How to Cook Prime Rib for Juicy Results

Prime rib is often called the king of beef cuts, and if you like your beef juicy, tender and delicious, you might like to learn more about how to cook prime rib yourself at home. Also known as a standing rib roast, prime rib is marbled with fat to keep it succulent, and it is very easy to cook too.

You just need to start it in the oven on a high temperature to brown it nicely, then turn the oven down so it can finish cooking without the meat drying out. The center of your prime rib roast should be pink or red while the thinner tail-ends will be brown and more done. This is good because people get to choose if they want their meat medium-rare, medium or well-done because you end up with all three.

How Many Does Prime Rib Feed?

A full rack of prime beef gives you 7 ribs and this is enough for about 15 people. A lot of people like to cut a roast in half to cook separately or in 2 ovens, and that’s because a full rack is huge and might not fit in the oven unless you happen to have a big oven. The following recipe says 5 ribs but go ahead and choose the size that is best for your needs. Learning how to cook prime rib also involves planning how much you’re going to need.

Although some people plan one rib feeding 2 people, that is a lot of meat, and 1 rib per 3 might be closer unless you are feeding a very hungry crowd of people with big appetites. Don’t confuse the term ‘prime rib’ with the USDA term of ‘Prime’ because most ‘prime ribs’ are Choice quality not Prime quality. You can get prime rib in Prime quality (it’s more marbled and costs about half as much again) but your butcher might have to order it specially for you. This is all part of knowing how to cook prime rib.

Great for Thanksgiving or Christmas

Prime rib is an excellent choice for the holiday season and there are so many side dishes that go with it to choose from. Although a lot of old cookbooks will say to remove any excess fat, this only counts if you have more than an inch of fat on there, and that isn’t likely because the butcher will have taken off any huge slabs of fat. There will be some fat on the outside but leave it on! That’s what makes your meat juicy!

A lot of people would say a prime rib is the best thing ever, and there is nothing that could beat that brown crust crackling with fat and salt, the juicy pink inside of the meat, and the glistening succulence of the beef, the slices laid lovingly on the plate with roasted potatoes and vegetables, and the gravy and horseradish sauce passed on the side.

A Few Appetizer Ideas for You

How to Cook Prime Rib – The Preparation

Take your prime rib out of the refrigerator several hours before cooking it because it’s going to take that long to reach room temperature. Salt it all over at least half an hour before cooking it, preferably more, even overnight.

The salt draws out a little moisture but then this salty liquid dissolves meat proteins to loosen the meat structure, and those salty juices go back into the meat. This means more tender beef with a flavorful seasoning.

Tasty Gravy for Prime Rib

So what else do you need to know about how to cook prime rib? Once you have removed your roast from the pan, you can put the pan on the stove over a medium-high heat after pouring out everything except 2 tablespoons of drippings. Stir a tablespoon or two of flour into those drippings using a wire whisk and keep cooking and stirring.

Add some of the poured-out drippings back in as well as some milk, stock, cream, water, or beer, until you have a cup of gravy. Add salt and black pepper to taste and maybe some herbs too.

I like horseradish sauce as well as the gravy and that’s pretty easy to do as well. Mix 1 part horseradish with 4 parts sour cream, add a little lemon juice and a pinch of salt and chill before serving. You can make this up to a couple days ahead.

How to Cook Prime Rib for Juicy Results
Juicy prime rib is just wonderful for the holidays, especially when paired with homemade gravy and roasted potatoes. Discover how to ensure your prime rib comes out succulent, juicy and perfect.
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 12
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 prime rib roast (5 ribs)
  • Salt and black pepper, as needed
  1. Take the beef roast out of the refrigerator 3 hours before you are going to cook it.
  2. Cut the bones away from the roast and tie them back on with butcher's string (or get the butcher to do this at the time of purchase).
  3. Sprinkle salt all over it.
  4. Preheat the oven as hot as it will go (maybe 500 degrees F which is 250 degrees C).
  5. Pat the meat dry using paper towels, because salting the meat releases moisture.
  6. Sprinkle more salt over it and some black pepper.
  7. Put the meat in a roasting pan fat side up and bone side down.
  8. Put a meat thermometer into the thickest part (don't let it touch a bone).
  9. Brown the roast for 15 minutes in the oven.
  10. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C) and cook it for 14 minutes per pound for rare or 16 minutes per pound for medium-rare.
  11. These cooking times might vary depending on the thickness of your rib roast and your oven itself.
  12. When the thermometer registers 115 degrees F (46 degrees C) for rare, or 125 degrees F (52 degrees C) for medium-rare, remove it from the oven.
  13. The temperature will go up a few more degrees after you take it out.
  14. Put the meat on a carving board and cover it with aluminum foil.
  15. Let it sit for half an hour while you make any side dishes you are going to have.
  16. Cut the strings off the roast and remove the bones (save them for making soup!)
  17. Slice the meat into ¼ inch or ½ inch (½ to 1½ cm) slices across the grain.

Photo by: Daniel St.Pierre, at

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