Prime Rib Vs Ribeye: Is There Even A Difference?

To grill lovers, different cuts of meat are all different and very important. But, with so many to choose from, it’s easy to get lost in all of the different cuts.

Prime Rib Vs Ribeye: Is There Even A Difference?

Most would consider the best steak to be a rib-eye, but what about the prime rib? Does that make any difference? If you’ve asked yourself these questions, we’re here to help you out.

We’ve done a lot of research on this topic and have compiled our findings into an article for your reading pleasure.

Is Prime Rib and Ribeye The Same Thing?

No, these are two separate cuts of beef. However, the confusion often comes from them both being taken from the same primal cut of meat. 

A prime rib is larger than the ribeye, and it is composed of many ribs from the animal. A ribeye, on the other hand, is only taken from one rib – which is taken from the prime rib cut. 

Prime rib will be cut as a whole and therefore takes much longer to finalize. A ribeye, however, is cut from the prime rib before cooking and therefore takes a much shorter period of time. 

More About The Prime Rib

The prime rib gets its name from where it is cut from on the animal. A prime rib will be taken from the primal rib section.

It is loved by many thanks to being incredibly juicy and full of flavor, and it is great for roasting.

Prime rib is otherwise known as a standing rib roast or a ribeye roast. This cut consists of seven ribs with a marbled top and a fat cap covering the entire thing.

This fat keeps the meat tender and full of juices, which is why it is so popular among meat lovers. 

A prime rib cut will weigh around 20 pounds, but you can buy it in smaller sections if you don’t want to cook 20 pounds of meat. 

The blade end of a prime rib is also called the blade end and has more fatty tissue around it, making it excellent for roasting.

It consists of ribs 6 to 9, so ask for this if you only want to purchase the blade end of the primal rib.

Ribs 10 to 12, however, are called the first cut. This has more meat on it rather than fat, meaning that it’s more tender to eat.

It also looks more aesthetically pleasing, which is why it tends to be in higher demand than the blade end. 

More About The Ribeye

As we mentioned before, the ribeye comes from the prime rib cut so it is also from the primal part of the cow.

It is usually taken from between rib 6 and 12, so it can be a part of either the blade end or the first cut. 

There are three different muscles present in the ribeye steak – the complexus, the longissimus dorsi, and the spinalis. 

The complexus is a small muscle that is attached to the ‘eye’ of the steak. Note: This is not the actual eye of the cow. 

The longissimus dorsi is the ‘eye’ of the steak, and it is positioned in the center of the ribeye. It’s easy to distinguish thanks to its marbled look and circular shape.

There is also a layer of fat around the ‘eye’, making it look like a real eyeball. 

Finally, the spinalis is the muscle outwards of this circle of fat. 

If we’re talking technical, the ribeye is just the longissimus dorsi as this is the part that looks like the rib’s eye (get it?).

However, the ribeye is better known as being all of these muscles. This makes the steak larger and more substantial to eat. 

Is The Prime Cut Otherwise Known As The Ribeye? 

No, the prime rib is not the same as the ribeye. However, they do come from the same cuts of beef. You will get the ribeye from the prime cut.

The prime cut is a very big cut of beef that can be cooked together with the ribs still in it to enhance flavor and moistness. 

However, you can also cut the prime rib into three sections and remove a ribeye steak from the middle. Now you will be left with two smaller prime rib steaks and a ribeye. 

The ribeye is often taken from between the 6th and the 12th rib on the prime cut as this is where the meat is the most tender. It is also where the meat will have the best marbling. 

Prime rib will most likely be roasted altogether while a ribeye will be cooked separately and grilled. 

The Differences In Flavor

The prime rib is said to be juicier and more tender than a ribeye steak, and therefore has more flavor than the latter. However, that is not to say that the ribeye had poor flavor.

Both of these cuts of meat are very flavorful and are some of the most popular choices among meat lovers all over the world. 

The bones and connective tissue that remains in the prime rib is where the majority of the flavor comes from. The marbled fat also adds to the flavor.

As the ribeye does not include the bones or connective tissue, some of the flavor is lost. 

Ribeye steak has a more mellow taste and can often be more succulent. However, the ribeye does still feature marbling in the actual eye of the steak.

This is where most of the flavor comes from and it gives you a buttery texture that will just melt in your mouth. 

The Differences In Texture

Prime Rib Vs Ribeye: Is There Even A Difference?

The ribeye is a steak while the prime rib would be called a roast. This means that they look very different and have vastly different textures.

The way that you cook these cuts is also different, helping the fact that they are going to be two varied textures. 

A prime rib is going to be roasted slowly on a low heat. This is going to break the connective tissues down over time and make the roast more juicy.

If the connective tissues are broken down properly, the prime rib should melt off the bone and leave you with a wonderfully tender meat.

On the other hand, ribeye is best cooked in a very hot pan, otherwise known as searing. This should be done in a cast iron pan for best results.

You can also reserve the ribeye, which is cooking it in the oven before finishing it off in a very hot pan. 

This will leave you with a tougher texture on the outside of the steak – but not too tough that it takes away from your enjoyment.

The ribeye marbling will leave you with a buttery texture in the middle of the steak. 

As with any steak, the texture will differ depending on how you decide to have your steak cooked. The more well done you choose, the former and tougher your steak will be.

Meat lovers mostly say that medium-rare is the best way to eat a ribeye. 

The Difference In Price

Both of these cuts of meat can be quite expensive. The price of both a ribeye steak and prime rib can vary greatly depending on where you buy it.

However, the prime rib tends to be more expensive as you’re walking away with a much bigger cut of meat, whereas the ribeye is only a portion of the prime rib cut. 

Having said that, though, if you’re talking pound-per-pound for the price, a ribeye will actually be more expensive than a prime rib.

This can be put down to the fact that it is more sought after, so the seller can put the price up and get away with it. 

What’s more, there is more meat on the prime rib. So, you might be paying half the price of a prime rib for your ribeye, but only getting a 10th of the meat that is on the former cut.

If you were to get a prime rib and cut your own ribeye from it, you’d be paying less for the ribeye and still have lots of meat leftover. 

When looking at restaurants, ribeye steaks actually tend to be cheaper than prime ribs. This can be put down to the fact that it is cheaper to cook prime ribs than it is to cook a ribeye.

Plus, the chef will have to cut the ribeye from the prime ribs, potentially wasting all of the meat on the prime ribs if no one else orders them. 

Cooking Prime Rib And Ribeye Steak

Again, as these are two different sizes of beef cuts, cooking them is going to be very different.

Cooking them the same way is not going to achieve their best flavor and texture, so don’t use one cooking method interchangeably between a prime rib and a ribeye. 

For the best ribeye, cook in the oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit until the internal temperature gets to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Use an internal meat thermometer for this.

Once you get to this temperature, with 10 degrees leeway either way, start heating your grill or skillet. 

At 90 degrees, put the steak into the skillet with a generous helping of butter and seasoning. Sear both sides and cook until medium rare. 

For a prime rib, you can cook it in a smoker, grill, or in the oven.

All three of these options work well and you will have to find your personal favorite way of cooking it. That’s where the fun comes in!


So, there you have it. You now know everything about the difference between a ribeye steak and a prime rib.

Hopefully, this has helped you make the decision whether to go all out with the prime rib or just stick to the rib eye. 

If you’re looking for a challenge and have a few mouths to feed, the prime rib is an excellent option. However, if you’d prefer a smaller meal – you can’t go wrong with the ribeye.

John Rinder
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