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Standing Rib Roast

Posted by Denise on December 24, 2011

final standing rib roast

Standing rib roast always makes a special occasion even more special.

So, you bought this outrageously expensive fancy standing rib roast to surprise and delight your holiday dinner guests. Now what?

Now, when it comes time to actually cook it, your nerves are getting the best of you. You become terrified that you’ll mess it up because you have never tried to cook a standing rib roast before. Relax, it is really pretty easy to make a stellar standing rib roast, even for a beginner.

I was in the same spot a few years ago. We drove back to the Midwest to spend Christmas with family. We were at Mom’s on Christmas eve when Mom announced that she had splurged and we were having a standing rib roast for Christmas dinner. She followed that up by adding that one of us would have to cook it since she had never cooked one. Gulp! My sisters and I all looked at each other blankly. None of us had ever cooked one either and we weren’t sure we wanted our first attempt to be with Mom’s $80 investment in Christmas dinner! Never one to back down from a challenge, Glenn and I decided to take it on, much to my sisters’ relief. We seasoned it very simply with salt and pepper, then hovered over the oven for the next couple of hours. We had a brief moment of panic when we estimated that the meat should be done. We pulled it out of the oven and it looked pretty crusty and well done. Oh no, we had let it cook too long!

After the initial panic, we let the roast rest (very important, I’ll explain later) out of the oven and tented with aluminum foil to keep it hot for about 15 minutes, then sliced into it. Perfectly medium rare inside! Whew, were we relieved! It turned out beautifully done, despite our anxious hovering. I made up a nice horseradish cream sauce to go with it and with the rest of the food that my sisters cooked we had a incredibly delicious Christmas dinner.

Because of that first attempt, we’ve made a standing rib roast every Christmas since then. It was so easy, yet so elegant and delicious that we can’t resist having it as part of our celebration. This year, since we are not expecting company and there will be just three of us, we are preparing a much smaller standing rib roast, so it is more like a leaning rib roast. (smiles) We keep the seasoning simple when we prepare this for elaborate holiday meals, since the side dishes tend to be richer and more complex.

When selecting a standing rib roast, look for a well-marbled roast with a nice fat cap on one side. What is well-marbled? Marbling is when you can see flecks and veins of fat in meat. Well-marbled is when the fat is well-spaced throughout a cut of meat. These fat deposits melt during cooking and help keep the meat moist and tender. The fat cap on the top of the roast can be trimmed some, but do leave a nice bit to flavor and moisten the roast as it cooks. Figure on about 2 servings per rib for average appetites and one per rib for hearty appetites when determining the size of roast needed.

The key to cooking a successful standing rib roast is timing and temperature. The amount of time it takes to cook the roast depends on a variety of factors including the size of the roast, the starting temperature of the meat, and the accuracy of your oven. The guidelines below give you an idea on how long to cook your standing rib roast:


Cooking Time Guidelines for Standing Rib Roast


Minutes per Pound

Minutes per Pound


After 15 minutes at 500° F  (260° C), drop oven to 350° F (180° C) and cook for:

After 15 minutes at 500° F  (260° C), drop oven to 325° F (180° C) and cook for:

Rare (120-125 F, 50 C)


(not recommended)

Medium Rare



Medium  (135 F, 55 C)



Medium Well



Well Done (150 F)




These times are approximate and should be used as guidelines. The meat is cooked at 500° F for 15 minutes to begin with to in order to help brown the outside and create a flavorful crust. Deduct the time spent cooking at 500° F (260° C) from the total time to avoid overcooking. Undercooking can be fixed, but overcooking cannot, so err on the side of caution when determining cooking time. Use a thermometer or a carefully cut incision into the meat to check doneness when it gets close.

Remember to bring your standing rib roast out of the oven when it is about 5° F less than the final doneness you want, because the meat temperature will continue to rise for about 15 to 20 minutes after you remove it from the oven and will make up that 5°.

Let the meat rest for 15 minutes after you remove it from the oven. Tent it with aluminum foil to keep the heat in and the meat hot. Do this to allow the meat to firm up slightly and hold onto the juices better. If you try to slice the meat when it first comes out of the oven, it is softer and difficult to get a nice clean and even cut on it. It will also gush out a lot of juice, drying the meat out some. By allowing the meat to sit out for 15 minutes before slicing into it, you allow it to cut better and stay more moist. This is also good because it allows time to put the finishing touches on other dishes or to make gravy or other last minute dishes.


Printer friendly recipe without photos  

Standing Rib Roast

standing rib roast ingredients 


Varies in servings based on size



Standing rib roast, sized according to number you are planning to serve


Salt and pepper to taste



1.    Based on the chart, calculate the length of time needed to cook the standing rib roast. About 15 minutes before the time to start cooking the roast, pre-heat your oven to 500°F. Apply salt and pepper to the fat cap on the top of the roast. Place roast in a roasting pan with the bones facing down and the fat cap up. Put into the oven and roast for 15 minutes.


rib roast on pan


2.    After 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to either 350° or 325° F, based on the chart above, without removing the meat from the oven. Continue roasting until close to time shown on the chart. Check the temperature and take out of the oven when about 5 ° F under what level of doneness required.



roasted standing rib roast



3.    When within 5° F of desired temperature, remove roast from the oven and tent it with aluminum foil to keep hot. Let rest for 15 minutes before carving. Carve and serve.



carving standing rib roast


standing rib roast carved on plate with shadows




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