What Are the Best Tips for Roasting a Rib of Beef?

Christian Petersen

Roasting a rib of beef is a relatively straightforward procedure and if done correctly can produce one of the most tender and flavorful beef roasts imaginable. Certain techniques are helpful in preparing and roasting a rib of beef and can ensure the best possible result. A rib of beef is another name for a rib roast, which is also commonly called prime rib. The roast may or may not have rib bones attached. Either type of roast is handled in essentially the same way for purposes of preparation and cooking.

A rib of beef is best roasted in a roasting pan.
A rib of beef is best roasted in a roasting pan.

A typical rib roast can have anywhere from 2 to 7 bones and when the bones are present, it is sometimes called a standing rib roast. Cooking times will vary according to the size of the roast. Approximately one to two pounds of raw roast per person is appropriate.

Begin checking the internal temperature an hour before projected finishing time.
Begin checking the internal temperature an hour before projected finishing time.

A key for roasting a rib of beef should be applying a rub. Ingredients for a rub vary according to preference but typically include basic seasonings such as pepper and garlic as well as the herb thyme. Some recipes call for salt, but this draws moisture out from the roast and is really not necessary and in fact is best omitted.

The cooking process is important when roasting a rib of beef. The most important technique for achieving a tender, juicy roast is to sear the outside of the roast by cooking it at very high temperature for a short period, before reducing the temperature to allow the roast to finish cooking slowly. Cook the roast in a roasting pan in the oven, rib side down and fat side up, at maximum temperature for approximately 15 minutes to help form a nice crust. Alternatively, sear the roast on all sides in a very hot skillet.

A convection oven is ideal for roasting a rib of beef, particularly for the initial searing, but a perfectly good rib roast can be made in a conventional oven as well. The rest of the cooking process should be done slowly at a much lower temperature. The lower the temperature and the slower the roast can be cooked the better. Ideally, the oven temperature should be set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius) for a conventional oven. If you are using a convection oven, reduce the temperature to about 325 degrees Fahrenheit (160 degrees Celsius)

The roast requires about 20 to 30 minutes per pound or an hour per kilogram to cook to medium rare, which is the perfect degree of doneness for a rib roast. Roughly calculate how long the roast will need to cook based on its size. For example, a 5 pound (2.25 kg) roast will require about two and a half hours to cook. Regularly basting the roast with the pan juices during roasting, particularly the ends of the roast, enhances flavor.

A meat thermometer is a must, and an instant read digital thermometer is best. Begin checking the temperature an hour prior to the calculated finishing time by inserting the meat thermometer into the end of the roast so that the tip is as close to the center as possible. Check every 15 minutes thereafter until it reaches a temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius), for medium rare, or 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54 degrees Celsius), for medium.

An important but often neglected trick for a perfect rib roast is to let the roast rest for a short time after removing it from the oven. This is important because cutting the roast immediately will cause it to release much of its juice. By allowing it to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing, the meat is able to retain more of these juices, which carry much of the flavor.

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