How to Cook the Perfect Prime Rib

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All bow down, for we are going to talk about the king of beef cuts! Nothing makes a holiday dinner table more inviting than a dish filled with beautifully cut prime rib roast.

Before we go on to discuss the amazingness that is the prime rib roast, let us tell you the most important rule for serving it! Always reserve the center of the table for it! It deserves to be in the spotlight. You might be thinking that we made that rule up. Well! you are not wrong at all but we firmly stand by this rule and once you experience the mesmerizing beauty and the divine taste of a perfectly cooked prime rib roast, you will too.

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Understanding Prime Rib Roast

The purpose of this article is to teach you how to cook prime rib roast and we believe that the first step towards cooking any food is understanding that food. The better you understand it, the better you will be able to cook it.

So first of all, it is important to understand that the word prime in the name refers to the grade of the meat, not the cut. This is the grade of meat that is preferred by restaurants and is considered one of the top three grades of beef.

As for the word rib, it obviously refers to the part of the meat you will be getting. One doesn’t simply buy prime rib roast without having to make a few choices. When buying the prime rib roast it is up to you to choose the no fat and no bones option, but we will recommend that you keep both the fat and the bones.

The reason we recommend you to keep both is that both of these things contribute to the flavor of the roast and play an important role in the cooking process. The only benefit of the boneless prime rib roast is that it will be easier to carve.

What Makes Prime Rib Roast So Special?

If you haven’t experienced a good prime rib roast, you must be wondering what all the hype is about. Let us tell you the two main things that make prime rib roast so special.


This part of the meat is filled with a rich and heavenly flavor of its own. When cooked the right way, the taste is so rich that you don’t need anything on the side to compliment the flavor. The flavor is complete already.

Ease of cooking

Now comes the other reason why the prime rib roast is so special and why it has a special status as a holiday dish. As fancy as it seems, the prime rib roast requires minimal effort in cooking. There are just a few technical details that you need to make yourself familiar with and cooking the perfect prime rib roast will become a piece of cake for you!

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Equipment Needed to Cook the Perfect Prime Rib Roast

  • Oven: The most obvious piece of equipment you need to cook the perfect prime rib roast is a good oven. The right temperature is a crucial factor when it comes to cooking the perfect prime rib roast, so make sure that the thermostat settings of your oven work just fine.
  • Meat thermometer: Talking of the importance of temperature, another piece of equipment that is a must-have for cooking the perfect prime rib roast is a meat thermometer. Now there are two types of meat thermometers available in the market.
    • Simple meat thermometer: With these meat thermometers you will have to open the oven while the meat is in the process of cooking, insert the thermometer in and check the temperature.
    • Remote meat thermometer: This meat thermometer is oven safe and can be inserted in the meat at the very beginning. The remote thermometer will allow you to monitor the temperature of the meat throughout the cooking process without having to open the oven. We strongly advocate the use of a remote thermometer and if you do not already have one, here is a recommendation for you.

An important thing to note is that when you insert the thermometer in the meat make sure that the thermometer is not touching the bone and is inserted in the thickest part of the meat.

  • Pan: The next piece of equipment needed is a pan. When cooking prime rib roast, make sure that the pan is only slightly bigger than the roast. If the pan is too big, the drippings of the meat will quickly evaporate, and trust us, you don’t want that goodness to just turn into vapor and fade away into non-existence.


  • Prime rib roast
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper

Yes, it is as simple as that. When buying the meat make sure that there is a layer of fat on it, as it is essential for the flavor and juicy texture of the prime rib. If for some reason, the prime rib roast you bought does not have a layer of fat on it, you can use butter to grease the roast instead. Nonetheless, fat is always better.


The procedure for cooking a prime rib roast is pretty simple and if you take care of a few technical details, nothing can keep you from mastering the art of cooking prime rib roast. Before we get into the technical details let’s briefly lay out the instructions for you.

  • Go to a butcher or your local grocery store and ask for prime rib roast. It also goes by the name of “standing rib roast” and “rib of the eye”.
  • Make sure to choose the one which has a layer of fat on it and let the rib bones in. You can also choose to get the bones removed for easier carving later on but it will not bode well for the flavor. And also, the bones help the meat stand in the pan while being cooked.
  • Set your oven to its highest temperature (the top limit being 500° F) and let it preheat.
  • Place the meat in the roasting pan with the bones down and the fat side up.
  • Cover the roast with a generous amount of salt and pepper.
  • Insert the remote thermometer in the thickest part of the meat.
  • Place the roasting pan in the preheated oven and let the meat roast at the same high temperature for 15 minutes. This will make the roast nice and brown from the outside and retain the juices inside.
  • Lower the oven heat to the desired temperature (the temperature will depend on how done you want the meat to be from the inside, more details on this are coming later) and continue roasting.
  • Use the remote thermometer to monitor the temperature of the roast. Once the roast reaches the desired oven temperature, (the temperature of the roast will continue to rise even after you remove it from the oven) take it out and cover it with a foil.
  • Let the roast sit for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the bones and carve the roast into slices with a carving knife. We recommend a thickness of ½ to ¾ inches, but it depends on your choice.
  • Your prime rib roast is ready to be served.

Now let’s talk about the “desired” temperature you should cook the roast at after roasting it for 15 minutes at a high temperature. Well, the desired temperature will depend on how done you want your meat to be. When it comes to the “doneness” of the meat, different people have a different preference. Some like it fully cooked, while others prefer it remains a little pink from the inside.

Following is a list of different levels of doneness and what they mean in terms of the color and texture of the meat:

  • Blue rare: This is like serving almost raw meat that is only cooked from the outside. The meat in the center still quivers and the color seems a bit bluish.
  • Rare: Rare is slightly more cooked than the blue rare but it is served while the color of the meat is still red or bright pink from the inside.
  • Medium-rare: Medium rare is firm from the outside but the center is very juicy and soft. The center of the meat is warm and pink.
  • Medium: The very center of this is also pink but as you move towards the sides the color of the meat becomes more brown than pink.
  • Medium well: This type is only slightly juicy with a pale pink color in the middle. The rest of the meat is gray-brown.
  • Well-done: This is when the meat is completely cooked and there is no sign of pink color. Some people prefer their meat well-done but it is just not as juicy as medium-rare.

If you are cooking prime rib roast for a holiday dinner, we’d recommend that you keep it medium-rare. That way there will be something in it for everyone. Those who prefer the pink juicy parts can enjoy the middle and those who prefer it well-done can relish the sides.

Level of Doneness & Cooking Temperature

Now comes the technical part you have been waiting for. Before we tell you the right roasting temperatures to achieve different levels of doneness, it is important to note that the cooking time and temperature can vary based on the initial temperature of the rib roast. The temperatures recommended in the following table may take longer to be reached if the meat is below room temperature.

Meat coming straight out of the refrigerator can take longer to cook from the inside. Although we recommend you to use room temperature meat. However, if that is not possible for you, you can always count on the remote meat thermometer to determine the level of doneness.

Level of DonenessTemperatureTime
Blue rare110° F15-20 minutes per pound
Rare120 to 125° F15-20 minutes per pound
Medium rare125-135° F15-20 minutes per pound
Medium135 to 140° F15-20 minutes per pound
Medium well140 to 150° F15-20 minutes per pound
Well done155+° F15-20 minutes per pound

As we have mentioned before, the temperature of the meat continues to rise even after you remove it from the oven, we’d recommend you to remove the meat when the temperature is still 10 degrees lower than the above-mentioned temperatures for the desired level of doneness. No matter what is your preferred level of doneness, always make sure that you are cooking the meat at a safe temperature.

Get a Little Fancier

Although the prime rib roast is full of flavor in itself, you can always tweak the recipe a little or add a side dish to make an even fancier meal. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Instead of only using salt and pepper for flavoring, you can also use some ground garlic for additional aroma and flavor.
  • Add flour and water to the fat drippings left in the roasting pan after you remove the roast from it and use it to make a thick and smooth gravy to serve on the side.
  • Simply mash some potatoes with a little butter and salt and serve on the side.
  • Garnish your prime rib roast with herbs like rosemary and oregano for a festive look and a beautiful aroma.

Now that you know all the secrets of cooking the perfect prime rib roast, why not invite some long lost friends over to dinner and settle the beef (pun intended) once and for all?

Steak Staff

By Steak Staff covers the full carnivorous lineup - from grilling out in your backyard, to our guides to the best steakhouses in cities across America. Our staff writers are committed to serving up tasty, mouth-watering content for steak-lovers everywhere.