Home > How To Cook > How to Select a Prime Rib Roast (What You Need to Know)

How to Select a Prime Rib Roast (What You Need to Know)

    Prime Rib Roast is rich, juicy and tender – a spectacular centerpiece for the holidays, especially when it’s served with Horseradish Sauce and Mashed Potatoes. Prime rib is considered the king of all beef cuts.

    This post is a collaboration with on behalf of the Beef Checkoff. I received compensation, but all opinions are my own.

    Prime Rib Roast is truly simple to prepare. Here is everything you need to know to purchase the perfect Prime Rib Roast, from understanding beef quality grades, selecting bone-in or boneless, and how big of a roast you need for your gathering.

    Prime Rib Roast tied with string

    This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

    How to Pick the Perfect Prime Roast:

    A Prime Rib Roast is a true holiday show stopper and one of the most impressive pieces of meat you can make for your family or friends. Making a great Prime Rib Roast begins at the butcher counter. You need to know how to pick the perfect rib roast. When you start with such a delicious high-quality protein, the culinary possibilities are endless!

    Cooks Tip:  has both inspiration and all of the tips and tools that families need to prepare the perfect holiday meal. For example, Chuck Knows Beef, the only all-knowing beef virtual assistant, is the only helper that you need in the kitchen this season. Chuck can tell you exactly how to prepare that holiday roast, including how to follow the right cooking temperatures and even suggest recipes the whole family will love. Check out Chuck at .

    Natasha showing how to select prime rib at the butcher counter

    What is Prime Rib?

    At the store, “Prime Rib Roast” can go by different names including Rib Roast, or Standing Rib Roast (because it is positioned standing on the rib bones as it roasts). It can be found in the meat case with both boneless and bone-in options. So what cut of meat is Prime Rib Roast? The Ribeye Roast comes from the rib primal which gives it the rich, beefy flavor everyone loves. It is savory, finely textured and typically has generous marbling.

    Fun Fact: If you cut prime rib roast into steaks, you get ribeye steaks.

    Which Grade – USDA Prime or Choice?

    There are different kinds of beef grades to consider. The USDA grading is what tells you the potential tenderness and juiciness of the roast you are getting. If you are looking to splurge, get the USDA prime grade. It can be harder to find, so know what to ask for. There is also a significant price difference between USDA Prime and Choice with Prime costing a bit more.

    1. “USDA Prime” – top 8% of all US beef (a bit harder to find), heavy marbling that is evenly distributed.
    2. “USDA Choice” – moderate marbling and is a high-quality option that is available in most supermarkets.
    3. “Select” – value-priced, less marbling, potentially less tender and juicy.

    Showing the difference between choice grade prime rib and usda prime grade prime rib

    Chuck End vs. Loin End:

    Whether you are getting “USDA Prime” or “USDA Choice” grade, you can also choose whether you want it cut from the “chuck” end or from the “loin” end.

    • The chuck end (pictured on left): ribs 6-9, has more fat around and between the central meat.
    • The loin end (pictured on right): ribs 10-12, or the “first cut,” has less fat and a larger, leaner central eye of meat.

    Chuck end prime rib and loin end prime rib cuts

    Bone-in or Boneless Prime Rib?

    We prefer bone-in prime rib because the bone insulates the meat as it cooks and produces more flavorful and tender results, but we suggest buying the type that is called for in the recipe you are using.

    The primary benefit of getting boneless is ease of carving. Ask the butcher to remove the bones and tie them back onto the roast. The ribs will still keep the meat insulated and tender and you can easily remove the string and ribs before serving.

    Chef’s Tip: Keep the fat cap that is present over the top of the roast to prevent the beef from drying out while cooking. Also, since all roasts vary in size and weight, a meat-thermometer is critical for great results.

    Bone-in prime rib tied with string

    How Much Prime Rib Per Person?

    As a general rule of thumb, plan for 1 rib for every 2 people. If you have a big menu, you could easily get away with serving 3 people pr bone.

    • 8-10 pound bone-in Prime Rib Roast = 4-5 ribs. Serves 8-10 people or more.
    • 4-6 pound bone-in Prime Rib Roast = 2 ribs. Serves 4-6 people or more.

    How to Prepare a Rib Roast:

    We partnered with and collaborated with several bloggers to teach you how to make the ultimate holiday feast with a Prime Rib Roast. Now that you are a pro at selecting your roast, check out the method Natalya of uses for a .

    More Beef Recipes for your Holiday Menu:

    These are our favorite show-stopping beef recipes, from roasts to stews. Nicely done, beef. You put the seasoning in the holiday season!

    Natasha Kravchuk

    Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

    Read more posts by Natasha

    Leave a Comment


    • Cindy Callahan
      December 18, 2023

      You are always my go to for most any recipe. This is my 1st time cooking prime rib, need one for 4 adults. what size roast and how do I alter the spice amount for rub based on size of roast?


      • NatashasKitchen.com
        December 18, 2023

        Hi Cindy! See my note above, “How Much Prime Rib Per Person?” I also have a Prime rib recipe here that you can reference. The serving size listed in the recipe card can be scaled up or down and it will convert the ingredient list for you. I hope that helps!


    As Featured On

    Never Go "Hangry" Again!

    Get weekly updates on new recipes, exclusive giveaways plus behind the scenes photos.