How to Thinly Carve Roast Beef


Carving roast beef as thinly as possible requires only a razor sharp chef's knife and a cutting board. Roast beef cuts like round roast tend to be tough and are best served thinly sliced, for entree portions or for sandwiches. Hand-carving won't get your roast beef as thin as the professional deli machines, but you can make pretty thin, even slices with diligence and practice. As you carve, slice against the natural grains, or lines, on the roast to cut through the tough muscle fibers of the beef, making it much easier to eat.

Things You'll Need

  • Cutting board
  • Sharp chef's knife
  • Carving fork, optional
  • Sharpen your chef's knife to achieve thin, smooth and even cuts into the roast beef. Use a sharpening tool, such as a honing device, electric sharpener or water stone, following the manufacturer's instructions. Or take your knife to a professional knife sharpener.

  • Place the cooked roast beef on a cutting board. Allow it to rest for at least 10 to 15 minutes after removing it from the oven to allow the juices to redistribute. Position it so that the grain of the meat is parallel to you.

  • Position the sharp chef's knife on one end of the roast so that it is going across the grain. Hold down the roast firmly with a carving fork or your gloved, non-dominant hand.

  • Slice into the roast in a sawing motion, as thinly as you can, to make a slice about 1/8-inch in width. Continue slicing the entire roast in thin, uniform-sized slices.

Tips & Warnings

  • Carve roast beef right before serving so that the beef slices don't get cold too quickly.
  • To test your knife for sharpness, cut through a piece of paper or rolled magazine page that you hold upright. Try to slice the tops off of a carrot without holding it down on a surface, or slice through a tomato. Your knife is sharp enough if you can easily cut through these items with no effort.
  • Sharpen all your cooking knives at least twice a year. If you do not have sharpening tools, bring them to a professional knife-sharpening service. Invest in high quality chef's knives that come very sharp to begin with.
  • If you want to slice uncooked beef roast paper-thin before cooking, place it in the freezer for about an hour, just until it is firm.
  • Take extra care when using sharp knives to carve, keeping the blade away from you and as far from your fingers as possible.

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