• Martin says

      Thank you for the compliment, and I hope it goes well when you try doing a rib! Let us know how it turns out!

  1. Dave S says

    My nephew told me about the “X method” of cooking bone-in prime rib. You can Google it. The results are absolutely perfect every single time and it couldn’t be any easier to do. No searing first….

    • Martin says


      I just looked it up and while it looks like it could absolutely work, it doesn’t take many factors into account (starting temp of the roast, for instance), and because it’s based on time rather than temperature, it is by default a for of “flying blind.” If I were to try that method, I would be sure to use one—if not two—leave-in probes to keep an real eye on what’s actually going on. Thanks for reading!

  2. Greg says

    Thank you for the detailed information on the different methods. A question: In another of your articles on prime rib, the cooking temperature was listed as 225F. Just curious, have you noted any significant differences in the final results in avoiding the gray band and overall taste/texture with a slightly higher or lower cooking temp?

    Interesting and enjoyable comments as to the many methods people have used to prepare a prime rib with fantastic results. For larger groups, rather than buying one larger roast ( 10+ lbs), I’ve cooked two, smaller ones – love the end pieces so twice the joy! I’ve used an overnight refrigerated seasoning method ( inserted slivers of garlic around the meat and a light rosemary/salt/pepper) rub and the countertop warm up before cooking but will try sear and the lower temp approach this year.

    Getting up the nerve to try my hand at smoking a $100+ roast using the tools I have from Thermoworks. Happy Holidays!

    • Martin says


      Thanks for your comments! We have listed 200°F as the cooking temperature before, and now 225°F. Keeping it in the “low and slow” realm is the important thing to do. If you have it already, it would be a good idea to temp your oven with an air probe, you may find that it is up to 25°F off already!
      By the way, buying 2 smaller roasts is a great way to handle larger crowds! Yes, you get double end pieces (also my favorite), but smaller roasts are much easier to sear.
      Again, thanks for reading and get in touch if you have questions about daring the smoker!
      Good luck!

      • Greg says

        Thanks for the good point on the empty oven temp check. Ours is a newer gas fired oven and uses convection method for roasting – but certainly not a professional model/brand. I have Dot and Smoke to help me do the oven check and an MK4 to boot for the roast.

  3. res says

    excellent, but one important modification was not addressed, which interested me.

    using indoor oven stove indoors.

    bbq with propane,

    bbq with natural gas

    bbq with charcoal

    bbq with charcoal wood chips-(cherry, etc.). direct heat

    bbq with charcoal wood chips-(cherry, etc.), indirect heat

    bbq with charcoal wood chips-(cherry, etc.), indirect heat with water pan..

    i have bbq prime rib with charcoal, wood chips-(cherry chips). indirect heat with water pan, using thermoworks temperature equipment which i must say is a must and it had a delightful flavor but i am sure you will offer more promising techniques in cooking prime rib improving the natural flavor..


    • Martin says

      The thermal principles involved in each of the cooking methods you mention are the same. A mastery of any of the techniques will allow you to create a proper thermal environment for the low-slow cooking of a prime rib. You may be interested in out piece on smoking prime rib!

  4. rick says

    “When the alarm sounded, we reset it to 120°F (49°C) and moved the roast to the hot oven. The roast started to sizzle and sing almost immediately. It became steadily more brown and crisp on the outside. When we reached the nest alarm point (set lower to account for the increased oven heat that would drive more carryover cooking), we removed the roast, let it rest, cut into it, and were disappointed to find a very noticeable gray ring, up to 1″ thick”

    1. What is meant by the phrase “the nest alarm point” – not used elsewhere in your article.
    2. You fail to mention how long the roast was under the broiler. Perhaps a shorter time would yield acceptable crust and less thermal pressure in the spinalis dorsi?

    Of note, Serious Eat’s J. Kenji Lopez Alt, has videos testing and recommending “reverse-searing” methods.

    There also recommendations of doing both pre and post sears.

    Finally, searing methods may also lead to different results. I’ve seen using chimney starters, Searzall device on propane torches etc.

    • Martin says


      Thank you for reading and for your comment. “Nest alarm point” should have been “next alarm point,” (i.e. the nest time the alarm sounds) an edit I have made in the post. Thak you for catching that and I apologize for the confusion!
      You are correct that a shorter time may have yielded better results. In answering the many comments on this post, I have come to see some mistakes I may have made, including moving the roast from cooking directly to oven searing. A cool-down period may have saved it by, as you say, reducing the thermal pressure.
      Thanks again and happy cooking!

    • Martin says


      Yes please on the Yorkshire! The reverse oven sear I think can certainly work, if done correctly. Our error was perhaps having a second oven ready to go and moving the meat right into it. Removing the meat from the oven and waiting for the oven to come up to temp will give the roast a chance to cool, and moving it further from the gray-ring danger zone. Happy cooking!

  5. Dave says

    Nice write up. Two comments really. First, wish you had made and hammered home the point that cook time for PR is determined by chamber temp, starting temp AND thickness of the loin, not the weight. Lots of people mistakenly believe that since a 4 bone 8lb PR might take 4 hrs to cook, that a 7 bone 16lb PR would take twice as long.

    Second, if you happen to have another loin laying around, try repeating the reverse sear method, but this time, let the loin rest for 30 mins after the initial cook, then blast it at 500 to sear.

    • Martin says


      Great comments! You are right about the time factor, and I should have hit that harder. I think I did address it rather well in a comment here responding to Don.
      And you are probably right about the reverse sear: a counter rest allowing the meat to cool so that the sear has to re-energize the meat is a great solution. We’ll have to give it a try.
      Happy cooking!

  6. John says

    This is exceptionally well done, with the obvious product mentions in place, but I love the science behind it. It doesn’t seem that many companies share the same infatuation as their customers for what their products are used for. Bravo, and I look forward to more.

    – John

  7. Dr. Frederick Howard says

    Great read! I’ve been a follower of Thermoworks, Meathead, J. Kenji López-Alt for awhile now with outstanding results! I have a tool belt that includes Thermapen Mk4, Smoke and other Thermoworks products too numerous to list. I’ve tried high heat roasting with great results in the past. However last year I did Prime Rib at 200 with outstanding results. You’re correct in that the gray band practically vanished as if it were done via Sous Vide. This year I’m doing a 4-bone Dry aged from Flannery Beef. I’ve got a Searzall as part of my tool kit and I think that I’ll use that for a pre sear instead of the cast iron. BTW you guys rock!! I’ve given away Thermapen’s like they were candy, no complaints whatever and you guys do stand behind your products. Hats off ???? to Thermoworks !!!

  8. Don Hendrix says

    This is a very interesting article. Using the freezer sit method how many minutes per pound did you roast the meat and how much kosher salt do you use? Thanks!

    • Martin says


      I didn’t do any time calculations of minutes per pound, I only based the cooking on temperatures. There is a good geometrical reason for this: A rib roast can be idealized as a cylindrical shape, and heat will be entering the cylinder from all sides, but will be approaching the center of the cylinder from the circumference far more than the end faces. As we increase the size of the cylinder, we decrease the heat effect of the cylinder faces on the center until that effect becomes negligible.

      So it is with a roast. A bigger (longer) roast (let’s say…8 pounds) of the same diameter as a shorter roast (maybe 5 pounds) will take heat to the center from the circumference of the roast more than the edges, but not significantly more so than the smaller roast, especially at these lower temperatures. A three-pound difference will not result in the same kind of cook-time differential in a rib roast as it would in, say, a chicken, the geometry of which significantly changes the surface exposure to heat. This is why w probe thermometer with an alarm is such a good idea for a roast like this.
      All that being said, I used enough kosher salt to give the whole thing a nice coat A few tablespoons for a large roast should do. I usually just keep adding it until it looks “nice and salty.”
      Thanks for your comment!

  9. Dustin says

    Recommended time spent in the freezer? Or, is it best to go by temperature, making sure area just under the surface is sub 32 degrees?

    • Martin says


      Time is relative, as always. It is best to go with temperature. 32°F doesn’t actually freeze meat, so go a little lower. We cooled ours to 29.5°F, which was cold enough to really solidify the fat and start to freeze the meat itself. Use a probe thermometer about 1/4″ below the surface in a part of the meat that isn’t as covered with fat cap. Our roasts spent about an hour to an hour and a half in the freezer, but that will vary based on freezer temp and initial beef temp. Good luck with yours!

  10. Michael K says

    Love the science of this article, and the fact that you incorporated all of the Thermoworks products to demonstrate this! I have a sous vide, and have been wanting to try a prime rib cooked in a water bath. I am curious, though, if I cook it at 130 then do a reverse sear if the “ring” would be too big and enough heat would be applied to continue to cook the inside. Should I cook to 128 and then sear?
    Just wondering what feedback, if any, you have for sous vide. THX

    • Martin says

      First, thanks for your comment and thanks for reading! The sous vide prime rib is actually a problem we have been considering in our demo kitchen, and you’ve hit right on some of the issues we’ve thought about. Here are my thoughts thus far on it:
      First, a roast as big as a prime rib is going to take a LONG time to come up to temp in a sous vide bath, and that much time could lead to bacterial problems. Bacteria on the surface will eventually work their way down through the seams of the fat and meat in this marbled cut, and so first need to be destroyed. A quick blanch in boiling water before the actual cook would do that, and has been recommended by some for this purpose. But a pre-sear will also kill the surface bacteria and will give your meat a tasty Maillard marinade while it cooks. Your choice.
      Next, there is the question of “pull temp.” With sous vide cooking, there will be NO carryover cooking. You set the temp of the whole piece of meat and you let it go until even the very center is at that temp. Because there will be no heat differential, there will be no carryover. This is excellent news for avoiding gray ring, because as long as you set it below the 140°F where meat starts to turn gray (like, for instance, 130°F for an excellent medium rare) you don’t have to worry about any gray in the meat from the cooking.
      And that brings us to the final question of the sear. We found that the meat 1/4″ below the surface increased in temperature by about 25°F during a skillet sear. If you’ve cooked your meat to 130°F, you are risking a little gray in there, though as you saw from our data, we hit 150°F and had little to no ring. If you want an insurance buffer, let the roast cool outside of the sous vide bath for 20 minutes or so, and then sear it in a hot pan. The temperature reduction in the exterior of the roast will act as a buffer for the heat of searing.
      If you decide to try it, we’d love to hear about it!

      • Ron says

        I have always seasoned meats before searing. You recommend the opposite. Does the sequence differ greatly and why sear first? Thank you, great article- I’m trying your tenderloin article for Christmas and standing rib for New Years!

        • Martin says


          I prefer to season with the herbs after searing because I find they often just stick to the pan and not to the meat when I sear. I also like the fresh-herb flavor of adding the herbs afterward. If you are using a Montreal seasoning or just S&P, there’s no reason to wait until after the sear, as those flavors will actually wake up nicely in the sear, and the dry spices are more likely to adhere to the meat during the sear.
          I’m glad you are giving these a try! let us know how they turn out!

  11. Randy Ewers says

    Thanks, excellent article ! I will give it a shot for Christmas with a massive 14lb boneless roast. I will cut it in half for easier searing.

    I have 1 question, and also have summarized your process below for a “quick reference” if anyone wants them.

    Question: What did you decide on salting? I assume salting it 24 hours in advance is the way to go?

    Roast Selection:
    o Prime is better than Choice, but more expensive.
    o 1/2 lb per person if boneless, or one bone for two people if bone-in.
    o Boneless vs. bone-in is a toss-up, but they usually do boneless.
    o For long roasts, may want to cut in half – easier to sear, and 4 crusty ends (delicious) vs. 2.

    Cooking Instructions (for 3 lb boneless roast):

    1) tie the roast up, even if boneless. If bone-in, cut the bones off but tie them back onto the muscle.

    2) Salt liberally (should look “salty”, several tablespoons for a large roast)

    3) Bring to fridge temperature throughout – 38F

    4) Partially freeze, until outer edge reaches 29.5F – took them about 1.5 – 2 hours for 3lb roasts.

    5) Sear in cast iron. Preheat cast iron to 500F. Sear 2.5 minutes per side (perhaps different for long cylindrical prime roast).

    6) Add seasoning (optional) AFTER the sear so it does not stick to the pan. “Salt and pepper is all you need. Or make wet rub of 3 cloves minced garlic, the minced leaves of 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1.5 tablespoons dijon mustard, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Apply it after your sear and you will be hailed as a luminary of the kitchen.”

    7) Cook at 225. Use an air probe to confirm oven temp if you have one.

    8) Pull at 125F (maybe lower for larger roast). We are shooting for final temp of 130F after resting. Exterior temp when pulled will likely be around 150, just where meat starts to turn gray (140F).

    9) Cover with foil and rest 30 minutes.

    • Martin says


      Looks like a good summary! Salting overnight is probably just fine, a full 24 hours won’t hurt a thing. Enjoy and let us know how it goes!

  12. Art Schwartzstein says

    As between the freezer first or no freezer first, was the taste test a “blind” taste test. It seems like you might have been sufficiently influenced by the size of the gray ring and extra effort spent to find a difference that may not be noticeable. And, whether or not noticeable around the edge, has there been a blind taste test for the meat in the center? Thanks for the fun analysis.

    • Martin says


      Yes, we did do blind tests on the center meat. The meat from each was delicious, but not all that different. As long as the cuts are of equal quality, and the centers are cooked to equal temps, the centers will be pretty similar. The edges are where a roast that is properly done starts to differentiate itself. Thanks for reading!

  13. lourdes goodman says

    This was a very interesting article, I especially liked the information about enzymes & what temps to keep in mind for that range to have that extra bit of help from them. I’ve made a roast with reverse sear twice before but time between makes me feel like a newbie everytime so I like to review info. I’m definitely trying the sear in pan first. Thank you!

    • Martin says

      I’m glad you liked this info. I think everyone feels like a newbie every time they cook this cut, because most people only cook about once a year, so you are not alone! I hope our post helps you with your next cook. Happy cooking!

  14. Sandra Currie says

    Our rib roast was amazing because of your directions and insight. I made my first standing rib roast (3 ribs) New Year’s Day after much studying of your cooking method. I was always fearful of ruining such a fine and expensive roast. Thanks to your meticulous instructions, it turned out perfectly. I am getting way more credit than I deserve because it really belongs to you and Thermoworks Signals and Thermapen One.

    Thank you for your gift of knowledge and detail. I will be working my way through more blog recipes because of this success.

  15. Rich Dolbow says

    Martin, thank you so much for this recipe. I used it yesterday (Christmas Day) to smoke a Porter Road Prime Rib roast. I prepped the roast the day before by dry brining it and removing the bones. I then followed your instructions on the day of the cook, just modifying them slightly by searing the meat on the grill and smoking the roast at 225 degrees in my Weber Slow-N-Sear setup. The roast came out perfect! It had a very dark exterior, but inside it was pink from edge to edge. And the taste was out of this world. Nicely smoked and with a wonderful beef flavor. The extra prep (chilling the meat to 30 degrees) was worth it. This will be my go-to method for roasts like this from now on.

    • Martin says

      If you put the fat cap down to sear first, it should oil the pan enough for you. If you don’t a little high-heat oil like corn oil of leftover beef fat is a good idea.

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