Prime Rib vs Ribeye

What are the characteristics of prime rib vs ribeye? Knowing the difference between different cuts of meat when you are not a butcher or a meat expert can be tough. They have their differences, and you may prefer one over the other. 

smoked prime rib steak

So, how do you tell them apart? Prime rib and ribeye are both well sought after cuts. They are superior quality cuts of meat with great flavour.

In this article, we take a look at prime rib vs ribeye and what distinguishes the cuts, setting them apart. We take a look at what part of the cow they come from, the flavour they bring to the table as well as some of the best ways to cook them that will bring out that particular flavour. Let’s dig in shall we?

sliced prime rib

What is prime rib?

Prime ribs come from the same place of the cow as ribeye. The significant difference in terms of how they look is that prime rib comes with the bone and steak, unlike ribeye, which is only the steak. Also, the Prime rib has ribeye in it. Prime ribs are mostly known for being a holiday type of meat. It makes quite a spectacle of itself on a table, as the beef succulently sits on the bone. Ultimately, prime rib is more of a roast than it is a steak. 

What part of the cow do ribs come from?

Prime rib comes from the ribs of the cow. It is cut from the 6th to the 12th ribs of the cow and comes with part of the bone.  

Size and fat marbling content

This is clean-cut meat that does not have as much fat content as other cuts of meat. However, it is still fattier than the rib eye. Its large amounts of fat and muscle contribute to the tender texture of the meat. It is more extensive and makes quite the entrance on your plate. It is a larger and thicker cut of meat.


Prime rib has a rich flavour, thanks to its moist and fatty content. The bones in prime ribs give them a more robust flavour than a ribeye.


The fat content is higher than what you find in ribeye, and this makes the cut juicier and more supple. When you cook it right, making sure not to dehydrate the meat, you should have an amount of meat on your table that is soft to cut into. By nature, it has more moisture than a ribeye. 

How much does it cost?

Prime ribs are on the high end of the pricing scale when it comes to various beef cuts.

How to cook prime rib steak

Prime rib is a thick cut of meat. This means that it will need more cooking time for it to be cooked, depending on how you like your meat. The thickness of the meat also means that you will need to slow cook it so that it is adequately cooked, through and through.

Prime rib does better with a slow cooking method and longer hours. This makes it a great candidate for smoking. Cooking it on a low, consistent heat for more extended periods, these are just the optimum conditions for smoking meat. 

The thickness of this cut tells you that you can not flash fry it. A slow grill with consistent low temperature will do. This also helps to bring out the flavour of the meat, which is already superior.


  • It’s a massive cut
  • It is juicy
  • It is tender
  • It is flavorful


  • It is pricey
  • Takes a while to cook because it is thicker


Ribeye is a juicy part of the cow, succulent with lots of flavor. This juicy piece of steak is straightforward to slap on a grill and cook quickly.

What part of the cow does ribeye come from?

This cut of beef comes from the cow’s rib area. This is one of the reasons ribeye and prime rib look so similar. However, ribeye has more meat and less bone on it. When you look at it, it is a steak. 

Size and fat marbling content

It has a high level of fat marbling content, and the cuts are smaller, especially when compared to prime rib.


The extra marbling in ribeye gives it a smooth texture and taste. The flavour is milder than prime rib. Regardless of how much effort you put in, the prime rib still has a lot more flavour than a ribeye.


It has extensive marbling when compared to prime ribs. However, the texture is tougher than prime rib cuts. Ribeye does not have bones and is often described as being boneless. The marbling makes for a great steak that only needs searing. 

How much does it cost?

Ribeye is more affordable than prime rib. It is generally smaller in size than prime rib cuts, but even when you have the same size that looks like prime rib, it is still a cheaper cut by the kg. 

How to cook ribeye

Ribeye does not need as much cooking time as prime ribs. You can simply sear ribeye on a stovetop or a grill, and cook it to your satisfaction. Ribeye does well with medium to high temperatures, which can quickly be done on the grill. 

This is one of those cuts of meat that will not need a lot of time to be cooked. A few minutes will do the trick, meaning that you can slap it on the grill as your dinner guests wait. 


  • It is rich in flavour.
  • It’s more affordable
  • It can be grilled
  • It takes less time to cook than prime rib.


  • It’s tougher than prime rib.

One last thing

Both beef cuts are very flavorful and well sought after. The differences between the two will govern how to cook them and also help you know what to expect on your plate. The quality of meat is superior, and you will enjoy it either way. 

The takeaway here is that if you want a festive looking cut, go for the prime rib, but be ready for more time in the kitchen. If you are after a steak ribeye delivers a similar flavour, but it’s smaller in size.

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