Top tips for the perfect roast dinner

There’s no denying it, we all love a Sunday roast. A big weekend meal is the perfect excuse to get all your friends and family around the table for a feast. To help you achieve gorgeously glossy gravy, tender roasted veggies and beautifully crispy potatoes, here are our top tips for the ultimate roast dinner.

  1. Get ahead

    Take the pressure off by prepping your veggies ahead of time. Peel and chop the potatoes, leaving them overnight in a saucepan of water in the fridge. Slice your veggies and store in plastic containers in the fridge so they’re ready and waiting when you come to cook the next day. Make the most of your freezer with this make-ahead creamy mash with chives and these tasty caramelised onions.

  2. The centrepiece

    To get the best results, make sure you treat your centrepiece with due care and attention. Always bring the meat to room temperature before putting it into a preheated oven, as this will ensure an even cook. If you're doing a roast chicken, get the perfect crispy chicken skin by patting the skin dry before cooking, rubbing with salt to draw out moisture and avoiding basting during cooking.

  3. Super spuds

    No Sunday dinner is complete without roast potatoes, and we’ve got all the tips you need to make sure your roasties are perfectly crisp. Choose Maris Pipers as they’re floury enough to give a fluffy middle, but they crisp up nicely too. It’s essential to parboil the potatoes to speed up the cooking process and give a fluffy, soft interior. When choosing your oil, pick one with a high smoke point and neutral flavour, such as sunflower or vegetable oil. For extra flavour and crispiness, try goose fat.

    Adding a few tbsps of flour to parboiled potatoes absorbs moisture and allows the spuds to really crisp up in the oil. You can freeze the potatoes after parboiling and shaking – open-freeze them on a tray, then transfer to a freezer bag, ready to be cooked straight from frozen. To roast, select a heat that’s not too low or they won’t brown and crisp, but also not too high or they’ll burn without cooking through. For alternative roasties, try these zesty sweet potatoes with rosemary.

  4. Perfect Yorkshires

    A side dish worth fighting over, make sure there are plenty for seconds by making your own Yorkshire puddings from scratch. For perfect crispiness, position a shelf high up in the oven (before you put the oil and tin in), leaving about 10cm for the Yorkies to rise, so they don’t hit the top of the oven. Don’t skimp on the oil – the bases of the tin need to be covered to ensure an even rise. Use vegetable oil or any fat with a high smoking point: try beef dripping for flavour or lard for crispiness. Yorkshires need lots of heat to rise, so don’t be tempted to open the door when they’re cooking as it may cause them to sink. The more ‘puddingy’ they are, the more likely a collapse. Look for golden, crisp middles before removing from the oven. Vegan? Don’t miss out – try these dairy-free Yorkshires for an easy alternative.

  5. Glorious gravy

    Traditionally made by combining the meat juices in the roasting pan with flour and wine, good gravy can make a roast dinner sing. Learn how to make gravy for any roast, or get ahead with this veggie red onion gravy which can be frozen until needed. For a new twist, this cider gravy is great for pairing with pork, or, for a meat- and dairy-free version, try this tasty vegan gravy.

  6. Pub-style crackling

    Golden, crispy and full of flavour, pork crackling is a real Sunday roast treat. Get the perfect crunchiness with our ultimate roast pork with crackling recipe and use our expert tips to make sure it’s right every time. The cut of pork is important, and we recommend pork leg as there’s a good layer of skin to crisp up, and the fat keeps the meat from drying out, meaning you can cook it at a high temperature long enough to get super-crunchy crackling. Make sure the skin is dry so the oil sticks to it and score the skin so some of the fat is released during roasting which bastes the skin and crisps it up. Add salt to draw water out of the skin, giving a fantastic crunch, and use a little vegetable oil to make the skin puff at a high temperature and prevent it drying out. Use a high heat to start the ‘puffing’ process, before reducing the heat to ensure the pork cooks evenly.

  7. Side dishes with style

    Upgrade your favourite roast side dishes with these winning ideas that really make veg the star. For flavour in a flash, add this roasted garlic and herb butter to your veg for an instant boost. Learn how to make the ultimate cauliflower cheese, and add a zesty twist to brighten up seared cabbage. Miso adds a delicious spin on baked parsnips, crumbly feta delivers cheesy tanginess to fennel-roasted carrots and a sprinkle of chilli brings a real kick to charred Tenderstem broccoli.

  8. Finish with a sauce

    Whether you like the kick of wholegrain mustard or the full-on fruity flavour of apple sauce, condiments are the perfect partner to a roast dinner. Why not try making a creamy bread sauce next time you’re cooking a roast chicken or turkey? No roast lamb is complete without classic mint sauce, and it’s so easy to make your own. For new twists, serve chicken with a fiery chilli sauce or try beef with a vibrant roasted garlic sauce.

  9. Make the most of leftovers

    There’s nothing better than a cold beef sandwich smothered in mustard, or a roast chicken sarnie jazzed up with mayo and spring onions. Find out what to do with all your roast leftovers, from new ways with ham and turkey to how to save surplus potatoes and lamb from going to waste.