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Prime Rib vs Rib Eye: the Difference Between Two Melt-In-Your-Mouth Beef Cuts

Maybe you've been served prime rib at a steakhouse or had a fancy rib eye steak for your anniversary. It's undeniable that these two cuts of meat are tender and delicious, best reserved for special occasions and treat-yourself moments. The question is, what's the true difference between prime rib vs rib eye?

To start with their similarities, both prime rib and ribeye are beef cuts from the primal rib section of the animal. This is the upper rib area of the steer and includes six to twelve ribs. The muscles within this area aren't used much, making prime rib and rib eye steaks amazingly tender. This is why these cuts are more expensive than other pieces of meat and are often saved for fancy occasions.

What is Prime Rib?

Big Rib Eye Steak With Bite Cut Out

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Prime rib, or standing rib roast, contains two to seven rib bones and is typically roasted standing, with the bones still intact. This ensures that the meat in this large cut of meat doesn't come into contact with the roasting pan and retains its tender juiciness.

This delicious cut of meat can be bought boneless or bone-in, but bone-in is usually considered the superior choice due to its extra tenderness. When cooking prime rib, it's important to get it right by seasoning it adequately and not over-cooking it. When buying, it's important to keep in mind that the prime rib cut isn't necessarily USDA graded prime beef.

What is Ribeye?

Prime rib roast on a cutting board ready to be sliced

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Ribeye, on the other hand, is a beef steak. Although it comes from the same section of the cow as prime rib, it doesn't contain any rib bones. Ribeye steak contains the longissimus dorsi muscle, along with the spinals Doris or the "rib cap." The ribeye is between the shoulder and loin of the animal, from ribs six to twelve.

The "eye" of meat in a ribeye steak is marbled with fat, giving it the distinctive white lines that make it so unique. This marbling is also what makes it so juicy, as the fat melts into the steak as it cooks. The ribeye roast is one of the favorite cuts of steak among meat lovers.

What is the Difference Between Prime Rib and Rib Eye?

Charcoal Grilled Ribeye Steak Medium Rare Plated With A Side Of Sauteed Green Beans With Bacon And Garlic

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The main difference between these two mouthwatering cuts of beef is that prime rib contains ribs, and rib eye is a steak. Along with this, the prime rib is a larger cut of beef, typically containing much more meat. To give perspective, one prime rib can be divided into seven rib eye steaks!

Another difference between these two is that many consider the prime rib to be of higher quality than a rib eye cut. Because of this, prime rib is typically more expensive than rib eye. Although they're both great choices for a nice dinner, prime rib is the way to go for a pulling-out-all-the-stops fancy dinner.

Along with this, the two vary in their flavor and cooking methods. Prime rib is considered to be more buttery and tender than ribeye steak. This is mainly because it's cooked at low temperatures for a longer time, while ribeye is cooked on medium to high temperatures and is seared. Because of this, ribeye is faster to prepare. Everyone has their preferences, but you can't go wrong with either of these mouthwateringly delicious cuts of beef.

READ MORE: Get the Perfect Steak Dinner Without a Meat Thermometer