Prime Rib for Christmas Dinner

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Prime rib for Christmas dinner is a must! But do you roast it? Cook it? At what temperature? For how long? What’s the best way to season your prime rib? Read on.

Prime rib Christmas tradition

Every year, for…I don’t know how many years, we’ve had a Christmas prime rib dinner. Prime rib is expensive, but certainly cheaper than going out! It’s also great for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries or dinner parties. 

prime rib on plate.

But it wouldn’t be Christmas without the beautiful roast, creamed horseradish, and creamed spinach. A few years back, we also added Rack of Pork and all the Scandinavian accompaniments to the Christmas menu. Yes, it’s a lot of food…and yes, it’s pretty elaborate, but it’s incredibly delicious, too!

We celebrate Christmas in traditional British fashion, full-stop with crackers, paper crowns, and corny jokes! Although the Yorkshire pudding doesn’t make it to the menu every year, Trifle is always present.

We also have two kinds of horsey sauce; creamed horseradish and the straight stuff, as well as mashed potatoes or Roasted Potatoes.

This prime rib recipe comes from the Time-Life Series, The Cooking of the British Isles, 1969, and was originally published on December 4th, 2013.

How much prime rib per person?

 I prefer the presentation of a standing rib roast to a boneless prime rib, and a few people love the bone-in cut. Most full prime rib roasts have 7 ribs, which is enough for about 10 people with leftovers. 

raw beef with salt and pepper

Depending on how many ribs your roast has, it could weigh anywhere between 6 and 14 pounds. You’ll need to base it on the weight of the roast and how big your guest’s appetites are. Figure for roughly 1 pound per person. The prime rib restaurant I worked at had a few cuts.

The “petite” was just thin slices of beef, around 8 ounces. The next was the standard cut with the bone, which was the most popular. Lastly, there is “the end cut”, which is just that. Since there are only two end cuts per roast, those were usually reserved in advance by those “in the know”.

prime rib for christmas top shot

Preparing the prime rib

If you have an excellent prime grade cut of beef, you don’t need to cover it in all sorts of herbs. A simple dry brine of kosher salt and pepper before the roast goes in the oven is all that’s needed. While prime rib is sometimes difficult to find in the grocery store, you can usually special order it through a local butcher. I usually find mine at Costco around the holiday season. This cooking method works for choice grade beef as well.

Pull the roast out of the fridge at least one hour ahead of time so the roast can come to room temperature. Season the entire roast generously with kosher salt and black pepper. 

seasoning the beef

The best way to cook prime rib

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Place roast on a wire rack with the fat side up, in a roasting pan. Roast for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. and continue cooking meat until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers the desired temperature. The roasting time will be based on how much the roast weighs. Calculate about 18 minutes per pound for rare roast beef, but begin checking it a bit sooner.

roast on wire rack.

Be sure you write down the weight and approximate cooking time, making sure to check after about an hour and a half with a thermometer to begin gauging the time. You’ll need a heavy roasting pan like this one, with a moveable rack.

How do I know when my roast is done?

When cooking prime rib, I prefer to err on the rarer side, as it’s always easier to cook a roast more, but impossible to go back once you’ve over-cooked it!

standing ribs of beef

This is when an instant-read thermometer is imperative. I use a thermometer to check the roast in several different spots to make sure that one side isn’t cooking faster than another. Make sure you check the thickest part of the roast.

For rare prime rib, pull the roast out of the oven at 115 degrees F. 

Remove the roast from the oven when it is 120 to 125 degrees F. for medium-rare, and 125-130 F. for medium. I wouldn’t suggest cooking it more than medium rare.

Keep in mind that the internal temperature of the roast will continue to rise after removing it from the oven.

You should start checking the internal temperature after about 90 minutes.

Insert the thermometer in the center of the roast. The center will be rarest and the ends will be medium to medium-well ensuring that everyone gets their meat to their liking.

How Long Should the Meat Rest?

After the prime rib roast has reached the proper temperature, remove it from the oven and tent it with aluminum foil where it will continue cooking even after being removed from the oven.

Prime rib on cutting board.

Usually, the hardest part of any holiday meal is timing everything so that it arrives on the table hot all at once.

Prime rib, potatoes and meal on plate.

Take the opportunity when the meat is resting to finish heating up the sides for your prime rib dinner. When you’re ready to slice the prime rib, place it on a cutting board with channels to collect the juices. Cut as many slices as you can until you reach a bone. Cut around the bone, then continue cutting slices until the next bone. Store leftover prime rib well wrapped, or in an airtight container the refrigerator for several days. 

Prime rib on plate with horseradish.

Side Dishes for Prime Rib

No idea what to serve with prime rib? Knowing the best side dishes can be difficult! Here are some side dishes for prime rib.

Horseradish is a must. You can either serve straight horseradish or use this recipe for creamed horseradish which cuts the heat and is divine with any beef!

horseradish sauce.

The English restaurant also served the meal with Creamed Spinach and Creamed Corn.

Lawry's creamed spinach.

Make sure when you buy the bottled horseradish it’s just pure horseradish or your creamed horseradish sauce will be too mild.
We serve the rib with two kinds of horseradish, the straight stuff, and creamed horseradish. Brussels Sprouts or green beans also go well with prime rib. 

We serve two kinds of horsey sauce; creamed horseradish and the straight stuff, as well as mashed potatoes, and of course, English prime rib are also always on the table. (This post was originally published on December 4th, 2013.)

prime rib top shot.

Prime rib on plate.

Classic Prime Rib

Classic Prime Ribs of Beef, recipe from the Time-Life Cooking Series, Cooking of the British Isles. Nutrition note: Since the calculation includes bones, I've calculated the values for 8 ounces of meat only, not including the bone. Actual caloric values will vary depending individual portion.
5 from 60 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Entree
Cuisine British
Servings 8 servings
Calories 676 kcal


  • 8 pound standing rib roast or prime rib roast
  • Kosher salt
  • Cracked black pepper


  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
  • For best results, take out rib and let stand at room temperature for at least an hour. Rub roast generously with kosher salt and pepper.
  • Place in a large roasting pan, fat side up. Roast beef undisturbed, in the middle of the oven, for 20 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to 350 degrees F. and continue to roast, without basting, for about 1 hour to an hour and a half, or until beef is cooked to your taste. A meat thermometer with register 115 degrees F. when the beef is rare. 120-125 for medium rare and 125-130 for medium. An 8 pound roast will take approximately and additional hour and a half, increase the time by 15 minutes per pound if your roast is larger.
  • Remove roast from the oven, (it will continue to cook and the temperature will rise up to 10 degrees, once it's out of the oven) and tent it with foil.
  • Allowing the roast to rest before carving, undisturbed for 20-30 minutes, will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.


Note: Nutritional information contains total weight of serving INCLUDING the bone. A truer calculation will be MINUS the bone.
For best results, take out rib and let stand at room temperature for at least an hour.


Serving: 1personCalories: 676kcalProtein: 31gFat: 60gSaturated Fat: 25gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 26gCholesterol: 137mgSodium: 101mgPotassium: 501mgCalcium: 17mgIron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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  1. We have never made Prime Rib before, but have always wanted to do! We love your recipes and are inspired by this recipe, love the suggested sides and hints and tips! You make our anxiety in trying this recipe less and we look very much forward to doing soon! Thank you

  2. 5 stars
    We have made prime rib many times but used your recipe for our Christmas dinner and it was delicious!
    This will be our go to recipe from now on!
    Thank you!!!

  3. 5 stars
    The title seems confusing. Rib roast is always low carb. Plus, regular consumers can never get a “prime” cut rib roast. Those are reserved for restaurants. What we get is the next step down… choice.

    1. Interesting! We bought our PRIME rib from Costco this past Christmas, and it was labled “Prime”. They also had “choice”, but we opted to spend more for the prime. You can also go to any quality butcher store and request a “Prime” cut. The title? The heading says “Prime rib for Christmas dinner.” Believe it or not, this recipe works equally well on a choice cut as well. But I do ofter add the words “low carb” because that’s what a lot of people search for.

5 from 60 votes (38 ratings without comment)

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