How to Prepare Prime Rib Roast

Prime rib is ideal for entertaining because it requires little hands-on time and serves many. Even the leftovers from a slow roasted prime rib recipe are fabulous. Learn how to buy, prep, and roast this top cut of beef so next time you host a meal you'll know everything there is to know about how to cook prime rib.

It doesn't get much easier than this -- just season and roast! Perfect for a holiday dinner, this tender prime rib roast is sure to impress your guests.

Prime rib is another name for a beef rib roast, which has the rib bones intact and is considered to be one of the best-quality beef cuts for roasting. To cook your most perfect prime rib roast follow our tips that walk you through from purchasing to carving.

Step 1: Buying your prime rib roast

When purchasing your prime rib roast, figure about 2½ servings per 1 pound meat (about two servings per rib). Rib roasts vary in size from 4 to 10 pounds. Order your roast ahead from the butcher or meat department, especially during the holidays, when prime rib is especially popular. You may want to ask the butcher to remove the chine (back) bone for easier carving. As with selecting all kinds of beef, look for beef that has a fresh pink/red color.

Tip: The name "prime rib" is a little misleading because it may not be prime, which refers to the highest USDA beef grade and has the most marbling. Choice, the most common grade found at market, has a little less marbling but should still be juicy and flavorful.

What's the best way to cook prime rib roast? It's right in the name, roast it! Follow along to roast prime rib to your perfect doneness.

Step 2: Prepping the prime rib

Readying your roast for cooking can be as simple as sprinkling it with salt and pepper or rubbing it with olive oil and a dry spice rub. Another easy way to add flavor is to stud the roast with garlic. Using the tip of a small knife, poke several 1-inch-deep slits randomly over the roast. Cut 2 or 3 garlic cloves into 6 to 8 lengthwise slivers, and tuck the slivers into the slits.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the roast, fat side up, in a 15½ x 10½ x 2-inch roasting pan. Insert an oven-going thermometer into the center of the roast, making sure it does not touch bone or the pan.

Tip: If you don't have an oven-going thermometer, use an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the roast to test the temperature (do not keep this kind of thermometer in the roast during cooking). Learn more about how to use meat thermometers. Keeping a close eye on temperature is how you get a succulent slow roasted prime rib recipe without overcooking it.

Step 3: Know how long to cook your prime rib

Roast the meat, uncovered at the pre-heated 350°F, until desired doneness.

  • 4 to 6 pounds: roast 1¾ to 2¼ hours for medium rare (135°F) or 2¼ to 2¾ hours for medium (150°F)
  • 6 to 8 pounds: roast 2¼ to 2½ hours for medium rare (135°F) or 2¾ to 3 hours for medium (150°F)
  • 8 to 10 pounds:* roast 2½ to 3 hours for medium rare (135°F) or 3 to 3½ hours for medium (150°F)

After removing the roast from the oven, transfer it to a cutting board. Cover the meat with foil and let stand for 15 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, preventing them from draining out during carving. The meat temperature will rise about 10°F while it stands (the timings and temperatures listed above allow for this). This is key to a perfect prime rib roast, you don't want it to get overcooked and dry so take it out of the oven 10 degrees early.

Tip: Cooking prime rib on the bone helps to keep the meat moist.

*Roasts weighing more than 8 pounds should be loosely covered with foil halfway through roasting

Step 4: Carving prime rib roasts

On a cutting board, turn the roast on its side; remove a thin bottom slice if needed to stabilize the roast on a flat surface. Insert a large fork in the side of the roast, below the top rib. Carve across the front toward the rib bone. Cut along the rib bone with the tip of the knife to release the slice from the bone. Remove slice and transfer to a platter. Repeat with remaining slices.

Storage Tip: Refrigerate leftover meat for up to 3 days. Use it to make warm or cold beef sandwiches on buns or dinner rolls spread with horseradish mayonnaise.

Related: Herbed Prime Rib with au Jus and Horseradish recipe

Prime Rib Au Jus

A prime rib au jus sauce is very standard to serve with your prime rib roast. For the best flavored au jus, use the drippings left in the roasting pan. Once your meat is removed from the roasting pan, spoon the drippings into a fat separator or glass measuring cup. Skim off the fat. Place your roasting pan over medium heat on the stovetop (you may need to use a couple burners, depending on the size of your pan). Add the drippings, beef broth, and other desired seasonings to the pan. Heat until bubbly, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Thicken as desired. Strain before serving.

Try our basic beef au jus recipe, or the merlot prime rib au jus in this prime rib recipe.

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