What Is the Difference Between a Prime Rib Roast & a Rib-Eye Roast?

While some meats come from the same parts of animals, they have different properties.
While some meats come from the same parts of animals, they have different properties. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

The rib eye roast and the prime rib roast are two similar cuts of meat. They both come from the same part of the animal: the sixth through 12th rib. They can also both be very tender cuts of meat, depending on how they are cooked. But while they are similar, they do have differences.

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How It Is Sold

The prime rib roast is the sixth through 12th rib of a cow. The prime rib roast is sold as a roast in grocery stores. It is usually found with the bone-in served as a standing rib roast. There are times it is boned and rolled as a roast. The rib eye roast is usually found grocery stores without the bone and cut into individual steaks instead of a roast.


A prime rib roast has fat marbled inside and around the roast. If the prime rib roast being used is cut from the large end of the animal, the roast ends up being tougher. If it is cut from the small end, it is leaner and more tender. The rib eye roast is always found very tender and marbled with fat, because it comes from the small end of the prime rib.


Prime rib is found to be quite expensive in stores, as it is sold in a roast form. When buying a prime rib as a roast, you get a larger portion of meat. It can be sold in a three- to six-rib size. Rib eye roasts are sold as individual steaks, so while they are costly, they are less expensive than purchasing an entire prime rib.

Cooking Method

A prime rib roast is initially cooked at higher temperatures and then lowered for the duration of the process. It is cooked in the oven at a higher temperature than the rib eye. A rib eye roast is cooked the entire time at a lower temperature, if being cooked in the oven. Because a rib eye roast is commonly served as individual steaks, you can grill or fry it easier than you can a prime rib roast.


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