Prime Rib

Cooking school

When you splurge on a special cut of beef for the holidays, you want to make sure you cook it to perfection!

Photos by Peter ardito ProP styling: michelle Wong Food styling: Paul grimes illustration: shutterstock
Above Image | To give our prime rib some "Santa hat" flair, we topped the bones with paper frills (available at many specialty food shops, or by mail order from—$5 for a set of 12), then wrapped some wide red ribbon around the flat part of the frills.

You are looking at a $125 piece of beef. (Your heart just skipped a beat, right?) It's glorious, yes, but also kind of intimidating. When you splurge on a special meal for the holidays, which lots of us do, the pressure is on to cook it perfectly. So we turned to Allrecipes' beloved video guru, Chef John, of the hysterical and helpful video series Food Wishes, for advice on how to cook prime rib to perfection.

1. You want to ask your butcher for a standing rib roast—the number of ribs depends on how many people you're serving. The common wisdom is that one rib serves two people. We also asked to have the ribs “frenched” by about 2 inches, which means to cut away any meat and sinew from the ends of the ribs, so the bones look nice and clean.

2. Any prime rib recipe (but especially this one!) assumes the meat will be at room temperature when it goes into the oven. You've got a big piece of meat in front of you—it's going to take a while to get to room temp. Chef John says to leave it out for 4 to 6 hours; the USDA says only 2 hours at most for food safety, and we would do the same. It's up to you, though.

3. The butter-herb-salt combo rubbed onto the roast gives the outside of the meat and the pan juices really nice flavor. Don't be shy with the kosher salt: 1 teaspoon per pound of meat is a good guideline.

4. If you don't like herbes de Provence, which contains lavender and is too “floral” for some folks, switch it up! You could use salt-free Greek or Italian seasoning mixes instead. Any of them would work great. (You want salt-free spice mixes because you're seasoning the meat generously with salt already.)

5. Your cooking time will vary depending on the size of your prime rib roast. Here's Chef John's special formula: Multiply the exact weight of the roast by 5. Round the resulting number to the nearest whole number. The roast is cooked at 500 degrees F for exactly that many minutes. For example, for a 6-pound roast, 6x5=30, so cooking time is 30 minutes. Turn the oven off and wait 2 hours before opening the oven door. Don't worry—the roast is still cooking. It's just doing so at a slow pace that allows the meat to stay juicy and hit a perfect medium-rare.

6. We love Chef John's confidence that the roast will be a perfect medium-rare (extremely pink center, brown on outside edges), but it's easy to start second-guessing whether the meat is cooked through. Use a thermometer to check it if you're scared. Insert the thermometer into the center of the loin, avoiding bones; it should register 130-135 degrees F. Most recipes require that the meat stand for about 30 minutes to let the juices release into the meat (the meat also continues to cook during that time), but with this technique there's no need for standing.

7. Using the bones as a handle (or whatever position is most comfortable for you), cut the meat away from the bones, letting the knife blade follow the natural curve of the ribs.

8. Cut the meat into slices, as thin or thick as you like. Make sure your knife is sharp before you begin—it will make the slicing process a million times easier and neater.

Watch Chef John make this recipe at

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Perfect Prime Rib

Submitted by Chef John

Prep | 10 min Cook | 2 hr, 20 min Total | 6 hr, 30 min Serves | 8

“This is a specific formula for achieving a perfectly pink prime rib cooked a shade under medium-rare. To use this method you must have a full-size modern oven with a digital temperature setting that indicates when it is preheated. Older ovens with manual controls can vary greatly, and the doors may not have the proper insulation.” —Chef John

  • 4 pounds prime rib roast
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • Kosher salt

  • Place rib roast on a plate and bring to room temperature, about 4 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
  • Combine butter, pepper, and herbes de Provence in a bowl; mix until well blended. Spread butter mixture evenly over entire roast. Season roast generously with kosher salt.
  • Roast 4-pound prime rib (see step 5, at left, if using a larger or smaller roast) for 20 minutes. Turn off oven and let roast sit in oven for 2 hours with door closed. Remove roast from oven, slice, and serve. [From our kitchen: Chef John serves this with his beef au jus ( but pan juices work too: Simply deglaze the pan with ½ cup water. Also, if you're making a whole menu, remember that this recipe ties up your oven for 2-plus hours—but we think it's worth it!]

Per serving 649 Cal; 54g Fat (23g Sat); 38g Pro; 1g Carb; 0.28g Fiber; 603mg Sodium; 163mg Chol