A Step-By-Step Tutorial on How To Cook Prime Rib Perfectly

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You don’t need to have an upcoming event or holiday to make a perfect prime rib roast. You can make it for yourself on any lazy Sunday afternoon and have the kind of leftovers that keep on giving all week. You won’t regret it when you can easily reheat some tender, buttery prime rib after an exhausting day of work. 

Before you tie on your apron, let’s answer an important question, “What cut of meat is prime rib?” If you’ve eaten or seen this dish before, you know that it doesn’t look like a rack of ribs you might get at a barbeque joint. Prime rib is a beef roast that comes out of the oven carvable, sliceable, and begging to become a hearty sandwich. Even if this dish is served boneless, the cut of meat itself, standing rib roast, does contain several bones. 

Now you know what you’re cooking, and you can tie on that apron get to work.

How to cook prime rib roast

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 40 minutes 

Servings: 8


For the roast 

  • 6 pounds of bone-in standing rib roast (4-bone)
  • 2 garlic heads, unpeeled and halved horizontally 
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

For the au jus sauce for prime rib

  • 3 cups beef broth/stock
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Helpful tools

  • Meat thermometer (optional)

Preparation instructions 

  1. While we could jump right into the cooking instructions, the proper first step of making the best prime rib recipes is getting the best cut of beef possible. We recommend buying a high-quality piece of rib roast from a local butcher. 
  1. Take the meat out of the refrigerator and let stand  until the cut reaches room temperature. This can take up to three hours. When you’re ready to roast, pat the roast dry with a paper towel. 

Chef’s tip: Take your butter out of the refrigerator and let it soften while you’re waiting for the meat to come to room temperature. The butter will be much easier to whisk later on. 

  1. Preheat the oven to 460˚F.
  1. While you’re waiting for the oven to preheat, make the garlic butter rub/sauce. 
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the softened butter, minced garlic, and half a  tablespoon of salt.
  1. You can cook this roast in a cast-iron skillet or a roasting pan. Then, spread two tablespoons of the prepared garlic butter on the underside of the meat (which is the side with the bones) making sure to coat well. Place the halved garlic heads in the pan or skillet, set the meat over them (bone side down). Finally, sprinkle the roast with salt and pepper. 
  1. Roast the meat in the oven for the first 20-30 minutes, then remove carefully. Top the roast with the rest of the garlic butter. 
  1. Bring the oven temperature down to 250°F and cover the roast with aluminum foil. 
  1. Put the roast back in the oven and continue cooking for another 60-90 minutes. Baste the meat carefully using a spoon or meat baster every 20 minutes. Occasionally, check the internal temperature of the roast using a meat thermometer. See the cooking time and temperature guide below for more.
  1. When the roast is cooked through, let the meat rest for about 20 minutes before eating (with the foil left loosely placed on top of the roast). This helps the juices moisten the meat. The internal temperature of the meat will increase slightly while resting, so factor this into your calculations.
  1. While the roast is resting, make the au jus, or red wine sauce. Wearing your oven mitts, extract a bit of the dripping (juice) and the garlic halves from the bottom of the pan, and carefully remove the cooked garlic from the skin. In a skillet, heat the drippings and garlic on high heat and stir in 2 ½ cups of beef stock and the wine. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Whisk in the cornstarch and the rest of the stock. When thick, strain to remove the large pieces of garlic. Add in the rest of the beef stock if you’d like a thinner sauce, or leave it out to keep a thick consistency.
  1. Carve the meat and serve with a drizzle of the au jus sauce. 
istetiana – stock.adobe.com

Nutritional values per serving

Calories: 672

Fat: 44 grams 

Saturated Fat: 19 grams

Carbohydrates: 7 grams

Protein: 59 grams 

Fiber: 1 gram

Iron: 6 milligrams

Recipe adapted from Cafe Delites.

Prime rib temperature guide

This handy guide is here to help you use a meat thermometer to check the roast for desired doneness. Keep in mind that well-cooked meat is the safest for consumption and that rare meats, though safe when cooked correctly, present a greater risk for the presence of bacteria. If this is your first time making this dish or you don’t own a meat thermometer to determine the internal temperature of the meat, be careful. Also, remember that the internal temperature continues to increase when the meat is resting. Keep those few last degrees in mind when making calculations.

  • Rare: The final desired internal temperature is 120°F, so remove the roast from the oven at 115°F.
  • Medium Rare: The final desired internal temperature is 123°F, so remove the roast from the oven at 118°F.
  • Medium: The final desired internal temperature is 130°F, so remove the roast from the oven at 123°F.
  • Medium Well: The final desired internal temperature is 135°F, so remove the roast from the oven at 127°F.

Information adapted from Cafe Delites

Sides and variations 

Brent Hofacker – stock.adobe.com

Mashed potatoes: The perfect side dish for prime rib dinner, mashed potatoes are a fluffy, buttery palate cleanser, complementing the rich, dark flavors of the meat. Not feeling mashed potatoes tonight? Try a baked potato instead. 

Roasted vegetables: Root vegetables pair well with any roast; they are sweet, dense, and slightly savory, contrasting well with the tender, succulent cuts. Try a seasonal vegetable from your local farmer’s market, or try a classic vegetable like roasted asparagus and Brussels sprouts

Green beans: Roast some green beans in garlic and olive oil and top with almond slivers for a light side dish that will break up the rich flavors of the meat and au jus. 

Sandwich: If you have a couple of prime rib servings leftover and want to switch things up, thinly slice the roast and layer between two golden slices of baguette or sourdough with a smear of mayonnaise, some caramelized onions, and a bed of dressed arugula for the best roast beef sandwich of your life. If arugula isn’t your thing, you could use instead melted swiss cheese and spicy horseradish

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