My Family’s Christmas Staple: Garlic Herb Crusted Prime Rib
After a pretty universal & traditional menu for Thanksgiving, I find it super exciting to have more freedom for cooking Christmas dinner. I like to call Christmas dinner the culinary wildcard of the holiday season. Every family seems to have their own unique traditions – I love that so much!
During the holidays, my family usually eats an epic lasagna, a feast of Mom’s dim sum, & at least one seriously special, indulgent beef dinner. Year after year, we come back to this prime rib recipe. It’s absolutely delicious – the best treat for the holidays – & it’s always such a hit at our family gatherings.
Since prime rib roast is an iconic Christmas dinner, & since I know it’s a must-have for many of our PWWB readers, I wanted to share my family’s super simple garlic herb crusted prime rib recipe as a PWWB holiday gift to you. To make sure it is absolutely perfect, I asked my mom to join me in the kitchen for the development of this recipe. It was so fun working with her, & I gotta say – she totally nailed it! You’re going to be obsessed.
Prime Rib Roast Recipe Highlights
This garlic crusted prime rib is perfect for a holiday feast because it is…
- RICH & FLAVORFUL. Prime rib is a premium, beautifully marbled cut of beef packed with plenty of naturally rich flavor. Add the timeless flavors of garlic, fresh rosemary, & fresh thyme & this prime rib roast recipe is mouth-wateringly delicious.
- SERIOUSLY SIMPLE. Learning how to make prime rib is way easier than you might expect – there’s truly no need to be intimidated! This foolproof recipe uses just a handful of ingredients to create a perfect herb crusted prime rib. Plus, there’s only about 20 minutes of active work involved – the oven takes care of the rest!
- THE ULTIMATE SPECIAL OCCASION MEAL. Serving an indulgent garlic herb prime rib is the mark of a special occasion. Perfect for Christmas dinner or any other winter holiday when your loved ones gather together around the table!
This prime rib roast will be the star of your holiday dinner! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make Garlic Herb Crusted Prime Rib, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!
What is Prime Rib?
First things first…what is prime rib, exactly? It always seems like there are SO many technicalities & nuances to consider with all the different cuts of beef – trust me, I get it! It’s taken me years to get comfortable navigating the butcher counter! – so let’s clear a few things up!
What cut of meat is prime rib? ⇢ Prime rib is a cut of beef from the primal rib section of the cow. It can come bone-in or boneless & is considered a pretty premium cut of meat. That’s because it has a large “eye” of meat in the center of the cut that’s marbled with fat (making prime rib super juicy & tender). Nothing is better than a rich & tender cut of beef!
Are prime rib & standing rib roast the same? ⇢ Yes! Standing rib roast is another name for prime rib & it’s exactly what you’ll want to look for when you’re shopping at the grocery store. A standing rib roast gets its name from the bone-in cuts where the ribs act as a natural roasting rack, helping the meat stand in the roasting pan.
Prime rib vs. ribeye: what’s the difference? ⇢ Prime rib & ribeye both come from the same primal rib section of the cow, so it’s super easy to get them confused. But they’re pretty different! While prime rib is a larger cut of meat typically served bone-in, a ribeye is a heavily marbled cut from the most tender part of the rib. If it’s helpful, think of prime rib as a large roast from which ribeye steaks are cut. As such, cuts of ribeye are smaller than prime rib & ribeye steaks are well-known for their buttery, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Prime rib isn’t necessarily always as tender as ribeye, but it’s typically packed with more flavor.
What should I look for when buying prime rib? ⇢ When you shop for a standing rib roast (aka prime rib), look for a roast with nice marbling, or beautiful white streaks of fat throughout the meat. All this intramuscular fat is a sign that the beef is tender & flavorful. There are also different grades of meat to be aware of as you shop (if that kind of thing is important to you). Although prime rib contains “prime” in its name, it doesn’t mean that it’s always USDA-designated prime beef. It’ll more likely be a choice or select grade beef. Prime graded prime beef has distinctly superior texture & probably requires a special order & some extra cash. Don’t sweat about this too much! A choice-grade prime rib is still amazingly delicious & perfect for making this garlic herb crusted prime rib roast recipe.
How much prime rib per person should I buy? ⇢ If a prime rib roast is the main dish at your holiday dinner, a safe estimate is between 1/2 – 1 pound of prime rib per person. That’s also about one rib for every two guests. When in doubt, err on the side of buying extra – leftover prime rib is such a treat!
*Prime Rib Pep Talk!
Before we jump into the nitty gritty of this prime rib recipe, a quick word of encouragement: don’t be intimidated by the fanciness! All this premium beef talk feels super intimidating & I get how extra-scary cooking can feel when you’re working with an expensive cut of meat. But, I promise you – this garlic herb crusted prime rib is truly so, so simple. Once you have your standing rib roast on hand, everything else comes together very easily. You’ve got this!!!
Garlic Herb Crusted Prime Rib Key Ingredients
Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
You only need 4 ingredients to make a beautiful garlic herb crusted prime rib:
- Standing rib roast – Aka prime rib roast. This is the cut of meat that you should ask for at the grocery store. I like to use bone-in rib roast – the bones act as a natural roasting rack helping the meat “stand” up as it cooks. Boneless standing rib roast also works beautifully in this recipe, if that’s what you prefer or what’s available to you.
- Fresh herbs – These herbs are the star of the show, so fresh is best! I use loads of fresh rosemary & fresh thyme for this herb crusted prime rib. They naturally pair with the rich flavor of beef beautifully, plus they’re 2 of my favorite herbs!
- Garlic – The perfect pairing with fresh herbs! To make garlic crusted prime rib, I recommend grating the garlic through a microplane or finely mashing it into a fresh garlic paste, rather than chopping. Not only does it will bring out more flavor in the garlic cloves, it prevents the garlic from burning as the prime rib roasts.
- Oil – We start cooking the prime rib roast at a very high heat so we need a neutral oil with a high smoke point. Otherwise, the oil will burn & impact the flavor of the prime rib! I always use avocado oil for making garlic herb crusted prime rib, though grapeseed oil & canola oil are also great options.
Standing Rib Roast
Prime rib roast can go by several different names at the grocery store, including standing rib roast. You can find standing rib roast in the meat case at your grocery store butcher counter. While they’re typically readily available – especially around the holidays – it’s always a good idea to call ahead of time & order or reserve one with the butcher.
Boneless vs Bone-In: I prefer & recommend purchasing a bone-in standing rib roast. The bones act as a natural roasting rack, helping the roast stay totally juicy as it roasts & creating flavorful drippings for a rich au jus. The only downside of a bone-in roast is that the bones add expensive weight, driving the price of the standing rib roast up quite a bit. It’s an instance where I think the added expense is totally worth it, but you can also make this recipe using a boneless prime rib roast – it’ll still be super flavorful & tender!
Pro Tip! ⇢ I like to ask my butcher to slice the bones off of the standing rib roast & tie them back on with twine. This provides the same benefits of using bone-in rib roast but it’s makes it way easier to remove the bones & carve the prime rib once it’s roasted. Once the prime rib rests, simply snip the twine, remove the ribs, & carve – easy! If you forget to ask your butcher to take care of this for you, it’s also pretty simple to do on your own – check out this video for a helpful tutorial.
How to Make Prime Rib
Learning how to cook prime rib could not be any easier with this classically seasoned, beautifully tender herb crusted prime rib roast. There’s about 20 minutes of active prep involved. From there, the oven does most of the work & Christmas dinner is served!
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
Rest to Room Temp & Prep. A prime rib roast should go into the oven at room temperature for the most even roasting. So plan ahead! About 2-4 hours before you’d like to start cooking the garlic herb prime rib, take it out of the refrigerator & let it rest on the kitchen counter. Use paper towels to pat the standing rib roast completely dry – reducing moisture helps get a beautiful crust as the garlic herb prime rib roasts!
Season Your Prime Rib Roast. A standing rib roast is naturally packed with a ton of rich flavor, so there’s truly no need to go too crazy with seasoning. A simple garlic & herb oil works beautifully here. Mix a little bit of oil with finely chopped fresh rosemary + thyme, grated garlic, salt, & ground black pepper to create a paste that’s almost the consistency of a wet rub. Use your hands to spread the herb rub all over the roast, applying most of it over the top in order create a beautiful garlic & herb crust.
Roast – Quickly with High Heat, then Low & Slow. It’s best to roast a standing rib roast in a baking dish or oven-safe deep skillet, bone-side down & fat cap side up. The garlic herb crusted prime rib will start cooking at a high 500 degrees F for only 25 minutes. This blast of high heat instantly renders the fat in the prime rib roast & starts to give it a beautiful crust. Then, turn the temperature all the way down to 200 degrees F, where the prime rib roast will keep cooking for two more hours. Important! ⇢ Do NOT open the oven door as the garlic herb prime rib roasts! We don’t want to create any fluctuation in temperature that could disturb the beef. Resist the temptation & let the prime rib roast gently on low & slow heat.
Rest to Medium Rare. After it has roasted, remove the garlic herb crusted prime rib from the oven & insert a digital thermometer into the center of the roast. At this point, it should read 115-120 degrees F for a perfect medium-rare. Set the prime rib roast aside to rest for about 20 minutes – the roast’s carryover heat causes the internal temperature to continue to rise to a final internal temperature of 130-135 degrees F as it rests.
Carve & Serve Your Garlic Herb Crusted Prime Rib! Carving a rib roast is a true sign of the holidays! Use a sharp knife to carve the roast into ½-inch thick slices. I like to place the sliced garlic herb prime rib on a serving platter for the table, but you can serve it on individual plates. The garlic herb prime rib is ready to eat immediately with some au jus! Mom Tip! ⇢ Mom swears by carving prime rib with her trusty electric knife – it cuts through the roast like butter!
How Long to Cook Prime Rib: Prime Rib Temperature & Doneness
The number one question about how to cook prime rib! Prime rib cooking time is super important when you’re looking to get that perfect medium-rare & it can vary based on the size of the standing rib roast. This recipe allows 2 ½ hours for a 5-pound prime rib roast. For larger or smaller rib roasts, simply adjust the high heat roast by 5 minutes per pound.
Remember ⇢ Your garlic herb crusted prime rib will continue to cook while it’s resting! Take the prime rib roast out of the oven slightly before your desired temperature. Its carryover heat will cause the internal temperature to rise as it rests, meaning it’ll be perfect when you’re ready to carve!
Simple Au Jus Sauce & How to Serve Garlic Herb Crusted Prime Rib
Simple, Perfect Au Jus
While the herb garlic crusted prime rib rests, it’s the perfect time to prep a simple au jus. Au jus is an amazing way to elevate your perfectly roasted herb crusted prime rib!
What is au jus, exactly? Au jus, which translates to with juice, is a French culinary term for a light broth or gravy made from the natural juices of meat as it cooks. That’s what we’re doing – serving garlic herb crusted prime rib with its delicious natural juices, making every bite of garlic herb prime rib that much more flavorful.
How to Make Au Jus for Prime Rib ⇢ To make au jus you’ll need the drippings from the garlic herb prime rib, beef broth, & Worcestershire sauce. These three simple ingredients help capture the best of the garlic herb crusted prime rib’s natural flavors! After skimming off any excess fat from the drippings in the roasting dish, add the drippings with the beef broth & Worcestershire sauce to a saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmering everything together will create a rich, light sauce served like gravy. Once warmed through, serve your au jus over your sliced garlic herb crusted prime rib & bon appétit!
Suggested Side Dishes to Complete the Meal
Garlic herb prime rib is the star of the show at Christmas dinner – but it’s also the perfect pairing for other comforting & flavorful side dishes. Prime rib sides are an essential part of the meal! I love hearty prime rib sides that stand up to the richness of a garlic herb crusted prime rib, like…
I can’t wait for you to try this Garlic Herb Crusted Prime Rib recipe! It’s my family’s all-time favorite, & I know you’ll love it as much as we do. If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy cooking!
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Stunning Special-Occasion Meals
A simple, stress-free recipe yielding rich & flavor-filled results every single time, my family’s Foolproof Garlic Herb Crusted Prime Rib with Au Jus is the ultimate holiday dinner! Standing rib roast is coated with loads of fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, & garlic, creating a perfect garlic herb crusted prime rib with classic flavor. Roasted briefly at high heat, then finished gently low & slow, this garlic herb prime rib reaches a dreamy medium-rare with hardly any active prep involved.
- 5 pounds bone-in standing beef rib roast, bones removed & tied back on (see Recipe Notes, below)
- 2–3 tablespoons avocado oil or neutral high smoke point oil of choice
- 4 cloves garlic, grated or mashed into a paste
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed from the stem & finely chopped
- 10–12 sprigs fresh thyme leaves & tender stems, finely chopped
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
Simple Au Jus:
- Garlic & Herb Prime Rib drippings
- 1 1/2 cups beef broth
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Prep: 2-4 hours before you’d like to begin roasting your prime rib, transfer it from the refrigerator to the kitchen counter, allow it to come to room temperature for even roasting. When you’re ready to begin roasting your prime rib, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F, ensuring a rack is situated in the second lowest position of your oven. Gather & prep all ingredients according to Ingredients List, above.
- Mix the garlic herb rub: Add the oil, garlic, rosemary, & thyme to a small bowl. Season with 1 tablespoon kosher salt & 2 teaspoons ground black pepper. Mix to combine well. Set aside for immediate use, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Season the rib roast: Use paper towels to pat the surface of the standing rib roast completely dry. Using your hands, spread the prepared herb rub from Step 2 all over the roast. Transfer the rib roast to a baking dish or an oven-safe deep skillet, placing it bone-side down & fat cap-side up.
- Roast the prime rib: Transfer the prepared standing rib roast to the preheated oven. Roast at 500 degrees F for 25 minutes. At this point, without opening the oven door, reduce the temperature to 200 degrees F. Continue to roast at 200 degrees F for 2 hours. *Note: Do NOT open the oven door as the prime rib roasts – resist the temptation! In order for the prime rib to cook evenly & reach final temperature on time, we do not want any fluctuation in the temperature of the beef.
- Rest the the prime rib: Once 2 hours have passed, remove the roasted prime rib from the oven. Insert an instant-read thermometer in the center of the roast – it should register 130 degrees F for a perfect medium rare. Carefully transfer to a large cutting board & set aside to rest for 20 minutes, no need to cover with foil.
- Prepare the au jus: Carefully transfer the beef drippings from the baking dish or skillet to a large liquid measuring cup. Use a spoon to skim off most of the excess fat & discard – you can leave some of it in for flavor, but you don’t need all of it for a rich au jus. Add the drippings, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce to a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer to warm through. Remove from the heat & set aside for serving.
- Serve the prime rib: To carve the prime rib, remove the twine securing the bones to the roast. Remove the bones & set aside. Using a sharp knife, carve the roast into 1/2-inch thick slices (or for heartier appetites, up to 1-inch thick). An electric knife is great for slicing prime rib since it glides through the roast quickly & evenly. Place the sliced prime rib on a serving platter or individual plates. Serve immediately with au jus. Enjoy!
- Bone-in vs Boneless Standing Rib Roast: You can prepare this prime rib recipe using either bone-in or boneless standing rib roast. While they both have benefits, I prefer buying a bone-in standing rib roast for prime rib. The bones act as a natural rack for the prime rib & also help create flavorful drippings for an especially rich au jus. Rather than butchering the bones myself, I ask my butcher to slice them off & tie them back on, securing the detached bones to the rib roast with twine. This provides all the benefits of using bone-in rib roast without actually having to worry about removing the bones yourself – once the prime rib is rested, simply snip the twine, remove the ribs, & carve – simple!
- Adjusting Cooking Time for Smaller/Larger Prime Rib: This recipe was developed with 4 1/2 – 5 1/2 standing rib roasts. As written, the cook times of this simple prime rib recipe are for a 5-pound rib roast, though you can make small adjustments to accommodate smaller/larger roasts. For rib roasts 4 – 5 1/2 pounds in weight, simply adjust the high heat roast by 5 minutes per pound. For example, a 4-pound prime rib should roast at 500 degrees F for 20 minutes, followed by 2 hours at 200 degree F, while a 5 1/2-pound rime rib should roast at 500 degrees F for 27:30 minutes, followed by 2 hours at 200 degree F, & so on. If your prime rib is larger than 6 pounds, I suggest finding a recipe with specific roasting temperatures & times for 6+ pound roasts.
- Storage & Freezing Instructions:
- Storage & Reheating: Leftover prime rib will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop, just until warmed through.
- Freezing Leftover Prime Rib: You can also freeze leftover prime rib to enjoy later. To freeze, transfer cooled prime rib to a freezer container or freezer bag. Freeze up to 3 months. To thaw, place the frozen prime rib in the refrigerator overnight or submerge the freezer container in room temperature water for a quicker thaw. Easily reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Keywords: prime rib dinner, Christmas dinner, special occasion dinner, standing rib roast recipe
Recipe and Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.