Ribeye Roast vs. Prime Rib: Two Differences & How to Cook Each

Homemade Grass Fed Prime Rib Roast with Herbs and Spices

Ribeye Roast vs. Prime Rib: Two Differences & How to Cook Each

With the holiday season fast approaching, you're likely looking for a delicious meal that you can serve your family and friends. Many times, prime rib comes to mind as it's both delicious and large enough to feed a crowd. But have you ever considered a ribeye roast?

When it comes to ribeye roast and prime rib, there are very few differences. The main distinction between the two is that a ribeye roast is prepared boneless while a prime rib is prepared with the bone in.

Without the bone, these two cuts of beef are very hard to tell apart. If you're curious to know more about each including preparation methods, we've got you covered. Let's dive in!

Ribeye Roast vs Prime Rib
The main difference between the two is that a ribeye roast is boneless and a prime rib is prepared with the bone in.

Ribeye Roast vs. Prime Rib: What are the Differences?

As mentioned, ribeye roast and prime rib are very hard to tell apart. Both cuts come from the primal rib section of a cow. This section is high on the back and doesn't get much exercise, resulting in a fattier, well-barbled cut of beef.

Because both of these meats are cut from relatively the same area, they only have 2 major differences: Whether they're prepared with the bone in or out, and whether they're cut into steaks before preparing or after. Their flavor, texture, and cost are going to be about the same.

It's important to note that you may see some commonalities in how they're labeled as well. Be sure to keep an eye out for labeling like boneless prime rib, boneless rib roast, standing rib roast, and bone-in ribeye.

What is Ribeye Roast?

A ribeye roast is cut from the rib section of a cow, and its name means “the eye of the rib.” Often, ribeye roast is cut into individual slices before it's prepared, resulting in ribeye steaks. A ribeye steak is very different from prime rib as it's cut from the roast before preparation and can be grilled or fried as a single serving.

Occasionally, a ribeye roast will also have a portion of the rib cap attached when you purchase it. This is called the Spinalis Dorsi and is an incredibly flavorful section of meat.

Roasted Boneless Prime Beef Rib Roast Ready to Eat
A ribeye roast is sometimes confused with prime rib, but it's a cut that doesn't include the rib bones.

©Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.com

What is Prime Rib?

As mentioned, a prime rib and ribeye roast both come from the rib section of the cow. Prime rib is also a large portion of meat but is typically cooked as one large piece. It is not sectioned off into individual steaks like the ribeye before preparation.

This cut of beef is normally roasted with the bone in it and is then served as an individual piece with au jus drippings for extra flavor.

How to Prepare Both Ribeye Roast and Prime Rib

Ribeye Roast and Prime Rib can be prepared in very similar fashions. This of course differs if you choose to slice your ribeye roast into individual steaks before preparing.


One of the most common ways to prepare a ribeye roast and prime rib is by roasting the meat in the oven.

In the Food Network's Cooking School, it's recommended to first season your roast before letting it sit out to come to room temperature. You can use any sort of rub or seasoning mix to prepare your roast, too. Think about what suits you (and your guests) tastes the best.

After your roast has reached room temperature, the goal is to cook it low and slow. Your oven will remain at a low temperature of about 225°F the entire time your roast is cooking. Most often, this roast is cooked to medium rare which means it should reach an internal temperature of about 130-135°F before being removed from the oven.

The last step in the process is to let your roast rest. This is arguably the most important step as it allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and create an incredibly tender slice of beef.


Smoking your ribeye roast or prime rib is another popular option. You'll again want to begin by seasoning your meat and then letting it come to room temperature before beginning the cooking process.

Your smoker will need to be prepared ahead of time and reach a temperature of about 225°F before beginning. You'll also need to monitor your smoker throughout the process as it needs to maintain this temperature to properly prepare your roast.

After your meat reaches an internal temperature of about 130°F for medium rare, it can be removed from the smoker and allowed to rest before serving.

Close up of a large Prime rib roast being sliced for dinner service
Both a ribeye roast and a prime rib can be prepared by roasting or smoking.

©Nature's Charm/Shutterstock.com

A Note on Cooking Times

There is no one-size-fits-all cooking time when it comes to preparing ribeye roast and prime rib. Most often, the time is dependent on the size of the cut of meat.

When roasting in a 225°F oven, The Food Network recommends cooking your roast for 30-35 minutes per pound. This timing will help you reach the desired medium rare finish. When smoking, you'll want to cook your roast anywhere from 35-45 minutes per pound to finish it at medium rare.

For exact cooking times, be sure to follow your recipe. Additionally, you can ask your butcher for recommendations or exact cooking time specifications as they'll know more about your precise cut of meat.

The Most Important Steps

There are many techniques, methods, and tips that come with preparing the perfect ribeye roast or prime rib. The most important things to remember are:

  • Always season your meat to increase flavor.
  • Let the meat come to room temperature before cooking. Cold beef can lead to a longer and more uneven cooking experience.
  • Use a meat thermometer to determine when your meat is officially finished cooking.
  • Always let the meat rest before slicing and serving.

Some recipes also recommend searing the meat either at the beginning or end of the process. You may also want to save some of the juices from the cooked meat as au jus. This can be served alongside each individual slice.

Whichever recipe you follow, just remember to give yourself plenty of time and don't rush the process.

Ribeye Roast vs. Prime Rib: Nutritional Value

Because a ribeye roast and prime rib are basically the same cut of meat, there is no nutritional difference between the two. Of course, the seasonings or rub you choose to add when preparing the meat can cause the nutritional value to vary.

Ribeye Roast vs Prime Rib
A ribeye roast and prime rib have the same nutritional value since they are cut from the same section of the cow.

Can You Substitute Ribeye Roast for Prime Rib?

Absolutely! Since the main difference is whether the meat is prepared with a bone in it or not, either option can be used. Which one you choose will depend on how you want to prepare and serve it. It's important to note that the roasting or smoking methods discussed above work well for either cut.

Final Thoughts

When choosing between ribeye roast and prime rib, keep in mind that both cuts are nearly identical. The two main differences are whether or not they're prepared with the bone in, and if they're cut into steaks before or after cooking. Both can be roasted and smoked well. Just keep in mind the cooking tips we mentioned above. Follow the recipe you choose and your roast is sure to be a delicious holiday meal everyone will enjoy!

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