What Is Prime Rib?

Everything you need to know about your favorite festive dish


Prime rib is one of the best cuts of meat one can buy. Prime rib or beef rib roast are the colloquial names for the steak known as the standing rib roast. Its name derives from the most common way of cooking the meat — standing rib roast is generally roasted in a standing position with the ribs stacked vertically and the layer of fat at the top, which flavors the meat all the way through. It is cut from the primal rib and is one of the eight primal cuts of beef. Standing rib roasts yield rib steaks which have the bone and excess fat removed. (Photo courtesy of flickr/John A. Dryzga)

Prime rib is traditionally prepared by rubbing the outside of the roast with a mixture of seasonings, then roasting it under dry heat for 2-3 hours, depending on the size. It can also be grilled, smoked, or cooked on a rotisserie, but these options are less common. The results are a tender and delicious cut of meat. There is no specific way to serve prime rib — the English serve it with Yorkshire pudding, the French serve it au jus, and in the United States it is most often served with horseradish. (Photo courtesy of flickr/John A. Dryzga)

The name "prime rib" is actually a bit of a misnomer because it may lead people to believe it is a USDA prime cut of meat. Don’t be fooled. Most prime rib cuts you would buy at the supermarket or meat markets are graded "select" or "choice." The prime cuts are mostly reserved for the high-end restaurants and upscale meat stores. The higher grade given by the USDA is determined largely by the amount of marbling on the cut of meat — the more fat that is woven throughout the cut of meat, the more tender, juicy, and savory it will be after cooking. So, if you can, for maximum flavor, try to get your hands on a roast that has been graded USDA prime, easily found online. (Photo courtesy of flickr/peejaygee)

The next time you have a special occasion dinner coming up, and roast chicken just seems a little dull, try serving prime rib. Don't let the lengthy cooking process deter you from making this delicious cut of meat. It is tender, savory, and worth the effort!


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