This prime rib recipe uses the reverse-sear method to create mouthwatering, medium-rare, tender 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. It’s the king of holiday roasts. It’s very expensive, but worth it for a special occasion if you can splurge.
Years ago, I found a new favorite way to make prime rib – the reverse sear method. It simply makes the best prime rib ever.
3 steps for the reverse sear method:
- Low temperature: Initially roast the beef in the oven at a very low oven temperature.
- Rest the beef for 20-90 minutes out of the oven, and then
- High temperature: Blast the beef at high heat in the oven for the final 8-12 minutes, depending on the size of the roast.
What to expect with a reverse sear method
This reverse sear prime rib recipe is as close to a perfect prime rib as you can get. Here’s why:
The meat is cooked evenly throughout the roast – to the level of doneness you like – with a beautifully browned crust and little to no gray edge below the surface.
You can make the roast more than an hour ahead and do the last step of high-heat roasting right before serving.
There is no need to rest the meat in the last step. 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.
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.
Ingredients – tailored to your taste
Prime rib: is a high-end cut of beef that has considerable marbling (fat) which adds amazing flavor. The bone-in cut is called a standing rib roast. The boneless cut is called a ribeye roast or boneless prime rib. The “prime” on the package is a USDA designation that tells you the meat is of high quality.
Seasoning: 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.
Pre-seasoning option: To add even more flavor and a crustier darker exterior, there’s an optional salting step you can try a day or two ahead. The instructions are in the recipe card.
Exterior Crust: 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.
Step by step instructions
The best way to get an outstanding end result is to begin with an outstanding piece of meat. Look for USDA Prime, AAA or Certified Angus Beef (best and most expensive). ‘USDA Choice’ – is not as good as Prime (a bit less marbled), but still good. ‘Select’ will be cheaper, less juicy and less tender.
Opinions vary. Food Network and America’s Test Kitchen suggest buying the first cut (also called the small end or the loin end). Ask for ribs 10-12. This cut is generally regarded as the best cut because it contains the large, single rib-eye muscle, has less connective tissue than the second cut and therefore is more uniform and tender.
Chef Steps recommends the second cut, ribs 6-9, as it has more fat and flavor as well as a larger and very tender cap of meat on the top. I am in this camp.
The classic prime rib roast presentation is “with bone”. It’s pretty, very flavorful and the bones help insulate the meat while cooking for a juicy tender result. Some people love the bones!
A prime roast without the bone is called a ribeye roast or boneless prime rib. The advantages of this kind is more even seasoning and ease of carving. Both cuts are excellent. Some chefs cut the bones off the prime rib, season the roast, then tie the ribs back on.
1. Regular oven roasting (typically the high-low heat method)
2. Slow roasting
3. Sous vide method – try our sous vide prime rib with this method, and
4. Reverse sear method. This method may not be as popular, but it definitely should be. I discovered this method from author and chef J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s Serious Eats.
What to serve with prime rib
My favorite side dishes with prime rib are potatoes and beef gravy.
Make Ahead, Store, Reheat
The reverse sear method allows you to make the roast 30-90 minutes ahead. The final sear at high heat should be completed 6-15 minutes before serving, depending on the size of the roast.
Store leftovers in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
To reheat prime rib, it’s best to go low and slow (the microwave is not the best option). America’s Test Kitchen suggests the oven method for reheating: See recipe notes.
Love the reverse sear method? Then try our boneless pork roast with gravy (reverse sear).
If you like this recipe, please leave a 5 star rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟in the recipe card below. And if you REALLY like it, consider a review in the comments. Thanks very much!
Reverse Sear Prime Rib (Mouthwatering)
- instant read thermometer or probe
- 3 pounds (1.36 kg) prime rib of beef, well marbled, Note 1 (2 ribs or bones)
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced into thin slivers
- Optional: 2 tsp Dijon mustard and fresh or dry thyme
- kosher salt and black pepper
- OPTIONAL PRE-SEASONING the day before. Note 2
- HEAT OVEN to 250F/121C.
- PREPARE ROAST: Pat roast dry with paper towel. Insert garlic slivers into roast all over between meat and fat (separate with fingers and slip in garlic). Leave the fat cap on the top of the meat for great flavor. If using Dijon, smear it all over roast. Season roast liberally with kosher salt and black pepper. Sprinkle on thyme if using. Place roast bone side down in shallow pan lined with foil (for easier clean up). If you have a temperature probe, insert it in the center of the roast. If not use an instant-read thermometer.
- START ROASTING AT LOW TEMP: Roast in oven, fat side up, at 250F/121C for about 2 to 2 1/4 hours or until internal temperature reaches 120F/49C for medium rare on instant thermometer (you'll be cooking it longer later on). Or 130F/54.4C for medium.
- REST ROAST: Remove roast, cover loosely with aluminum 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/260C. 10 minutes before you're ready to serve, place roast in hot oven. Roast for 6-10 minutes (or 5 minutes longer if roast is bigger) until exterior browns nicely. Insert meat thermometer to check temperature of meat – it should rise to 130F/54.4C for medium rare. Or 140F/60C for medium measured with an instant-read thermometer. Note 3 for internal temperatures the way your like your beef cooked.
- SLICE AND SERVE: On cutting board, turn roast on side and slice off bones. Then turn meat, cut side down, on board and slice. Remove garlic slivers. Serve immediately with gravy (Note 4) or au jus.
- What is a prime rib cut: Look for USDA Prime on the package. USDA Choice is not as high-end as Prime, but it’s still good. Other markings (in Canada, for example) are AAA and Certified Angus Beef. Select is less tender.
- How much meat to buy per person:
- By rib: Generally figure 1 rib will serve 2 people. 4-5 ribs will serve 8-10 people. 2 ribs will serve 4-5 people
- By weight: For a bone-in roast, figure about 1 pound/0.54 kg per person. For a boneless beef rib roast, figure a bit more than 1/2 pound/0.28 kg per person.
- How much meat to buy per person:
- Pre-seasoning option: To add even more flavor and a crustier darker exterior, dry brine the roast. 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 (2 hours) before roasting. I often skip the dry brine since I always serve my prime rib with gravy which also adds to the flavor. Alternatively, 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.
- Doneness (internal temperature). Here’s how What’s Cooking America measures doneness using an instant-read thermometer:
- Rare – 120 to 125 degrees F (49-51.7C) – center is bright red, pinkish toward the exterior portion
- Medium Rare – 130 to 135 degrees F (54-57C) – center is very pink, slightly brown ring at the edge
- Medium – 140 to 145 degrees F (60-63C) – center is light pink meat, small outer portion is brown
- Medium Well – 150 to 155 degrees F (65.6-68C) – not pink
- Well Done – 160 degrees F (71C) and above
- To make gravy, check out our recipe for beef gravy without drippings (but INSTEAD of butter or oil, use the fat beef drippings from the roast if you like and make it while the beef is resting)
- Make ahead/Store/Reheat:
- You can make the roast up to 100 minutes ahead of serving.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
To reheat prime rib, it’s best to go low and slow (the microwave is not the best option). America’s Test Kitchen suggests the oven method for reheating:
- Place roast, uncovered, on a wire rack placed in rimmed baking pan. Place the pan on the middle rack in a 250F/121C oven.
- Roast until the meat reaches a temperature of 120F/49C (1 to 1 1/2 hours depending on the size of your roast). Pat surface dry with paper towels.