoked Roast Beef Sandwiches
Smoked Roast Beef
- 3 lb beef eye of round
- 2 tbsp beef rub
- 8 sesame seed buns
- Season: Apply the rub on all sides of the meat. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 6 hours.
- Heat Grill: Heat your grill or smoker to 250F degrees with an indirect heat zone.
- Smoke: Remove the beef from the plastic wrap. Place it on the smoker and cook to an internal temperature of 135F degrees. This will take 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Cool: Remove the meat from the smoker and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Wrap: Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Slice: Using a meat slicer or sharp knife, slice to your desired thickness.
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp granulated garlic
- 1 tsp granulated onion
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.