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Prime Rib 500 Rule: The Closed Oven Method (Prime Rib Recipe)

The perfect prime rib recipe is often called the Prime Rib 500 Rule.

The very first time I ever tried the prime rib 500 rule (AKA the perfect prime rib recipe), it turned out amazing! In fact, it was such a hit with everyone that I made prime rib again the next Christmas Eve, and one after that, and the one after that! I am totally hooked on it because this foolproof prime rib method works!

Here’s a quick look at how to cook prime rib with the closed oven method: for medium-rare prime rib, you cook a prime rib roast at 500 degrees for 5-6 minutes per pound, then turn the oven off and leave the door closed for two hours. At that point, the temperature of the prime rib will be perfect (or very nearly so!) It’s the best method for cooking prime rib because it’s virtually foolproof.

I first encountered the prime rib closed oven recipe years ago, after asking my siblings if they were interested in pitching in so we could have a Christmas prime rib — a big departure from our standard honey-baked ham! I even offered to cook it, which was pretty bold considering I’d never made one before.

Serve your 500 rule prime rib with au jus or a creamy horseradish sauce.

Lucky for me, it came out perfect, and this method for cooking prime rib is now an indispensable holiday tradition for us. This time-tested method (sometimes called the “prime rib 500 degree method,” “closed-oven method,” or “oven off method”) for making sumptuous prime rib has never failed me, and I’m certain it will serve you and your family just as well!

For more delicious and festive recipes, be sure to check out my eBook My Favorite Holiday Recipes! You can buy it in my shop, or download it free if you’re an OGT Plus member!

How To Make The Best Prime Rib (Prime Rib 500° Rule)

There's no such thing as a bad prime rib, especially when you learn to cook it at 500 degrees.

1. Select The Perfect Prime Rib Roast

A good prime rib roast isn’t cheap, so it’s natural to feel a bit nervous about the prospect of picking one out and forking over the cash for it. Here are a few tips that will help you buy the perfect cut of meat for prime rib with confidence!

Some roasts are labeled clearly as “prime rib,” while others go by slightly different names, such as “rib roast,” “eye of the rib roast” or “standing rib roast.” (The name “eye of the rib roast” is typically applied to boneless prime rib roasts, while “standing rib roast” is often reserved for bone-in roasts.)

Technically, all “prime rib” really refers to is the meat from a cow’s most desirable ribs — the 6th through 12th ribs on either side. (That’s where ribeye steaks come from, too.) Keep in mind that “prime” can mean several different things, and that prime rib roasts may or may not be USDA prime grade (more on that shortly).

Prime Grade Or Choice Grade?

There are two grades of prime rib roast you might encounter at the grocery store: prime grade and choice grade. Prime grade has more fat and marbling, so it’s typically the more expensive option, while choice grade is more common and bit cheaper. (These grades are assigned by experienced USDA meat graders, not by the store or its employees.)

If the roasts you find aren’t clearly labeled as prime or choice grade, ask the butcher or meat counter attendant to identify it for you. The grade won’t affect the cooking process, but if you want the best possible flavor and quality, you may decide that a prime grade prime rib roast is worth the added cost. (It is a special occasion, after all!)

Boneless Or Bone-In?

Choose either a bone-in prime rib roast or boneless roast, because this great recipe works equally well for both! One factor worth considering is flavor versus ease of carving — a bone-in roast will give you the best flavor, but boneless roasts are much easier to cut. (I personally prefer boneless, but you’ll end up with a delicious, perfectly cooked oven-roasted prime rib either way!)

How Many Pounds Of Roast Beef Per Person?

Once you’ve decided which variety of roast you want, you can determine how large a roast you’ll need to buy. Here are a couple of simple guidelines for deciding how much meat you’ll need:

  • Bone-in roast: about 1 rib per person, plus 1-2 more ribs for good measure
  • Boneless roast: about 1/2 pound per person, plus 1-2 more pounds for good measure
Perfect prime rib roast begins with the seasoning.

2. Prepare The Roast

First, make a note of the weight of the roast before you put the wrapping in the trash. Then you can start by seasoning the roast: mix up a seasoning blend of 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon each of onion salt, seasoning/seasoned salt, and garlic powder — about 1/4 cup of seasonings in total.

For this prime rib recipe, start by rubbing the seasoning mix onto the surface of the roast.

Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over your roast on all sides, patting it to help it adhere to the surface. (The seasoning may not stick very well on the fat side, so just do the best you can!) For added flavor, you can apply the seasoning mixture to your roast up to 24 hours in advance, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it until you’re ready to cook it.

Set the roast on a rack in a roasting pan and put it in a preheated 500 degree oven.

Set your seasoned roast on a roasting rack with the fat side facing up and bones (if present) facing down. (Positioning the fat on top is important, because you want the rendered fat to drip over the roast, rather than dripping directly into the pan.)

Place the roasting rack in a large roasting pan, or set it on a baking sheet if you don’t have one. Use a meat thermometer to ensure a perfect medium rare prime rib — insert your oven-safe meat thermometer or a remote temperature gauge into the center of the roast, then you’re ready to get cooking!

Put the prime rib in a preheated 500 degree oven, uncovered and cook for 5 - 6 minutes per pound.

3. The Secret To Making Perfect Prime Rib: The Cooking Method

The 500 degree rule involves cooking prime rib in two stages: first at high heat, then using residual heat. The high-heat stage creates the deliciously crispy sear you want on the outside of your roast, while the residual heat stage gently cooks the meat and renders the fat, producing perfect medium rare prime rib that’s melt-in-your-mouth tender.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees (F), or as high as it will go without activating the broiler function. Carefully place the prime rib roast into the preheated oven, uncovered, and cook for 5-6 minutes per pound. (Example: for a 5 pound roast, you’d cook it at 500° for 25-30 minutes.)

After the initial cooking, turn the oven off and do NOT open the oven door until the meat reaches the perfect temperature.

When your timer for the high-heat stage goes off, turn off the oven and leave the roast inside, undisturbed, for 2 hours. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR during these 2 hours — this is the “low and slow” stage, which relies on the residual heat from the first stage to continue cooking the meat.

The oven temperature will drop rapidly if the oven door is opened at all, so it’s crucial to keep it closed. (I’ve been known to post strongly worded warnings on the oven door to remind everyone keep their distance, and it hasn’t failed me yet!) ;-)

Check the temperature of the prime rib before removing it from the oven.

After 2 hours, check the internal temperature of the meat, whether remotely or by opening the oven door, if necessary. If the temperature reads between 135-140°F (between medium-rare and medium — the perfect temperature for prime rib, in my opinion!), it’s done and ready to come out of the oven! If it isn’t quite there yet, leave the roast in your oven, turn it back on, and cook at 375°F until it comes up to temperature. (Just keep an eye on that meat thermometer!)

Total prime rib cook time: 5-6 minutes per pound at 500 degrees, then 2 hours with oven off and door closed. 

This 500 rule prime rib recipe results in tender, delicious, perfectly cooked medium rare prime rib.

4. Carve And Serve

Remove the finished roast from your oven, then carve. (Because the meat has been cooking without active heat, there’s no need to let your prime rib rest — it already has! Of course, if you happen to prefer prime rib at room temperature, you can let it rest for 15-30 minutes before serving.)

Serve your sliced prime rib with homemade au jus made from the pan drippings, garlic herb butter, or creamy horseradish sauce (see below for the recipe!). No matter how you serve it, I’m sure your guests will agree that this is the best prime rib recipe ever. 

Makes you wonder why people think cooking a prime rib is so hard, doesn’t it? I’m pretty sure it’s the price that makes people worry so much about it coming out right, but with this easy recipe you don’t have to be concerned at all. If you happen to have any of the roast left over (unlikely, but possible!), you can use it to make amazing carne asada tacos.

Cooking Time Adjustments For Smaller And Larger Roasts

The instructions above work perfectly for cooking almost any prime rib roast, because on average they weigh about 5-7 pounds. If your roast is significantly smaller OR significantly larger than that, make the following adjustments:

  • Small roasts (<2 pounds): Reduce cooking time during the second stage (AKA the oven off stage) to 60-90 minutes instead of 2 hours.
  • Large roasts (>10 pounds): Divide into two 5-pound halves and cook both at the same time. Calculate the initial cook time based on the weight of just one of the halves. [For example, to cook a 12-pound roast, you would cut it in half, place both halves in the oven, and cook at 500°F for 36 minutes (6 minutes per pound x 6-pound roast = 36 minutes of cooking time), then for 2 more hours with oven turned off.]
I make my creamy horseradish sauce with whipped cream.

BONUS: What To Serve With Prime Rib

I like prime rib as-is, while Dave prefers his with a large dollop of creamy horseradish sauce. Tangy horseradish folded into velvety whipped cream makes this sauce the perfect complement to a slice of rich, roasted prime rib!

My creamy horseradish sauce uses garlic powder, grated horseradish, hot sauce, and real whipped cream.

Creamy Horseradish Sauce Recipe

Right before dinner, use an electric mixer or stand mixer to whip 1 cup of heavy cream until it forms stiff peaks. (Lift your beater or whisk straight up—the cream should form a sharp peak that holds its shape.)

Add white pepper to taste (or black pepper, if you can’t find white), a dash of hot sauce, and 3 tablespoons of horseradish to the whipped cream, then use a rubber spatula to gently fold the ingredients into the cream just until everything’s incorporated. Spoon the finished sauce into a serving dish.

Have you ever cooked a prime rib roast at home?

Serve your 500 rule prime rib with au jus or a creamy horseradish sauce.

Perfect Prime Rib Recipe (500 Rule/Closed Oven Method)

Jill Nystul
Back when I first tried my hand at making prime rib, I did a LOT of research to find the perfect prime rib recipe. This is the foolproof method I ended up using, and I’ve been making it every Christmas ever since!
4.72 from 7 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 6 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 11 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 595 kcal

Equipment

  • Roasting rack
  • Roasting pan
  • Oven-safe meat thermometer

Ingredients
  

  • 5 lb prime rib roast
  • 4 tsp onion salt
  • 4 tsp seasoned salt
  • 4 tsp garlic powder

Instructions
 

  • Mix up 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon each of onion salt, seasoned salt, and garlic powder, for a total of 1/4 cup of seasoning mix.
    There's no such thing as a bad prime rib, especially when you learn to cook it at 500 degrees.
  • Pat the seasoning mix on both ends of the roast as well as the fat side. (The salt may not stick as well on the fat side, but don’t worry about it.)
    Perfect prime rib roast begins with the seasoning.
  • Set the seasoned roast on a roasting rack, bone-side down and fat-side up. Place the rack in a large roasting pan, and insert your meat thermometer into the middle of the roast.
    Set the roast on a rack in a roasting pan and put it in a preheated 500 degree oven.
  • Place the roast into a 500° preheated oven, uncovered, and cook for 5-6 minutes per pound.
    Put the prime rib in a preheated 500 degree oven, uncovered and cook for 5 - 6 minutes per pound.
  • Then shut the oven off completely, and DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR FOR TWO HOURS. 
    After the initial cooking, turn the oven off and do NOT open the oven door until the meat reaches the perfect temperature.
  • After two hours, check the temperature of the meat. If your thermometer reads 135-140°F, it’s done! (If it isn’t quite to temp yet, just put it back in the oven at 375°F until it’s done.)
    Check the temperature of the prime rib before removing it from the oven.

Creamy Horseradish Sauce

  • Whisk 1 cup heavy cream in a mixing bowl until it forms stiff peaks.
    I make my creamy horseradish sauce with whipped cream.
  • Season with the white pepper to taste, 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish, and a dash of hot sauce (optional.) Stir gently until just combined, and serve alongside your delicious prime rib!
    Serve your 500 rule prime rib with au jus or a creamy horseradish sauce.

Nutrition

Calories: 595kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 57gFat: 40gSaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 173mgSodium: 2474mgPotassium: 778mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 43IUCalcium: 20mgIron: 5mg

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • If I have a 20lb boneless rib roast, and I cut it down to 2 – 10lb roasts and follow this method, I still leave it set with the door closed for 2 hours?

  • OMG!!! I normally don’t comment on recipes I try. But I’m making an exception. My husband and I purchased a 10lb rib roast for our family dinner this Christmas. He followed your recipe and it was amazing. Came out perfect. Everyone was so impressed. My only regret is I didn’t take a photo of the roast. Thank you thank you.

  • I made this for our 40 year anniversary and it was absolutely delicious! I also used your cream corn recipe and they were both so good! Thank you so much! It was so great! Your instructions were spot on and I can’t thank you enough for all that you do! I’m a great fan! Sandy

  • I have used this recipe several times without issue, except for the time I cooked a large roast. 5-6 pound roasts are best. That being said, my son wants this for his rehearsal dinner so I need to make several. Any tips? Also, what about using a convection oven versus regular? I could mass produce several small roasts using convection oven, does the time/heat change with that method?

    • If you cut the roasts into multiple 5-6 pound roasts, you would still use a 5-6 pound cooking time – even when cooking two or three of them at once. This is great method, especially if you’re more comfortable with the smaller roasts :-) All ovens should work the same way! Enjoy!

  • Hi Jillee: I made this with a two pound one rib roast.

    It turned out a beautiful pink, just right.

    The only problem was that by the time the 2 hour sit time in the oven was over, the meat was cold and the fat congealing.

    My oven is in great working order, it is gas, the door wasn’t opened even once.

    I wasn’t too pleased with the cold meat.

    Do you have any thoughts or suggestions for this.

    • Hi Charlie – sorry to hear that the recipe didn’t quite work out for you! I’ll have to do some more testing – maybe a smaller roast doesn’t need to sit in the oven quite as long. I’m going to try a two pound roast with just one hour of sitting in the oven – I’ll keep you updated!

  • I cooked our Prime Rib according to these instructions yesterday for our Family Christmas Party. I had 2 14# pieces of Prime Rib. I was very disappointed in the OVER DONE status when time was complete. I would cut this time in half. So sad, a lot of wasted $$$ for Prime that tasted like Pot Roast.

  • I made this for Christmas and it was wonderful! I had an eleven rib roast, which was around 18 pounds. It wouldn’t fit into my roasting pan so I cut the roast in half and put it in two pans in the oven at the same time. I based my 5-6 minutes per pound on about 9 pounds. It wasn’t fully cooked after the 2 hours of the oven being off so I realize now that I should have gone on the time of the total of the two pieces, 18 lbs, since they were taking up the same oven space. It still turned out great once I turned the oven back on for a bit. Thank-you for your recipe!

  • 4.7 pound prime rib. I cooked it exactly as you said. 28 minutes at 500 then oven off for two hours. It read 135F. Sliced it and… very very rare, too rare. Had to put it back in. Next time instead of oven off I think it has to be cooked at 325.

  • I have made Christmas prime rib with this method several times with great success. Tonight’s did not go as planned. I did the 500 degrees for 35 minutes then turned off the oven and left it 2 hours. Checked temp at the end and it was under 120. Ended up turning on the oven to 375 for an hour. It came out perfect- we just ate salads first. I do have a brand new gas oven and I’m guessing they vent out the hot air. Just curious if anyone else has failed at this? Cheers!

    • That’s a huge roast! I might even suggest cutting in half – you can cook both halves together and consider it an 11 pound roast.

      Either way, it should work out wonderfully – just trust the recipe! You can see from the comments how often it works out perfectly :-)

      • Ok thank You that answers my question. I was asking if the cook time was included in the two hours. So no you cook it then turn it off and let is set two hrs in the turned off oven! I can’t wait to try it

  • Jillee – I used your prime rib recipe last year and my family RAVED about it!! They demanded that I make it again this Christmas, so you know it was a hit. THANK YOU for sharing!

  • I already purchased my Christmas prime rib roast. The butcher sold me the boneless prime rib. Will this method of cooking work for the boneless variety?

  • I use the Alton Brown way of cooking prime rib with a terra cotta pot. It works beautifully and Makes it so easy. You should check it out you might like it. Love your seasonings for your prime rib. Will try it this Christmas already have my standing rib roast on order at my local butcher shop.

  • Jillee, I am a member and “My Favorite Holiday Recipes!” is the only ebook that doesn’t show up on the ebook page for me. I don’t know if this is just me or if anyone else is experiencing this as well.

  • love this receipe, I have done prime this way, since I saw it on your site a year a go I was always afraid I would mess prime rib up so would not do until I read this receipe, I wont even go out for prime rib now, I say mine is best/ I cant wait to try the horseradish sauce thanks

  • I actually did this last week. Although it looked beautiful, It had absolutely NO flavor. I have a feeling it was due to the the cut of meat itself. I would suggest to get a PRIME cut VS choice like I did. The choice I got did not have any fat/marbling inside the roast.

    • I totally agree that a great cut of meat will make the difference in the taste of the roast. I only buy a prime rib boneless roast at my local butcher. Prim Rib usually has very nice marble veins in it and the meat literally melts in your mouth. Now the downside is I pay approx. $100.00 for a 5 pound prime rib roast so I don’t buy this every week. I usually buy it at Easter, Thanksgiving and Xmas. I cook my roast on the BBQ but I have done it in the oven and it tastes the same. Hope I have added a good helpful tip to everyone.

  • I’m a little confused about the baking directions. Is it 6 minutes per pound or 6 minutes total? One way the baking time is 30 minutes. The other way the baking time is only 6 minutes.

  • Score the fatside and rub with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and the seasoning will not only stick but will be absorbed into the fat. Sort of making it self basting…blessed holiday season……..☺

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