Prime Rib vs Ribeye Steak (3 Main Differences)

Devon Ferguson
Published by Devon Ferguson
Last Updated On: June 19, 2024

As a great meat lover, you’ve probably heard about prime rib and ribeye. Even though they are coming from the same section of the animal, they are not the same.

If you are not quite sure what’s the difference between them or which one is better for you, don’t fret - we already did the research. Keep reading, and you will find out everything about these tasty meat cuts.

Quick Summary

  • Prime rib and ribeye steaks come from the rib primal section of the cow, with prime rib being juicier and containing 2-7 bones, while ribeye is more marbled and often boneless.
  • Prime rib is roasted slowly on the bones, while ribeye is best grilled quickly at medium to high temperatures.
  • A 2015 study in the Journal of Food Protection found that commercial preparation methods for prime rib, including searing and cooking mechanically tenderized rib eye, effectively reduce Salmonella populations, highlighting the importance of proper cooking techniques for ensuring microbiological safety [1].
  • Prime rib is more expensive and richer in flavor, and ribeye is more affordable and quicker to cook.

Prime Rib & Ribeye Steak - An Overview

A closeup photo of a prime rib and ribeye steak

Prime rib and rib-eye look pretty much the same at first sight. They are soft and juicy and both taste delicious. This is because they come from the same part of beef – the rib primal.

The ribbed part is the muscle section, running along the backbone and primarily serves as the spine support. A cow has 13 ribs on each side, and ribs 6-12 are called the rib primal. The name rib primal doesn't indicate the quality of the meat but the place from which it is taken.

Rib primal is very rich in meat and fats. The muscles in the rib primal are not used much during the animal's life, so these are well-marbled, tenderest, and most desirable cuts.

Even though ribeye and prime rib are the same part of the meat, there are a few differences between these two cuts of meat.

What is Prime Rib?

Prime rib is a cut of beef that comes from the central part of the rib section. It can include from two to seven ribs.

This is a very quality steak cut and one of the most wanted and flavorful beef parts, because of the heavy marbling.

Prime rib as a cut is very juicy, covered with a fatty cap, which gives it a full beef taste [2].

Prime rib cut comes with the bones, and it is usually called a standing rib roast. That is because of how it's cooked - standing on the bones and meat not touching the cooking dish.

The prime rib roast is a massive cut in general, so it is good to cook it for a group of people. It is also considered festive meat.

The standing rib roast is often at the dinner table's central place for special occasions and holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Recommended Article: What are the Main Types of Beef Ribs?

What is Ribeye?

Rib-eye steak is a cut of meat that also comes from the primal rib section of the cow. When you turn this section around, you will notice round muscles and fats at its end.

The ribeye consists of two muscles – the Spinalis Dorsi, known as a rib cap, and Longissimus Dorsi. When cut from the bone side, the big central muscle Spinalis Dorsi with its fat surrounding is called the ribeye.

As you can guess, the name "eye" came from its cylindrical shape after being separated from the curved bone. Because this cut comes from the rib area, rib eye steak can also come with the bone on.

Ribeye roast is highly marbled with fat but less than prime rib. That is why rib eye has a milder flavor and buttery taste. With a smooth and sometimes more rigid texture, this cut of meat melts in the mouth.

Its size is smaller and this steak is used in a beef meal usually served in restaurants. It can be a main meal or served with a lot of salads and side dishes.

Prime Rib vs. Ribeye Steaks - Differences in Cooking and Buying

Two ribeye steaks and one prime rib on a flat background

What can be the difference between the prime rib roast and the standing rib roast? If you want to cook a ribeye or prime ribs, make sure to use suitable cooking methods.


As it is a smaller piece of meat, you can cook ribeye at a medium to a higher temperature, and it won’t take you long, only a few minutes before you can serve it.

Because it is a large cut, prime rib roast has to be cooked longer, at a low temperature. Use a meat thermometer to determine whether the meat is on the right track.

Cooking Method

There is a difference in how these two cuts should be cooked.

The prime beef rib roast is mostly roasted standing on the ribs. The bones are set vertically with the fatty cap on the top. When you roast prime ribs, the fat is slowly melting and flavoring the meat.

The bones make it easy to roast the meat entirely, giving him moisture and a robust flavor. In the end, you will get very soft and juicy rib steaks with a rich taste.

Ribeye steak is perfect for outdoor grilling, family parties, and unexpected guests because you can prepare it quickly yet have a flavorful and rich meal. You can choose whether you want to sear it on a stovetop or cook a ribeye in the oven.

However, the ideal way to prepare rib eye is by grilling. Since it doesn’t have a strong flavor, you can rub it with different spices or add some salt.

Cut off the bone, put it on the grill, and flip it a few times. After 5-15 minutes, your steak will be ready. Don’t overcook it.

It will keep the softness and smoothness from fat and muscle, and it will taste the best if it is cooked medium-rare.

Also Read: Smoked Prime Rib Roast

Where to Buy It

Prime rib is typically widely available. You can find it in well-stocked grocery stores and supermarkets.

According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Food Science, providing consumers with health benefit information significantly enhances the acceptability and purchase intent of rib-eye steaks from grass-fed steers, with sensory attributes and fatty acid profiles showing favorable n-6/n-3 ratios [3].

I recommend you visit your local butcher, where you will probably get beef with more marbling and better quality. Because of its size and quality, this cut is not cheap but the price is worth it.

Like prime rib roasts, you can find ribeye steaks in well-stocked stores, supermarkets, and local butchers.

The price per pound for ribeye is more affordable, and prime rib is easier to find.

“I believe books should be like a prime rib steak ~ good and thick.”

- E.A. Bucchianeri

Related Articles:

Prime Rib vs. Ribeye - Which One is Better?

Closeup top view of three steaks on a wooden surface

The answer to this fundamental question is simple - it depends on your taste, habits, occasion, finances, cooking experience, etc.

Let me compare their differences, and you decide which cut from the rib is better for you.

1. Quality of the meat

Both the cuts - ribeye and prime rib - come from the cow's same section. They are both good quality steaks, but the quality of a prime rib is higher.

2. Size of the cut and bone

Prime rib is bigger than ribeye. Prime rib contains fewer bones, 2-7, which makes this cut larger. It consists of both muscle and fat. You may cook prime rib whole in one piece and cut slices for serving.

Ribeye has more meat and less bone; it is usually served with the bone removed. It is cooked and served well in smaller pieces.

3. Cooking period

As a larger cut, cooking prime rib needs a lower temperature and more time. You should cook prime rib for at least one hour.

The way to cook rib eye is much more comfortable. Ribeye is cooked at a medium or high temperature and needs less time, only several minutes to be prepared.

4. Taste

Even though they came from the same part and have a similar beefy taste, their flavor is different. Because of heavy marbling, prime rib is juicy, soft, and has a full, robust taste.

Ribeye also has a full flavor but is not that rich. It is tougher a bit and has a milder flavor.

5. Price

When it comes to the price, there is also a difference between those cuts. Of course, the price depends on where you buy meat and its quality, but in general, a primal rib is more expensive than a ribeye.

Also, prime rib is harder to get. Keep that in mind when planning to cook it.

6. Calories

Maybe this is not crucial to the decision, but the number of calories is significant for your health.

Because of the more fat content, the prime rib has more calories. The number of calories in ribeye roast is almost a third less than in prime rib, for the same portion.


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About the author

Devon Ferguson
Senior Editor
Devon Ferguson is the senior editor at Carnivore Style who loves dining and traveling. This well-traveled meat hunter has scaled cities high and low to scout sources for the finest meats. He's tested and reviewed nearly every grill, smoker and meat delivery box on the market.
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