Taste Testing A Standing Prime Rib For Christmas

Christmas is not the time to experiment with a new recipe to serve your dinner guests but that is what my husband and I will be doing…sort of. We are serving a standing prime rib, many families traditional meal for Christmas, but we are preparing it sous vide for the first time. The cut of meat is far too expensive for it to not to be perfectly cooked so we did a taste test ahead of time. Not only did we want to find a degree of doneness that everyone at the table would like, we also wanted to know that the topping baked on after the sous vide process would give a nice tasting crust to the outside of the meat.

We used a cut from a prime rib having one bone, it was a 1 and 3/4 pound rib eye steak (sometimes called a cowboy steak) and was 2 inches thick. That is about a third of the size we will be preparing for our holiday dinner but the cooking technique will be about the same and the results should be similar. 

Perfectly Cooked Meat, The Taste Test Was A Success
Perfectly Cooked Meat, The Taste Test Was A Success

For those of you that have a home sous vide circulator and have never cooked a prime rib with it, I thought that you might enjoy seeing how our experiment turned out. The inside of the meat was cooked to 129 degrees for medium rare in the sous vide, seared in a skillet, coated with a herb rub and put under the broiler for a nice crust. As you can see from the photo, we served the meat cut into quarter inch slices, alongside stuffed twice baked potatoes and green beans almondine. Everything was delicious and got our stamp of approval for our Christmas Eve dinner we will be sharing with our friends.

Sous Vide Rib Eye "Cowboy" Steak…That Big Hunk Of Meat Needed A Platter Not A Plate
Sous Vide Rib Eye “Cowboy” Steak…That Big Hunk Of Meat Needed A Platter Not A Plate

My husband used a recipe for Herb Crusted Sous Vide Prime Rib from Chefsteps, and adapted the recipe to our 1 3/4 pound cut of meat. Since the meat was smaller and wouldn’t stand on its own in the oven, he only crusted one side and put it under the broiler for a few seconds. He will be following the recipe exactly on Christmas Eve.

You always worry when preparing an expensive cut of meat if it will turn out perfectly cooked and this one was. The flavor of the rosemary crust was delicious and the meat was tender, juicy and cooked to medium rare that our guests will enjoy. We can now buy and cook our large prime rib with confidence after having done our taste test.


If you are wanting to serve a new recipe to your family and friends for the holidays, I do suggest trying it out ahead of time. It will let you have the peace of mind of knowing that what you cook will be a memorable meal (in a good way) to all that were at your table. 

My husband bought his latest and greatest toy, a Joule Sous Vide Circulator*, and is now the “mad scientist” in our kitchen. I’m sure you will be seeing lots of new dishes prepared by him in the future if this test was any example of sous vide cooking. 

*This is not a sponsored post, my husband did a lot of research before buying a sous vide circulator, and decided on this particular unit. We believe the recipe will work with any unit that you happen to own.



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118 thoughts on “Taste Testing A Standing Prime Rib For Christmas

  1. That looks delicious! I did an 11lb rib for Christmas (in the oven) a few years ago and it turned out perfectly. You will definitely have tender beef with sous vide 🙂

  2. I do not have a sous vide circulator, and have to admit, I don’t know what they do. BUT, I have cooked a prime rib exactly once and it came out perfectly. I was so nervous that I’d ruin a $100 chunk of meat, so was very tickled with myself. And such an impressive meal to serve for a special dinner. Keep your fingers crossed that my prime rib will turn out again this year. Have a wonderful Holiday Season Karen.

    1. Hi Lea Ann, My husband’s latest toy is a small device that is submerged in a pot of water that it heats and holds to an exactly controlled temperature. Food is placed in a pouch and cooks in its own juices to a precise temperature which eliminates over or undercooking something. It is a technique used by many restaurant chefs but is now becoming popular with home cooks like ourselves. If you want, click on the link and Chefsteps has a terrific video explaining sous vide in detail. I know what you mean about worrying when cooking an expensive cut of meat for a special holiday but I’m sure we will both end up with a delicious dinner. 🙂

  3. One of my favorite cuts of meat! I like to serve standing rib roast with the classic, Yorkshire pudding. Check it out, I posted a recipe for it. Easy to make and goes great with au jus.

    1. Hi Daniel, I know what you mean, a standing rib roast is a delicious and very traditional meal to serve for Christmas. I’ve never cooked Yorkshire pudding but know it is a great accompaniment to serve with the roast.

    1. Hi Larry, You would have made a great taster. I can just imagine how good your smoked prime rib will be and I wish I could be a taster for that one. 😀

    1. Thank you Amanda, I’m glad you like the looks of the beef rib. It did turn out perfectly cooked to a temperature we think our guests will enjoy when we cook the large one.

      1. That is so interesting, I hadn’t realized that the beef you usually buy hasn’t been hung although if we buy well aged meat, it is expensive here as well. My husband did lots of research and waited months to get the one he wanted. I do hope you end up getting one as well. 🙂

  4. Ahh how timely–I was actually at the grocery store yesterday and they had prime rib on sale—not one to buy such a wonderful piece of meat to freeze, I text my husband asking if he had so far been good…his response “very good,” so I bought the roast…the check out girl commented on the “Christmas Roast” but I told her I wasn’t waiting till Christmas!
    Boy did we have the most wonderful Wednesday night, middle of the week, nothing special meal— 🙂
    I don’t think there is a better cut of meat…not even a good tenderloin…the prime rib has such a deep and rich flavor—and it really is easy to prepare and cook although timing is everything 🙂
    Bon Appetit!!!

    1. Hi Julie, I guess it really is important to be “very good” at this time of the year. What a wonderful meal and you are right about the timing. That is the nice thing about the sous vide circulator, it will cook and hold the prime rib to the exact temperature we want. I know your meal had to be wonderful and I’m glad…you need lots of good things in your life right now.

    1. Hi Bobbie, It really was delicious. My husband and I are having big discussions over who is going to cook dinners now that he has his new toy. 😀

  5. Prime rib roast has become a Christmas tradition at our house. I was impressed with the sous vide method and yes I would have tested the process first too! I’m curious to see what other dishes you come up with using the sous vide circulator.

    1. Hi Jan, I think prime rib is a Christmas tradition in many homes but this will be a first for us. I thought it was best to test the sous vide method before cooking the prime rib for our guests on Christmas Eve…better safe than sorry. From what we’ve experienced so far, I have a feeling I’ll be sharing more sous vide dishes as it looks like a terrific technique.

    1. No Angie, that is what is nice about the immersion circulator, it can be used with any pot that will accommodate what you are cooking. It is also small enough to keep in one of your kitchen drawers whereas the older sous vide machines were big.

  6. Karen, you should be getting some great meals from the mad scientist. I used to do a standing rib roast for Christmas Day in our cabin. Since I only have a small oven I did what my mother used to do. She used to keep her food warm by putting the pot ( wrapped in a towel ) in her featherbed. I did this one year when my guests were late. I wrapped the roast in foil, towels, and blankets, covered with my featherbed and kept it for over an hour in my bed . I tell you, it was the juiciest prime rib I ever had. I did it for a couple more years and got the same results. I think I took the roast out at 120 or less degrees. This year I am making cioppino for my Christmas dinner. Have a wonderful holiday with good food and good friends.

    1. I think you are right Gerlinde, the mad scientist is a good cook to begin with and now I’m going to have a hard time keeping him out of the kitchen with his new toy. 😀 I’ve heard of people cooking the prime rib rare and keeping it warm in many different ways but a featherbed is a new one but I bet it worked well. We used to always cook seafood on Christmas Eve but our friends prefer beef so that is what we are doing this year. Your cioppino sounds wonderful for your Christmas meal.

  7. I keep thinking about buying a sous vide circulator, but haven’t yet. But posts like this one get me closer! It sounds like a wonderful way to cook big, expensive roasts. Not something I do all that often, but want to be perfect when I do. Really fun post, and glad you shared this. I’m taking off the rest of the year, but want to wish you a very merry Christmas and Happy New Year’s!

    1. Hi John, Knowing the way you enjoy your cooking, I’m sure it won’t be long before you buy a sous vide circulator. You are exactly right, if you are cooking an expensive piece of meat you definitely want it to be cooked perfectly. I hope the two of you have a wonderful Christmas…see you in the New Year.

    1. Hi Gary, I do know that you like a standing rib roast, especially the meat near the bone. The roast is an expensive one here too although not nearly as much as in Australia.

  8. Wishing you and your family a super duper Christmas, with lots of giggles and good food and wine, and all the very very best for the coming new year. I love roast beef and we are going to be having it too for Christmas day. I’ve been cooking it in the oven over a low temperature (around 140°C) since we don’t have a sous-vide toy … roast beef is roast beef and good in many guises ! Have fun !

    1. Thank you for your lovely wish Jo, the same to you and yours for this Christmas. So true, no matter how you cook it, roast beef is delicious. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your compliment and wish Juliana. The meat came out cooked just the way we were hoping, so now no need to worry when we serve a prime rib for Christmas Eve.

  9. Hi Karen, I’ve been wanting to go Sous-Vide for years. Just can’t justify the space. I saw a circulator the other day for £89/$110. Bargain I thought, i’ll be getting it in the sales. I love the idea of a circulator and a plastic bowl creating such amazing food. I’ll make sure I get one big enough for my ribs of beef!

  10. Hi David, Knowing all the beautiful dishes you have prepared, I think a sous vide circulator would be a perfect tool to add to your kitchen. The Joule is small compared to lots of others and can be kept in your kitchen drawer although the cost is more at $199 here in the US. The nice thing is that it can be used with any of your existing pots.

    1. Thank you Ksenia, After this experiment, I too think the prime rib cooked sous vide should make for a nice holiday meal. It is nice to know that you have been happy with the results when you have used that technique.

    1. Thanks Kelli, One thing about the meal…it won’t be a surprise as they read my blog. 🙂 I do think you would enjoy a sous vide circulator, especially if you get results like we have.

  11. Hi Karen
    I guess it should be OBVIOUS to try a recipe out first, before serving it to guests, but that’s not
    something I ever thought of. When I think of some of the “surprises” we endured, it’s amazing anyone wants to come to dinner.
    You’re certainly lucky that your hubby loves to tinker in the kitchen. I’d love to have a day off from cooking from time to time without resorting to going out.
    Hope you have a wonderful Christmas. And Happy New Year as well. The way the time is flying by, that’s probably my only chance to wish it.

    1. Hi Sue, Your mention of “surprises” gave me a chuckle…I don’t want any of those for this Christmas. I do think I’m lucky that my husband enjoys cooking as much as I do. Thank you for your lovely wish, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and all the best in the New Year.

  12. I finally broke down and got a sous vide circulator a few months ago, and I’m loving it! I love that I can cook perfect juicy and tender chicken breasts for soups and other recipes that call for pre-cooked chicken in just an hour! And my beef bourgninon meat cooked sous vide came out perfect. I’m really looking forward to using it many more times. I am glad to see a smaller piece of prime rib still works for this method, yay!

    1. Hi Kathryn, I know you have been enjoying your sous vide circulator and yes, you must try it for a smaller piece of prime rib like we did. It is perfect when only cooking for two.

    1. Hi Liz, It seems a lot of us will be serving prime rib for the holiday, I’m sure yours will be delicious. We decided to try it sous vide to ensure it comes out perfectly medium rare through and through.

  13. Your roast looks perfect! Our friends have a sous vide machine (more like a set up) and everything we have now is cooked sous vide! It is always excellent, but I must admit this is a bandwagon onto which I shall not jump. For me, the takeover of science takes away my creativity and therapy time in the kitchen!

    1. Hi David, we were pleased with the way our experiment turned out. It sounds like your friends have one of the large sous vide machines, ours is quite small and fits into any of our pots. There is a science to cooking and my husband is embracing it with his new toy. I do think you can still be creative even though cooking techniques keep changing over the years. 🙂

  14. I’ve been intrigued with the sous vide technique, but hadn’t really thought it was something I would try. Your post is changing my mind! it sounds so easy and with wonderful results!

    1. I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the post Deb, thank you. My husband has been intrigues with the process too. It is easy and we have had terrific results with the couple of meals we have prepared so far.

  15. Hi Michelle, Thank you for your wish and compliment. I do hope our guest will enjoy our holiday meal. If you are worried about not having room, you might be interested to know that our Joule sous vide circulator is smaller than our stick blender and fits easily in a kitchen drawer.

  16. Your prime rib looks and sounds delicious. We have it every Christmas, it’s my favorite cut of meat. Bill will be picking it up from the butcher shop soon, along with plenty of oysters. I’m getting more curious about the sous vide circulator, especially after reading this post. Thanks for the info! Merry Christmas!

    1. Thank you Pam. This will be our first Christmas serving prime rib and I’m looking forward to it. Speaking of that, your meal sounds wonderful as well. I’m glad you enjoyed the post about the circulator, I think we will be using it a lot.

  17. Hi Karen, your prime rib looks perfectly cooked, I have heard so many wonderful things about that cooking method. My husband usually cooks and bbqs most of the meat at our house and I have to say his always turns out much better than mine. Happy holidays to you and your husband.

    1. Hi Cheri, We were very pleased with the results using the sous vide circulator. It sounds like you have a husband like mine who enjoys helping with meals…lucky girl. Thank you for your wish and the same to you.

  18. It’s great to have such an unbiased review of this sous vide circulator, Karen! I’ll be putting one on my wish list! Your meat looks perfectly done and delicious. What a wonderful holiday feast you will have. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Karen!

    1. I appreciate your kind words, Susan, we are very happy with the sous vide circulator. We’ve bought a 7 lb. rib roast that we will be preparing the same way for our Christmas Eve meal. Thank you for your wish, I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas as well.

  19. I totally agree with you, Karen, about the expensive prime rib preparation for the holidays or any special occasion. I made a Tyler Florence, salt-encrusted prime rib roast once for Christmas and it was so horrible and thrown away. Money just thrown out in the garbage. So upsetting. We’ll never make that again. Then I went back to my parents’ recipe from their restaurant and never made any other recipe since. You have to go with what works and practice first, as you said.
    Merry, Merry Christmas Karen!

    1. Hi Roz, Any meal that doesn’t turn out well is a disappointment but it sounds like your experience with a recipe was a real disaster…that is terrible. That is exactly why we did our experiment and now feel confident that our meal will be a success. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  20. As soon as I saw your post I was thinking “hey, that’s what we are going to do for Thanksgiving next year, forget the turkey!” Your husbands new sous vide has done its job nicely! You are ready for Christmas.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.


    1. Hi Velva, I like your idea of a prime rib for Thanksgiving. Yes, we are all ready for the big event and will be cooking a 7 lb. rib roast tomorrow to share with our friends. Thank you for your wish, Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  21. I am not a beef eater though that is all I was raised on. I remember the aroma of prime rib drifting though our home. It was better than smelling roses! Sounds like you will have an extrordinary day!

    1. Hi Abbe, You are right about the wonderful aroma of a prime rib when roasting in the oven…we are looking forward to our Christmas Eve meal.

  22. I am so impressed with your sous vide cooking method Karen, one of my friend’s son cooks this way often and she’s always raving about the food- What a wonderful traditional Christmas meal- Merry holidays!

  23. The magic of sous vide is that you can get something to an interior temp and it will stay there until you’re ready to process. This is the perfect example. GREG

  24. Karen I am always a bit hesitant to cook this particular cut for company or for a dinner party. As you said it has to be cooked to perfection and I just never quite trust my talents in the beef arena! Your tips are great and your meal is mouth-watering. Happy Holidays to you and your family. Teresa

    1. Hi Teresa, We just bought a 7 lb. prime rib for our holiday dinner with friends and it is nice to know that I don’t have to worry about it not being cooked just right. Thank you for your wish and the same to you and yours.

  25. You aren’t going to like hearing this, but I often try dishes for the first time when company is coming. Luckily, there have been no real failures, but some things haven’t been repeated. Merry Christmas to you and Mickey.

    1. Hi Linda, I too have prepared dishes for company that I haven’t made before but when you are cooking something like a 7 lb. prime rib, we wanted to may sure that it would be cooked a perfect medium rare for our guests. I hope you and Pete have a wonderful Christmas as well.

  26. Sous vide Prime rib? What a challenge you took on!!! It looks like it turned out perfectly cooked and I love all of the spices your used. Obviously your friends and family will be enjoying a delicious holiday meal at your house. 🙂 Hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season!!! See you next year!

    1. Hi MJ, Our experiment turned out perfect. We will be preparing our large prime rib roast tomorrow again using the sous vide circulator and then finishing it coated in the fresh herbs in the oven. Thank you for your wish and the same to you.

    1. Hi Katerina, Yes we have a new kitchen toy to experiment with…I hope everything turns out as well as this prime rib. Thank you for your lovely wish and Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  27. If I am serving a dish for family I don’t worry about experimenting beforehand – they like everything! I need to put this back on the Christmas menu and I have never used the sous vide technique – sounds interesting. Happy Holidays to you and your family Karen!

  28. Hi Karen. I hope the real run of Sous vide beef worked as well as this one did. It is nerve racking working out a recipe with expensive produce.

  29. Karen, great timing for this post! I was just speaking with my sister about making a prime rib roast for New Year’s day. None of the nearby supermarkets have this cut of meat so I think I will have to order it and your recipe will certainly come in handy. Happy New Year to you!

  30. So smart to practice ahead Karen!! My Christmas Eve roast was a bit tough– first time making it! But yours looks juicy and delicious– cooked perfectly! Delicious post!! xo

  31. I’ve been thinking about getting a circulator, so this is timely. I’m afraid I don’t see a link to the one you purchased though. I clicked over to the recipe thinking it might be there but nada. Which one did you get?

    1. Hi Doreen, we have a Joule Sous Vide Circulator. The link that I provided is for Chefsteps who not only shares recipes but sells the Joule. Click back on it and look at the very top of the page and one of the options is Joule. My husband did a lot of research and is very happy with the Joule that he bought from Chefsteps. Hope that helps. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, thank you.

  32. How did I miss this post?? Love that your Husband researched for the best sous vide circulator! I would love one of those and thought they were always too expensive. Just looked up the one you guys got and it’s reasonably priced!! I’m going to get one now and make your prime rib too 🙂

    1. Hi Karrie, I think you will be very happy with the sous vide circulator, I know we are. We have used it often and all the meals have turned out great.

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