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How to Cook a Small Prime Rib Roast

This, How to Cook a Small Prime Rib Roast Recipe outlines the best way to cook a perfect prime rib for a small gathering (you can scale it for a larger crowd). You will love the flavorful crust and tender meat with all the pan juices!

  • Total Time: 60+ minutes (not including rest time)
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale

Meat

  • 4-5 lb bone-in prime rib roast (you can scale it by following the cooking notes on cooking time + increase the rub accordingly)

Rub

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 tablespoon coarse salt (I use Kosher)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup red wine (optional but recommend)

Instructions

How to cook a small prim rib roast

  1. Take the prime roast out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature before cooking (about 2-3 hours). Bringing the meat to room temperature is key to an evenly cooked roast. Pat the meat with a paper towel until dry. 
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix the garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, and olive oil to form a paste. Rub the roast with the paste. Rub the paste into the score lines in the fat cap. Place the roast (fat side up) on a rack into a small (or large) roasting pan. Add the beef broth and water (and wine if using) to the bottom of the roasting pan.
  3. Roast for 15 minutes at 450 degrees F, then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F. Continue roasting until the temperature on the digital thermometer reads 10ºF below your desired temperature (see notes for cooking times). 
    Check the temperature of the roast by inserting an instant-read thermometer in a few different places (at the ends and in the center of the roast). 
  4. Remove to a cutting board and tent with foil for at least 30 minutes.

Make Au Jus 

  1. Degrease the drippings using a fat separator and pour them into a saucepan. Reduce for about 10 minutes, or until the au jus has a nice rich flavor (add additional beef broth if needed).

Notes

How to cook a Prime Rib Roast (cooking times) 

A general rule for cooking prime rib is to remember that the prime rib roast will have carryover cooking. This means the meat continues to rise in temperature as the roast rests (about 10º). This means that you will take it out when it is about 10º below your desired doneness based on this chart.
Final Temperature (after resting)

Rare
125-130º F (my personal preference)

Medium Rare
130-135º F

Medium
135-145º F

Medium-Well 
145-155º F

Well Done (never! ha, ha)
155º+ F

12 min per pound for rare prime rib, 14 min per pound for medium rare prime rib, or 15 -16 min per pound for medium well prime rib. With that said, the BEST way to check for doneness is to use an instant-read thermometer . This will ensure that it is cooked to your preference.

Top tips

  • Let your prime rib roast come to room temperature on the counter before roasting in the oven. The roast will be largely overcooked around the outside, with only a tiny ring of perfectly cooked meat in the very center if it is cooked straight from the fridge. Take it out a couple of hours before cooking for the best results.
  • Keep an eye on your small prime rib roast: During the roast, be sure that the liquid in the bottom of the pan doesn't dry out (add more water or beef broth if needed).
  • Let it rest! The resting time is crucial for flavor. Be patient; let it rest; you'll be happy you did when you cut into your succulent prime rib roast.

  • Author: Elena Davis
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 60+ minutes depending on preferred doneness
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: prime rib, small prime rib roast, bone-in prime rib, main dish