Prime rib is an extremely tender, unbelievably juicy cut of beef with a bold flavor that needs no dressing up. In fact, cooking prime rib is one of the easiest things you can do in the kitchen.
Here's all you need to know to make the perfect prime rib, along with tried and beloved recipes.
How to Choose Your Prime Rib Roast
Shopping for a roast can be confusing because the very same cut of meat goes by several different names. "Prime rib" is the most famous term, but the word "prime" actually describes the grade of the meat, not the cut. (The top three grades of beef are Prime, Choice, and Select.)
Meats graded "Prime" are sold almost exclusively to restaurants, so you probably won't find true "prime rib" at the grocery store. Instead, look for roasts labeled "rib roast," "eye of the rib roast" or "standing rib roast."
A boneless rib roast may be called "eye of the rib" roast -- or if the ribs are still attached, a "standing rib" roast. The meat will be more flavorful if you roast it with the ribs still attached, but a boneless roast is definitely easier to carve. If you buy a roast with the ribs attached, have the butcher remove the the backbone, or the roast will be difficult to carve.
How Much Prime Rib to Buy?
Allow at least 6 ounces of cooked, trimmed meat per adult. A boneless roast will give you about two servings per pound, and a bone-in roast will give you one to one-and-a-half servings.
How To Season Prime Rib
Most prime rib recipes call for very simple seasonings. Prime rib roast doesn't need a marinade or any complicated preparations; the meat speaks for itself. If you like, prepare a simple seasoning rub: fresh herbs, lemon zest, garlic, pepper and Dijon mustard are all excellent matches for prime rib. But don't salt the roast until right before cooking.
You can cover the meat with the spice rub up to 24 hours in advance; wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you're ready to roast.
To infuse even more flavor, sliver the garlic, make tiny slits in the roast and insert the garlic bits.
How to Cook Prime Rib in the Oven
No need to bring the meat up to room temperature first; you're going for a pink center, so it's okay if the outside heats up faster than the inside.
Place the meat in a roasting pan that's slightly bigger than the roast itself. If the pan is too big, the juices from the meat will spread out in the pan and evaporate. For a boneless roast, it's best to use a roasting rack.
If you've chosen a bone-in roast, the bones themselves will serve as your roasting rack. One side of the meat will have more fat on it; you want the fatty side facing up so the meat will baste itself as it cooks.
Don't add water to the pan, and don't cover it!
Prime Rib Cooking Time and Temperature
How long does it take to cook a prime rib? Well, it depends. There are three ways you can roast a prime rib:
- Low temperature for a long time. At 325° F (165° C), the meat will take about 17 to 20 minutes per pound.
- High temperature for a shorter time. At 450° F (235° C) for the first 30 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 325° F (165° C), allow about 13 to 15 minutes per pound.
- Both high and low temperatures. start high to sear the outside, then turn down the oven after 30 to 45 minutes to finish.
Your roast will shrink less if you cook it low and slow, but you won't get the same flavorful, well-browned exterior that a high roasting temperature gives you.
The Secret to a Perfect Prime Rib
A thermometer is the absolute best way to guarantee the roast turns out exactly the way you want it. For an accurate reading, push the thermometer into the middle of the roast, making sure the tip is not touching fat or bone (or the pan).
Medium Rare = 130-140° F (55-60 C)
Medium = 145-155° F (63-68 C)
Remember that the roast's temperature will rise at least 5 degrees after you remove it from the oven.
Let the roast stand for 15 or 20 minutes before carving to let the juices return to the center.
With prime rib, it's easy to satisfy everyone's preference for doneness. The slices taken from the ends of the roast will be the most done, and the middle will be the least done.
Some Favorite Prime Rib Recipes
With these top-rated recipes, we've included specific roasting tips from Allrecipes members.
"This method of cooking may make you hesitant BUT it works every time ! The trick is DO NOT OPEN THAT OVEN DOOR TO PEAK AT YOUR ROAST -- Tape it shut if necessary to stop your curosity." -- joyce
"I made this for Christmas, and everyone enjoyed it. However, with so much cayenne, this is definitely an adult taste. You may wish to adjust. The drippings made a fantastic gravy." -- Chris
"The seasoned flour seals the meat and crisps the fat on the top and bottom. I used a rack to lift the roast off the pan, so that the under side would be roasted nicely. This procedure works like a wood-fired oven . It seals the juices in while crisping up the fat." -- BarbaraC28
"I followed the directions exactly. Because of the low cooking temperature in the end, I waited until the roast temped at 135 before I pulled it out. After resting 20 minutes, it was a perfect 145. I'm still reeling from how good this turned out." -- dani
"Soak hickory chips in bourbon with enough water to cover. When the coals are ready, place the roast on the top grate. Throw a few handfuls of soaked hickory chips onto the fire, and close the lid." -- Ed
See Our Complete Collection of Prime Rib Recipes.
VIDEO: See How to Make Perfect Prime Rib
In this video, Chef John offers slightly different prime rib cooking instructions. Unlike the directions above, he has you start with a room temperature prime rib. That's the key. The other keys to his method? A very, very hot oven and...MATH. Chef John says this version hits "the magical sweet spot between rare and medium rare." Grab your calculator, and check it out. Here's the recipe for Chef John's Perfect Prime Rib.
What to Do with Your Leftover Prime Rib
One of the best things about a big roast of beef is the possibility of leftovers. You just can't beat a basic prime rib sandwich with horseradish sauce, prime rib hash, or prime rib soup. Add prime rib to pot pies and pasta dishes. And don't toss out the meaty bones! Add them to the slow cooker and make this hearty Calico Bean Soup. Or use them to make beef stock. Be sure to read up on how to reheat prime rib, which does require patience!