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Prime Rib vs. Ribeye – Which Is Best?

Prime Rib vs. Ribeye – Which Is Best?

In the BBQ game, there are many, many debates. From arm roast vs. chuck roast to pork belly vs. bacon, there is no shortage of debates in the BBQ world.

Today we are exploring the prime rib vs. ribeye debate. However, before we get to the debate, let’s learn about each cut of beef.

What Is Prime Rib?

Prime rib or standing rib roast is fabricated from the same region of the steer that ribeye is fabricated from. This particular cut of beef is known as the primal rib.

Prime rib contains a healthy ratio of intramuscular fat running throughout the meat. This intramuscular fat melts as the prime rib cooks giving it a juicy, tender bite.

Nevertheless, just because prime is in the name does not mean you will end up with a USDA prime cut of beef. 

Therefore, you should inspect the grading of the beef before buying it to make sure you are purchasing “prime” rib.

The most well-known way to prepare prime rib is with an au jus or in its own juices. The liquid will prevent the prime rib from drying out as it comes up to the desired temperature.

What Is Ribeye?

Even though ribeye has other aliases, such as rib steak, they all refer to the same cut of beef.

As I mentioned above, ribeye comes from the same rib primal as prime rib. Therefore, it is called ‘ribeye steak.

For a steak to be a ribeye steak, it has to be carved from the roast before it is cooked. In addition to this, ribeye steak also contains a highly desirable muscle called the rib cap or the Spinalis Dorsi. 

The Spinalis Dorsi is the most delicate and succulent part of the ribeye that you will consume.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find the rib cap sold separately at the grocery store, so you have to savor every bite of it while you are consuming your ribeye steak.

Nevertheless, you may be able to find a butcher who removes the Spinalis Dorsi and sells it separately for a hefty price.

Prime Rib vs. Ribeye

Now the showdown between ribeye and prime rib begins. Although these cuts of beef come from the rib primal, you will see that they are very different.

Size and Cut

In short, prime rib is a roast containing large rib bone pieces. In contrast, ribeye steak is only fabricated from the section of meat spanning between the sixth and twelfth rib.

Furthermore, ribeye contains lots of marbling and a succulent rib cap. 

If you were to order prime rib at your favorite BBQ restaurant, you would likely end up with a big slice of meat that was carved from a standing rib roast.

In contrast, when you order a ribeye steak at your favorite BBQ joint, you will end up with a trimmed steak that’s cooked to your liking.

Size is a neutral category when it comes to this debate. If you are looking to prepare food for a crowd, prime rib is probably better.

In contrast, ribeye steaks may be better if you are feeding 2-4 people.

Taste and Texture

Both cuts of beef have a bold, beefy flavor. However, the prime rib’s flavor is slightly more pronounced since this large roast has bones, fat, and more connective tissue. 

In contrast, ribeye has a more delicate flavor.

The rich marbling gives it a rich, succulent, buttery flavor which literally makes it feel like the ribeye steak is melting in your mouth.

Since ribeye is a steak and prime rib is a roast, there is a huge difference when it comes to the texture of both cuts of beef. In addition to this, prime rib is prepared at a lower temperature.

Ribeye is most often seared in a hot cast-iron skillet. Therefore, the cooking method also influences the texture of the meat.


Since it is a larger cut of beef, prime rib costs more than a single ribeye steak. 

Nonetheless, you will probably fork out more cash per pound of ribeye because it is a popular steak. 

In addition to this, to purchase a prime rib roast, you may need to visit your local butcher shops or order it from a reputable online meat vendor.

Most grocery stores only stock smaller pre-cut steaks like ribeye that are easier to store.

In contrast, in terms of eating out, you will pay less for one slice of prime rib since it’s easier for a restaurant to cook a large cut of beef than cook ribeye steaks to order.

Cooking Time

Since prime ribeye is much larger than its counterpart, it needs more time to cook.

It’s recommended that you cook prime rib for a minimum of 1 hour.

In contrast, ribeye only needs a few minutes to cook, even if you are cooking a well-done steak.

How To Cook Prime Rib

Much like the secret to cooking good brisket and pork butt, the secret to the perfect prime rib is cooking it at a low temperature.

So, turning your natural gas grill or oven to a low temperature brings the prime rib’s flavor to life.

To prepare prime rib, simply heat your oven to 450°F. There’s no need to panic over the high cooking temperature. 

The high temperature sears the outside of the rib roast.

Next, season your prime rib really well with kosher salt and pepper. Prime rib is a larger cut of beef, so there’s no need to be shy with the seasoning.

You want every slice of prime rib to have some flavor.

Additionally, you can also season the prime rib with garlic or onion powder, thyme, or rosemary.

Place the prime rib into an oven-safe baking dish and place it into the oven. Roast the prime rib for 30 minutes until it has a golden-brown crust on all sides.

Next, decrease the oven’s temperature to 350°F. The average prime rib roast can weigh 6-12 pounds, so it will take 15 minutes per pound.

Ultimately you want to cook the prime rib roast to medium-rare, which is 120°F. 

Make sure you use an infrared thermometer to monitor the prime rib’s temperature.

Remove the cooked prime rib roast from the oven and loosely tent it with foil.

Let the cooked prime rib roast rest for 30 minutes before slicing it and digging in.

How To Cook Ribeye

There are multiple ways to cook ribeye. You can sear ribeye in a hot skillet, fire up your portable pellet grill, or use a hybrid cooking method by reverse searing it.

Nevertheless, one of the easiest and most famous ways to cook ribeye steak is pan searing. Pan searing creates a rich golden-brown crust and a tender medium-rare interior.

To pan-sear your ribeye steak, season your ribeye steak liberally with salt and pepper. Let the ribeye steak sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Add a little oil to a cast-iron skillet and place on a medium-high flame. Let the skillet heat for 4-5 minutes to ensure it is scorching hot. 

Place the ribeye steak into the skillet and sear it for 2-3 minutes per side.

Turn the flame down to low so the ribeye can continue to cook without burning the meat’s exterior.

Add 2 tablespoons to the skillet with the steak. You can also add a few cloves of garlic and rosemary or thyme to the skillet to infuse the steak with more flavor.

As the ribeye cooks, baste the steak with butter to add moisture and keep the meat warm.

Make sure you use a thermometer to monitor your steak’s internal temperature.

Once the steak achieves your desired temperature, remove it from the fire. Place the ribeye steak onto a butcher block and loosely tent it with foil.

Let the ribeye steak rest for 5-10minutes before slicing and digging in.

Is Ribeye the Same Cut as Prime Rib?

Some folks like to say that ribeye steak and prime rib are the same cut because they come from the primal rib. 

However, since they have their own cooking methods and are served differently, they are 2 different cuts of beef. 

For example, the prime rib contains large bones, while ribeye comes from the most tender portion of the rib primal.

Which Is Better, Prime Rib or Ribeye?

As for which cut of beef is better, it depends on your needs. Prime rib is a large chunk of beef that needs a long time to relax and become tender.

In contrast, ribeye only needs a few minutes to cook.

Although prime rib is not a quick option for a weeknight dinner, it can feed a crowd.

If you only need to feed a few people, ribeye is best since you won’t end up with a lot of leftovers.

Final Thoughts

As you have seen, ribeye and prime rib are different cuts of beef that are equally delicious and satisfying.

Whether you cook them at home or order it from your favorite steakhouse, I recommend giving both ribeye and prime rib a try.

This is the only way you can make a fair decision when it comes to the prime rib vs. ribeye debate.

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