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Prime Rib Christmas Dinner Recipe

Retired after 40 years in transport management, Ken has been married for 44 years. He and his wife have 3 children and 2 grandchildren.

When it's time to splurge on a memorable feast for the holidays (or any occasion), try this prime rib recipe.

When it's time to splurge on a memorable feast for the holidays (or any occasion), try this prime rib recipe.

Mmm, Mmm, Good!

'Tis the season to not be thrifty, fa-la-la la-laaa-la-la-la-la.

Here are my secrets to a great prime rib. If you share my view of wanting a special Christmas dinner and this meat is within your holiday budget, you will absolutely love this meal.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

2 hours

2 hours 10 min

Varies

Ingredients

  • Prime rib (for a generous serving of roast, figure on two people per rib)
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder

A Note on Buying the Meat

  • Look at the color of the prime rib; it should have a bright red color and no dry or brown edges. This is secret number one.
  • Size: For a generous serving of roast, figure on two people per rib. (Adjust the size of the roast by how many people you want to serve. Just remember to figure two people per rib.)
  • It will cost more, but please buy a four-rib "first cut" roast. It is a rib roast from the small end toward the back of the rib section, which is leaner and gives you more meat for your dollar. It is definitely less fatty.

Now onto the prep and cooking. This is as easy as it gets!

Supplies

  • Metal roasting pan (the inexpensive aluminum ones work fine)
  • Meat thermometer
  • Foil

Instructions

  1. Take the roast out of your fridge at least one hour prior to cooking and let it come to room temperature. Pat the roast dry with paper towels.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Smooth butter onto the top and both sides of the roast.
  3. Generously salt the top and sides of the roast with kosher salt or sea salt. Add some black pepper to taste and a small amount of garlic powder.
  4. Using a metal roasting pan, place the roast rib side down (fat side up) into the roasting pan. Salt generously on both sides of the roast.
  5. Sear the roast at 450ºF for 15 minutes only.
  6. Then, turn the temperature down to 325ºF and let it cook for approximately 1 3/4 to 2 hours. This will produce a medium rare roast. The target internal temperature is 125–130ºF. Please ask Santa for a good meat thermometer. This is the only way that you will know when to stop the cooking process.
  7. About 1/2 hour before the estimated end of the roasting time, begin checking the internal temperature. Cook until rib roast reaches an internal temperature of 120ºF.
  8. Remove from oven, cover with aluminum foil, and let sit approximately 15 to 20 minutes. The resting time will raise the temperature to the desired 125–130ºF.
  9. When you are ready to slice, carefully cut the roast away from the rack of bones. The butcher will have removed the chine bone already, so take your time and use a good sharp knife. Then, measure the length of the roast and divide those inches by the number of people eating (in our case, eight) and slice the roast into evenly thick slices.

Step-by-Step Photos

Make sure the roast is tied.

Make sure the roast is tied.

Spread one tablespoon of softened butter on each cut side of the roast.

Spread one tablespoon of softened butter on each cut side of the roast.

Using a metal roasting pan (the inexpensive aluminum ones work fine), place the roast rib side down (fat side up) into the roasting pan.

Using a metal roasting pan (the inexpensive aluminum ones work fine), place the roast rib side down (fat side up) into the roasting pan.

About 1/2 hour before the estimated end of the roasting time, begin checking the internal temperature. Cook until rib roast reaches an internal temperature of 120ºF.

About 1/2 hour before the estimated end of the roasting time, begin checking the internal temperature. Cook until rib roast reaches an internal temperature of 120ºF.

The finished roast (after resting for 15 to 20 minutes under tented foil).

The finished roast (after resting for 15 to 20 minutes under tented foil).

When you are ready to slice, carefully cut the roast away from the rack of bones. Then, measure the length of the roast and divide those inches by the number of people eating and slice the roast into evenly thick slices.

When you are ready to slice, carefully cut the roast away from the rack of bones. Then, measure the length of the roast and divide those inches by the number of people eating and slice the roast into evenly thick slices.

Eat and enjoy!

Eat and enjoy!

Notes

I have deliberately been very precise with these instructions, so it may seem like a difficult process. Uh-uh, nope! It’s actually easy and delicious.

This is the perfect prime rib. Christmas only comes once a year, and it is our day to enjoy our children and grandchildren. I want them to enjoy a meal that will help capture the spirit of the day. But, this meal will cost a few bucks, so I use this method to really produce the best prime rib I have ever had.

Remember:

  • Try and get a first cut roast, usually ribs #9–12.
  • Bring it to room temperature before cooking.
  • Use a meat thermometer to test the doneness.
  • Start at the 450ºF cooking temperature for the first 15 minutes and then at 325ºF for the remaining time.
A plated prime rib for Christmas dinner with asparagus, potatoes, and Caesar salad.

A plated prime rib for Christmas dinner with asparagus, potatoes, and Caesar salad.

Why I Love Making Prime Rib for Christmas

Before you know it, Christmas will be here. I like to use my prime rib recipe on Christmas Day. However, you can eat this delicious dish any time of the year if you are still able, despite these hard economic times. I know that my household is on the downside of some economic strife, so our gift list is very limited.

We still plan on preparing a special Christmas dinner using my recipe, though. It is a new tradition we started two years ago and one that we want to try to continue. We consider it a gift to our family.

I enjoy preparing prime rib, and it keeps me out of the kitchen when our kids and grandkids come over. This recipe beats the time and fuss of the former traditional turkey and all the fixins’ that we used to do.

Our Full Christmas Dinner

So what is this special meal we have? It consists of:

  • Prime rib
  • Potatoes asiago alfredo
  • Roasted asparagus
  • Caesar salad
  • Feta cheese-stuffed olives

This is the day my wife and I look forward to all year long. Our three adult children are over. My son-in-law and daughter-in-law have expanded our family unit. Our two grandchildren are there, and we all just relax and enjoy the day.

There are gifts under the tree, but we are very unstructured. Everyone comes when they can, but no early morning deadlines! With two little ones drooling over the gifts, my prime rib saves the day. It allows me the chance to prep and then let the oven do all the work, while I join my family on this special day.

Happy holidays!

Questions & Answers

Question: Do you not recommend spices be used on the top of your roast? If so, how much?

Answer: Yes, there has been an about-face on the question of using salt and/or spices on your roast. So now, at least an hour before you will start cooking the roast, generously salt the top and sides of your roast with Kosher salt(I’ve also used sea salt), I sprinkle black pepper on top “to taste “ and a small amount of garlic powder. Let it sit uncovered for at least one hour at room temperature. The salt will draw out some of the meat's juices which dissolve the salt. Essentially you now have a salty juice which cuts through some of the meat's proteins and re-absorbs into the inside of the roast.

Question: What temperature do you cook it to if you want Medium or Medium Well? And you don’t actually lay the roast on each end side to sear, correct?

Answer: Well, first I do not sear the roast on each side any longer. I found it took away from the tenderness of the roast. As for the cooking temperatures... the recommended temperature is 130-135 for medium-rare..... 135-140 for medium and 145 for medium-well.

Question: The picture doesn’t show, do you use a rack in the roasting pan?

Answer: No, I don’t. One of the beautiful things about a bone in roast is you put the prime rib in your pan with the fat cap side up. The bones of your roast serve as its own natural rack.

Question: How many pounds was the prime rib?

Answer: Even tho I was staying more to the standard of two people per bone to ensure proper serving portions, this prime rib roast was slightly over 9 pounds. Remember after cutting the roast away from the bones, you end up with perfect portion sizes when carving for eight in my case.

Question: What if I want time do I take the temp up to 125-130 and then pull it out and let it rest until enteral temp reaches 160-170?

Answer: Yes, it’s recommended to take out the roast when the internal temperature is at 120 - 125 and loosely cover it with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. There are two reasons. One is to let the inside juices of the roast redistribute. Second is to let the internal temperature of the roast rise to the usually recommended serving temperature of 130 - 135, which is medium-rare. Your temperature at 160 - 170 is all the way up to well done. You can cook your roast to your desired temperature, however, the residual rise in internal temperature would not go from 125 to 160+. That range is too large. If you wanted a 160+ roast, you’d need to keep it in the oven to an approximate temperature of 150-155.

Question: When do you remove the string when making a prime rib roast?

Answer: The string is removed after the roast is done cooking.

Question: Do I sear the prime rib on all sides or just the one side?

Answer: I do both end cut sides when I sear.

Question: What is your oven temperature when cooking this prime rib? Do you start out high, then turn down low or all one temp?

Answer: Well as I wrote in the article, the temperature stars at 450 for searing but only for 15 minutes. Then you turn the temperature down to 325 for the remaining roasting time.

Question: Do I take the roast out when I lower the oven temp, or leave it in?

Answer: You leave the roast in the oven when you lower the temperature. The main thing then is keep track of the time as you'll want to start checking the internal temperature of the roast as you near the end of the roasting time.

Question: Do you need to cook it for longer for a bigger roast? Mine is 14.5 pounds, boneless.

Answer: Actually the cooking method and times are the same despite the size. At my house this year, we actually had to buy a larger size roast due to a new significant other (with our youngest son) and the time in the oven is still the same. Delicious. Thanks for reading the article!

Comments

Elizabeth on December 07, 2019:

I always get a little bigger Prime Rib Roast as we love the leftovers. We slice it very thinly with meat slicer and make Beef Dip Sandwiches with the AuJus and Horseradish Sauce (Horseradish and Mayonnaise). Great Rolls is a must! Yummy!

Faith Malcom on September 02, 2019:

What is your thermometer? This looks like a great recipe

Wilburina on January 03, 2019:

Who doesnt do leftover beef stroganoff?

Hoogerwerff on December 31, 2018:

I am sorry sure there are alot of different variations personally Prime Rib to me is a very good tasting piece of meat just made one yesterday but I never add anything to it no salts, garlic anything and as someone else said I don't like my beef mooing back @ me again my preference but I always cook mine to 170 degrees and never not once was it dried out anywhere or tough & I do believe thats the part of the prime rib that gives it it's flavor & keeps it tender @ any doneness is the fat. I simply brought it to room temperature set oven @ 235 first for a couple of hours then down to 205, I put roast in a throw away pan rib side down covered with foil put a probe thermometer in roast set my temperature on thermometer to 170 about 5 1/2 hours later it reached temperature I turned oven off left it in the oven untouched for probably about 2 hours when I took it out the meat fell off bone completely on it's own when I picked it up and were big eaters I guess but I did 1 rib per person I had 5 ribs & 5 people worked out perfectly as some others we don't do left over rib roast. I cut off the last big chunk of fat left on top and gave some not all to my dogs I can do that with no garlic ( dogs can't have garlic, onion )or anything on my roast and that how simple I did it and it would cut like butter.

Jane McRoberts on December 10, 2018:

I’m making a Ham also with the prime rib. My husband wanted to know if you can cook prime rib on the outside grill?

Lynn on August 15, 2018:

If anyone has used the math method, I suggest it. My rib was perfect. Any questions hit me up for the calculation. Happy cooking.

Raymond Ryals on October 22, 2017:

Take the weight of the roast and multiply by 5. So if a roast weighs 6.3 pounds then the cooking time will be 31 and 1/2 minutes. Preheat oven to 500. When ready, place roast in for the "exact" cooking time + 1 minute for temp. lost when opening and closing door. When time is up, turn oven off, walk away and NEVER open door until 2 hrs. have gone by. Pull out roast and since it has already "rested" while in the oven, Slice and serve. DELICIOUS. Yes a good coating of sea or coarse salt and pepper will make it cook up even better. It will stay very moist. If you want it med to well done, I would think you'd add another 10-15 min. at above temp. to get it that way.

Jane Marstell on April 10, 2017:

I like my meat medium to well done. How long should I cook the meat and will it be dry. First time making Prime Rib. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

Cindy on January 10, 2017:

Hi, I thought a whole rib roast was only 7 ribs,but you suggest 9-12?

Thanks

Ramiro T. on December 30, 2016:

In your prep section you mention not to add salt oterwise it'll dry out the roast. And it sounds very good im getting hungry just reading about it. Ken, have you ever tried it in salt before? Let me tell you something "It's just fabulous" here's my secret.

I usually cook an entire rack. Since we are big family.

In a large deep rectangular pan i cover the entire base of the pan with rock salt. I then sit the rack (bones down) in the pan. Then cover the rest with of the roast again with rock salt. But before you cover the roast copletly all the way around with at least 3/4 of an inch all around you must rinse off the salt in a coleander or a china cap strainer and add moist after all excess water has drained away.

Dont leave any part of the roast uncovered. The cooking process is kinda easy no termters needed. Just preheat your over to 500 degess and place for One hour and forty minutes. Then remove from the oven and allow to sit cooking in its own juices. Another 45 minutes before serving. I can guarantee you'll love just as much as cooking it without salt. And you dont even have a need for over or under spicing up your roast.. This method of cooling has been done since the 1950's in a famous restuarant in San Francisco called

"House of prime rib" also cooked in the same manner lawry's of Las Angeles.

Judy on December 28, 2016:

OMG...just give me a knife, fork a BIG cloth napkin and a basket of fresh from the oven buttered bread!! Another good piece of cow is a flank steak, it's thin and should be warmed not cooked and is pure meat. Great for sandwiches with horseradish cream if there are leftovers.

JB on December 25, 2016:

Excellent....watch the thermometer!! Does not take much to overcook....took ours out at 125 and quickly up to 130-135..and a smidge overcooked !!

Garver Brown 873 25 3/8 st Chetek WI 54728 on November 24, 2016:

I actually a get Prime ready a day or 2 ahead of time, Kosher salt heavy, cracked black pepper and Garlic powder all the way around then add several Bay leaves top and bottom and then wrap in saran wrap and refrig at least 24 hours. I then heat oven to 450 and place prime in oven fat side up for about 30 minutes, depends on size smaller maybe 15 to 20 then I turn oven down to 200 to 225 and bake till I get internal temp of 150. I don't like the cow still bellering and blood running out. I get so many people that rave over my prime rib. Garver

Ken Ratajczak (author) from North Ridgeville, Ohio on May 10, 2016:

Sorry it took so long for me to reply to you. I finally sent an answer today, I've been gone for a while .

Ken Ratajczak (author) from North Ridgeville, Ohio on May 10, 2016:

Truthfully, since the original article, the norm has switched to season before cooking. I do use a decent amount of sea salt and some black pepper. Current thought is the salt will permeate the meat and instead of drying the roast, the result is the juices will actually change the roast through osmosis and react with the fat cap to form a nice crispy crust to the roast . Thanks for reminding me to update.

Ken Ratajczak (author) from North Ridgeville, Ohio on May 10, 2016:

Absolutely you can buy a smaller roast. The rule of thumb is one rib for two people. If it's hard to find a small one rib roast, you can buy a relevant size roast and freeze the portion you don't want to work. A well sealed roast should last about 3 months in the freezer. Just make sure you defrost the roast thorough and dry it off plus bring to room temperature before cooking.

Fin from Barstow on January 09, 2016:

sounds good....thank you Ali

Ali on January 09, 2016:

The prime rib in this picture is perfect! I have found this method to produce a great end result as well!

To wpcooper: I often make this for just myself amd my husband. You can do a 2 pound roast, adjust cooking time, and it will turn out just as good. I do agree that i dont like it reheated, so any leftovers we eat the next day with horseradish cream sauce. We remove it from the fridge and let it come to room temp before eating, and then we practically fight over it! Its the only meat that gets us feeling stingy!

Barb on December 28, 2015:

Are there no seasonings at all?

Fin from Barstow on December 24, 2015:

Just curious...what would you recommend for a single or two eaters? Can you do a smaller prime rib?

I don't like to heat up old prime rib after I've cooked it. It usually isn't as good.

Ken Ratajczak (author) from North Ridgeville, Ohio on December 16, 2015:

Boneless rib roasts are fine in place of the bone-in roast, especially if you don't like gnawing on the bone like I do or want to give your pooch the bones. The answer may surprise you, but the boneless roast needs appx. 20-30 minutes longer in the oven because the roast weight is all meat. Just make sure that the roast is still fat side up and put it on some type rack, even if just a cake rack. Thanks for reading !

Marla on November 27, 2015:

Can a boneless prime rib roast be used? If so, are there any changes needed? Thanks

Putz Ballard on December 10, 2009:

Prime Rib sound good to me.