International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Roast Prime Rib

Roast prime rib of beef

(English roast rib of beef)

Image by Ernesto Andrade

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Originally an English Sunday dinner made with a cheap cut of meat, prime rib these days is more often a special occasion meal made with top-quality cuts. It is commonly served in American steak houses or on buffets, often from a cart where it is carved to order.

Yorkshire pudding is the traditional accompaniment to roast prime rib, and the two form somewhat of an English national dish. Other favorite side dishes include baked potatoes, Brussels sprouts or creamed onions.

How to Buy a Prime Rib

The actual butcher's name of the cut is standing rib roast. Allow about 2 people served per rib. Buy meat that is actual prime grade if you can find it, or at least choice grade. Although the name says "prime rib," supermarkets often use that term to describe the cut of meat, not the actual grade.

Ask the butcher for the first-cut ribs as they contain better meat. Have the butcher trim and tie your roast for you. Do not remove any fat from your roast; your butcher will have trimmed it, and you need a cap of fat to add flavor and keep meat from drying out.

You should also try to buy a roast that has been dry aged at least 2 to 3 weeks. This makes it more expensive, but you make up for it with better flavor and more tender meat. And beware, there is no such thing as cryovac aging! So avoid roasts that advertise it.

6 to 8 servings


  • Prime rib roast, 3 to 4 ribs, trimmed and tied -- 1
  • Kosher salt -- 2 tablespoons
  • Freshly ground black pepper -- 1 tablespoon


  1. Remove the roast from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature, about 1 hour. Preheat oven 500°F. Set an oven rack on the lower level of the oven.
  2. Place a roasting rack in a roasting pan large enough to just fit the roast. Place the roast in the rack, fat side up and rub the salt and pepper all over the top and sides of the roast.
  3. Place the roast in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°F and roast another 1 1/2 hours.
  4. After the 1 1/2 hours have passed, begin measuring the temperature of the roast every 10 minutes or so with an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast, away from the bones. When the internal temperature reaches 110°F to 115°F, remove the roast from the oven.
  5. Set the roast on a warm platter and allow to rest 20 minutes while you make Yorkshire pudding or the red wine jus (recipe below). Avoid covering the meat with foil or the salt crust may turn soggy.
  6. Remove the strings from the roast. Using a carving knife, cut down through chine bones on the back of the roast, then along bottom ribs to remove the meat. Save the bones to chew on later. Cut the roast into steaks for serving. The inner portions will be medium rare. The outer portions will be well done.

Roast Prime Rib Notes and Variations

  • Horseradish Sauce: a traditional accompaniment. Beat 1 cup of whipping cream until it holds peaks. Then fold in 1/4 cup prepared or fresh horseradish and a pinch of salt. Or use 2 cups of sour cream instead of the whipped cream. Or mix the two half and half.
  • Red Wine Jus: If you aren't serving Yorkshire pudding with your roast, make this simple jus with the drippings. Remove as much fat as possible from the roasting pan, leaving any roasting juices. Heat the pan on the stovetop over medium flame. Add 2 cups of red wine to the pan and bring to a boil, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Cook down a bit, then strain and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in a sauce boat with the roast. If you like, you can enrich the sauce by whisking in 2 tablespoons butter after straining.
  • Cooking Time: Cooking time will vary widely from roast to roast and oven to oven, so don't pay too much attention to time-per-pound predictions. Use a thermometer unless you want to overcook a very expensive piece of meat.
  • Top the roast with chopped fresh rosemary or thyme before roasting if you like.


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