Foolproof Prime Rib + Gravy


Prime rib seems so 1990s steakhouse, and it’s something I rarely think to make at home, but when we do I never regret it. It can be a bit of a spend – $50 for a chunk of meat seems exorbitant and reserved only for the fanciest of occasions – but when you think about it, it’s less than we’d likely spend ordering pizza or hitting Swiss Chalet on the way home from Christmas shopping. This relatively small two bone prime rib fed all of us plus my parents, with leftovers. And it provided a perfect excuse to make Yorkshire puddings.


I know when you invest in a prime rib you don’t want to screw it up, but the good news is, after you practice the blast-it-with-heat-and-then-leave-it-in-the-oven-for-two-hours-no-peeking method, you’ll be confident in your ability to cook a prime rib whether it’s for a special occasion dinner (like, if everyone is kind of meh about turkey) or just a regular Wednesday. You can call your parents to come over for dinner and wow them with prime rib and roasted potatoes, and Wednesday night won’t seem quite as ordinary.


There are are plenty of simple methods that guarantee a perfect medium-rare roast, and this is one of them – to prep, rub your roast with soft butter and shower it with salt and pepper and perhaps a big pinch of dried thyme. After that you need only time the initial blast at a high temperature and then promise not to peek inside the oven for 2 hours.


It will emerge not only evenly cooked, but rested and ready to slice, in a pool of drippings that are ready to go (if you want to serve it au jus) or get quickly transformed into gravy – which is why I like roasting it in a cast iron skillet. Do it!


Foolproof Prime Rib


December 12, 2016


1 bone-in prime rib roast

soft butter

2 tsp dried thyme

salt and freshly ground black pepper


all-purpose flour

beef stock or water

red wine

salt and pepper


1Take your roast out of the fridge at least an hour before you plan to cook it, to take the chill off. Preheat your oven to 500F (or as high as it will go).

2Prep the roast by rubbing it all over with soft butter, then sprinkling with thyme, salt and pepper. Set a heavy cast iron skillet over medium-high heat for a minute or two to warm it up; put the roast into the pan and slide it into the oven. Multiply the weight of the roast by 5, and roast it for exactly that many minutes - for example, a 4 lb roast x 5 = 20 minutes. After that time, turn the oven off and leave it inside for 2 hours.

3When you take the roast out, set it on a cutting board and put the skillet back on the stovetop. Sprinkle over about a tablespoon of flour - more if you’re making a large roast - and whisk over medium-high heat until it bubbles and thickens. Whisk in about 1/2 cup of stock or water and a splash of wine (if you like), bring it back to a simmer and stir until it has the consistency you want, adding a little more stock or water if it’s too thick. If it’s too thin, simmer it on the stovetop until it reduces.

4Slice and serve the prime rib with the gravy. Serves about 3 per pound.


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12 comments on “Foolproof Prime Rib + Gravy

  1. Juliet
    December 12, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    Julie – how do you make those roasted potatoes when you can’t open the oven? How long can the meat rest and stay warm?

    • Katie C.
      December 13, 2016 at 7:17 am

      This is something I want to try in January. I have the same question about the roasted potatoes too.

    • Julie
      December 14, 2016 at 1:28 pm

      Good question! I roast potatoes by starting them on the stovetop – boil until they’re just tender, then drain and rough them up in the pot a bit. I took the roast out, wrapped it in foil and cranked up the oven heat, then drizzled the potatoes with oil and slid them in for 20 minutes. The roast was just fine, but if it cools down you can slide it back in, wrapped in foil, right on the sheet with the potatoes, to warm it up a bit without starting it cooking again. Does that make sense?

  2. Carolyn
    December 12, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    I really appreciate this recipe. Have you tried this with other roasting cuts of beef? It’s the first year i have to cook Christmas dinner and my family asked for prime rib. Not being confident that I could carry it off the way my Mom did, I said we’re having turkey. Turkey is in the freezer and the menu is planned, so that’s what we’re having this year, but I’ll definitely keep this in my back pocket for next year.
    In the second last paragraph in your instructions you refer to a large loaf. Is that a typo?

  3. lisa
    December 14, 2016 at 7:08 am

    Got this recipe (or similar to) from Michael smith years ago and it’s through ONLY way to go!! Not that we have prime rib often…sigh?

  4. Corey
    December 14, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Dumb question – the roast stays uncovered in the oven?

    • Julie
      December 14, 2016 at 3:03 pm

      Yes! Not dumb 🙂

  5. Jacquie
    December 16, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    Do you roast ribs up or ribs down? All your photos show ribs up, but I seem to think the ribs should be on the bottom of the pan during cooking. . Thx! Looks fabulous.

  6. Chapli Kabab Recipe
    September 11, 2017 at 5:41 am

    Prime rib gravy looks so delicious and yummy.I loved your recipes and way of cooking.Last night I made Chapli kabab from one of the best cooking websites.It’s taste also delicious.Sharin a link with you: ( )

  7. Bonnie
    April 3, 2019 at 10:38 pm

    I used this method today for a 3.8 kg prime rib roast. The timing worked well for the degree of rareness, , but it created an unbelievable greasy mess in my oven, and possible terminal damage to my large le creuset enamelled pan. And now, with my oven on self clean, I am getting a beeping alarm due to build up of cooking residue in the meat probe jack. I think 42 minutes at 500 degrees was beyond capacity for the dish and the appliance. I recommend only using this method for smaller roasts, like the one Julie cooked, or perhaps in less technical ovens.

    • Julie
      April 9, 2019 at 1:21 pm

      It’s crazy… not sure which Le Creuset you have, but the braisers actually say in the instructions not to use them above 325F. Which is ridiculous! I mean, if you’re going to braise, you don’t want to go above that, but I think most of us expect Le Creuset to be a multi-purpose pan. This is why I love using cast iron for it – it can take the heat!

  8. Bonnie
    April 9, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    My le creuset was bigger/wider than my cast iron, and roast was only three ribs but still too big for the cast iron. I would try it again with a smaller roast, maybe at 475? The smoke smell was a pretty intense flavour note in my fond, I worried about final gravy taste. Salvaged it. Just want to control the spatter next time! It was good re the timing on that day , but not my best decision considering the size of the meat.

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