Best Prime Rib (Garlic Herb Crust)
Updated Oct 30, 2023
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Are you ready for the BEST Prime Rib recipe? This is a no-fail, meltingly tender and juicy, garlic-crusted prime rib that will have all your guests swooning. This standing beef rib roast is perfect for Christmas and the holidays, or any special occasion worthy of a little splurge.
Prime rib (also known as standing rib roast) is up there next to turkey, honey baked ham, filet mignon and beef tenderloin in terms of intimidating recipes. It’s a big ‘ol chunk of meat that’s usually the centerpiece of a holiday meal. And let’s be honest, you don’t want to accidentally over cook it or mess it up, especially if you have guests over.
Adding to the intimidation…prime rib is also super pricey. But if you’ve enjoyed a perfectly roasted prime rib, you also know that it’s worth every penny for that beautiful, show-stopping piece of meat.
So let’s jump to the good news – it’s really easy to cook! Sure, you may find different cooking methods online, like a reverse sear, but I promise that if you stick with this simple, no-fail prime rib recipe you’ll get raving accolades all around. You know my motto, simple and foolproof is best.
Prime Rib Ingredients
A cut of meat this good doesn’t need much. Heck, simple salt and pepper works just fine. But today, we’ll add a few garlic cloves and herbs for the ultimate flavorful crust.
- Prime Rib: Grab a bone-in prime rib from your butcher. For details on picking the best one, keep reading below.
- Butter: This helps the seasoning stick to the meat and crisps up the outside. You could also use ghee if you’re dairy-sensitive.
- Herbs: Fresh rosemary and thyme pair beautifully with the garlic.
- Salt: You need a good amount of this! And make sure to use kosher salt and not table salt. Kosher salt has a coarser grain and helps to add texture to the outside crust.
- Pepper: Freshly cracked black pepper is best, if you have it.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below.
What Size Prime Rib to Buy?
The general rule of thumb is 1 pound of prime rib per person. But in my experience, that’s a lot of meat! I think ¾ pound per person is a better estimate, or even ½ pound if you’re serving it up with a lot of sides. Here’s a general guideline:
- For 6 people: get a 4 ½ pound prime rib
- For 8 people: get a 6 pound prime rib
- For 12 people: get a 9 pound prime rib
Bone-in Versus Boneless Prime Rib
You have the option of purchasing either a bone-in or boneless prime rib. Both work just fine in this recipe, though I personally prefer bone-in. The bones act as a natural rack, keeping the meat elevated when cooking, and they insulate the meat, keeping it extra juicy.
Pro Tip: Ask your butcher to cut the bones off, but then tie them back on! This gives you all the benefits of the bones with none of the work of having to slice them off. You just have to cut the string and remove the bones before serving. Super easy!
Prime Versus Choice Cut – Which is Better?
Don’t confuse the name prime rib with the grade of meat. Prime rib can come in prime or choice cuts. Prime cuts are the most expensive and have beautiful fat marbling (which translates to lots of delicious flavor!). Choice cuts have slightly less marbling, and are slightly cheaper.
Pro Tip: Most grocery stores only carry choice cuts, and often only on the weekends. If you want a prime cut it’s best to plan ahead, as you may have to order it from your butcher.
Equipment You’ll Need
All you need are three basic items for the perfect prime rib – an oven-safe pan or roasting tray, a thermometer, and a sharp knife.
- Pan or Roasting Tray: I prefer a sturdy, oven-safe, cast-iron pan for this recipe (assuming my roast fits in the pan). Because then it’s really easy to make the au jus with the leftover juices in the pan on the stove. If you’re cooking a large roast though, you’ll likely need a larger roasting pan.
- Thermometer: The most important thing to make the BEST prime rib is a thermometer. Nailing the right temperature is key! You can use a probe thermometer (that you’ll leave in the meat), an instant read thermometer, or a basic meat thermometer.
- Knife: A good sharp knife is essential to those beautiful cuts. You could use either a carving knife or chef’s knife.
How to Cook Prime Rib
Remove the prime rib from the fridge. Let it come to room temperature for 2 to 3 hours before cooking.
Room temperature meat is key! To ensure the prime rib is cooked evenly it must be at room temperature before going into the oven. Otherwise, you’ll end up with well-done meat on the ends and raw meat in the middle, which is definitely not ideal. So remember to remove it from the fridge 2 to 3 hours before cooking.
Make the garlic herb butter. Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C), then mix together the butter, herbs, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
Pat and coat. After the prime rib has come to room temperature, pat it down with a few paper towels to remove any moisture. Then slather it all over with the garlic herb butter mix.
It’s time to roast it. Place the prime bones side down in an oven-safe pan or roasting pan. Place onion slices around the meat if you plan to make the red wine au jus (if not, you can omit them). Then roast the prime rib for 20 minutes at the high temperature, to sear the outside and create a crust. After you’ve seared the outside, reduce the temperature to 325°F (160°C), and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches your desired level of doneness (see chart below).
Let it rest. Remove the prime rib from the oven and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes. You can tent it with aluminum foil to keep it warm.
Slice it up. Remove the strings that are keeping the bones attached or slice the bones off the meat. Then, carve the prime rib into thick ½-inch slices and serve with the red wine au jus.
How Long to Cook Prime Rib
I’m cooking a 6 pound prime rib for this recipe, which will take about an hour and a half. Estimate 13 to 15 minutes per pound for medium-rare. If your prime rib is larger or smaller you’ll need to adjust the cook time. Here are a few estimates, but remember to always go by internal temperature, not time. Especially as all ovens cook slightly differently.
- 2 ribs (4 to 5 pounds) – 60 to 70 minutes
- 3 ribs (7 to 8½ pounds) – 1½ to 1¾ hours
- 4 ribs (9 to 10½ pounds) – 1¾ to 2¼ hours
Standing Rib Roast Internal Temperature
It’s important to remember that there will be residual heat and carryover cooking, once you remove the prime rib from the oven. That means the internal temperature will continue to rise 7 to 10 degrees. So don’t overcook it! And always (always) let it rest, for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Rare – remove at 110°F. Rested temp will be 117 to 120°F. Center is bright red, pinkish toward the outer edges.
- Medium Rare – remove at 120°F. Rested temp will be 127 to 130°F. Center is very pink, slightly brown toward the outer edges.
- Medium – remove at 130°F. Rested temp will be 137 to 140°F. Center is light pink, outer portion is brown.
- Medium well – remove at 140°F. Rested temp will be 147 to 150°F. No pink.
- Well – remove at 150°F. Rested temp will be 157 to 165°F.
If you have leftovers after your dinner or party, not to worry, you can save them! You definitely don’t want this expensive cut of meat going to waste. You can turn leftovers into prime rib tacos (they’re amazingly good) or enjoy slices reheated with the sides mentioned below. Here’s how to store the meat:
- In the fridge: If you have just a few slices and plan to eat it later that week, you can store leftovers in a sealed storage container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
- In the freezer: If you have more leftovers than you can handle, freeze them! Let the meat cool completely. Then slice it up, place it in freezer safe bags, and squeeze all the air out. It’ll last for up to 3 months in the freezer.
- To reheat: If the meat is frozen, thaw it in the fridge the day before you’d like to eat it. Then, just microwave it for a minute or two, until it’s warmed through.
What to Serve with Prime Rib
I always love a good potato and veggie side dish. Some of my favorite sides to serve with prime rib include:
- Garlic Herb Roasted Potatoes – Continue the garlic herb theme with these roasted potatoes (pictured above).
- Green Beans with Shallots – These crisp green beans are light and fresh (pictured above).
- Mashed Potatoes – Who can resist creamy mashed potatoes?
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts – You’ll love the crispy outsides on these sprouts.
And while I’m serving this prime rib with a red wine au jus, you could also serve it up with a homemade horseradish sauce. Either one is divine!
Your friends and family are going to be head over heels for this prime rib. If you make it this holiday season or serve it up for Christmas dinner, I’d love to hear what you and your loved ones think in a comment below!
Best No-Fail Prime Rib (Garlic Herb Crust)
- 6 pounds prime rib, bone-in (with bones cut off and tied back on)
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 onion, quartered (if making the red wine au jus)
Red Wine Au Jus (Optional)
- ¼ cup drippings from prime rib pan, make sure to separate the fat from the drippings
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 ½ cups red wine
- Optional: 1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder (in a slurry) to thicken
- Remove the prime rib from the fridge 2 to 3 hours before cooking, and allow it to come to room temperature.
- Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C). In a small bowl, mix together the butter, garlic, salt, thyme, rosemary, and black pepper.
- After the prime rib has come to room temperature, pat it down with paper towels to make sure it's dry. Then rub the entire outside of the prime rib with the herb butter mixture.
- Place the prime rib in an oven-safe pan or roasting tray with the bone-side down, fat-side up. Place the onion slices in the pan around the meat, if you're making the red wine au jus. If not, you can omit the onions.
- Cook the prime rib in the center of the oven for 20 minutes at 450°F (230°C). It should get a nice sear on the outside. If not, cook it a few minutes longer. Then reduce the temperature of the oven to 325°F (160°C) and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 120°F (50°C), which takes about an hour and a half, for medium-rare. But go by temperature, not time, as it will depend on the size of your prime rib and your oven.
- Remove the prime rib from the oven and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes. You can tent it with aluminum foil to keep it warm. Then, remove the string and bones, and slice it up into thick ½-inch thick slices.
Red Wine Au Jus
- After you've removed the fat from the pan, add up to ¼ cup of drippings back in along with the beef broth and red wine. If you have leftover herbs, you can toss those in as well.
- Simmer this for about 15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half. It's meant to be a thin sauce, but if you'd like to add a little bit of a thickener, you can do that as well. Strain the au jus to remove the onion and any browned bits, then drizzle over the prime rib.
- If you can, get your butcher to cut the bones off the prime rib, and tie them back on for you. It’s much easier to simply snip the string and remove them at the end!
- Keep an eye on the internal temperature even while the prime rib is resting. If you rest it too long, the temperature may increase a bit too much.
- For the red wine au jus, I recommend a fat separator, to ensure your sauce isn’t too greasy.
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Recipe originally posted December 2020, but updated to include new information for your benefit!