Sous Vide Prime Rib

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“Roasted Prime Rib at Home” by Jun Seita licensed under CC BY 2.0

The sous vide method of cooking ensures even, thorough cooking and a perfectly tender texture, making it great for beef cuts like prime rib. Prime rib is already known for its delectable texture, and cooking it sous vide helps that tenderness remain intact while ensuring an even cook all the way through.

Sous vide can seem intimidating at first glance, but we’re going to walk you through each step of making sous vide prime rib in your kitchen to help you succeed.

Understanding Prime Rib

Prime rib gets its name from the area of the cow it’s cut from, the rib primal. The prime rib is technically a roast with several ribs included, and butchers can cut steaks or smaller roasts from that larger roast. Most often, a prime rib roast you’ll find at the store has anywhere from 2-7 ribs intact. 

Because the area a prime rib comes from isn’t a well-exercised part of the cow, like the legs and shoulder muscles would be, it isn’t a muscular cut of meat. Instead, it has a good amount of fat, and the meat itself is quite tender and flavorful. 

Of course, it’s important to choose high-quality prime rib for the best results. USDA Choice and USDA Prime cuts are among the best to buy, and they’ll be labeled as such, so they’re easy to spot. 

Why Sous Vide for Prime Rib?

So, what is sous vide, and why should you use it for prime rib? We’re glad you asked.

Sous vide is a cooking method in which you vacuum seal the meat along with some spices and aromatics and cook it in a temperature-controlled water bath. The point of sous vide is to cook meat slowly at a constant temperature, allowing it to achieve the same temperature throughout the meat. As a result, you’ll get super tender meat that’s cooked thoroughly and evenly. 

Because prime rib is thicker than traditional steaks, it needs more time to cook. However, cooking it for several hours in an oven can lead to dry, chewy meat. Meanwhile, sous vide prime rib is tender, juicy, and flavorful. You can always top it off with a quick sear on the grill or in a skillet after it goes through the sous vide process to give it a crisp and tasty crust.

Preparing Prime Rib for Sous Vide

Take a few minutes to read through these preparation tips for sous vide prime rib before embarking on your cooking journey.

Seasoning Tips and Recommendations

Start by removing the prime rib from the refrigerator and seasoning it with salt on all sides. Use your fingertips to gently rub the salt along the prime rib. Then, make a compound butter using unsalted butter, minced garlic, minced onion, chopped thyme leaves, chopped rosemary, and ground black pepper. Microwave the butter for a few seconds until slightly softened, just enough to brush the butter along the outside of the prime rib.  

Alternatively, you can simply season the prime rib with salt and pepper and add aromatics, like thyme or rosemary sprigs, to your vacuum-sealed bags with a pat of butter. Either way will result in tender and well-flavored prime rib. 

Vacuum Sealing Process

Use a food-grade vacuum sealer and bags to vacuum seal the prime rib once you’ve seasoned it. One thing to keep in mind: Prime rib has bones, which can poke through thin bags. Use high-quality bags and, if necessary, add an extra piece of a plastic bag over the protruding bone area to protect the bag while the prime rib cooks. Also, be sure to use large enough bags for the roast to make sure there’s enough extra spacing to seal the whole roast properly.

Some butchers may even do this for you, so don’t be afraid to ask. Just bring along the aromatics you want to include for the butcher to add to the bag.

Sous Vide Cooking Process

Ready to sous vide like your favorite chefs? Follow these tips and steps to sous vide prime rib.

Sous Vide Temperature and Time Guide

If you plan to sear your sous vide prime rib when it’s done in the water bath, you’ll want to reduce the temperature of the water slightly for the sous vide process, as searing raises the temperature. For a medium-rare prime rib that you’re going to sear, we recommend setting the water bath to 130 degrees. If you’d prefer medium, go for 135 degrees or 145 degrees for medium-well.

Your sous vide prime rib will likely be ready in about six hours, but you can cook it for up to 12 hours. Don’t go past that mark, though, as too much cooking could turn your prime rib mushy.

Step-by-Step Sous Vide Cooking Instructions

After preparing and vacuum-sealing your prime rib, follow these sous vide steps:

  1. Heat a sous vide water bath to 130 degrees.
  2. Place the sealed prime rib into the water, ensuring that it’s fully submerged.
  3. Cook in the water bath for at least six hours and up to 12 hours.
  4. Preheat a large skillet with 1-2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat.
  5. Remove the roast from the water, open the bag, and pat the roast dry. Transfer it to the skillet to sear on each side for 2-4 minutes.
  6. Remove the roast from the skillet and allow it to rest at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving. 

Tips and Techniques for the Best Sous Vide Results

We suggest using a precision cooker to get the best results for your sous vide prime rib. However, it’s not a must-have. If you don’t have a precision cooker, you can use a pot of water and a thermometer that you can clip to the side of the pot safely. Place the pot of water on the stove with consistent heat and monitor the temperature regularly to keep the water at the right temperature.

Another tip: Consider placing the prime rib into an ice bath in its bag immediately after removing it from the sous vide pot as you prepare the skillet for searing. This stops the cooking process to ensure that your prime rib doesn’t cook past your desired doneness level.

Searing Techniques

Searing has several benefits for prime rib. In addition to killing bacteria on the meat because of its high temperature and quick cooking, searing also helps bring flavor and texture to prime rib. Not many people would want to eat mushy beef, and an adequate sear prevents that by developing an outer layer of crispness that adds savory flavor. 

During the last couple of minutes of sous vide cooking time, preheat a large skillet with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter. Pat the prime rib completely dry. Once the skillet heats to medium-high, transfer the prime rib to the skillet. Sear on each side for 2-4 minutes until golden brown, using tongs to rotate it for a thorough sear. 

Searing Twice for Optimal Flavor

Some people prefer to sear their prime rib before and after putting it through the sous vide process. It’s certainly not a necessity, but it can help you get a beautifully crisp outer edge. Plus, the pre-sear can actually add some flavor right from the start, allowing the post-sear to enhance what’s already there.

If you choose to do this, be sure to pat the meat dry for each sear. Also, allow the prime rib to cool slightly after the pre-sear before vacuum-sealing it, as too much heat could harm the integrity of your vacuum-sealing bag. 


Sous vide is an excellent method to use to cook prime rib when you don’t need to prepare something right away for dinner. You’ll need some time to prep and cook prime rib with the sous vide method, but the end results will likely make you want to keep using it when you have time in your schedule.

Need a prime rib roast to do the job? Try our bone-in standing rib roast, available as dry-aged or wet-aged and in USDA Choice or USDA Prime, helping you get a quality roast that fits your budget and aging preferences. We ship our hand-selected and hand-cut roast right to your door, packed in dry ice to preserve its freshness.