Perfect Prime Rib Recipe

The Food Lab

Unraveling the mysteries of home cooking through science.

Perfect Prime Rib Recipe

[Photographs and video: J. Kenji López-Alt]

Prime rib is one of our favorite cuts of beef. It's also expensive, which means you want the best, most reliable results possible. This recipe takes advantage of the reverse sear method to yield prime rib with a deep brown, crisp, crackly salty crust surrounding a tender, juicy, medium-rare interior. By starting the roast off in a lower temperature oven, we evenly cook the meat and reduce its surface moisture, so that a finishing blast of high heat quickly gives it a perfectly burnished exterior.

Why It Works

  • A low and slow start delivers perfectly evenly cooked medium-rare doneness all the way from edge to center.
  • Blasting the prime rib with heat just before serving gives you a crackling-crisp, browned crust.
  • Yield:Serves 3 to 12, depending on size of roast
  • Active time: 15 minutes
  • Total time:4 1/2 hours to 8 1/2 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 standing rib roast (prime rib), 3 to 12 pounds (1.3 to 5.4kg; see note)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. 1.

    Preheat oven to lowest possible temperature setting, 150°F (66°C) or higher if necessary. (Some ovens cannot hold a temperature below 250°F/121°C.) Season roast generously with salt and pepper. Place roast, with fat cap up, on a V-rack set in a large roasting pan, or on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven and cook until center of roast registers 120-125°F (49-52°C) on an instant-read thermometer for rare, 130°F (54°C) for medium-rare, or 135°F (57°C) for medium to medium-well. In a 150°F oven, this will take around 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours; in a 250°F oven, this will take 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

  2. 2.

    Remove roast from oven and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Place in a warm spot in the kitchen and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, preheat oven to highest possible temperature setting, 500 to 550°F (260 to 288°C).

  3. 3.

    Ten minutes before guests are ready to be served, remove foil, place roast back in hot oven, and cook until well browned and crisp on the exterior, 6 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, carve, and serve immediately.