Do You Cover Prime Rib When You Cook It? | Quick Guide


My family has always been a huge fan of prime rib. So last year, we decided to have one for Christmas dinner. However, I had never cooked one before, so I had no idea whether to cover it or not. So, I asked a couple of chef friends who have extensive experience with “rib roast,” and this is what I found out.

Prime rib should not be covered while cooking because it creates an environment full of steam that will accelerate the cooking process and remove the juices that enhance the taste. The flavor is concentrated in the fat deposits in a rib roast, so it’s best to let the meat cook in its juices uncovered.

In addition to this, when we create that capsule of steam, we slow down the Maillard reaction on the meat. Maillard is a chemical reaction within the amino acids that reduces the sugars and gives browned food its distinctive flavor and color. Meaning the final result will be totally different from what it should be in taste, appearance, and texture. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know to cook a prime rib that everyone will envy for the years to come.

Covering Prime Rib: What Will Happen?

When cooking, it is crucial to have the temperature under control. When we cover meat, we concentrate the heat and encapsulate undesired moisture that can prevent the meat from getting flavor from its juices and the Maillard reaction. So in laymen’s terms, you get bland beef that might have a rubbery texture.

What Is The Best Temperature To Cook A Prime Rib and How Long Should I Let It Cook?

The “best” temperature can vary based on how you want your prime rib to turn out.

For a prime rib with a nice crispy exterior and all of the fat evenly rendered across your ribs, the correct temperature is 450 degrees for 30 minutes, and then to reduce the heat to 325 degrees for about 12 minutes per pound of meat in the oven.

If you want a rarer prime rib that is not as crispy, then cook it at 325 degrees for 50 minutes to an hour.

No matter how you choose to cook it, the ideal internal temperature of a prime rib is 120 degrees in before it comes out.

In my opinion, a meat thermometer is non-negotiable if your goal is to cook the best roast possible because we can be sure to avoid undercooking or overcooking our ribs. In case you’re wondering, here is the one that I recommend.

Don’t Put It in Cold

Prime rib must be at room temperature before it is placed on the stove. It would be a crime against this beautiful cut of meat to put it in the oven while it is still cold, even just a little bit. Besides the fact that it would cool down the temperature inside your stove, it would hold in place the same moisture you are trying to extract for the juices to travel throughout your rib.

Now, it all depends on the texture you are looking for. Some people prefer a slower roast at lower temperatures, while others choose high heat to cook it.

What Do I Do If My Prime Rib Is Not Done?

If you take the prime rib out of the oven and the internal temperature is within 10 degrees of being done, you can tent it.

All you do is cover it with aluminum foil for about 30 minutes, during which the temperature will increase about 10 degrees, and create that medium-rare temperature we are looking for. In addition, it will allow for the meat to absorb the juices that will provide a delicious accent to the steak.

If the internal temperature is less than 110 degrees, you will need to put it back in the oven for a while longer.

Should I Salt Prime Rib Overnight?

Raw-Prime-Rib

Prime rib tastes good even without seasoning. So some people refuse to season it all together and even argue that salt removes moisture and reduces flavor, but this is all depending on your palate.

I leave this is entirely up to you. However, if you choose to add salt and pepper, I recommend adding it the day before cooking and letting it rest uncovered for a few hours at room temperature. Adding it too close to cooking won’t give it time to be absorbed into the meat.

Is There A Difference If I Cooked A Smaller Prime Rib? Are There Any Differences?

A typical prime rib roast consists of a rack of six or seven ribs and weighs about 16 pounds in total. This is usually enough to feed up to 12 people. However, you can choose to cook a smaller prime rib with fewer ribs.

Regardless of the size of your prime rib, it will need to have an internal temperature of around 120 degrees when done. For rare, you will want to cook it at 325°F for about 12 minutes per pound and for medium-rare, about 15 minutes per pound.

Now, if you were to cut your prime rib into ribeye steaks, then you would replace the oven with an iron skillet and cook for about 6 minutes until its internal temperature is 120 degrees.

Final Thoughts

Uncovered Prime Rib in a Pan

The standing rib roast, also known as the prime rib, is precisely as its earned nickname suggests, a unique cut of beef that is exquisite in its flavor (and has a prime price).

No one likes bland prime rib. So, this Christmas, you should not let Uncle Buck put a lid or any tinfoil over your prime rib roast while it is in the oven. It would do nothing but cripple the taste and texture of your steak and make it damp and bland.

Only cover your roast after it has come out of the stove as part of the simmering stage, and do not let it rest for more than 20 minutes as the temperature will continue to rise as long as it remains covered.

And, last, serve big portions because if the holidays are not the right time to indulge yourself, then when is it?

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

For more, check out What Is the Best Quality Beef in the World?.

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page. I hope your visit here has been a sweet one.

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