How to Cook Prime Rib for Any Special Occasion—and What to Serve With It

This classic roast looks fancy, but it's much easier to pull off than you think.

Homemade Grass Fed Prime Rib Roast
Photo: bhofack2/Getty Images

Succulent and juicy, a prime rib roast is a crowd-pleaser on any occasion. It makes for an eye-catching centerpiece that will have guests thinking you're a pro. And although a prime rib roast looks elegant and grand, it's relatively simple to cook.

The term "prime" is directly related to the USDA beef grade given, which is the highest standard. Prime rib is renowned for its even and abundant marbling, the amount of fat weaved with lean meat, and is most commonly found in restaurants, hotels, and prestige butchers. In everyday supermarkets, the best grade of beef is typically USDA Choice, which is still high quality but has less marbling—and good news, the meat will not be lacking in flavor and tenderness. So what we normally find as prime rib in supermarkets, is more likely a USDA Choice rib roast (unless you've got a very nice butcher or place a special order). Nonetheless, this showstopper classic with its juicy meat is sure to please.

Follow this simple recipe that utilizes the reverse-sear method for a stellar prime rib. The reverse-sear technique simply means starting low and slow, and then blasting the meat with heat toward the end of cooking process for an irresistible crispy crust.

How to Cook Prime Rib

  1. Start with one 10-pound bone-in standing rib roast (prime rib) for 10 servings. If cooking for a smaller gathering or a bigger feast, plan on 1 pound per guest for a bone-in roast and adjust accordingly. The roast can be tied for more structure and the bones frenched—cutting the meat away to expose the bones—if you choose.
  2. For an extra crispy crust, place the roast bone side down on a rimmed baking sheet, preferably fitted with a wire rack, and refrigerate uncovered overnight.
  3. Generously season the roast all over with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and let it come to room temperature for at least one hour and up to two hours. This allows for even cooking and juicy, tender meat.
  4. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees with a rack fitted in the lower third of the oven. Place roast on a clean rimmed baking sheet bone side down. (Alternatively, use a roasting dish or a roasting pan fitted with a roasting rack.)
  5. Roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 120 degrees for medium-rare, about three hours and 30 minutes. (Internal temperature will continue to rise to 125 degrees for medium-rare as the roast rests). Let it rest for 30 to 45 minutes.
  6. Increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees and return the roast to the oven. Roast until golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Let the meat rest for about 15 minutes before carving.

How to Know When Prime Rib Is Done

If you don't have a digital kitchen thermometer yet, this is the time to get one. It's the best method to test when a large cut of meat like a prime rib is done, and ensures it's roasted to perfection. A digital kitchen thermometer helps to avoid undercooked or overcooked meat, which is crucial when cooking for guests. Plus, you don't want to jeopardize your meal, and potentially waste hard-earned cash on a nice piece of meat, just because you don't have a digital thermometer.

The roast is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 125 degrees (for medium-rare). The temperature climbs as the roast rests, so it's fine to pull it from the oven at 120 degrees, as it will get between 5 and 10 degrees warmer while resting. For medium, an instant-read thermometer should read 135 degrees and the roast can be removed from the oven at 130 degrees. Always avoid touching the bone when inserting the thermometer, as bones are generally hotter and will give you a misleading temperature reading.

Pro tip: Make a small investment and get yourself an oven thermometer too. It's really the only way to know your oven is heating at the temperature you intend.

What to Serve With Prime Rib

A gorgeously cooked prime rib deserves equally wonderful sides. Here are seven delicious picks for a five-star dinner.

01 of 07

Horseradish Potato Gratin

Horseradish Potato Gratin
Con Poulos

This easy gratin is creamy and made with spicy and mighty horseradish. The root's piquancy makes it a perfect pairing for rich, juicy meat like prime rib.

02 of 07

Maple-Roasted Vegetables

Maple-Roasted Vegetables
Thanks to a drizzle of maple syrup, Brussels sprouts and carrots get beautifully caramelized in the oven. Apply this treatment to any roasted veg: the maple-flavored oil tastes great on sweet potatoes, too. Serve with pork, chicken, or as part of a grain bowl. Get the recipe: Maple-Roasted Vegetables. Grace Elkus

You can never go wrong with a side of roasted vegetables and this Brussels sprouts and carrot mixture is full of flavor.

03 of 07

Creamy Mascarpone-Mashed Potatoes

Creamy Mascarpone-Mashed Potatoes Recipe
Victor Protasio

These are not your standard mashed potatoes. This luscious whipped rendition is guaranteed to make any dinner extra special.

04 of 07

Hanger Steak With Worcestershire Butter

Cook up a steakhouse-quality dinner at home with this easy and delicious hanger steak with Worcestershire butter recipe.
Victor Protasio

Take a page from this recipe and whip up the umami-rich Worcestershire butter to luxuriously spoon over slices of prime rib.

RELATED: 10 Tips for Buying Quality Meat That'll Ensure You Get the Best Bang for Your Buck

05 of 07

Garlicky Herb-Butter Layered Potatoes

Garlicky Herb-Butter Layered Potatoes served in a cast iron dish and displayed on a table with other holiday dishes.
Victor Protasio

A creamy center and crispy outside make this impressive yet simple side dish a wow-worthy addition to any table.

06 of 07

Brussels Sprouts Salad

Brussels Sprouts Salad
Heami Lee

This crisp make-ahead salad is guaranteed to make entertaining a breeze and its tart apple cider vinegar dressing stands up to the richness of a thick cut of meat.

07 of 07

Green Bean Salad with Crispy Bread Crumbs

Green Bean Salad with Crispy Bread Crumbs
Greg DuPree

Crisp-tender green beans are dressed in a bright dressing and sprinkled with a savory bread crumb topping for a refreshing side.

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