Bone-In Vs Boneless Prime Rib: Which One Is Better?

Prime rib is the king of beef cuts! Guaranteed to wow the dinner party when cooked to perfection.

But what is the difference between bone-in and boneless?

How does it affect each stage of the cooking process?

Does it impact things like the cooking time or taste?

Let’s jump in and find out!

The Differences Between Bone-in and Boneless Prime Rib

Below are the key differences between bone-in roasts and boneless roasts.

I have tried to go through them in chronological order.

The fact of the matter is that both are delicious.

A prime rib has an intensely beefy flavor with plenty of marbling. The flavor profile is only indeed discovered once the fork has left your lips!

So why not spoil yourself and try both?

Preparation – Bone In Vs Boneless Prime Rib

A prime rib has a high level of marbling and a thick fat cap. The main prep for both types will be trimming down the cap to 1/2 an inch.

They both will need a good outside sear using direct and intense heat. This will start the cooking process and help render down some of the fat for the ultimate flavor experience.

Note: You can cut both bone-in and boneless into individual ribeye steaks. But we will be discussing the whole roast in this article.

Bone-In Prime Rib Roasts

A bone-in prime rib will need to be trimmed off the fat cap. It will also likely have more connective tissue around the bones.

Use a sharp knife to carefully remove the outside layer of the fat to 1/2 an inch. The removal of this fat can be harder if you have a bone-in prime rib due to the extra effort needed by navigating between each bone.

Tip: To really wow the dinner party, why not French Trim?

Scrape away the layer of fat and connective tissue away from the bone and towards the meat. This gives a professional and even aesthetic to the dish. 

Avoid the bones with direct heat when sealing for a brown crust. This can discolor or burn the beef rib.

Note: if your cooking for a crowd it can be easier to use bone-in prime rib. You just need to allow one bone per two people. So if you are feeding 8 people purchase a 4-bone prime rib.

Boneless Prime Rib Roasts

Trimming the outer layer of fat on prime beef without the bones is easier. There is a flatter surface and don’t have to worry about navigating around the bones.

Once trimmed you can then evenly seal every side of the beef. Focusing more so on the side covered with fat. 

Note: You can ask your butcher to do the trimming for you, let the professionals get to work so you can save time!

The Cooking Method – Bone In Vs Boneless Prime Rib

Both bone-in and boneless cuts should be roasted with medium heat after sealing.

Oh, and don’t forget lots of kosher salt!

Bone-In Prime Rib Roasts

Bone-in meat requires a little extra cooking time. 

But more of that later…

This is why I recommend smoking your prime rib.

The larger cooking chamber and indirect heat lower the risk of burning the bones. It also lets the connective tissue surrounding them melt into juicy goodness!

But cooking with an oven method will work just as well. Just remember to cover the tip of the bones with aluminum foil.

Boneless Prime Rib Roast

The dense protein and fat marbling in a boneless cut will roast on medium-high heat. 

You don’t have to worry about the oven temperature or small space burning the bones! Just transfer the seared meat onto the roasting rack.

Cook at the below temperatures to the preferred level of doneness. 

Cooking Temperatures – Bone In Vs Boneless Prime Rib

You don’t want to cook a bone-in or boneless prime rib at a high temperature. Due to the fact content requires time to render down and become edible.

Bone-In Prime Rib Roasts

Cook a bone-in prime rib at 225°F.

Boneless Prime Rib Roasts

Cook a boneless prime rib at 250°F.

Cook Times – Bone In Vs Boneless Prime Rib

Cuts of beef can be cooked at different internal temperatures. The degree of doneness is based on personal preference.

Rare – 125°F

Medium – 135°F

Well done – 155°F

Bone-In Prime Rib Roasts

rare boneless prime rib cooks for 35 minutes per pound at 225°F.

medium boneless prime rib cooks for 40 minutes per pound at 225°F.

A well-done boneless prime rib cooks for 45 minutes per pound at 225°F.

Boneless Prime Rib Roasts

rare boneless prime rib cooks for 30 minutes per pound at 250°F.

medium boneless prime rib cooks for 35 minutes per pound at 250°F.

A well-done boneless prime rib cooks for 40 minutes per pound at 250°F.

Resting – Bone In Vs Boneless Prime Rib

Letting the prime rib rest is a crucial part of the cooking method.

Allowing the proteins to reabsorb moisture lost from evaporation.

When resting the meat will continue to cook. The average is an internal temp increase of 10°F after 30 minutes of resting.

This should be factored in when monitoring the temperatures. 

Bone-In Prime Rib Roasts

The bone will retain heat and can increase the rate of carry overcooking.

Allow the internal temp to raise by 12°F -13°F after 30 minutes of resting. This heat is then retained in the bone so it will not lose temp at a high rate.

Boneless Prime Rib Roasts

A boneless prime rib will lose heat quickly.

Allow the internal temp to raise by around 8°F -9°F after 30 minutes of resting. A boneless piece of meat will then lose temp at a high rate.

Carving – Bone In Vs Boneless Prime Rib

Bone-In Prime Rib Roasts

Carve against the grain and away towards the bone.

Removing as much meat as you can, before disregarding the rib bones.

Boneless Prime Rib Roasts

Carve against the grain to your desired thickness after resting.

Taste – Bone In Vs Boneless Prime Rib

Both bone-in and boneless prime rib will still taste delicious due to the intense marbling within the meat proteins.

Just make sure you liberally season the meat with salt before rendering the outside fat with a cast Iron Skillet!

Bone-In Prime Rib Roasts

Bones contain marrow, minerals, and fats which will be cooked down into the meat and may give a more intense beefy flavor.

Smoking can also impact the taste because it acts as a seasoning.

Boneless Prime Rib Roasts

A boneless rib roast will still be delicious.

But can lack the intensity of flavor if it still had the bone-in.

Texture – Bone In Vs Boneless Prime Rib

Bone-In Prime Rib Roasts

Beef bone marrow consists of collagen. This type of fat has a high moisture content and will render into the meat.

It is common for bone-in meat to be more juicy and tender due to the residual heat from the bone and extra fat content.

The crispy crust from sealing will not be covering the entire surface area. So parts of the meat won’t have a crispy texture around them. 

Boneless Prime Rib Roasts

Cooking a boneless prime rib correctly still gives you tender meat.

But the inner proteins’ moisture will evaporate at a higher rate if not protected by a bone.

But you can be sure of a full surface area crust on a boneless prime rib recipe. Which can also protect the meat drying out from moisture evaporation.

Use A Meat Thermometer To Be Sure Of The Internal Temperatures 

Always use a thermometer to accurately monitor the internal temp.

Insert before cooking into the thickest part of the meat.

Monitor and remove when at required temp.

Make sure the probe is not touching if cooking with the bone-in. This will give a faulty reading.

Pros & Cons Of A Prime Boneless Rib Roast 

Pros

– No awkward trimming around the bones. 

100% covering of the tasty crust.

– Cooks quicker.

Easier to rest and carve.

Cons

– May not have the flavor intensity of a bone-in roast.

– Loses temperature quickly when resting.

– The meat may not be as tender.

Pros & Cons Of A Bone-In Prime Rib 

Pros

– Juicer & flavorful meat.

– A slower rate of temp loss when resting.

– Aesthetically pleasing.

– Can use the bones to make a broth.

Cons

Trickier to trim & carve.

– Not able to achieve 100% surface crust.

– Bones can put people off at the dinner table.

– Risk of burning the tips of the bone(s). 

Smoke On!

Charlie

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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