Learn How to Cook Prime Rib (That’s Way Better than Any Steakhouse)

Learning how to cook prime rib can be intimidating, but all you need is the right technique.

When it comes to meat, my everyday lineup is pretty average. Chicken breast, pork tenderloin, ground beef—you get the idea. Although you can make some pretty spectacular dinners with these ingredients, they’ll never be met with the same kind of celebratory excitement that comes from roasting a big, juicy cut like prime rib.

It’s not just because prime rib is tender and delicious. For me, bone-in, standing prime rib is reserved for holidays and special occasions. This cut always brings to mind big family gatherings and a kitchen that’s rich with the heavenly smell of a slow-cooked roast.

So on special occasions, learn how to cook prime rib with our best tips and tricks for cooking prime rib. Follow along and you’ll be carving up a celebration-worthy roast in no time. Check out these other holiday main dish recipes that are extra-special.

What Makes Prime Rib, uh, Prime?

Prime rib is sourced from the rib section of a cow, an area that’s extra tender and marbled with fat. Marbling is the streaky white fat that runs throughout a good cut of meat. This type of meat packs plenty of flavor on its own, so it doesn’t need to be marinated. These are the cuts of beef that every home cook should know.

Choosing Your Cut

Go for bone-in beef. The bones help control the meat’s temperature as it cooks. Their extra surface area prevents the temperature from rising too quickly, making sure your roast is nice and juicy. If your butcher has strung your meat, go ahead and leave the twine on while you cook. This simply keeps the ribs attached to the roast. Just snip it off before you serve. Here are some more tips for getting the best meat and deals from the butcher.

Seasoning the Meat

Seasoning prime rib isn’t like seasoning pork chops, chicken breasts or single slices of steak. This is a huge piece of meat, so go ahead and pack on the flavor. We’ll teach you a homemade version with lots of garlic, shallots and herbs. If you want an easy route, try plenty of salt and pepper with herbes de Provence.

Picking Your Pan

Our rib roast recipes usually call for you to lug out a large roasting pan, but a 13×9-in. dish works, too. If you’re opting for this rack-free baking pan, however, layer the bottom with veggies and place your roast on top. We’d recommend a mirepoix (pronounced: meer-pwah), which is a fancy French term for coarsely chopped onions, carrots and celery. The veggies will cook gently and help form a flavorful sauce from your drippings. Jump below to read about serving your prime rib au jus.

Now that you know the basics, let’s get cooking!

Herb-crusted prime ribTaste of Home

How to Cook Prime Rib

Ingredients:

  • 1 large shallot, coarsely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, quartered
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary or 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh sage or 2 teaspoons rubbed sage
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bone-in beef rib roast (4 pounds) brought to room temperature
  • Mirepoix (optional): one onion, a few carrots and a handful of celery, coarsely chopped

Yield: 8 servings

Tools:

Instructions

Step 1: Season the meat

Preheat the oven to 350°. While it’s warming up, start the seasoning. For a shortcut, you can definitely use a pre-made mix, but it’s easy enough to make your own from scratch. Begin by placing the shallot, garlic and herbs into a food processor; cover and pulse until it’s finely chopped. Then add in oil, pepper and salt. Cover and process until it’s blended. This will “wet” down the seasoning so it’s easy to spread on your rib roast. Rub the mix liberally over standing rib roast. Let it sit at room temperature about 30 minutes before roasting. This takes the chill off the meat surface, which aids in browning.

Test Kitchen tip: For can’t-miss flavor, cut slits into the roast and stuff with minced garlic.

Uncooked meat coated in seasonings sitting on a baking sheet

Step 2: Set up the pan

Fill a 13×9-in. baking pan with the mirepoix and rest the meat on top. Place the prime rib fat side up, which will bathe the roast in its own flavorful juices as it cooks.

Test Kitchen tip: Be sure the pan you choose isn’t too large, which will cause the drippings to evaporate.

Person using a meat thermometer to check the temperature of their prime rib

Step 3: Let your rib roast, roast

Bake the meat until it reaches 5 to 10 degrees below your desired doneness. I’m a sucker for somewhere in between rare and medium-rare. That’ll take somewhere between 1-3/4 and 2-1/4 hours.

Doneness
Temperature
Medium-Rare135°
Medium140°
Medium-Well145°

Prime rib sitting undisturbed on a rake over a baking sheet

Step 4: Let it stand

You may be tempted to cut into your steamy, herb-crusted roast, but let it rest for at least 15 minutes. This gives the juices time to absorb into the meat. For larger cuts, you might want to let it stand for 5 minutes longer.

how to cook and carve prime rib herb crusted prime rib

Step 5: Carve and enjoy

If the bones are still attached, carve ‘em off with a sharpened knife. The easiest way to do this is to lift the roast onto its end using its protruding bone as a handle. Then glide the knife along the curve of the bone, detaching it from the rest of the meat. With the bones removed, you’ll be able to slice roast as thick (or thin) as you’d like.

How to Serve Prime Rib

Since prime rib is such a superstar, it doesn’t need much to make a complete meal. Go classic with a roasted veggie side dish like rosemary carrots or lemony asparagus and a healthy helping of mashed potatoes. Don’t forget to top your prime rib with one (or both!) of these sauces:

  • Au jus: This French term simply translates to “with juice,” referring to the natural juices from the meat as it roasts. Gather up the drippings from the bottom of the pan and whisk in about 1 1/2 cups of hot beef broth. Transfer the au jus to a gravy boat to serve.
  • Zesty horseradish sauce: In a small bowl, beat 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Fold in 1/4 cup fresh grated horseradish root, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover the sauce and refrigerate it 15 minutes before serving.
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Nicole Doster
Nicole is a writer, editor and lover of Italian food. In her spare time, you’ll find her thumbing through vintage cookbooks or testing out recipes in her tiny kitchen.
Christine Rukavena
Christine loves to read, curate, sample and develop new recipes as a book editor at Taste of Home. A CIA alumna with honors, she creates cookbooks and food-related content. A favorite part of the job is taste-testing dishes. Previous positions include pastry chef at a AAA Five Diamond property. Christine moonlights at a boutique wine shop, where she edits marketing pieces and samples wine far higher than her pay grade.