If you love juicy roast beef, the Prime Rib is what you need to cook. Yet just roasting or grilling a delicious Standing Rib Roast isn’t always enough to create the meal of your dreams. There are a lot of tricks that the best steakhouses use around the world to impart even more flavor and richness to this particular cut of beef. One that’s easily used at home for an amazing luxury dinner is the butter rub. Not only can you rub butter on a Prime Rib to make it as succulent and evenly cooked as possible, but this trick works for many popular bone-in cuts of steak like the Tomahawk. Learn the secrets of the butter rub and how to combine it with your favorite seasoning combinations for the best results no matter what kind of roast or steak you’re cooking up.
What is a Rub?
As the name suggests, a rub is any seasoning applied to meat by rubbing it on the surface by hand. You’ve likely heard of dry rubs before, which are combinations of dry herbs and spices with salt and other seasonings. A dry rub is often applied directly to the meat with nothing else added. For even more flavor and increased seasoning penetration through the surface of the meat, you can add oil or butter to the rub. Butter rubs usually combine both softened butter and seasoning mixtures to create a hybrid rub that offers a lot more flavor at once than either ingredient used alone.
Different Variations of Rubs for Prime Rib
Even once you’ve decided to use a butter rub, you still need to select a blend of seasonings to go with it. Choosing the right flavoring combination for your butter rub depends on your personal tastes. For the simplest variation that allows the taste of the premium beef to shine, try just salt and cracked peppercorns. You won’t have any distractions from the classic flavor of roast beef. Of course, there are plenty of other combinations to choose from to tantalize your tastebuds. Try combining minced garlic, grated shallots, fresh thyme and rosemary, and black pepper mixed into the butter. Or sprinkle smoked paprika, cumin, and cayenne pepper over the butter for a spicy twist on the usual Prime Rib flavor.
Why Use Butter for Prime Rib?
Rubbing a Prime Rib roast down with softened butter before cooking serves a few purposes. First, the extra layer of fat spread over the surface of the meat traps moisture so it can’t escape as easily. This ensures a tender and juicy slice of roast beef. Second, browning compounds in the butter increase the flavor on the surface of the roast. It also encourages more browning of the meat itself during the reverse searing stage of cooking. Third, some of the fat seeps through the surface of the meat during the cooking and resting stages. It helps carry seasonings along with it for a stronger flavor. Finally, using a butter rub on Prime Rib keeps the seasonings in place so they’re equally distributed over the entire surface of the meat.
Tips and Tricks to the Perfect Butter Rub
Butter rubs are most commonly used on Prime Rib that goes in the oven for slow roasting. However, it can also work well on a roast cooked in a smoker or grill instead. Use the same recipe, but omit any fresh ingredients like minced garlic and replace them with granulated or dried variations. This will prevent burning when the butter rub is exposed to a more direct heat source.
Leave the butter out for at least 4 to 6 hours at room temperature so it’s very soft but not melted. If you don’t have an old-fashioned butter bell for storing it, try placing it on a plate with a small bowl over it. The butter won’t spoil while softening because the high fat content helps naturally preserve it.
The amount of butter must be adjusted to the size of the Prime Rib roast you choose. For smaller 3 to 4 lbs roasts, one stick of butter is usually enough. You may need two sticks or more for very large roasts that are 7 to 8 lbs in total. When doubling or tripling the amount of butter, multiply the seasoning ingredients by the same ratio to keep the flavors in balance.
Watch out for salted vs. unsalted butter. Most recipes call for adding salt to the butter rub, which means it’s best to start with unsalted butter. Using salted butter makes it harder to get a precise flavor since the amount of salt added can vary between manufacturers.
Searing the Prime Rib with a Butter Rub
Don’t worry that using a butter rub on the Prime Rib will interfere with your ability to sear the surface. Using a reserve sear process works well because by the end of the cooking period, the butter will melt and absorb into the roast. It won’t burn or react when higher heat is applied at the end for searing. Whether you use an oven at high heat or a cast iron pan on the stovetop, you should have no issues finishing the cooking process in this way.
Butter Rub for Prime Rib Recipe
Prime Rib isn’t complete without the right seasonings on the surface. Try this butter rub designed to infuse your meat with extra flavor, tenderness, and moisture while you grill, smoke, or oven-roast it.
- 1 stick or 8 tablespoons of butter, softened
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon of paprika
- 2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon of cracked black pepper
1. Let the butter soften at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours. Grate, crush, or mince the garlic finely, then chop the thyme and discard the stem. Mix all of this together with the paprika, salt, and black pepper.
2. Apply immediately to the Prime Rib and cook as desired. You can also rub the meat down the night before you cook it and wrap it with plastic to help the flavors intensify overnight.
Any unused butter mixture that doesn’t come in direct contact with the raw meat can be used to flavor side dishes like mashed or roasted potatoes. It’s also a great spread for putting on bread and broiling until brown.
Mix up a butter rub that will have your guests asking for your secret recipe. Make the most of any USDA Prime beef you choose from Chicago Steak Company with this recipe.
Butter Rub for Prime Rib
- 1 stick or 8tbsp butter, softened
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 sprig fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp cracked black pepper
- Let the butter soften at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours. Grate, crush, or mince the garlic finely, then chop the thyme and discard the stem. Mix all of this together with the paprika, salt, and black pepper
- Apply immediately to the Prime Rib and cook as desired. You can also rub the meat down the night before you cook it and wrap it with plastic to help the flavors intensify overnight