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What Is Prime Rib?
Prime rib is a tender, well marbled cut from the rib section. It’s what you get if, instead of slicing through the ribs to get ribeye steaks, you leave them together as one big roast, anywhere from two to six ribs wide. The prime rib contains several different muscles, the largest of which are the longissimus dorsi (the rib “eye”), a tender muscle also found in the strip steak, and the fattier spinalis dorsi (aka deckle or rib cap). Also called standing rib roast or ribeye roast, don’t confuse prime rib with the USDA grade Prime, a quality rating. (Although it’s not a bad idea to buy a Prime-grade prime rib!)
2 Fool-Proof Ways to Cook Prime Rib
Since prime rib is large and full of fat, it’s ideal for oven-roasting. The cooking will vary based on oven temperature, weight of the roast, and whether it's a boneless prime rib. There are a couple of different ways to do this:
- Stove-to-oven: Brown the roast and render the fat in a heavy-duty cast-iron skillet or roasting pan on the stovetop, then move to a moderate oven to finish cooking.
- Reverse sear: Roast prime rib in a low oven until it reaches the desired internal temperature, then crank up the heat and continue cooking until the roast is nicely browned.
Both methods can benefit from first rubbing your prime rib with a flavorful crust of minced garlic, fresh rosemary or other herbs, salt, and pepper. However you roast your prime rib, always let it come up to room temperature before you start roasting, which allows the meat to cook more evenly. For big roasts like prime rib, budget one to two hours.
Perfect Prime Rib Temperature Guide
A meat thermometer is a good idea when checking the temperature of a roast; if using an instant-read thermometer, remove the roast from the oven when taking its temperature. Prime rib should rest for about 30 minutes after cooking to relax the proteins and evenly distribute juices. The carryover cooking that happens during resting will increase the internal temperature of a steak by about 5°F, so keep that in mind when calculating internal temperature. For rare prime rib, aim for a final internal temperature of 120–130°F. Medium rare is 130–135°F.
How to Carve Prime Rib
If you choose to roast bone-in, you’ll want to remove it when it comes time to serve the roast. To remove the bone:
- Turn the roast on its side with a carving knife, following the curve of the bone as closely as possible.
- When you get to the end of the bone, hinge the bones outward and cut through the bottom to fully separate.
- Place the deboned roast on a cutting board fat side up and slice the deboned prime rib into thin slices as needed.
What to Serve With Prime Rib
Since prime rib is a large and expensive cut, it’s ideal for larger gatherings. For a classic prime rib dinner, try serving:
- Au jus, which simply means “with juice” in French. It usually refers to a simple pan sauce made with the meat drippings from the bottom of the pan and stock and/or wine.
- With horseradish sauce. Whisk ½ cup crème fraîche, sour cream, or heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form, then fold in 1-2 tablespoons prepared horseradish and 1½ tablespoons freshly ground pink peppercorns. Season to taste with salt.
Crowd-pleasing side dishes include:
- Yorkshire pudding, popovers, or other sweet, fluffy breads.
- Creamed spinach, green beans, or asparagus.
- Mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, or boiled new potatoes.
Best Roasted Prime Rib Recipe
Prep Time1 hr
Total Time7 hr
- 1 three-rib, 7 pound roast
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Flaky salt, to taste
- Generously rub kosher salt over the entire roast and refrigerate uncovered overnight, or up to 96 hours. When ready to roast, let the prime rib reach room temperature, about 1–2 hours.
- Move the rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 200°F. Transfer the roast to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet or roasting rack, fat side up. Season with pepper. Roast until the internal temperature of meat is 110°F, about 3-4 hours.
- Turn off oven and leave the roast inside until the internal temperature is 120°F for rare or 125°F for medium rare, about 30–90 minutes. Remove roast from the oven, tent with foil, and let rest, 30-60 minutes.
- Move the oven rack closer to the broiler and preheat the broiler. Remove the foil from the roast and roll the foil into a ball. Place the ball under the ribs to lift up the fat cap. Broil until the top of roast is browned and crisp, 2-8 minutes. Transfer to a large cutting board and slice as needed. Season with flaky salt to taste.
Learn more cooking techniques with Chef Thomas Keller here.