This no-fail standing rib roast recipe is coated in a garlic herb butter crust and cooked low and slow for a perfectly pink center. Also known as prime rib roast, this cut of beef is one of the juiciest and most tender, making it a perfect centerpiece for a special occasion.
What’s on your holiday wish list this year? According to Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner, the top three cuts of beef most Americans have on their holiday feast wish list include prime rib, tenderloin roast (like our beef tenderloin deluxe), and strip roast.
No matter what holiday you and your family are celebrating – or how you’ll be gathering this year – make beef the center of your holiday feast!
Standing Rib Roast: The Best Holiday Meal
Many consider this cut of beef to be the roast beef money can buy. The superior texture, flavor, and juiciness make it worthy of any Christmas dinner. There's nothing better than slicing through that golden brown garlic-herb crust to see a blushing pink, tender beef roast.
Keep reading to learn every tip to wow your guests this holiday season with the best prime rib recipe, complete with a luscious gorgonzola cream sauce.
What Exactly is a Rib Roast?
A rib roast comes from the rib primal of the cow. It is one of the more expensive cuts of beef because of how tender and large it is. It's the second most tender, just behind the beef tenderloin. A rib roast can also be called a standing rib roast or prime rib.
There are a few types of rib roast: select, choice, and prime. Prime is going to be more expensive because it has more marbling, which is where the term "prime rib" comes from. However, both choice and prime cuts are great options for this recipe. This recipe, and most prime rib recipes, is called a standing rib roast because the bone is left on.
Throughout this post, you'll see me use several terms for this rib roast including, prime rib, beef roast, beef rib roast, or just roast. They all mean the same thing!
Standing Rib Roast Cooking Time
Oven roasting is a go-to cooking method during the holidays because it generally uses a lower temperature over a longer period, allowing you to “set it and forget it”. This is a very large and expensive cut of meat, so you don't want to mess it up by overcooking it.
The cooking time will vary based on the size of your roast. For best results, cook it based on temperature, rather than time.
Pay attention to two temperatures: pull temperature and target temperature.
Pull temperature: this is the internal temperature of the roast when you should remove the roast from the oven. This should be about 15 degrees f below you target temperature to account for carryover cooking.
Target temperature: this is the ideal and final internal temperature of the beef after resting, which is 145°F for medium-rare (recommended). Review our guide for determining beef doneness for other target temperatures (medium, and medium well done).
Shopping for Prime Rib
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to purchasing prime rib: the size of the roast, the grade of the roast, and whether or not to leave the bone in. Let's cover all three so you can confidently head into the grocery store!
- How much prime rib to buy: On average, you should have 3/4 - 1 pound of prime rib per person. Another way to measure it is 2 ribs per person. We purchased a 6-pound (3-bone) rib roast to feed approximately 6 people. I you're serving 4 people, opt for a 4-pound (2-bone) rib roast.
- The grade of the beef: the USDA (only in the US) created a grading system for prime rib: select, choice, and prime. The prime rib will have the most fat marbling and be the most expensive.
- How the beef is cut: this recipe will work with a bone-in roast or boneless roast. However, we believe cooking this cut of beef with the bone is more tender and juicy, therefore we recommend leaving it in! Ask the butcher to remove the bone then tie it back on so it's easier to carve after it's cooked. They will slice the roast from the rib bones and then use butcher twine to tie it on.
Pro tip: call the butcher or meat department of your grocery store a day or two ahead of time and order your prime rib. I called and said "I'd like a 6-pound prime rib roast, cut and tied," and they knew exactly what I wanted. I headed to the store and they had it ready and waiting for me.
Planning to buy beef in advance for your holiday feast? You can freeze beef in its original packaging up to two weeks. For longer storage, wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil or place in plastic freezer bags, removing as much air as possible.
How to Cook a Standing Rib Roast (Prime Rib)
- Bring roast to room temp: Take the rib roast out of the fridge 2-3 hours before cooking.
- Season: Pat it well with a paper towel then cover the whole thing with kosher salt and pepper. Cover it loosely with aluminum foil and let it sit to come to room temperature. This is a key tip for even cooking so don’t skip this step.
- Prep the pan: Place the garlic halves and onion in the bottom of a heavy bottom, oven-safe skillet, or a roasting pan.
- Garlic herb butter: mix the butter, garlic, and fresh chopped herbs in a small bowl.
- Cover the roast: Slather the bottom (bone side) of the rib roast with a bit of butter then place roast fat side up on top of the garlic and onion. Slather the remaining butter mixture all over the top and sides of the rib roast.
- Roast: roast for 20 minutes at 450°F to give it a quick sear and create a golden crust. Reduce the temperature to 250°F and continue to roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until it reaches 125-130°F for medium-rare. Rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.
Pro tip: do the math in advance to figure out when you want to eat and when you need to remove the rib roast from the fridge before cooking. Account for sitting at room temp, searing at high heat, slow roasting, and resting. Here's how we did the math:
- Sit at room temp: 2 hours
- Sear at high heat: 30 minutes
- Slow roast: 2 hours (20-25 minutes per pound for medium-rare)
- Rest: 30 minutes
- Total time: 5 hours and 30 minutes.
I would need to pull my prime rib out of the fridge to rest at 12 pm if we plan to eat dinner around 5 pm.
Tools and Equipment
Here are a few basic tools and equipment to achieve the perfect ribeye roast for your holiday table. The end result is fancy and delicious, but the tools you need are pretty simple!
- Oven-safe skillet: The bones of the rib roast act as a natural roasting rack, so we used a cast-iron skillet, however, if you don't have an oven-safe skillet or you're cooking a boneless roast, use a roasting rack.
- Instant read thermometer: this is critical to ensure you cook your roast perfectly.
- Sharp knife: the most important tool for properly carving your roast is a sharp knife — be safe! If you're using a meat fork, don't pierce the roast to hold it in place. Use the back of the fork instead (tongs work great, too). Always cut across the grain for maximum tenderness.
- Large cutting board: let the rib roast rest on a cutting board or carving board before slicing.
- Buy enough roast for everyone to have plenty, plus leftovers. Count for 3/4 - 1 pound per person or 2 ribs per person.
- Have your butcher cut the meat off the bones then tie them back on. The bones act as a natural rack to keep the meat elevated while cooking and keep the meat insulted so it's extra juicy. watch the video to see how to snip the string and remove the bones to carve it easily.
- Bring the roast to room temperature for 1-2 hours before roasting. putting a cold roast into a hot oven will result in uneven and longer cook times.
- Thoroughly season it. This is a large piece of meat so it needs ample seasoning.
- Use an instant-read thermometer to know exactly when to remove the roast from the oven.
- Determine doneness based on internal temperature, not time. The time it takes to cook depends completely on how large your prime rib is, so use the temperature to determine when it's done.
- Carve with a sharp knife: the most important tool for properly carving your roast is a sharp knife — be safe! If you're using a meat fork, don't pierce the roast to hold it in place. Use the back of the fork instead (tongs work great, too). If you have a rib roast, cut each slice along the rib bone. Always cut across the grain for maximum tenderness.
- Let it rest. Let the standing rib roast rest for at least 20 minutes to allow for the carry-over cooking and ensure all the juices stay inside.
Prime Rib Side Dishes
- Potatoes: beef and potatoes are a match made in heaven. A few of our favorites are pesto roasted potatoes, cheesy scalloped potatoes, dairy-free mashed potatoes and crispy air fryer smashed potatoes.
- Vegetables: a lighter side to go with this main dish are veggies of all kinda. Make air fryer asparagus, cauliflower au gratin, maple glazed carrots, garlic roasted mini peppers or brussels sprouts and butternut squash.
- Salad: this is another classic side and easy to make ahead. We love this shaved brussels sprout salad, pear salad with goat cheese or our favorite Thanksgiving salad (which is totally great for any holiday).
This post is sponsored by The Ohio Beef Council. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to brands like them for supporting us and our recipes so we can keep sharing free ones with you.
Visit www.OhioBeef.org, and follow the Ohio Beef Council on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for beef nutrition facts, cooking tips, and recipes and to meet Ohio’s beef farming families. Use #OhioBeef to share photos of your beef dishes this holiday season!
More Holiday Beef Recipes
- Beef Tenderloin Deluxe
- Mushroom and Spinach Stuffed Flank Steak
- Braised Short Rib Pasta
- Beef Tenderloin Roll Ups
Standing Rib Roast (Prime Rib)
- 6 pound rib roast cut and tied
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 yellow onion quartered
- 2 heads garlic halved
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 3-4 sprigs of thyme
- 1/2 cup butter very soft
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
- 2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme
- 8 cloves garlic minced
Gorgonzola Cream Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 shallot thinly sliced
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 4 ounces gorgonzola cheese crumbled
- 2 ounces fresh grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Cast-Iron Skillet or Roasting Pan with rack
- Instant-Read Thermometer or Oven Probe
- Sharp Knife for carving
- Purchasing rib roast: For ease in carving, ask your butcher to cut the meat off of the ribs and backbone and tie it back on. Just ask the for a 6-pound rib roast, cut and tied, and they will know exactly what you’re talking about.
- Dry age in the fridge: If you have time, place the roast in the fridge uncovered overnight or for up to 3 days. This allows the outside of the roast to dry out slightly, which intensifies the flavor and gives it a better char. If you don’t have time to do this, it’s ok, seasoning it and cooking it right away will still result in a delicious roast.
- Bring roast to room temp: Take the rib roast out of the fridge 2-3 hours before cooking. Pat it well with a paper towel then cover the whole thing with kosher salt and pepper. Tent it with foil and let it come to room temperature. This is a key tip for even cooking so don’t skip this step.
- Preheat oven to 450°F: Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position so the roast will be sitting in the middle of the oven.
- Prep the pan: Place the garlic halves and onion in the bottom of a heavy bottom, oven-safe skillet, or a roasting pan.
- Garlic herb butter: mix the butter, garlic, and fresh chopped herbs in a medium bowl. Slather the bottom (bone side) of the rib roast with a bit of the butter then place the beef bone side down on top of the garlic and onion. Slather the remaining butter mixture all over the top and sides of the rib roast using a rubber spatula. Insert a probe into the center of your roast if you have one, if not, an instant-read thermometer at the end will work well.
- Quick sear: roast for 20 minutes in the preheated oven.
- Slow roast: when the time is up, reduce the oven temp to 250°F, with the roast still in the oven, and continue to roast for 2 to 2 1/1 hours, or until it reaches 120-125 for medium rare. The time it takes to reach medium rare depends on the exact size and shape of your roast, so go by the temperature of the roast rather than time. Start checking for doneness 30 minutes before.
- Rest: remove the roast from the oven and carefully transfer it to a platter or cutting board to rest for at least 30 minutes.
- Gorgonzola cream sauce: while it’s resting make the gorgonzola cream sauce. Heat a separate clean medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add butter and swirl it around to melt. Remove one clove of the roasted garlic from the roasting pan and squeeze the cloves out into the melted butter. Use the back of a spatula to smash the garlic. It should be very soft. Add the chopped shallot and cook until they’re soft and tender. Add the heavy cream and simmer over medium heat until it’s reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Turn the heat to low, add the Gorgonzola and parmesan cheese and stir until it melts. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Carve: remove the butcher string and place the bones aside. Slice them into separate ribs and serve those if desired because there is still meat on the bones. Use a sharp chef's knife to slice the rib roast into about 1-inch cuts. You don’t want to slice it too thin.
- Serve: Serve right away with the softened onion and extra roasted garlic from the pan. Drizzle the warm gorgonzola cream sauce on top.