This prime rib recipe uses the reverse-sear method to create mouth watering, medium-rare meat throughout the entire roast. It doesn’t get better than that.
Prime rib is one of my top 3 favorite meals on the planet. I’ve been making it my entire adult life using the more typical method of high heat for the first 15 minutes then lower heat for the remaining time. Then I discovered the reverse sear method when I read author and chef J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s Serious Eats blog.
What kind of meat to buy: Of course, the only way to get an outstanding end result is to begin with an outstanding piece of meat, meaning a well marbled Prime rib. Look for USDA Prime, AAA, Certified Angus Beef or USDA Choice (not as good as Prime, but still good). All these are more expensive, but worth it. The rest is technique. And it’s pretty simple.
Why the reverse sear method is great
I’ve tried this method many times now and I have to say I’m impressed. Here’s why:
- the meat is cooked evenly throughout the roast instead of pink/red in the middle and medium to well done on the two inches toward the outside; and
- you can make the roast more than an hour ahead and do the last step of high heat roasting right before serving. This increases your chance of getting warm meat to your guests – a huge plus for anyone who agonizes about keep a prime rib warm without overcooking it (like me). If you’re interested, here’s more on how to keep foods warm.
Tailor To Your Taste
- Many chefs like to let the flavor of prime rib shine through and only use salt and pepper as seasoning. I’ve always added the garlic slivers (which in my opinion add sensational flavor), a bit of mustard and sometimes a sprinkle of thyme – and I think the flavor of the meat is still the star, but it’s up to you.
- To add even more flavor and a crustier darker exterior, there’s an optional step you can try. A day or two ahead, pat the roast dry with a paper towel, salt it, then place it in the fridge on a rack, uncovered, to dry out and allow the flavor of the meat to develop. Bring the roast to room temperature (1-2 hours) before roasting. I often skip this extra step since I always serve my prime rib with gravy which also adds to the flavor.
- You can also dry the roast in the fridge without the salt. This won’t add flavor, but it will give you the crustier exterior.
- The reverse sear method allows you to make the roast 30-90 minutes ahead. The final high-heat roasting should be completed 6-15 minutes before serving, depending on the size of the roast.
How to roast a prime rib reverse sear
Essentially this cooking method reverses the more typical high-low heat method. The key steps are as follows:
- Initially roast the beef in the oven at a very low temperature of 250F (or even 200F),
- Rest the beef for 30-90 minutes, and then
- Blast the beef in a hot 500F oven for the final 6-15 minutes, depending on the size of the roast.
A 3 pound roast takes about 2 1/4 hours for the low-heat part of the roasting. A much larger roast could take 3-4 hours. So the long roasting time can be seen as a downside, but if you’re having a dinner party and have lots of other things to do while the beef is roasting (who doesn’t), it makes a lot of sense.
Classic Prime Rib (Reverse Sear)
- 1 prime rib of beef, well marbled, about 3 pounds (2 ribs/bones)
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced into thin slivers
- Optional: 2 tsp Dijon mustard and fresh or dry thyme
- kosher salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 250F.
- PREPARE ROAST: Insert garlic slivers into roast all over between meat and fat (separate with fingers and slip in garlic). If using Dijon, smear it all over roast. Season liberally with kosher salt and pepper. Sprinkle on thyme if using. Place roast, bone side down, in shallow pan lined with foil (for easier clean up).
- START ROASTING AT LOW TEMP: Roast in oven for about 2 to 2 1/4 hours or until temperature on instant thermometer reaches 120F for medium rare (you'll be cooking it longer later on). Or 130F for medium. Remove roast, cover loosely with foil and let it rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 90 minutes.
- FINISH ROASTING AT HIGH TEMP: While roast is resting, increase oven temperature to 500F. 10 minutes before you're ready to serve, place roast in hot oven. Roast for 6-10 minutes (or a bit longer if roast is bigger) until exterior browns nicely. Temperature of meat should rise to 130F for medium rare. Or 140F for medium.
- SLICE AND SERVE: On cutting board, turn roast on side and slice off bones. Then turn meat cut side down on board and slice as desired. Remove garlic slivers. Serve immediately with gravy or au jus.