How to Cook a Roast Dinner Step by Step – 21 Stages to the Perfect Sunday Lunch

How to cook a Roast Dinner Step by Step

It might be one of the more daunting things to cook, but have faith, making a great Roast can be done by anyone. And yep, we’re talking a proper, made from scratch, traditional Roast Dinner. 

It seems the advice usually given is “it’s just in the timing.” Sure, timings come into it, but if you’re not the most skilful cook as it is, that’s hardly good advice!

Instead, we consider the best advice to be focusing on preparation and taking things step by step.

Cooking a roast dinner step by step is the only way to go really, especially if you’re not overly confident in the kitchen.

How do you make a Roast Dinner step by step?

Cooking a roast dinner is all about understanding and remembering what the various steps are before you even peel a potato, chop a carrot or baste a bird!

We’ll assume that you’ve got all you need to make your roast and that you’re champing at the bit to get cooking.

If so, below you’ll find our step by step guide to cooking a roast dinner (which we’ve tried to avoid seeming like a military operation, but we might’ve failed on that!)

First, even before the first step, there’s a few important pointers you might find useful… 

  • Remember there’s the preparation and then there’s the actual cooking of the roast. For the most part, treat the preparation as an entirely separate phase (per our step by step guide).
  • Realise and accept that you’ll probably need to multi-task to a degree. At least mentally prepare yourself to think about the different parts of the Roast simultaneously. 
  • Think of each element of your Roast as an individual part of the overall meal (if one element happens to turn out less than perfect, that doesn’t mean the whole dish is ruined). Clearly you can’t apply this tip to all types of cooking, but with the Roast Dinner, it totally makes sense.
  • Similarly, try to prioritise getting the main elements right (e.g. the meat, roast potatoes, gravy). If things do go wrong with something, you’d rather it be some overcooked Brussels sprouts than dry meat or watery, flavourless gravy.
  • Understand that tasks and timings will vary, depending on your equipment, skills and what you’re cooking exactly. For that reason, our step by step guide is exactly that, a guide. It purposely doesn’t give specific timings and you might decide the order of some steps need to be swapped around. There’s really no need to tear your hair out if your pigs enter their blankets two minutes after you wanted. Just try to stick to a logical plan as far as possible.
  • Cliche, we know. But practice really does make perfect when it comes to cooking a roast dinner. Step by step really is the way to go…

Cooking a Roast Dinner Step by Step


Phase 1 – Preparation 

So you’ve bought all the ingredients and equipment needed for your roast. Time to take your first step towards your epic roast… 

Step 1

Without sounding too dramatic, get the end goal clear in your head. Picture how you want the final plate to look. Meditate if you need to. Hit some yoga poses before you write out a plan with all the to-dos and rough cooking timings. Allocate a duration for each cooking task, just approximately to begin with. Set a time that you’re going to serve your Roast, maybe with 30 minutes leeway either side. Then work out when you’ll need to start the cooking tasks. 

Step 2 

Get your ingredients and equipment ready to start preparing the food. This may even be the day before you’re due to cook the Roast (it certainly should be at Christmas). Have in mind which pieces of equipment you’ll be using for each element of the Roast.

Step 3

Create your gravy base (stock) if you’re making gravy from scratch. This could actually be done weeks in advance and frozen if you like. Ok, this is technically cooking rather than simply preparing ingredients, but it’s a key part of this initial preparation phase, in readiness for the main cooking phase (see the video below on gravy making).

Step 4 

Prepare your meat or veggie main event. Tie it up with string if needed. Add herbs, garlic, oil etc.

Step 5

Peel your potatoes (Maris Pipers ideally), rinse and place in cold water.

Step 6 

Make your Yorkshire Pudding batter and leave to rest.

Step 7 

Prepare your stuffing. Add to your meat if applicable, or simply to it’s separate roasting dish. 

Step 8

Put your pigs in their blankets and place on a roasting tray. 

Step 9 

Prepare your additional vegetables and side dishes, e.g. wash and chop carrots, cabbage etc, blanch cauliflower and make a bechamel sauce for cauliflower cheese. 

Step 10 

You may want to get your serving equipment, condiments etc ready and lay the table at this stage. You won’t want to be fumbling around for cutlery etc when your Roast is ready, leaving things to either overcook in the kitchen or go cold at the table.

Before we move onto phase 2, the cooking phase, check out this video of Mr O giving great tips on how to make epic gravy (it’s Christmas based, but the same principles can be applied throughout the year).

Phase 2 – Cooking your Roast Dinner

So half the work is done and out of the way. Now it’s just about execution, but if you’ve got everything prepped and set out nicely following Phase 1, the cooking steps should be a doddle.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a double or multiple ovens, juggling the cooking of the different dishes will be easier. If you’ve got a single oven, no bother, just make sure you’ve got a planned sequence of what needs to go in and when.

Step 11 

Switch on the oven(s). Always a good place to start!

Step 12 

Get your meat in the oven (this will likely always be one of your first steps in the cooking phase), although it depends how long your chosen meat will take to cook.

Step 13

Par-boil your potatoes. Drain in a colander and add them to a roasting tray with your choice of fat (oil, butter or goose fat), garlic, herbs and salt and pepper.

Step 14

Remove the meat from the oven and allow to rest. 

Step 15

Cook your Yorkshire Puddings (we’d suggest allocating this time to cook these alone in the oven without interruption). Then set aside and cover with foil.

Step 16

Put the potatoes in the oven. Add some of the meat juices if you like. 

Step 17

Add the stuffing (if cooking separately from the main meat) and pigs in blankets to the oven. 

Step 18

Add the other vegetables to the oven, if roasting. Otherwise steam/boil if preferred.

Step 19

Make / heat up your gravy. 

Step 20

Add the Yorkshire Puddings back to the oven to heat through. 

Step 21 

Serve and enjoy…

Roast Dinner


It’s. All. In. The. Prep! 

When it comes to cooking a Roast Dinner, it really is mostly about preparation. Get ahead with some solid prep and the cooking part will be a breeze. Or at least breezier!

Didn’t turn out the way you wanted? No panic, there’s always next Sunday to try again! 

Want more help with your roast dinner? Then you might also like…

What do you need for a roast dinner?
Sunday Roast vs Christmas Dinner

How To Cook a Roast for 10 (or more) People

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