The Best Prime Rib Roast Recipe – Sous Vide Hack

6 Posted by - Food & Recipes, Health & Fitness

Updated March 2015: After consuming more prime rib roasts than should be humanly allowed, I’ve streamlined the process to make it even more flavourful while reducing the prep time. Click here for the new updates and videos including how to save money by cutting your own thick-cut ribeye steaks.  Get ready to make the perfect prime rib roast and become a Holiday Hero!


Growing up, special occasions were often celebrated at our family’s favourite restaurant. I remember the amazing all-you-eat salad and seafood bar with all the salads (green and pasta) you could dream of[1]. I remember my dad piling up plate after plate of shrimp and oysters. But most of all, I remember the prime rib.

Strange to think a Chinese family would enjoy such a traditional Western meal, but my prairie upbringing has definitely created a love of prime rib roast.

Our family has scattered far and wide from that city we grew up in – you’ll find us on the West Coast to the more food-challenged sub-Saharan Africa. But we’re still the same (even noisier) family that loves to get together to celebrate life, love and family over a great meal.

Now about that prime rib ….


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Being relatively new to the kitchen and grill, there’s few things that intimidate me more than ruining a $100 hunk of prime rib more than serving that expensive hunk of meat to waiting (and hungry) friends and family.

Being the only member of the family left in beef-rearing Alberta, we’re often tasked with smuggling beef on a plane whenever we visit family in Vancouver. After all the effort, it’d be a shame to ruin the glorious cut of beef with the sad fate of an ill-informed cook.

Thus I’ve taken it upon myself to find the best – and easiest – way to serve up this delicious meal.

What Makes a Great Prime Rib Roast?

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Admittedly there’s a lot of room for interpretation on what makes for a great prime rib. Thankfully everyone in our family likes our beef medium rare. And since I’m the cook, medium rare it is 🙂

I also love a great crunchy crust. Some will say to remove the fat-cap prior to cooking, but honestly, (shhhh) I love a little crunchy fat. Much of the flavour of the rub is absorbed in the fat and man-o-man is it delicious. Besides – your guests can always cut off the fat if they choose to, but you can’t put it back on after you cut it off.

So …. the trick is to figure out how to get edge-to-edge medium rare meat with a great crust without over-cooking the extremities.

Best Cooking Methods for Prime Rib Roast

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There’s more than one way to cook a great prime rib roast and we’ve tried a few.

We’ve tried low-temperature smoking a prime rib on charcoal and wood. When done delicately, the amazing aroma of smoke permeates the entire roast creating something truly special.

We’ve also tried the “Low-and-slow” 200°F oven method with the “Sear-in-the-rear” broiler at the end. Though lacking the smokey profile, it’s another great way to create a perfectly cooked roast and my method of choice when not in my own kitchen.

But my favourite method combines the best of both worlds: ultra-low heat cooking to get to perfect medium rare from edge to edge PLUS a great crust with a hint of smoke.

How?

Combine the control and simplicity of sous vide cooking with a charcoal and wood BBQ-seared finish.

Why it Works

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Sous Vide cooking has revolutionized the way we cook our proteins. Its ultimate control of the final cook temp and no-fuss ease makes for perfectly repeatable results. Allowing us to scientifically determine the exact cook-time also makes it perfect for parties: no more worrying about your meal taking too long to cook or late guests. The forgiving nature of sous vide cooking lets us leave it in the water bath ready to sear, cut and serve whenever guests have arrived without worry.

Bonus: cooking sous vide frees up your oven and BBQ for other treats … Like my favourite food group: DESSERT!

What You Need

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Besides your roast and spices you’ll need 3 things:

  1. Sous vide machine
    We’ve shared our recommended Sous Vide tools of choice in this article. For big meals, I can’t recommend the Dorkfood DSV enough.
  2. Foodsaver Vacuum Sealer: Because of the longish cook time, this is essential to remove oxygen and prevent leakage.
  3. Sear-inducing High Heat: We’ll be sharing the details of our Weber Chimney cooking hack in an upcoming article, but you can finish your roast on pretty much anything that can produce high heat (500°F or higher) including an oven broiler, outdoor fire or gas BBQ.

Special Consideration for Prime Rib Roast Ribs

To really get the best out of you prime rib, the ribs actually benefit from a different cooking time than the rest of the roast. If you’ve ever chewed on a prime rib bone then you know how to avoid the chewy collagen.

When the ribs are slow-cooked for a much longer time than the rest of the roast, that collagen magically transforms into gelatine, creating an amazing rib reminiscent of a braised rib but with more chew – in a good way. Truly something uniquely made possible by sous vide cooking[2].

The Best Prime Rib Roast Recipe

Video: Here’s the how’s and why’s to get your Prime Rib cooking.

Prep Time:
  • 15min
Cook Time:
  • Beef Ribs Only: 72hrs at 135°F sous vide bath
  • Prime Rib Roast: 5-10hrs at 135°F sous vide bath (See footnotes to calculate time based on size/shape)
  • BBQ Sear: 30 minutes (15min heat-up time + 15min sear)
Ingredients:
  • 10 lb Prime Rib Roast (buy the best you can get)
  • Prime Rib Spice Rub: You can get by with just salt and pepper, but here’s what we use
    • Kosher Salt
    • Garlic Powder
    • Thyme
    • Rosemary
    • Onion Powder
    • Pepper

Directions:

Prep and Sous Vide Bath:
  • Pre-heat sous vide bath to 135°F (medium rare)
  • Cut individual ribs from the roast
  • Generously coat roast with spices
  • Coat ribs with spices (not quite as generously)
  • Vacuum seal ribs and roast separately
  • Cook ribs in 135°F sous vide bath for 72hrs
  • Cook roast in 135°F sous vide bath for calculated time based on size/shape of roast[3] (5–10hrs)

Updated tips and tricks

Here’s a video with 5 tips for faster prep and even more flavour:


Sear, Cut and Serve:

Video: Out of the bag and onto the chopping block.

+ 30min before you want to eat, pre-heat your cooking method of choice (coals, gas bbq, oven broiler, rocket etc.)
+ open bags and save the jus/drippings for stock or gravy
+ Use paper towels to dry the surface of the meat
+ Sear every side of your ribs and roast. Ribs take about 1–2min per side. Roast will take 3–6min per side. Flip and move often to prevent flare-ups and burn.

No need to rest the meat: it’s time to slice and serve!!!

Hungry yet?

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There’s few things better than enjoying the company of your family and friends over a great meal. With this no-fail no-fuss recipe, you’ll be on your way to party-perfect prime rib for any occasion.

Would love to talk chop-shop so please hit me up in the comments below.

Here’s to eating well and staying hungry.


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Thanks for reading and happy cooking!


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  1. Asian Aside: as a noodle-loving Asian-kid I was always drawn to choose the pasta salads … and always sorry for doing so. “Why doesn’t this taste like Chinese stir-fry?”  ↩
  2. Dedicated Beef Rib recipe coming soon.  ↩
  3. To calculate your exact cook times, use Polyscience’s iOS app Sous Vide Toolbox.  ↩

43 Comments

  • Geoff Ball April 29, 2014 - 2:56 pm Reply

    Please limit all future posts to when I’m not hungry.

    Fantastic instructions and a great looking prime rib roast! Thanks for this.

    • Dave April 30, 2014 - 10:28 am Reply

      LOL! Are you sous vide cooking these days too? COOL!

  • John L October 11, 2014 - 1:41 pm Reply

    There’s been some complaints about the Sous Vide Toolbox in that its calculations don’t pass 6 hours…? Is this true? If it doesn’t pass 6 hours then I can’t use it for prime rib :(. Would like to know before I dish out $5 bucks. Awesome video. Thanks!

    • Dave October 12, 2014 - 7:50 pm Reply

      Hi John, I just checked and you’re right about the 6hr limitation 🙁 To be exact, when you try to max out the diameter and minimize the target temp (example: 135), it will say >6 hours in RED and display a warning to consult the Cooking Journal < ?>. I also find the 5inch max not enough as well. But from experience, I know I’ve been able to cook even a very large roast in 10hours to get 135F at core. Safest way is to check temp at core with reliable thermometer (like my fave: the thermapen http://amzn.to/1w29mM3 ) after 10hrs to make sure your roast is cooked through. Hope this helps and thanks for reading! 🙂

      • John L October 13, 2014 - 12:23 am Reply

        Thank you! This recipe is amazing. I just tried this recipe twice for two dinner parties and it was a hit! I left the second slab of prime rib in the fridge for about a day or two and noticed that the aromatics really improve the flavor of the meat so that was a plus.

        Awesome recipe, will definitely try again. Now that my SV machine is finally freed up… time to try the 72 hour rib recipe!

        • Dave October 13, 2014 - 2:06 pm Reply

          Woohoo!! Glad you and your guests enjoyed it! Literally cooking this recipe as I type for Canadian Thanksgiving 🙂 Re: ribs. Oh man, can’t wait for you to try it! If you love the roast, the ribs are the *bomb* Happy Thanksgiving John!

  • Jennifer October 21, 2014 - 7:31 pm Reply

    I love this video! Have you experimented at all with guests who like their meat woefully overcooked? I generally, historically, have given them the “ends” and we eat the middle of the prime rib … but I want to try this method for Christmas. And if the water temp is always 135º, what difference does it make if you cook it for 6 hours or forever? Newbie here, obviously 🙂

    • Dave October 21, 2014 - 8:34 pm Reply

      So glad you enjoyed the video Jennifer 🙂 Re: “woefully overcooked”. They’re not invited 😉 KIDDING!! If you *must* indulge them, during the bbq searing bit, you can always cook the ends a little longer than the rest …. but I wouldn’t and just tell them it’s how it is 😉 Just cooked this for Canadian Thanksgiving with guests from Malaysia and it was hit! Enjoy and do let me know how it goes 🙂

  • Harold November 27, 2014 - 12:33 am Reply

    Hey Dave, thanks for the recipe and doing one for Thanksgiving this year. In your video you cooked the ribs for 3 days, did you sear them afterwards? Also do you think cooking 12+ hours will have any ill effects? I have a 10 lb prime rib.

    • Dave January 28, 2015 - 10:38 pm Reply

      Sorry for the late reply Harold! Re: Ribs. Yes – I sear using the same Weber Chimney method. Re: 12+ hours. On beef, not a problem to even double the times without ruining the texture and flavour. Hope Thanksgiving went well and thanks for being here 🙂

  • Andy November 27, 2014 - 2:30 pm Reply

    This is by far the best Prime Rib I have ever had. The ribs are sublime, tender and complex in flavour. Over the top!

    • Dave January 28, 2015 - 10:33 pm Reply

      Andy! So sorry for the delay in replying. So glad you enjoyed your Prime Rib!! I just bought over $300 of prime rib in preparation for our next family reunion …. You know *exactly* how I’m gonna cook it 🙂 Cheers and happy cooking!

    • Dave January 28, 2015 - 10:40 pm Reply

      So glad to hear it Andy! Made my day 🙂 Sorry for the late reply: had a glitch in my comment notifications and missed it 🙁 Just got back from the store with over $300 worth of prime rib. Getting ready for a *big* family reunion cookout and you know *exactly* how I’m going to cook it all 🙂 Blessings and happy eating!

  • Calvin March 2, 2015 - 12:43 pm Reply

    What is the procedures for reheating this? Can I cooking it in the bath days in advance and reheat on the day of? The sear part can be on the day of. Love your efforts!

    • Dave March 2, 2015 - 2:56 pm Reply

      Hi Calvin. Yes: you can cook in advance, but due to crazy thermodynamics which I don’t fully understand, to heat to core from freezer/fridge takes about the same amount of time in a SV bath as cooking it the first time. This means you save nothing from cooking it prior to the day of consumption.

  • […] Sure,  I wish the Anova was better at high-temps required of veggies, but the simplicity and consistency of the results have make it our go-to sous vide machine for cooking up everything from a chicken breast to perfect prime rib roast. […]

  • Jon Chan March 30, 2015 - 3:58 pm Reply

    Dave, now that you’ve mastered the cooking aspect, have you considered trying to dry age your meat?

  • Andy April 7, 2015 - 8:56 pm Reply

    Hi Dave, I just did my best ever lamb shoulder. Did a dry brine followed by a dry rub inspired by yours. My rub included Garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, rosemary, oregano, mint, coriander and some lemon zest. Sous vide for 24 hours at 132deg F and then caramelized on the Rotisserie for about 15 minutes. Amazing, flavor and oh so tender. Hope you are well. Best regards, Andy

    • Dave April 8, 2015 - 9:12 am Reply

      Sounds delicious Andy! Thanks for sharing your recipe and results … I’ll have to give it a try 🙂 Blessings and good eating to you and yours 🙂

  • […] our Anova Precision Cooker.  From the most succulent chicken breast you’ll ever have to the perfect prime rib, there’s a lot going for it to help get your home cooking to the next […]

  • alank July 20, 2015 - 11:03 am Reply

    Can you expand on the “webey” searing method? Do you use regular charcoal?
    I was about to return my anova because I thought the process was too involved.
    Your great videos and explanations have inspired me to give it a go.
    Thank you.

    alank

    • Dave July 20, 2015 - 5:02 pm Reply

      Glad to be of help alank! Re: webey searing method. Yes: regular Kingsford briquettes are my fuel source of choice. Was planning on doing a video but here’s what I do in a nutshell:
      1. Light 1/2 to 3/4 full Weber Chimney and wait 20 minutes (Weber chimney link: http://amzn.to/1fZK2CD )
      2. After 20 minutes, charcoal should be grey with ash (meaning it’s super-hot!)
      3. Put cooking grill on top (I used a round file and made a groove in my chimney so it wouldn’t tip) and heat for 3-4 minutes. (link to grill: http://amzn.to/1fZKeBX )
      4. Sear meat – moving/flipping every 30 seconds until well seared all over.
      Simple and great smokey flavour 🙂
      If I’m just wanting to crisp up the skin of a chicken breast, I’ll use my iwatani torch (link above) to do it cuz I find the heat of the chimney over-cooks the breast meat. But for most red meat, this is the best flavour/sear that I’ve figured out.
      Let me know how it turns out for you and happy eating 🙂

  • Jean McRae July 24, 2015 - 7:17 am Reply

    What is the procedures for reheating this? Thank yoou and I Love your efforts!

    • Dave July 24, 2015 - 11:21 pm Reply

      Thanks for the kind words Jean! Re: reheating. If just leftovers, I eat them cold the next day, or cut up the ends and add to eggs in the morning just before the eggs are finished cooking (sooo amazing – like steak and eggs). If warming from frozen, you can sous-vide to 135F but sadly it will take about as long to reheat as cook (laws of thermodynamics). Hope that helps and happy cooking!

      • Steve September 13, 2015 - 8:26 pm Reply

        Though strictly true that reheating to the same temperature as you cooked originally will take the same time the reality is you only need to reheat to a serving temperature. Serving temperate is often considered 120-130F. This is of course not a long term holding temperature. When you look at the temperature curve for Sous Vide you can see a rapid increase in temperature that levels off as you get closer to your water bath temp. Basically the bigger the difference between the food temp and the water temp the quicker the change. Often half of the cooking time is for the last few degrees. While for edge to edge cooking you need the water to be the same temp as your final core temp you do not need that to be the case for reheating to a temperature that is lower then your cooking temperature. The short version is that you can easily reheat food to a comfortable serving temp from Frozen in only thirty minutes. At that point you can serve or finish as usual via your preferred method,

        • Dave September 13, 2015 - 9:39 pm Reply

          Thanks for writing in Steve! Definitely agree on the reheating smaller pieces. But with larger chunks of meat which are cooked to a low 135, that’s pretty darn close to “serving temp”. So while I do choose to pre-cook then quick-chill + freeze smaller pieces of meat, large roasts like the one I’m talking about in this article will definitely take more than thirty minutes to defrost to core. But …. I’ve been experimenting all summer with a combination of smoking, THEN sous-viding, THEN freezing and am ready to share results that give you amazing smoked results out of the freezer. Posts to come. But thanks again for taking the time and sharing this information!

  • Kevin December 19, 2015 - 9:05 am Reply

    Great recipe, looking to try this for Christmas. Any recommendation/recipe on using the jus for a gravy?

    • Dave December 19, 2015 - 3:35 pm Reply

      Thanks Kevin! Re: gravy. Good and bad news. Bad news first: I haven’t perfected a gravy recipe from the jus and also find it *really* salty out of the bag. The good news: The roast is so moist you really don’t need gravy! Horse radish is a perfect condiment and creating a “board jus” with spices and oil on the cutting board is wonderful. Cheers and Merry Christmas!

  • Wilson December 23, 2015 - 11:23 am Reply

    A bit stressed responsible for cooking prime rib roast for Christmas . One 10 lbs bone in and one 10 lbs roast. How long should I sous vide for? My plan is to put rib roast bone 17hrs and roast no bone for 10hrs in same tub with Sansaire sous vide at 135 degree. Pulling out and convection roast for 15 minutes with paste rub. Is this enough time for sous vide?

    • Dave December 23, 2015 - 3:52 pm Reply

      No need to stress as Sous Vide Beef Roast is very forgiving 🙂 If it were me, I’d start sous vide the night prior and sear/serve when the parties about the begin. The 15min convection paste will not be long enough to allow flavour to penetrate. So long as you understand this, it can work. But personally I prefer salting prior to sous vide cooking to allow salt to penetrate a bit more. Of course, horse radish and gravy go a long way to add flavour during serving 🙂 Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

  • Andy January 2, 2016 - 5:38 pm Reply

    I have a LARGE prime rib, without bones, it is probably 14 pounds. I have it vacuum sealed in one bag, and was planning to cook at 135 for 10 hours. Is that going to work, or is it too big? Thanks in advance!

  • John Mooney April 20, 2016 - 7:27 pm Reply

    Loved the video, must have watched it a dozen times to make sure I get my rib right. I’ve got a 10LB bone in Prime Rib with 7 bones. If I don’t have the time to do the rib bones separately think I’d still be good to go at 10 hours at 131?

    Cheers!

    • Dave April 20, 2016 - 9:20 pm Reply

      Glad you found us here John 🙂 Re: rib-in for 10hrs @131F. Definitely will be edible, but the tough sinew near the bone will be chewy. You can finish the whole thing as you suggest, then cut the bones off, eat a couple bones to test, then continue to cook the rest of the bones for another 24hrs at 145F and you’ll be amazed at the difference 🙂 Happy eating and would love to hear how you like it!

      • John Mooney April 21, 2016 - 2:00 pm Reply

        Thanks for the quick response will do!

      • John Mooney April 25, 2016 - 8:40 pm Reply

        So the verdict is in. The women swooned, the men were jealous, and the children wept for joy that something could melt with a butter like quality. 10 hours and just an amazing dish. Did a 3-day rub of garlic powder, porcini powder and red pepper. Because I didn’t remove the bones the fat encased it beautifully. When I did grill it up for char the fat became a bit of a shield and eventually skirted up but just epic. Sous vide is a blessing and a curse. Best meats ever but it’s ruined the magic of dining out when you can tell that something’s been cooked sous vide. Again, thanks for the video and the reply. Cheers!

        • Dave April 26, 2016 - 8:16 am Reply

          So glad you and your crew loved it!! Congratulations! Now you’ll be on meat duty for the rest of your LIFE! LOL! Enjoy and can’t wait to hear about your other culinary adventures 😀

  • Leo May 8, 2016 - 6:25 am Reply

    Great demonstration, thanks. However, recently I did what was supposed to be a 72-hour brisket bath at 136 degrees. After about 12 hours I noticed bubbles in the bag and by the next day the bag blew up like a balloon. I suspended the bath and after opening the bag the smell was terribly putrid – $35 into the garbage bin. I guess either by my handling or the butcher shop some bad little bugs were left on the outside of the roast. I’ve read that by placing the roast in boiling water it would kill any bacteria before bagging but nowhere could I find a reliable time to do that; suggestions ran from twenty seconds to 10 minutes. My question is do you recommend this procedure for your prime rib roast and if so how long do you need to boil it, Thanks again.

  • Bill December 15, 2016 - 4:35 pm Reply

    Great post. I will be cooking an 11lbs boneless prime rib roast for the holidays. What do you think about a 24 hour cook time? Have you experimented with cook times much longer than 10 hours? Thanks

    • Dave December 16, 2016 - 11:22 am Reply

      Thanks for the kind words Bill and glad you found me here 🙂 I’m cooking over 20lbs of roast this Christmas too! Re: 24hr cook time. I can’t remember which expert I read who recommended no more than double the calculated time, but I’ve had roasts in for as long as 18hrs with great results. One thing to avoid when doing long cook times is to make sure there is no butter/milk products in the bag as it will grow bad things. Happy cooking and Merry Christmas!

  • Andy December 16, 2016 - 3:17 pm Reply

    24 hours may be too long for prime rib. The risk, so I have heard, is the meat turning to mush. I have not tried prime rib for 24 hours myself. My suggestion is that if you are curious, buy a steak and put it in for 24 hours. One of the great things with sous vide is that even a large cut will come up to the bath temperature quite quickly, thus the even texture one gets on a prime rib done by sous vide vs conventional cooking 8-12 hours is what I have found to produce the best results.

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