Unforgettable BBQs: How Much Prime Rib Should I Cook Per Person?

Picture this: It’s a sizzling hot day and you’re looking to rustle up some mouth-watering BBQ favorites that are sure to impress your friends and family. But how do you make sure that the BBQ you host is unforgettable? 

Unforgettable BBQs How Much Prime Rib Should I Cook Per PersonUnforgettable BBQs How Much Prime Rib Should I Cook Per Person

One surefire way to make your BBQs enviable is to serve your guests beautifully tender, and carefully seasoned BBQ prime ribs. Whether you’re hosting a mature dinner party, or a sun day fun day, serving prime rib will make you the best BBQer in your social circle. 

If you’ve had the luxury of eating prime rib at a restaurant, you’ll know that this is one extremely high-quality piece of meat that is so juicy and delicious that it justifies the hefty price tag.

However, making prime rib on your home grill can be just as appetizing, and can cost you a fraction of the price.

What’s great about barbequing prime rib is that it’s a lot simpler than it seems. So, if you’re looking for the ultimate showstopper, it’s worth opting for prime ribs. 

In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about prime rib, including how and where you can buy it from, how it should be prepared, and why you should serve it at your next BBQ.

We’ll also give you an idea of how much you should serve per person, which will ensure every single one of your guests gets a bite!

What Is Prime Rib? 

Prime rib is considered to be the most tender succulent cut of beef which is located in the primal rib section of a bovine. This is the most desirable part of the rib section. 

As it’s quite a pricey cut of beef, the flavors are often kept simple, so that taste and quality of the meat shine through. Prime rib is often served with a broth or gravy that oozes out of it during the cooking process, otherwise known as “au jus”. 

In terms of where exactly prime rib cuts from, it is found near the top part of the steer (castrated male cattle usually reared for beef), near the spine. This is also the section of the steer where ribeye steak comes from. 

Prime rib is an extremely expensive cut of beef, so you must know how to pick the perfect cut, and how it should be prepared. 

How To Choose The Perfect Prime Rib Cut (And How To Buy It) 

As it’s a pretty popular cut of meat, prime rib cuts are available to buy in most supermarkets, local butchers, and online. Out of all these options, you’ll most likely get the best price at a supermarket, however, the quality may not be as great.

For instance, a butcher can prepare a prime rib cut to your exact liking, and they can guide you when it comes to how much you should buy. Online shops typically tend to have better quality cuts. However, you need to factor in their increased expense and shipping charges. 

If you’re buying prime rib from a grocery store, you can get a good quality cut for an average of $11-12 per pound. This works out at about $200 for a 10 lb prime rib.

Online a prime rib of this size could cost as much as $800. Although this may seem like a pretty steep price, it’s considerably less than restaurant prices. 

There are also two different ways in which prime rib cuts can be bought. The first is bone-in. Also known as “standing” rib roast, this type of cut will still be attached to the ribs. It is also generally considered to be juicier, more flavorsome, and tends to have a better cook. 

The second option is boneless, and as you’ve probably already guessed, the meat has already been cut off the ribs.

Typically, a full roast consists of six to twelve ribs and has an average weight of around 12 to 16 lbs. This will feed a large number of guests, but if you have a small guestlist you can get away with buying less. 

When trying to determine which ribs you buy, it’s worth mentioning that the ribs towards the shoulder tend to have a higher fat content than the ribs near the loin.

Prime: One Word, Two Meanings 

Prime refers to how prized the nature of the prime rib is, as it’s considered a pretty special cut of beef. However, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) uses the word prime for the beef grading scale. 

The “prime” in prime rib predates the USDA’s grading system, but it is where the USDA’s term originated from. 

The USDA’ defines certified prime beef as meat that has been “produced from young, well-fed beef cattle. It has abundant marbling and is generally sold in restaurants.” However, it is very hard to get hold of beef cuts that meet these standards. 

By the USDA’s definition, any type of beef cut – including prime rib – can be Certified Prime. But it is pretty hard to find “prime” prime rib. It’s also difficult to find aged prime rib in supermarkets. If it’s aged prime rib your after, your best bet would be to search online. 

Unforgettable BBQs How Much Prime Rib Should I Cook Per Person

When it comes to finding differences between prime and choice prime rib, it’s all down to the fat content and marbling. If you’re unsure of what marbling means, it’s the little flecks of white on the beef cut which make it taste juicy and tender. 

How Much Prime Rib Should You Serve Per Person? 

If you’re looking to impress, there must be enough prime rib you can serve to your guests. But how do you make sure that you have enough? 

Well, this will depend on several things. Including how you intend to serve the prime ribs if the cut is standing or boneless, your guests’ appetite, and how many eat meat. 

If you plan to make the prime rib as a component of the meal, like a buffet with several side dishes, then around 8 ounces of bone-in prime should be enough per person. 

However, if the prime rib is going to be the showstopping part of the meal, then you should make sure that you have at least 12 ounces of bone-in meat per person. 

If you’re having difficulty working out the exact calculations, the general rule of thumb is that one rib is enough to feed two to three people.  

As an example, a four-bone prime rib (around 8 lbs) can feed around eight to ten guests. A seven-bone roast can serve at least 12 people, but this will depend on how much meat there is. 

Factoring in how much weight the bones add, each person may eat an average of half a pound of beef. So, if you’re opting for a boneless prime rib roast, it’s likely that you’ll need a smaller/lighter cut. It’ll also be easier to calculate how much you should buy. 

You’ll also need to consider how big of an appetite your guests have. If a lot of your party are light eaters, or a lot of them are children, you’ll most likely need a smaller cut. However, if you’re expecting a hungry crowd, you may need some extra. 

In terms of how much prime rib you should buy, it’s better to have too much than not enough. And if you end up with leftovers, you’ve got yourself a tasty treat to look forward to. 

If you do have any leftovers, pop them in the refrigerator and consume them within several days. Alternatively, you can place your leftovers in the freezer, and they will last even longer. 

What’s So Special About Prime Ribs?

Prime rib is considered to be one of the best cuts of beef because it is from the most flavorful part of the cow. 

Unforgettable BBQs How Much Prime Rib Should I Cook Per Person (1)

Located at the center top of the steer, also known as the eye, are the loin muscles. This muscle rarely moves, which gives it a superior texture to parts of the steer that are in regular motion. 

Preparing Prime Ribs 

Here are some handy tips and tricks for preparing the perfect prime ribs. 

Tying The Roast 

This method involves tying your prime rib roast together with the use of butcher string, which will prevent it from falling apart during the cooking process. 

This is considered a professional method and makes the carving process easier once the meat has been cooked. 

For bone-in roasts, make sure that you tie the butcher’s string between each of the bones. If you opt for a boneless cut, tie each knot with 1.5 inches of one another. 

French Cut 

If you want to have an elegant-looking prime rib, consider using the French cut. This involves scraping the meat and fat off of the rib bones before the cooking process. You can also ask a butcher for a French cut when purchasing your prime rib cut. 

Cooking Prime Rib 

Now it’s time to look at methods that can help you during the cooking process. 

The Smoked Effect 

If you’re a fan of rich, smoky flavors, then you can smoke your prime rib for that authentic BBQ taste. 

Soak hardwood chips in water for around half an hour. After draining them, you can add them to your grill to help create that classic smoky taste.  


As it’s such a thick cut of meat, you’ll want to season your prime ribs generously. In terms of what seasonings you should use, salt is essential. You can also use dried herbs, garlic, and other seasonings and spices to enhance the flavor of your prime ribs. 


Barbequing is by far the most superior way to cook prime ribs, and the best way to do so is to grill it away from direct heat. It’s also best to use a hooded grill, as this will ensure a more even cook.  

Ensure that your grill has been thoroughly cleaned before you begin the cooking process. It’s also worth placing a pan under the grate to collect any juices or liquids that meat releases during the cooking process. Keep these juices and drippings, as they can be useful later.  

It’s also important that you measure the size of your grill before you purchase your beef cut. The surface of the grill should be twice as big as the prime rib roast at the very least. In general, a three-bone rib roast will comfortably fit on most grills. 


Beef tastes best when it has been cooked from room temperature, so make sure that you take your prime ribs out of your refrigerator at least one hour before you begin cooking. 

Add your desired seasonings and cover your roast with plastic wrap. As prime rib is such a thick cut of beef there’s no need to marinate it beforehand. 

Each pound of beef needs around 15-20 minutes of cooking time, and it should be regularly rotated to ensure an even cook. 

Although many of us have our preferences for how we like our beef cooked, prime rib roasts are ideal at medium-rare at the least, and medium at the most.

If you cook your prime rib roast for too long you run the risk of it becoming too tough and dry, which will likely result in you ruining an expensive cut of beef. 

You can use a thermometer to help determine when the prime rib roast is ready. It’s also important to remember that beef continues to cook when it is left to rest. 

In terms of doneness and temperature, beef goes as follows: 

  • Rare: 125 °F 
  • Medium Rare: 135 °F 
  • Medium: 145 °F 

Once you’ve removed your prime rib roast from your grill you should let it rest for 10 – 30 minutes, which will depend on how big your roast is. To rest your beef, place it on a wooden cutting board and loosely cover it with foil. 

For small prime rib roasts, you should leave it to rest for around 10 – 15 minutes. For larger roasts, leave them for around 15 – 30 minutes. 

The resting process will enable the roast to absorb all the juices, which will collect at the center for a mouth-wateringly succulent piece of meat. You can also combine any juices and drippings that you’ve collected in your pan to create a gravy to accompany the roast. 

When carving, make sure that you use a long, sharp knife, and carve as close to the bone as you can. This will ensure that you’re getting as much meat as possible. 

Once you’ve separated the meat from the bone, you can now slice your meat. You must slice against the grain. Depending on how you prefer to eat your beef, you can make your slices as thick and thin as you like. 

Now it’s time to serve your prime rib roast, and wait for the compliments to roll in. 

Final Thoughts 

If you want your friends, family, and neighbors to truly envy your BBQ skills, grilling prime rib is the perfect way to show those skills off. 

Just make sure that you get enough prime ribs for all of your guests to enjoy, and you’ll quickly become BBQ royalty!

John Rinder
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