Standing Rib Roast
Our foolproof standing rib roast recipe is the perfect choice for an easy, yet impressive main dish for a holiday or special occasion dinner.
Because it has so much natural flavor and requires very little hands-on time, a standing rib roast is probably one of the easiest main dishes you can prepare for guests, but you do need to be armed with a little knowledge to get the best results. Read on for some tips to ensure success.
What’s the difference between a prime rib and a standing rib roast?
We often refer to beef rib roasts as “prime rib” but this is not necessarily accurate.
All prime rib roasts are standing rib roasts, but not all standing rib roasts are prime rib roasts. This is because the word “prime,” when talking about a rib roast, refers to USDA Prime grade beef.
True prime rib roasts are usually reserved for restaurants, so the grade you’ll find most often at your local butcher or supermarket is USDA Choice. Don’t let that discourage you from making a standing rib roast though. Choice beef is tender, juicy and full of flavor, too.
Here are some tips to help you find the best quality beef for your money.
Deciding how much to buy:
A full beef rib roast weighs approximately sixteen pounds and has seven ribs that vary in size from one end of the rack to the other.
A three-rib roast from the small end will weigh between 6 and 7 pounds and feed 6 to 8 people, and our standing rib roast recipe is written for this size. You can opt to add up to 2 additional ribs simply by extending the cooking time a bit and adding some extra salt and pepper.
Choosing a roast:
Try to get a three-bone rib roast from the small end of the rack because you’ll have more meat and less waste. The ribs from the large end are next to the chuck portion of the steer and contain more fat than the ribs at the small end, which is next to the loin portion of the steer.
That being said, you still want to look for visible marbling in the meat and a layer of fat on the outside of the roast. Both provide natural basting for the meat as it roasts.
Once you’ve purchased your rib roast you can store it in the refrigerator for up to three days prior to cooking. If you think you need to keep it longer, check with your butcher.
A word about boneless rib roasts: Boneless roasts might be a little more convenient to carve, but we recommend buying bone-in because bones add flavor and help to seal in the meat’s juices with their connective muscle fibers.
What are dry-aged roasts?
If you have access to a high-end butcher and are willing to spend the extra money, look for a roast that has been dry-aged.
Dry-aged meat has been stored uncovered in a very cold refrigerator (36°F) for several weeks to allow the evaporation of moisture and release of enzymes that break down connective tissue. The process increases tenderness and concentrates the beef flavor.
How to cook a standing rib roast:
- Bring the roast to room temperature: Remove the roast from the refrigerator an hour before you’re ready to cook to allow it to come to room temperature.
- Choose the right roasting pan: Your roasting pan should be 2 to 3 inches deep and large enough to accommodate your roast easily so the dry heat of the oven can circulate around it easily.
- Use a rack or don’t: Whether or not you use a rack is up to you. Some people feel that the rib bones themselves serve as a natural roasting rack and prevent the meat from browning too much on the bottom of the roasting pan. You can make a judgment based on how your roast sits on the pan.
- Season the roast: Rub the olive oil, salt, and pepper into the outside of the roast just before you’re ready to pop it in the oven.
- Roast with the fat side up: After you’ve seasoned your roast, place it in the roasting pan fat side up.
- Sear the roast on high heat: Preheat the oven to 450°F and roast the beef for 15 minutes to give it a sear, then turn down the temperature to 350°F without opening the oven door.
- Check after 45 minutes: Check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat 45 minutes after you’ve turned the temp down to 350°F. Check below to find out the correct temperature for your desired degree of doneness.
- Re-check the temperature every 10 minutes: Once you’ve checked the internal temperature at the 45-minute mark, re-check every 10 minutes until the roast is cooked to your liking. Even though the thermometer is called instant-read, leave it inserted for up to 30 seconds so the reading stabilizes.
- Let the roast rest: Once your roast reaches the desired temperature, remove it from the oven, tent it loosely with foil and let it rest for 25 to 30 minutes. This allows the juices to be reabsorbed into the meat. Don’t rush it!
- Carve the beef: Run a boning knife along the curve of the ribs to separate them from the meat and set them aside. Carve the roast into 1/4 to 1/2-inch-thick slices and transfer to a serving platter.
Internal temperature readings:
Always take the internal temperature at the center of the roast!
- Rare: Red center, pink toward the edges – roast to 115°F
- Medium-Rare: Bright pink center, brown toward the edges – roast to 120°F to 125°F
- Medium: Pale pink center, brown toward the edges – roast to 130°F
- Medium-Well: Brown from the center out to the edges – roast to 140°F
We’ve created a three-course holiday menu around this classic beef roast. It includes two appetizers, two traditional side dishes, and one dessert. Visit our Holiday Menu: Standing Rib Roast to get the details.
Red wines with soft tannins and subtle spice enhance the beefy flavor of a standing rib roast. A couple of choices to consider would be a California Pinot Noir or Cabernet-Merlot blend.
Standing Rib Roast
- 1 three-bone standing rib roast
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Horseradish Cream Sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- Pan drippings with enough beef stock added to equal 1 cup
- 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- About an hour before you are ready to roast the beef, combine the olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper in a small bowl.
- Remove the beef from the refrigerator and rub the oil and salt mixture all over the outside of the meat. Set aside for one hour to come to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Place the roast, fat side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes.
- Without opening the oven door, reduce the temperature to 350°F.
- Roast for 45 minutes, then check the internal temperature of the roast by inserting an instant-read meat thermometer into the center of the meat.
- If you want your roast rare in the center (see notes) and medium-rare to medium on the ends remove the roast when the thermometer registers 115°F.
- Keep in mind that the roast will continue to rise in temperature as it rests before carving and the ends will be cooked a little bit more. This enables you to offer your guests a range of doneness.
- For medium-rare in the center and medium to medium-well on the ends, remove the roast when the thermometer registers 120°F to 125°F.
- If the roast temperature hasn’t reached the desired doneness, put it back in the oven and check it every 10 minutes to avoid overcooking.
- Once the roast reaches the desired temperature, remove it from the oven, tent loosely with foil and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.
- While the beef is resting, begin making the Horseradish Cream Sauce by heating the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the minced shallot and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Stir in the pan drippings and beef stock, increase the heat to high and cook until the liquid has reduced by half, 7 to 8 minutes.
- Strain out the shallots (this step is optional) and return the sauce to the stove over medium heat.
- Whisk in the horseradish, heavy cream and sour cream and heat through.
- Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm over low heat.
- To carve the roast, slice the meat off the ribs by running a boning knife along the curve of the bone. They should separate fairly easily.
- Carve the roast into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick slices and arrange on a serving platter.
- Serve with the Horseradish Cream sauce on the side.
Tips for Making This Recipe
Standing Rib Roast Doneness Descriptions
- Rare: Red center, pink toward the edges
- Medium-Rare: Bright pink center, brown toward the edges
- Medium: Pale pink center, brown toward the edges
- Medium-Well: Brown from the center out