Standing Rib Roast vs Prime Rib (The Majors Differences)

The different cuts of meat can be extremely confusing unless you are a butcher. I find that people get really confused between rib roast and prime rib.

So I am going to dive into anatomy of a cow, so you learn the difference between rib roast and prime rib. 

What’s The Difference Between Standing Rib Roast and Prime Rib? 

Both rib roast and prime ribs come from the ribs of a cow, but the difference lies in the section of the ribs the meat is cut from. 

Cows have 13 ribs on each side, and the whole rack of ribs is considered a standing rib roast. 

Ribs 10 to 12 contain the rib eye muscle, while the ribs near the loin are the ones used for prime rib. These are physically located near each other on the cow but have some key differences once separated. 

Rib Roast 

The rib roast is a tender, flavourful cut of meat from the side of the cow. It is taken from the region between the short loin and chuck. It is commonly used for holidays and special occasions, due to its hefty price tag. 

The rib roast has a large fat cap that gives the meat flavor and covers almost an entire side of the cut of beef. You may choose to cut off the excess fat if the fat cap is too thick, then season it with kosher salt and fresh black pepper. 

Prime Rib Roast

Prime rib is a cut from the primal ribs of the cow. Although it is similar to the rib roast, it differs in its butchery and preparation. Prime rib is generally cheaper than rib roast but takes longer to cook. 

The term ‘prime rib’ refers to the cut of the meat and not the grade. Whether the roast is boneless or bone-in, regardless of the grade of the beef, it can be called prime rib.

Standing Rib Roast

The term ‘standing rib roast’ refers to a cooking method in which you place your rib roast.

If you are comfortable with your carving skills, a standing rib roast is the best choice. This is because the meat roasted on the bone will be more flavourful and juicier.

The Main Differences between Rib Roast vs. Prime Rib 

Although they are similar in their beefy flavor and both originate on the side of the cow, below are the four main areas of difference between a prime rib and a rib roast. 


Although both rib roast and prime rib are primal cuts of beef, the prime rib calls for the cut to remain whole.

On the other hand, a butcher divides a rib roast into individual ribeye steaks. 


Bone-in meat tends to be cheaper than boneless meat because it requires less processing by the butcher. The cost of rib roast tends to be higher than prime rib as grocers offer rib roast boneless more often than prime rib. 

Additionally, the grade of beef will impact the price. 

Cooking Method 

You may use either the smoker, grill, oven or the stovetop to cook prime rib. The reverse sear method involves roasting prime rib in an oven on low heat, then cranking the temperature up until it browns up nicely. 

On the other hand, you can use the grill, oven, or stove to get a brown crust for ribeye steaks. Ribeye is a smaller piece of meat and so it requires a shorter cooking time than the prime rib


Prime rib remains its full size after butchering, while rib roast becomes smaller steak cuts or ribeye steaks. 

The size of the roast then affects the cooking time as larger cuts of meat need to cook at a lower temperature for longer, while smaller steaks can withstand high heat. 

Why ‘Standing’? 

This term alludes to how butchers suggest you cook the beef, standing on the bones. 

This is perfect for roast-style cuts because it raises the meat off the roast pan surface. Being suspended means there is sufficient airflow all around the roast, allowing for even cooking. 

Bone-In Or Boneless Rib Roast? 

You have to have bone-in with a standing rib roast. Otherwise, there is nothing for it to stand on. 

You need to be careful while shopping as there are many types of ‘rib roasts’, but it’s not a ‘standing rib roast’ without at least two rib bones. 

How To Choose The Best Standing Rib Roast 

The better the cut of meat, the better you can expect the eating experience to be. 

If you’re in the United States, you can follow the USDA grading system: with ‘prime’ being the best, followed by ‘choice’ then ‘select’. 

The grading system is largely based on fat marbling and taste. 

Hence, you may also choose grain-fed over grass-fed beef while shopping for the right cut of meat. This is because grain-fed typically has better marbling and thus, a richer and fattier flavor. 

If you want a premium cut, you may opt for dry-aged beef. This may hurt the wallet a bit, but it’s most definitely worth the serious dollars. 

Seasoning Prime Rib 

A roast is a large cut of meat and sometimes needs more seasoning than you expect. 

You can season it generously with kosher salt the day before roasting it and let it sit in the fridge uncovered overnight. 

You may also add pepper and additional herbs before roasting if you like. 

Cook Time Of Prime Rib 

Although many variables go into how long to cook a prime rib, it is recommended to slow cook the prime rib for the best results. 

Hence, start by preheating the oven to 450, at a high temperature, and roast for 30 minutes just to get a crisp sear on the outside of the rib roast. 

Then reduce the oven temperature to 350 and roast for an hour until a golden-brown crust forms on all sides. This would mean the roast would cook for about 15 minutes per pound.

Remove from the oven and let it rest for 15-20 minutes. 

Bottom Line 

It is important to remember that the cooking methods of a rib roast vs a prime rib vary and can enhance the flavor of the meat.

Remember the guidelines mentioned above when choosing between a prime rib or rib roast while preparing your next holiday feast. 

Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

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 recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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