Prime Rib vs Ribeye: What is the difference ?

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 21, 2021

Always the latest smoking tips & tricks?

Subscribe to THE ESSENTIAL newsletter for aspiring pitmasters

We'll only use your email address for our newsletter and respect your privacy

I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

There are plenty of beef cuts and types of steaks, so I am aware that sometimes it’s hard to perceive significant differences between them. Today I’d like to touch upon a pretty popular topic, to be exact I’m going to present all the differences regarding Prime Rib vs Ribeye.

In many cases, both those pieces get mistaken for one another even by experienced cooks. These are delicious pieces of steak with similar names that come from the same initial cut.

What exactly is the difference between them, then? Are both those pieces the same? Below I will take a closer look on each of them so that I can give you a conclusive answer to that question.

Prime rib vs ribeye

Prime Rib vs Ribeye

In order to understand the differences between ribeye and prime rib, we have to take a look at the basics, which is where the meat comes from and what sets it apart. For that purpose, I will move on to the individual description for each of the cut types.

Where does Prime Rib come from and what is it ?

First and foremost, I’ll start by saying that the word “Prime” in the name Prime Rib doesn’t mean USDA Prime. When buying beef, make sure what its qualification is to avoid any surprises.

Therefore, Prime Rib comes from the same part of animal as Ribeye ( the primal rib section ).

x
How to buy a bbq smoker video

Prime Rib is cut from Rib Roast after cooking it, in most cases it includes bone which is preferred by most people, but it is possible to serve it boneless. It is the most common version of Prime Rib served at restaurants. Prime Rib may also be served as a delicious steak ( usually with bone ).

Where does Ribeye come from and what is it?

You will find plenty of similar names like Rib Eye, Ribeye or Rib Steak, but it all refers to the same cut. In practice, it is the same meat as Prime Rib ( when it comes to the origin ) but the significant difference here is the cutting method.

It is also cut from the Rib Roast but the most significant fact is cutting out the bone right before cooking. The cutout bone leaves an effect on the meat’s shape ( oval hole ) which lead to the name Ribeye.

It can also be cooked and served as a roast or cut with cooking steaks in mind.

Difference Between Prime Rib and Ribeye

What I’ve written so far indicates that both pieces come from the same beef cut. Upon a deeper analysis, though, you know already what’s the difference between Prime Rib and Ribeye. So what to choose in the end while at the store? Follow the below tips:

Price – When it comes to Ribeye, you can choose with bone or boneless ( the boneless cut usually costs slightly more ). Prime Rib will cost a little more than Ribeye, especially at a restaurant.

Steak – Ribeye will be definitely a better choice if you’re thinking about a real steak, like a grilled one. Prime Rib comes from the rib roast, which usually requires long roasting and only when it’s baked you can cut prime rib steaks.

Cooking Style and Time – Ribeye is the winner here as well when it comes to the cooking time of a steak for example ( only few minutes on a grill ). When it comes to the prime rib roast, on the other hand, the situation is slightly different, you need to think about roasting the whole rib roast, which takes more time.

In conclusion, Prime Rib and Ribeye come from the same part of cow, but they differ in the cutting method. The Ribeye is characterized by smaller cut that is better for quick steaks, whereas the prime rib roast is a much bigger piece that requires much more time.

Either way, I hope that now you understand the difference and the fact that both steaks are equally delicious.

A lot of people are often confused between prime rib vs ribeye. While they may have a somewhat similar name, these meats are actually different from each other. In fact, the only thing that they have in common is that they are both beef and are taken from the ribs of the animal. Of course, they have a somewhat similar taste, texture, and look as well. But there are actually major differences between the two, which is why they are cooked and prepared differently.

ribeye-vs-prime-rib

If you’re one of those people who cannot distinguish the differences between ribeye vs prime rib, then this article is for you. Below, we’ll dig more in-depth on the many differences between these two popular cuts of beef meats.

What is Prime Rib?

What-is-Prime-Rib

First, let’s start with prime rib. This meat is actually taken from the rib roast right after cooking the roast. The roast will turn out boneless or with bone, but some people prefer the one with the bone due to the added flavor.

But just because the meat is called “prime rib” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a type of prime cut. If you are from the US, then you’re aware that the USDA puts a grade on meats. Prime is a name given to meats with the best cuts. But the prime rib doesn’t have a prime rating despite its name.

What is Ribeye?

What-is-Ribeye

So what about the ribeye? The ribeye is almost similar to the prime rib. However, it’s cut in a different way. Just like the prime rib, the ribeye is also taken from the rib roast; however, the bone is taken off before it’s cooked.

Due to the way the ribeye is cut, the missing boat will leave an oval shaped hole in the meat, which is where it has gotten its name. Just like the prime rib, the ribeye is often cooked as a roast or made into steaks. The steak is juicy, tender, and easy to cut. It’s usually tremendous and could weigh up to 20 ounces.

Where Does Ribeye Come From?

The ribeye, which is also called Scotch Fillet in countries like New Zealand and Australia, is a type of beefsteak that’s obtained from the rib section of the beef. Usually, the rib part of the beef spans from the 6th to the 12th rib and the ribeye steak consists of the longissimus dorsi muscle although it may also come with the complexus and the spinalis muscles.

What Cut is Prime Rib

To better understand the difference between these two, let’s also find out where the prime rib comes from. It’s basically cut from the middle portion of the primal rib, which is the largest and considered as the best portion of the rib section. Also known as beef rib roast, the ribeye roast is the juiciest and most flavorful beef cut.

Difference between Prime Rib and Ribeye

Prime-Rib-vs-Ribeye

As you can see, there are lots of differences between ribeye and prime rib especially in the texture, and this is mainly because of the different cooking methods used on each of the meat types.

The prime rib basically consists of the large portion of the ribeye, which is right at the bone, along with the surrounding bits of fats and muscles. All the fat gives the meat a softer texture. Because the meat is usually bone-in, the prime rib could appear a bit moist compared to the ribeye.

If the ribeye is taken from the less prime portion of the beef’s rib, it will turn out to be a bit tougher. This is because the ribeye can also be obtained from the portion of the cow that’s getting enough exercise.

Prime Rib Cost vs Ribeye Cost

Now that you know the difference between the two, let’s find out how they differ in terms of the price. Since prime rib is much larger, it’s understandably more expensive compared to a single ribeye. But even the cost per pound of a prime rib is usually higher compared to the ribeye. Prime rib is understandably more expensive since it’s usually more flavorful than the ribeye.

If you’re going to cook the meat yourself, you might find it a little tricky to source a prime rib. Most of the supermarkets will only offer the pre-cut ribeye instead of the large prime ribs. Consumers may need to visit butcher shops in order to source an excellent prime rib.

Cooking Prime Rib vs Cook Ribeye

Cooking-Prime-Rib-vs-Cook-Ribeye

Most of the differences between the prime rib and the rib eye have something to do with the method they are cooked and the time it takes to cook the meat.

Generally, the prime rib is cut to a roast and cooked in low temperature for a much longer time. But ribeye is a type of steak that’s usually cooked over medium to high temperature in only a short period of time.
Rib eye steaks are usually favored for pan searing or grilling.

These meats work well in higher heat cooking method that will give it a nice sear on the outside. However, the ribeye is usually thicker compared to other steaks. Therefore, it requires a longer low-temperature cooking method in the oven in order to give the meat an ideal temperature.

The preferred method of cooking for prime rib is to slow bake it in the oven. Its bones are usually curved in order to give the meat a sort of a natural roasting rack. Thus, people cook the meat in a pan with the bone side down and roast it until it’s done.

Prime Rib vs Ribeye Taste

Both the prime rib and rib eye provide a delicious and pronounced beefy flavor because they are both taken from the rib of the beef. But when it comes to these ribs, the prime rib tends to be more flavorful since it still has the bone and usually comes with additional fat. All its fat is marbled finely on the rib cap, which is responsible for giving it a juicy and buttery flavor.

How Much Prime Rib Per Person

When you are buying substantial prime rib keep in mind that for one pound(bone-in) can feed one person, one rib roast per two starving men, hence 8 guests you should prepare for 4 rib roast to serve them. You will never fail again when you a host for a party

Where to Buy Prime Rib

You can walk to your local grocery store or butcher shop near you and ask the butcher for your ribs. If you can’t find that one you are can order online at Amazon, Costco, etc.

How to Buy Prime Rib at The Grocery Store

When you walk through the store to butcher zone then just seeking for the butcher and ask them for your desirable prime ribs just determine prime rib grade to butcher(important). You will receive the thing you want, don’t forget one pound/person. Keep in mind that the ribs in the store are precut from the warehouse and packed. If you can’t find the butcher just look for the mark on the package, it will show you what rib and grade in there.

Note: Prime rib it rare to see in the grocery store you will see many choice grade in there. Butcher shop near you is the best place to find

Related: How to Grill Ribs Fast Easy & Simple

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.