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Holiday Meats: Here are the Classics

holiday meats and roasts
Last Updated on January 26, 2022

Holidays are the time when most of us like to get together and spend some quality time with our families. Homemade food is one of the essentials, and quality meat is often the start of each delicious meal.

From prime rib, rib roast, pork loin roast, turkey, lamb, chicken, veal, and many others, it is sometimes hard to pick the best option. We picked some of our favorite cuts and roasts to help you prepare a delicious holiday feast.

Check our selection to learn about our favorites and adequate cooking methods.

Choosing the Right Holiday Meats

Before cooking your perfect holiday feast, you first need to get the right fresh ingredients. You can always get the freshest produce locally, but good-quality meat is a little harder to get.

Ask your local butcher about meat sourcing or visit a local farm to see how they treat animals. If you don’t have fresh local options, you can always use one of the online meat purveyors or butcher shops. They can deliver some of the best meats you will ever try straight to your door, which can bring this year’s holiday roast to a whole new level.

1. Beef Tenderloin

This beef cut is incredibly easy to cook, and you don’t have to deal with bones, excess fat, and any waste. It requires light seasoning with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and a whole tenderloin needs about 30-60 minutes in a 425°F oven. The meat is incredibly tender and flavorful, and it will be a star of any meal.

The USDA recommends cooking your beef to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F for safety. You should also allow your meat to sit for 3 minutes before carving and eating.

2. Prime Rib Roast

The prime rib roast is incredibly tender and full of rich flavor. Choose a boneless or bone-in option depending on your preferences. Cooking either one is easy, and it only requires light seasoning with olive oil, salt, and pepper. You may also want to cut several slits and insert garlic in your prime rib roast to amplify the flavor.

Cooking may take some time, so keep in mind that roasting a whole prime rib roast may take around four hours on medium heat. Don’t forget to stick to the USDA recommendations regarding internal meat temperature and allowing it to sit for 3 minutes before carving.

3. Rack of Lamb

Many people avoid lamb because they are not used to its unique flavor. However, when cooked correctly, it is one of the most delicious meats out there. A rack of lamb is a good option for smaller crowds, as a single rack typically feeds two people.

Season with olive oil, salt, pepper, freshly chopped rosemary, oregano, and garlic. Cook for at least 20-30 minutes on medium heat and serve with complimentary side dishes such as roasted Brussel sprouts, potatoes, green beans, or other veggies.

You can also choose a lamb leg if you want something different. The meat on the leg is leaner as it has less fat, but you need to be careful not to overcook it.

4. Pork Roast

There are several different pork roasts to choose from, but the crown roast is definitely the most impressive presentation-wise. You can also go for boneless or bone-in options, both tender and full of flavor when cooked right. Pork needs a little more seasoning than beef, so feel free to experiment with different blends to find your perfect mix.

Cooking takes around 20 minutes per pound for bone-in and slightly longer when cooked boneless. It is among the best holiday options as it can serve both small and large crowds.

5. Ham

Everybody appreciates a good ham. And the best thing is that you can always use leftovers in the following days for delicious sandwiches. You can go for a bone-in version, but our suggestion is a boneless ham. Cook at 325°F for 20-30 minutes per pound.

6. Turkey

Turkey is the ultimate food for holidays. Buying a fresh turkey can make all the difference, but a frozen turkey will still be delicious. Turkey is one of those meats where everybody has their secret seasoning ritual and cooking method. An average turkey of 10-12 pounds takes around three hours when cooked on medium heat.

Keep in mind that poultry needs a little more cooking to ensure safety, so the minimum internal temperature should be 165°F. 


What cut of beef is a holiday roast?

Different people like different cuts. Our favorite is probably the prime rib as it is an excellent food for holidays, as it is delicious and can feed small and large crowds of people.

What is the best place to buy meat?

Your local butcher shop, farmers market, farm, or online.

What are the most popular meats?

Different roast options like prime rib, ham, crown roast, and others are probably the most popular around holidays. Burgers and steaks are a favorite choice when it comes to barbeques. Poultry like turkey is perfect for special occasions, while chicken is more of an everyday option.

The Bottom Line

Holiday meats are an essential part of our holidays. People may go the extra mile to acquire quality cuts and spend more time cooking, resulting in incredibly delicious food. Hopefully, our suggestions helped you select the perfect meat for the upcoming holidays that will wow your family and friends.


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