It’s hard to beat a perfectly cooked Prime Rib as the centerpiece of any special occasion.
Prime rib is an expensive cut of meat though, so you want to know how much prime rib to serve per person.
We’ve created this guide to help you serve the perfect amount of prime rib so no one goes hungry and everyone gets their fair share.
How much prime rib should you buy and prepare per person?
You can estimate that your guests will eat about one pound of bone-in prime rib per person. This allows for some shrinkage and the fat and gristle that people will cut off.
When served as part of a large holiday buffet with several other dishes, you could probably get away with 3/4 – 1 pound per person.
Obviously, if you’re cooking a meal that’s heavy on carbs and starches, you can go a little lighter on the prime rib.
If you can get a bone-in cut, you can slice it so that every person gets a whole piece with the bone attached. This will be much more than a pound per person, so I would only recommend this when feeding a hungry crowd.
Where does prime rib come from?
The cut known as prime rib comes from the upper part of the cow’s chest, called the “chuck.” One of the reasons that prime rib is so popular is that it’s a relatively fatty and well-marbled cut of meat, and fat means flavor.
Prime rib is best known for its abundance of beefy flavor, which means it pairs really nicely with other rich flavors such as red wine or horseradish sauce. It also has an incredibly tender texture. Of course, this will vary depending on how you cook the meat (e.g., roasting vs grilling).
What to look for when buying prime rib
When buying your prime rib, you’ll want to look for a cut with a large ‘eye’ of meat in the center, surrounded by lots of well-marbled muscle and a thick cap of fat.
Prime rib is notoriously well-marbled and it’s that intercostal fat that gives it such a wonderful flavor.
You should definitely purchase a prime rib roast that is larger than you anticipate needing. Once cooked, the meat may shrink by as much as 20%. Buying a little larger will allow for an optimal amount to go around without anyone’s plate coming up short.
What’s the best way to cook prime rib?
Once you’ve got your prime rib, there are many different ways to cook it. One of the most popular methods is roasting in an oven at a high temperature. You can also smoke prime rib and then optionally sear on a grill or pan-fried until crispy and browned on both sides. Each method will yield slightly different results but all three will give tasty results if done properly!
How to roast prime rib in the oven
To roast, start by allowing the meat to sit out for an hour at room temperature before cooking. You can then either coat it with a seasoning rub or marinate it overnight in your favorite sauce, as long as you plan on roasting within 24 hours of preparing.
For those who have more time and patience, prime ribs are even better after being aged for about a week.
A roast from this area will be more flavorful and succulent if you sear it first on all sides in a hot pan with oil.
To roast, begin by placing the meat in an oven that has been preheated to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. You want it to cook at this temperature for 20-30 minutes before you lower the heat down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and continue cooking until medium-rare (about 115 degrees).
This will take about 20 minutes for every pound of meat. For example, a three-pound roast would need another 60 to 90 minutes in the oven after lowering the temperature.
Most prime rib roasts are between two and four pounds so if you cook it long enough at 500 degrees Fahrenheit it, should be medium rare when finished cooking at 350 degrees.
If you want to flavor your prime rib, then add a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme or some chopped garlic cloves. If you’d like to add another layer of flavor, then try adding half an onion cut into quarters along with your prime rib in the oven for more than two hours before roasting it off completely.
How to cook prime rib on a grill or smoker
If you’re cooking this dish on a grill, be sure to set up indirect heat so that your roast cooks evenly all around.
Use a leave-in temperature probe like the ThermoWorks Smoke, until it reaches 118°F (for medium-rare). Then take the roast out and let rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing portions.
The meat will come up to a perfect 125°F medium-rare while it rests.
Check out our recipe for the perfect smoked prime rib roast for all the details or watch our video recipe.
Preparing prime ribs for roasting takes about seven hours total time most of which is spent marinating or defrosting, though preheating the oven makes up some of that time as well.
Just because we’re talking about cooking one thing doesn’t mean we can forget everything else! Depending on your main dish, think about serving up sides that either match or contrast.
Roasted potatoes pair excellently with juicy slices of roast beef, but sauteed or roasted mushrooms can make a delicious side dish as well.
Once done, slice your prime rib into 1/2 pound servings for a roast or one pound servings for any other main meal.
If you’re still feeling a little intimidated you could always download the Roast Perfect app, which will walk you through the steps.
If you have any leftovers you can always reheat your prime rib.
Preparing the perfect prime rib
Prime rib can a tricky dish to cook and portion out properly, but if you’re ready for the challenge then our guide gives you all the information you need to make sure everyone gets their fair share of this amazing cut!