Prime Rib vs. Ribeye

One of the most confusing topics in the steaks world is the difference between prime rib and ribeye steak. We will compare these cuts and provide details regarding the key differences. Along with some key facts and information, we’ll also share some cooking and preparation tips.

Prime Rib vs. Ribeye: Key Differences

Most of the confusion comes from the fact that both prime rib and ribeye steaks come from the same part of the cow (primal rib section). The main difference between a ribeye steak and a prime rib is that they are cut and cooked differently. Prime rib is one large roast containing up to seven ribs. Ribeye steak is an individual cut from the same area on the cow (primal rib section, between the 6th and 12th rib).

Interestingly, one prime rib can be cut into as many as seven individual ribeye steaks. The slight differences in the cut and the preparation and cooking methods create two types of meat that share many similarities and a few distinct differences. Let us discuss them all below.

Prime RibRibeye
TasteRich buttery and beefy flavorRich buttery and beefy flavor
PriceMedium to highHigh
Fat contentHighHigh
Average weight12-16 lbs8-15 oz.
Location on cowPrimal rib sectionPrimal rib section
Best cooking methodSlow cooking in the ovenQuickly over high heat
Prime Rib vs. Ribeye: Table Comparison

Prime Rib vs. Ribeye: Appearance, Location on a Cow & Serving Size

Prime rib and Ribeye share a lot of similarities and characteristics. To start, they are taken from the same part of the cow (primal rib area). 

Prime rib cut is a roast cut, meaning the meat is not cut into individual steaks before cooking. It is roasted whole, then sliced after cooking, and served typically as a “Steak”. On the other hand, Ribeye is an individual steak from the prime rib roast or standing rib roast (cut out before cooking).

Prime rib is a large roast that weighs an average of 12 to 16 pounds. Ribeye is a steak that weighs an average of 8 to 15 ounces and is about 2 inches thick.

Raw Grass Fed Prime Rib
Raw Prime Rib
raw Ribeye and seasonings o
Raw Ribeye Steak

Prime Rib vs. Ribeye: Taste & Texture

Both prime rib and ribeye come from the same area of the cow. That means both cuts will have almost the same amount of marbling and a very similarly distinctly beefy palette of flavors. So, the final taste will depend on your chosen cooking method. They are versatile cuts that tolerate different cooking methods and pair well with plenty of side dishes that can bring out the flavors. 

As for the texture, the difference can be big. For example, ribeye steak pan-fried quickly and over high heat in a skillet or grill has a mega-appetizing crust. Meanwhile, prime rib roasted slowly at a lower temperature can be juicier and more tender than ribeye steak.

Remember that prime rib contains bones, which provide additional insulation for the meat around them. As a result, the meat near the bones may be more tender than the rest.

Prime Rib vs. Ribeye: Cooking

Prime rib is perfect for those who enjoy roasts and that slow-cooking approach in the oven. The main downside of cooking prime rib is that the process takes a lot of time. Ribeye cuts are much more time-friendly. Whether grilling, pan searing, or oven cooking, you can enjoy a ribeye steak in minutes. 

If you or your guests are big on juicy and tender beef cuts that carry superior flavor and character, the chances are that a prime rib cut will be a bigger hit with the crowd. On the other hand, your party might be more of a steak purist group, and ribeye steaks will undoubtedly be a big hit. Make sure you consider the preferences of the guests, as well as your own before you make a decision.

Prime Rib vs. Ribeye: Cost

Prime rib and ribeye cuts come at different price points. On average, per pound, a prime rib cut will cost less than a ribeye cut. Prime rib usually includes all the bones surrounding the cut, muscle, and fat. Ribeye steak is leaner and often comes boneless, making it a more expensive per-pound choice. 

Bear in mind that the price of each cut will vary significantly depending on the place you purchase meat and the quality of the meat. 

Discount retail chains often have low prices for groceries, including beef, but the quality of the cuts is quite low. Local butcher shops are a better choice, but those cuts carry a price premium. As you consider sources, you can find plenty of beef producers and slaughterhouses that offer direct delivery of meat to your doorstep through online orders or even subscription boxes. These are often great sources of high-quality cuts at more reasonable prices.

Summary

In a nutshell, prime rib and ribeye come from the same part of the cow. Prime rib is one large roast, while ribeye is a typical steak. In restaurants, prime rib is served as a slice of meat or steak, but you need to know that this meat is first cooked whole as a roast before it’s sliced. Prime rib is one large roast, while ribeye is a typical steak.

Prime rib will take significantly longer to cook than ribeye steak. If you have plenty of time and are looking forward to creating a feast for your guests, a prime rib cut is ideal for your occasion. If you are putting together something more casual, such as a cookout in your yard, delicious ribeye steak for the grill might be your best option. All that preparation will pay off in an explosion of flavors and compliments from your guests.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Prime Rib and Ribeye The Same?

The answer is no and yes. Prime rib and ribeye come from the same primal cut of beef (Rib primal), but more importantly, they are cut and cooked differently. Prime rib is a big roast cooked whole slowly in the oven. Ribeye is simply an individual steak cooked like a regular steak (quickly over high heat).

It is also worth knowing that the prime word in “prime rib” does not refer to USDA prime beef grade. The term “prime rib” refers only to the cut. This means prime rib can be classified as USDA select, choice, or prime grade.

What is Better: Ribeye or Prime Rib?

Prime rib and ribeye are both amazing beef cuts that offer outstanding flavor. In these types of debates, there is no winner or loser. The choice between the two will always come down to your taste preferences and the type of occasion.

Since the prime rib cut is sizeable, it requires extensive preparation. On the other hand, a ribeye steak is a great option if you’re thinking of a traditional steak cooked in minutes.

What is More Expensive: Prime Rib or Ribeye?

Ribeye steak is, on average, more expensive per pound than prime rib. A boneless cut of either type will almost always cost more than a bone-in cut.

Which is More Tender and Flavorful: Prime Rib or Ribeye?

Both cuts are known to be very tender and flavorful, but if we have to choose one more tender and tastier, it would be the prime rib. However, the difference may be slight. In the case of prime rib, this is mainly due to the slow cooking method, size of the cut, more fat, and the bones that insulate the meat. On the other hand, for lovers of crispy crust, ribeye steak would be a better choice.

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Written by: Adam Wojtow

Adam is the founder of Steak Revolution. He loves sharing his knowledge of steaks with everyone, ensuring you get the perfect steak every time.