IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

How to make the easiest prime rib roast for the holidays

Use these tips and tricks to make a juicy and amazingly delicious prime rib roast.
/ Source: TODAY

Whether you're hosting a beautiful Christmas dinner or any other festive food-filled occasion, a prime rib roast makes a striking centerpiece for any holiday meal.

But cooking a standing rib roast — especially for a special occasion — can be intimidating. But three simple tips and our easy prime rib recipe will help you impress without the stress.

And when you’ve learned how to make easy prime rib that looks and tastes fantastic, you don’t need to overdo the rest of the meal. Serve it with classic holiday sides like creamed spinach or a green bean casserole, your favorite scalloped potatoes and a basket of hot dinner rolls for soaking up all the jus.

Holiday Prime Rib Roast

How much prime rib per person?

While prime rib can be sold bone-in or boneless, a bone-in roast is the best bet for guaranteed juicy succulence. A good rule of thumb for purchasing bone-in prime rib is to buy one pound per person. A bone-in standing rib roast will feed about two people per bone. But if the roast is part of a bigger spread with plenty of other food, you can plan on 1/2 to 3/4 pound of prime rib per person.

Here's a quick guide (so you don't have to do the math):

  • 3-4 people: 4 pounds (2 bones)
  • 4–5 people: 5 pounds (2-3 bones)
  • 5–6 people: 6 pounds (3 bones)
  • 6–7 people: 7 pounds (3-4 bones)
  • 8–10 people: 10 pounds (5 bones)
  • 10–12 people: 14 pounds (7 bones)

Have your butcher order a roast in the weight range you need. If you ask for your roast trimmed and tied, your butcher will also be happy to prep the roast so you won't have to: They will cut the bones away from the roast, french them (i.e. trim off the meat around the edges to make that classic “handle” shape) and remove excess fat before tying the bones back to the roast. There will still be about one inch of fat on the roast after it's been trimmed and tied.

How do you season prime rib?

Whether you want to go classic with salt and pepper or bring extra flavors to the party, rubbing the meat with salt, spices and herbs is the key to giving your roast that traditional crackling, seared and delicious crust.

Either the night before or at least 2 hours prior to cooking your prime rib, rub the roast all over with olive oil and generously sprinkle it with one of the following seasoning blends:

  • 1/4 cup black pepper and 1/4 cup kosher salt (Grab a canister of Morton's or Diamond kosher salt; the larger salt crystal size will make for a better crust on the meat than you'd get from regular table salt.)
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper, 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon dried oregano and 1 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper, 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 2 tablespoons herbes de Provence and 2 large minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper, 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 1 tablespoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, 1 tablespoon dry mustard and the zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper, 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary and 2 large minced garlic cloves

If you’re seasoning it in advance, place the roast uncovered in the refrigerator overnight, then let it come to room temperature for two hours before you put it in the oven.

How do you cook prime rib?

When it comes time to cook the roast, don’t just follow your nose or rely on time alone to judge when the meat is cooked properly. For a perfectly cooked prime rib, buy a digital meat thermometer. Whether it’s a probe version that stays inside the meat as it roasts, or a removable stick version, it provides complete accuracy and prevents overcooking.

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 F for at least 30 minutes while the prime rib comes to room temperature.
  2. Place the roast in a high-sided roasting pan bone-side down. The bones create a natural roasting rack for the meat, so don’t worry if you don't have one.
  3. Cook the roast for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325 F. Continue to cook the roast until your meat thermometer reads 120 F. Estimate about 15 minutes of cooking time per pound of prime rib.
  4. Once the thermometer hits its target temperature, remove the roast from the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes. The roast will continue to cook as the juices inside settle, raising the internal temperature to 130 F for a perfect medium-rare prime rib.
  5. Snip the tied bones off the roast, slice and serve it up to all of your appreciative friends and family!