This is the most incredible way to cook Prime Rib, with an evenly warmed interior and a browned flavorful crust. I include all my tips for making the most of this precious cut of beef!
Prime rib is truly one of the best foods that we humans get the privilege to eat.
And today’s instructions for how to make it are what I believe to be the best ways to respect this glorious piece of beef.
Though I always make Beef Wellington for Christmas dinner, this Prime Rib is the star of the show for Christmas Eve.
Prime Rib is wildly delicious and satisfying, while also being very simple to prepare.
(The Wellington is wildly delicious and satisfying too, but the prep is much more involved).
Prime rib is definitely an instance where the premium cut of meat does a lot of the work for you in terms of being good, we basically just need to not mess it up.
And to me, that means maximizing internal tenderness and doneness consistency, maximizing external browning, and choosing simple compatible accent flavors that don’t steal the show.
Reverse Searing in the Oven = The Best Cooking Method for Prime Rib
If you want the most evenly tender and reddish pink interior, while also having a brown and caramelized exterior, reverse searing is the way to go.
All this means is we cook the beef low and slow in the oven for several hours, then rest it, then give it a quick blast of heat at the end.
You can see in the photo above that the meat is pretty medium rare (my preference) from end to end.
Even this photo below, which is the very first slice off the prime rib and not the middle, is mostly pink all the way through:
If you do a quick search on the web, you’ll see that typically when prime rib is cooked with high heat, then low heat, you get a thicker band of grayish brown overdone meat on the edges. Reverse searing minimizes this!
There are even more merits to the reverse searing cooking method, which I’ll discuss below.
How to Make Prime Rib:
Everything about this process is simple, but for best results you’ll want to start a day ahead by salting the roast and letting it sit in the fridge for 24 hours. If you’re coming to this post having already missed that window, you can still carry out the rest of the cooking method, but it will be slightly inferior. After rubbing the outside with a little rosemary, thyme, black pepper, and ghee, the prime rib is cooked via the reverse sear method using the oven. Translation: low and slow for a few hours, then a short rest, then a hot 5-minute trip to the oven to brown the exterior. Let’s break it down!
Salt the Rib Roast One Day Ahead, if possible
Set a wire rack inside a rimmed half sheet pan, and season a 10-lb bone-in standing rib roast with plenty of kosher salt. Rub and press the salt into the meat:
Place this in the refrigerator uncovered for ideally 24 hours, and for a maximum of 48 hours.
Starting A Day Before = More Penetration of Seasoning and Better Browning
The salt will have a chance to penetrate the beef and “season on the inside” to a degree, and it will also pull moisture out.
Additionally, by NOT covering the beef in the fridge, this allows the exterior moisture to dry out as much as possible, which encourages browning later on.
Blot Excess Moisture with a Paper Towel
I always do this with my meat, particularly red meat like beef. This encourages browning, and you can see that there’s enough moisture on the outside that it moistens a full piece of paper towel:
Bones or No Bones, Tying, and Other Prep
Bones: I prefer to leave the bones in for cooking, as I believe bone-in cooking maximizes juiciness. If they bother you, you can cut them out before cooking, but you’ll likely need to reduce cooking time slightly.
Tie with Twine: Most grocery stores will sell the prime rib already tied with twine. This helps keep the shape, but more importantly, it helps you maneuver this big cut of meat. I use the twine to turn the rib roast over and around as I’m seasoning.
Trimming Fat: Personally, I do not trim the fat, nor do I score the fat, because I’m not trying to encourage rendering (we enjoy eating the fatty bits). Fat also protects the meat as it’s cooking, so I recommend letting people trim on the plate as it suits them. If you desire, you can score the fat for a bit of rendering and a slightly more textured crust.
Keep the Additional Flavors Simple and Traditional
The only flavors I use to accent the beef are fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, and black pepper:
And before someone asks, that’s right, no garlic. I don’t believe garlic has any place here, and I say this as someone who loves garlic. It’s too strong of a flavor here and takes away too much from the beef, and it’s also very prone to burning.
Ghee Is The Best Choice for Rubbing The Exterior
I mix ghee into the rosemary, thyme, and black pepper, then rub it all over the rib roast:
Ghee has a neutral flavor, a very high smoke point, and a great consistency for slathering on the meat and holding all the seasoning evenly in place.
It’s almost like a paste that’s easy to rub all over the beef:
You can see the seasonings here are not so much that it becomes a crust, but just enough for flavoring the beef in a way that I judge to be appropriate for the size. With that said, you are welcome to add more herbs or pepper if you like.
Place the prime rib in a 250F oven for several hours, until it hits an interior temperature of 120F. It will look like this:
There’s some browning on the outsides, but not a ton.
Rest the Prime Rib Now, Not At the End
It’s most common to let meat rest at the very end of cooking, before serving, but here we’re going to do something better. Resting the beef now means we can slice and serve the beef later immediately out of the oven, when the exterior is piping hot, sizzling, and browned.
I rest the prime rib for about 45 minutes, which gives me enough time to get a batch of yorkshire pudding made and get the heat cranked up to 550F for the next stage.
But, you can rest anywhere from 30-60 minutes.
Right Before Serving, Blast the Prime Rib with High Heat to Brown It
After resting the beef, blast the prime rib in a very hot oven for about 5 minutes until it’s thoroughly browned on the outside:
I do this in a 550F oven, and I put it on the convection roast setting so the hot air is really blowing all over the outside.
If your oven goes up to 500 and you don’t have convection, that is okay! You just may need to brown the meat for about 10 minutes instead of 5. I don’t recommend going much longer than 10 minutes though, as you’ll start to cook the interior more and increase the doneness.
Regardless, I recommend standing at the oven door and turning the light on so you can keep your eye on the browning. You’ll notice the outside sputtering a bit like cooking bacon in a skillet, and you may notice some smokiness too. Sometimes I have to turn on the fan and open a window, but it’s brief and it’s worth it.
Serve Immediately After Browning (No Need to Rest Again)
After this quick browning, you can slice and serve the prime rib right away, which is AWESOME because it’ll still be warm inside, and hot, crisp and crusty on the outside.
Cut off the twine, and if desired, you can cut right along the bones to remove them. You can see from my pictures that I generally don’t, because I like serving it on the bone. Follow your preference. I use this serrated knife (affiliate), but a sharp chef’s knife works too.
Prime Rib Tips and FAQ:
Doneness Variations: The temperature will rise 5-10 degrees during the rest, and may also increase slightly during browning. For medium rare, what I believe to be optimal for prime rib, I recommend pulling the meat out of the oven at 120F as indicated in the recipe box below. For rare, pull at 115 at about 3.5 hours. For medium, pull at 125F, just under 4 hours.
Reheating: Beef does not reheat great, and the most reasonable choice is to reheat in the oven (do not use the microwave). Wrap in foil and heat in a 300F oven for about 15 minutes, or until warm enough to enjoy.
For the Prime Rib:
- 10 lb bone-in beef standing rib roast **
- 3 tbsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup ghee ***
- 1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp freshly cracked black pepper
- One day ahead of time, place a wire rack inside a rimmed half sheet pan. Rub the rib roast all over with the salt, then place on the wire rack. Refrigerate for one day, completely uncovered. You can do this two days in advance if you prefer.
- Two hours before cooking, remove the prime rib from the fridge, and let it stand at room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 250F.
- In a small bowl, mix together the ghee, rosemary, thyme, and black pepper. Rub all over the rib roast, then place the beef with the bones underneath (see blog post photos if needed).
- Cook the beef in the oven for about 3.5 to 3.75 hours, until the interior measures 120F, which will give you a medium rare interior after carryover cooking. I usually hit 120F at exactly 3.75 hours, but check earlier if you are unsure if your oven is accurate. (For rare, pull at 115F, about 3.5 hours, and for medium, pull at 125F, just under 4 hours).
- Remove the beef from the oven and let it stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, and a max of 60 minutes. No need to cover with aluminum foil. During this time, I make yorkshire pudding or other sides in the oven.
- Increase the oven temperature to as high as it will go, ideally 550F, but 500 is okay. Additionally, if you have a convection roast (or convection bake) feature, turn that on as well. When the oven is fully heated, return the rested beef to the oven for between 5 and 10 minutes, until thoroughly browned on the outside. In my oven at 550F with convection roast, 5 minutes is plenty to brown the exterior. I recommend turning the oven light on and watching it closely as it cooks. Do not brown for more than 10 minutes, or you'll start to increase the doneness on the interior.
- The prime rib is now ready to slice and serve right away. There is no need to rest again. If desired, you can remove the bones before slicing by cutting right alongside them. I personally like to serve the pieces bone-in on the plate. Enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.