What is Beef Rib Roast? A Complete Guide

Beef rib roast, also known as standing rib roast or prime rib, is one of the most delicious cuts of beef you can buy. This impressive roast makes a stunning centerpiece for special occasion meals and holiday feasts.

What Part of the Cow is Rib Roast?

Rib roast comes from the rib section of the cow, specifically ribs 6 through 12. This section is known as the rib primal cut in butchery terms.

Cows have 13 ribs on each side of their body. The rib primal consists of ribs 6 through 12 on one side of the cow. This gives you 7 full ribs to work with when cutting a rib roast.

Where is Rib Roast Located on a Cow?

The rib section is located between the chuck (shoulder) and the loin. It sits along the upper back behind the shoulders of the cow.

This primal rib section contains the spinalis dorsi, longissimus dorsi, and complexus muscles. These muscles don’t get much exercise on a cow, so they tend to be very tender.

Why is it Called Rib Roast?

It’s called rib roast because it contains ribs 6-12 from the primal rib section. You can leave the ribs attached to the roast or have them removed and tied back on.

The term “rib roast” refers to any roast that contains ribs from this section of the cow.

Other Names for Rib Roast

Rib roast also goes by a few other common names:

  • Standing rib roast – Because the ribs help the roast “stand” upright when cooking
  • Prime rib – Referring to the prime rib section of ribs, but not necessarily USDA Prime grade
  • Bone-in rib roast – The bones are left attached
  • Export rib – A common name used in the meat export industry

Characteristics of Rib Roast

Here are some key characteristics and features of a rib roast:

  • Contains ribs 6-12 from the primal rib section
  • Lots of marbling and fat for flavor and moisture
  • Tender muscle that doesn’t get much use
  • Can be bone-in or boneless
  • Size ranges from 2 ribs up to the full 7 rib section
  • Flavorful beefy taste

How Much Does Rib Roast Cost?

Beef rib roasts are one of the more expensive cuts of beef because they come from the desirable rib section. Expect to pay $15-$25 per pound for a rib roast, depending on the quality.

Here are some factors that affect the price:

  • Number of ribs – More ribs means more meat at a higher cost
  • Bone-in or boneless – Boneless is more expensive because it requires extra labor
  • Quality grade – Higher grades like Prime and Choice cost more than Select
  • Store or butcher – Specialty butcher shops often cost more than grocery stores

For a special occasion, it’s worth splurging on this premium cut of meat. A whole rib roast can feed anywhere from 6 to 14 people depending on the size.

What is the Difference Between Rib Roast and Prime Rib?

Rib roast refers to any roast containing ribs from the primal rib section. Prime rib is more specific – it only contains ribs 6 through 12.

So prime rib is a type of rib roast. All prime ribs are rib roasts, but not all rib roasts are prime rib.

Both are delicious roasts that make impressive centerpieces for holidays and special gatherings.

How to Cook Rib Roast

Rib roast is most often cooked in the oven using a low and slow roasting method. The keys are:

  • Preheating the oven very hot, 500°F or higher
  • Searing the roast for 15-20 minutes to get a crust
  • Reducing heat to 250°F and slow roasting for 1-2 hours until done

The meat should reach an internal temperature of 125°F for rare or 135°F for medium rare when removed from the oven. It will continue cooking as it rests.

Other cooking methods like grilling, smoking, or sous vide also work well for rib roasts.

How Long to Cook Rib Roast

Cooking times will vary depending on the size of roast and desired doneness. Plan on roasting for around 15-20 minutes per pound.

For example, a 5 pound roast will need about 1 hour and 15-20 minutes in the oven.

Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness instead of relying on time. Ovens vary quite a bit.

Rib Roast Done Temps

Always rely on an instant read thermometer for the most accurate doneness temps:

  • Rare: 125°F
  • Medium rare: 135°F
  • Medium: 145°F
  • Medium well: 155°F
  • Well done: 165°F

The temp will rise about 5°F as it rests. Remove it from the oven 5° lower than the final target.

Resting Rib Roast After Cooking

Let the roast rest for 15-30 minutes after removing it from the oven. This allows the juices to redistribute back into the meat for a juicy roast.

Tent it loosely with foil to keep warm. Don’t skip this step!

Carving Rib Roast

Use a sharp carving knife to slice the roast between each rib bone. Remove the ribs by slicing next to them if desired.

Cut across the grain of the meat for more tender slices. Cut thicker slices from the ends and thinner slices from the middle.

How to Choose a Rib Roast

When selecting a rib roast, look for the following:

  • Good marbling – This adds flavor and moisture
  • Nice thick fat cap – Helps baste the meat during cooking
  • Deep red color – Indicates proper aging
  • Solid bones – Avoid cracks or breaks
  • Firm and springy to the touch – Pass on mushy wet spots

The butcher can prepare it with the chine bone removed and ribs frenched for a classy presentation.

Best Rib Roast Seasonings

Simple is best when it comes to seasonings. Salt, pepper and garlic powder work very well. Fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme and sage are also excellent complements.

Mustard and butter combinations make great rubs and contribute plenty of flavor. Go easy on acidic marinades which can make the surface mushy.

What to Serve with Rib Roast

Here are some classic pairings that go well with rib roast:

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Creamed spinach or green beans
  • Yorkshire pudding
  • Horseradish sauce
  • Au jus
  • Red wine jus or demi-glace

Rib Roast Leftover Ideas

Leftover rib roast keeps well for 3-4 days refrigerated. Here are some tasty ways to use up those leftovers:

  • Slice thin for sandwiches
  • Chop or shred for tacos, nachos, pizza, pasta, etc.
  • Make a pan sauce and serve over mashed potatoes
  • Dice for beef and vegetable soup
  • Rib roast hash with onions and potatoes

Is Rib Roast Expensive?

Yes, rib roast is one of the more expensive cuts of beef available. Because it comes from the tender rib section, it commands a premium price. Figure on spending $18-$28 per pound for a USDA Prime rib roast from a butcher shop or high-end grocery store.

Costco and warehouse clubs often have choice grade rib roasts for $15-$22 per pound. Grocery store prices tend to run $17-$25 per pound.

Why is Rib Roast So Expensive?

There are a few reasons rib roasts cost more than other beef cuts:

  • High demand – Holidays and special events drive up demand
  • Limited supply – Only 2 per cow
  • Prime real estate – The rib is a prized section of the cow
  • Lots of bone – You pay by weight including bones
  • Skill to butcher – Precise cutting and trimming
  • Marbling – Abundant fat marbling means more flavor

For the best eating experience beef has to offer, a rib roast is worth the splurge. The impressive presentation and scrumptious flavor can make it the centerpiece of a memorable meal.

Is Rib Roast Healthy?

While rib roast is high in saturated fat, it can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation. A 3-4 ounce serving provides protein, zinc, iron, and B-vitamins.

Choose grass-fed beef for a healthier fatty acid profile. Or opt for a leaner roast like eye of round or top sirloin if you are concerned about fat intake.

Freezer Storage Time for Rib Roast

A rib roast will keep well wrapped in the freezer for 4-6 months. Use freezer paper or heavy duty foil to protect it from freezer burn.

For longer storage, consider sous vide. Vacuum sealed rib roasts can keep for 1-2 years frozen when sous vide.

Can You Cook Rib Roast from Frozen?

It’s best to thaw rib roast completely before cooking. But in a pinch, you can roast it straight from the freezer. Just add 15-30 minutes to the cooking time.

Place the frozen roast directly in the preheated oven. No need to thaw first if you use this method.

Is Rib Roast Healthier than Other Cuts?

Not particularly. Rib roast contains saturated fat and cholesterol just like other cuts of red meat. It does provide an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals though.

For a healthier beef option, choose a leaner cut like eye of round, sirloin tip, or 93% lean ground beef. Or opt for grass-fed beef if you want a better fatty acid profile.

In Summary

Rib roast is a premium cut of meat that comes from the rib section of the cow, typically containing ribs 6 through 12. It goes by various names like prime rib, standing rib roast, and export rib. This flavorful roast contains lots of marbling for tenderness and is a popular choice for holidays and special occasions. While expensive, it provides outstanding flavor worthy of celebration meals. A beef rib roast makes an impressive centerpiece when served with classic steakhouse sides and sauces.

The Guide to Cooking A Perfect Standing Rib Roast


Is beef rib roast the same as prime rib?

Butchery: Both rib roast and prime are primal cuts of beef; however, prime rib recipes call for the cut to remain whole, whereas a butcher typically divides a rib roast into individual ribeye steaks. The rib roast is generally a boneless cut of meat, while prime rib comes with the bone still in it.

Is beef rib roast a good cut?

Prime rib is comparatively expensive because it’s a highly desirable, highly delectable cut of meat that’s known for being very juicy, flavorful, and tender. It’s also a case of supply and demand — prime rib roasts are much more limited in number, while individually cut ribeye steaks are more plentiful.

Is beef rib roast tender?

Cooking a rib roast to achieve tenderness depends on several factors, such as the size of the roast and the desired level of doneness. Rib roasts are generally tender cuts of meat, but cooking them to the right temperature and allowing for proper resting time is crucial.

Is beef rib roast the same as brisket?

They’re from completely different cuts. Prime rib comes from you guessed it, the rib. Brisket comes from the chest area of a steer. Much leaner and tougher.

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