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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 Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 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

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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: Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 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 Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 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 Mom’s Dish uses for a spice-rubbed rib roast.

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!

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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 recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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  • Carolyn
    March 25, 2020

    Enjoy your blogs so much and the info you also give along with those delicious recipes! Thank you for your hard work and sharing your family with us. I really like how your daughter shows herself enjoying some of your recipes!

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 25, 2020

      You’re welcome, Carolyn! Thank you for that thoughtful feedback. I’m so glad you’re enjoying our recipes. Reply

  • Rebecca Olbrys
    December 22, 2019

    Hi Natasha,
    I have a 16 pound standing prime rib roast that I am making for Christmas dinner. I’ve never made one this large before. I’m not finding any information to tell me if I can make this whole or if I need to cut it into smaller portions before roasting it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance and Merry Christmas! Sincerely, Rebecca O Houston, TX Reply

    • Natasha
      December 22, 2019

      Hi Rebecca, I would cut the roast in half and roast it as 2 pieces in a very large roasting pan that can accommodate both roasts together without touching. If your oven or roasting pan doesn’t accommodate both at the same time, you can roast in 2 separate ovens (if you have 2 ovens). Reply

  • Pilar Fish
    December 11, 2019

    Sorry for my English, great information, I do not like to cook, but sense I found your Videos, I been enjoying some cooking, I did the prime rib last Christmas, was incredible, I didn’t select the ribs, but I want to select it this year, so what do you picked, 6 to 9 or 10 to 12, I’ll will love to know what do you cook.
    I love your videos and you are so nice, sweet and fun, my husband said that you must be good, sense you make me wants to cook Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      December 11, 2019

      Hi Pilar, that would depend on how many people you plan on serving this for. Reply

      • Darla
        December 30, 2019

        I think she meant do you prefer the chuck end or loin end. Reply

        • Natasha
          December 30, 2019

          Oh got it, I like the loin end with a larger center eye of meat, but both are great. Reply

  • Sandra Laskody
    December 7, 2019

    Natasha, I came across your web site by accident and must say you are most impressive, funny, intelligent and very pretty. You really held my attention. Looking for tips on rib roast and there you were! Thank you!! Great job!!! Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      December 7, 2019

      Thank you for that thoughtful & wonderful compliment! You’re so nice! Reply

  • Becky Hardin
    December 5, 2019

    Thanks for posting this. Such great tips. Reply

  • Sara Welch
    December 5, 2019

    This is excellent information; I can definitely use these tips for Christmas dinner this year! Reply

    • Natasha
      December 5, 2019

      I’m so glad you found it helpful. Thank you Sara! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas! Reply

  • NT
    December 5, 2019

    Natasha, you have done it again. I love the guide and all the details. It looks like a fancy cut of meat but now I know how to select the right cut. Reply

    • Natasha
      December 5, 2019

      I’m so glad you found this post helpful. The first time I went to the grocery store, I was a deer in the headlights. Having this knowledge would have given me more confidence for sure! Reply

  • Momsdish
    December 5, 2019

    I love all the details on how to select prime rib! I think it will make it approachable for any home cook! Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      December 5, 2019

      I’m so glad you found that helpful! Thank you for stopping by! Reply

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