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Science

Resting Meat is Worth It—and We’ve Got the Data to Prove It 

Just a 10-minute rest helps keep the flavorful juices in the meat—rather than spilled across your cutting board.
By Published June 23, 2022

Who hasn't pulled a roast or other cut of meat off the heat, marveled at how perfect and beautiful it looks, and—especially if dinner is running late—been tempted to slice it right then and there? 

Don’t do it. If you allow the meat to rest just 10 minutes, it could mean a 60 percent decrease in juices lost to the cutting board. 

Here’s how we know:

Our Tests

We roasted five boneless pork loins until their internal temperatures reached 140 degrees. We cut one roast into slices as soon as it came out of the oven, and tented the other four with foil and let them rest 10, 20, 30, and 40 minutes, respectively, before slicing. We collected any juices that accumulated during the resting period and separated them from juices that were lost during slicing. We repeated the experiment two more times and averaged the results.

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What We Found

The roasts that we sliced immediately after cooking shed an average of 10 tablespoons of liquid. In contrast, the roasts that we allowed to rest for 10 minutes before carving shed an average of just 4 tablespoons of liquid. That’s a 60 percent decrease in moisture loss by waiting 10 minutes to slice.

The numbers continued to improve with extended resting time; the roasts that rested for 20, 30, and 40 minutes lost 2½ tablespoons, 1 tablespoon, and 2 teaspoons of juice, respectively. (That said, while a longer resting time means less moisture loss, the difference might not be significant enough to warrant the added time. Our recommendations for resting times take this into account.)

Why Resting Helps Meat Hold on to Moisture

When red meat and poultry are heated, their muscle fibers contract, squeezing out some of the liquid within the fibers. That liquid then moves into the spaces between the fibers. When meat is piping hot, those juices have a thin consistency, and gush readily out where the muscle is cut. Allowing cooked meat to rest lets the juices cool, so that the dissolved gelatin, and any fat they contain, firms up a little, making the juice more viscous, so more of it stays within the muscle. As a result, rested meat will taste less dry and more tender and flavorful.

What Types of Meat Should Be Rested?

The principle is the same across thousands of recipes: Meat and poultry should rest after cooking and before slicing or carving. That applies to any steak, chop, roast, bird that has been roasted, broiled, grilled, or sauteed. 

So the next time you cook a piece of meat, take a pause when it comes off the heat and let the resting period do its thing. Your family and guests will thank you.


Try These Recipes—and Don't Forget to Rest

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.