For a small dinner or large buffet, prime rib is the way to go when you want to impress your guests.

Prime rib, sometimes called a standing rib roast, is the cut of choice when you want to pull out all the stops for a special occasion. For an anniversary, birthday, or holiday dinner party, you can’t beat the rosy, juicy meat and tasty au jus. Since prime rib is so delicious, you want to make sure you have enough to generously serve your guests. Here is how to determine how much prime rib to buy, how to select it, and why it is so special.

How Much Prime Rib Per Person? 

Before buying your roast, consider how you plan to serve the meat to your guests. If the roast is part of a holiday buffet, estimate that your guests will eat about 1/2 pound per person. If it is the main course for a sit-down dinner, plan on 1 pound per person, or one rib for every two diners. As an example, you can plan on a four-bone roast generously serving eight guests. When in doubt, err on the side of buying too much; leftover prime rib is just as tasty the following day. Plus, no proper Southern hostess ever wants to run out of the main attraction at her home.

How to Buy Prime Rib

If the six or seven rib roast in the meat case is too large for your purposes, simply ask your butcher to cut it down. You can also ask the butcher to cut the meat off the bones and tie it back on, which really helps in the carving process once the roast is cooked. Prime rib is sold bone-in or boneless, but a bone-in roast is the best choice for guaranteed juicy succulence.

Buyer Beware

When you're shopping, be careful not to confuse the cut of prime rib with the USDA grade of prime — the term prime rib doesn’t have anything to do the quality of meat, only the cut itself. A label that reads USDA prime refers to the actual quality of the meat.

Where Does Prime Rib Come From?

A prime rib roast, or standing rib roast, is cut from the back of the upper rib section (sometimes called the primal rib section) of the steer, and it usually comprises a total of six to seven ribs. Rib eyes are actually steaks cut from the prime rib.

An incredible steak dinner made on a single pan, in under 30 minutes? Yes, you can do it. This restaurant-worthy impressive meal is not only easy to pull off, it is most definitely appropriate for a special occasion.

Why is Prime Rib So Special?

Prime rib has a large “eye” of meat in the center, which is juicy, tender, and marbled with fat. This eye is surrounded by fat-marbled muscle, and that is surrounded by a thick cap of fat. Because these muscles are not heavily used, the prime rib is tender, juicy, and extremely flavorful.