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How To Properly Thaw Your Prime Rib Roast

Once you have cooked a prime rib roast, you can put it in the freezer to save it for a later date. Chop it up into slices, portion it up, and it should be kept fresh and then free from spoiling once frozen.

Thawing a prime rib roast can be relatively straightforward and not that different from thawing other pieces of meat. Typically, you can leave it in the refrigerator, leave it submerged in some cold water, or use the microwave. 

How To Properly Thaw Your Prime Rib Roast

What Is A Prime Rib Roast?

A prime rib roast, also known as standing rib roast, is a beef cut taken from the primal rib area of a cow. It is a tender and juicy cut of meat and can be cooked in various ways including being marinated then grilled, smoked, or roasted.

If you are tempted to cook one but want to research how to make the most of it then you may want to consider freezing it, if you have enough room in the freezer. 

How You Should Be Able To Properly Thaw Your Prime Rib Roast?

If you do not have a few days to spare before you want to cook a prime rib roast, try chopping the roast up into more manageable pieces.

These will defrost quicker and may be enough for whatever you plan on cooking, or a single meal. You only need to remove the packaging and use a chopping board with a sharp knife to create sections that only include two ribs.

Use some plastic wrap to keep in those delicious meat juices and it should be ready to use.

Ideally, any perishable food such as meat should be stored in an airtight container or a Ziploc bag. These options keep the air out to prevent oxidation and are typically big enough for single-sized portions.

You can then leave the Ziploc bag containing your meat in the refrigerator to defrost at a leisurely pace. 

In The Refrigerator

Quick Answer

The most straightforward way of thawing a frozen prime rib roast is to place it in the refrigerator and let the lower temperature gradually do the work for you.

Two to three days should be ample time for a six-pound prime rib roast though smaller pieces can be defrosted much more quickly.

  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes
  • Active Time: 72 hours
  • Total time: 72 hours and 5 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Equipment: Prime Rib Roast, A refrigerator, A large baking tray, Plastic wrap


  1. Your prime rib roast should already be wrapped up in some plastic wrap or in a Ziploc bag from when you placed it in the freezer so remove the cut of beef as it is
  2. Place the prime rib roast on a large baking tray and create some room in the refrigerator
  3. If it is a whole piece of prime rib roast then you will need to leave it for around 3 days to thoroughly thaw out

In The Sink

With a clean sink, you can submerge the prime rib roast in some cold water which should quicken up thawing. Be ready to change the water every hour or so as the water can soon warm up to room temperature and it helps to freshen it up.

After a few hours, the prime rib roast should be well-thawed and you can leave it on a baking tray and cover it up with some plastic wrap to reach room temperature when it is ready to cook. 

Use A Stainless Steel Bowl

A smaller prime rib roast, such as one that weighs around five pounds, can typically be contained in a smaller container like a stainless steel bowl.

Place the prime rib roast in the bowl under a cold running faucet and make sure that the cut of meat is covered by water.

You can then leave the bowl with the meat and water in the refrigerator to defrost fully and it should only take a couple of days, if that. 

Use The Microwave

If you are really low on time to cook your prime rib roast then you can use a microwave. Make sure you use the heat setting you are comfortable with and be sure to weigh out the prime rib roast first.

Using the defrost function may take a while but you can be more confident in controlling how long it takes for the meat to defrost.

You can also defrost the meat by leaving the microwave on high but ensure that the time you select is based on between three and four minutes for each pound of boneless meat or as many as six minutes if the meat contains bones. 

Use An Electric Smoker/Barbecue Smoker Box

If you enjoy smoking meat then you can use your electric smoker or barbecue smoker box to thaw your prime rib roast. If you set the temperature at 140°F (60°C) it should take 14 hours for an electric smoker.

A barbecue smoker box should take longer and at the same temperature take around 24 hours. 

On The Countertop

If you want to naturally defrost a prime rib roast then simply leave it on the countertop. This method should include having the cut of meat covered in plastic wrap to avoid any bugs getting close.

How To Properly Thaw Your Prime Rib Roast (1)

On average, an average-sized prime rib roast should take between four and six hours to fully defrost when left on the countertop.

Be sure to check it often as once defrosted and when it reaches room temperature, meat only has a few hours before it can go bad.

Cook It From Frozen

If you portioned out the prime rib roast into two-rib sections then it may be ideal to cook them from frozen.

Some experts even recommend this as the ideal way to cook beef, unless it is a select cut like Wagyu where the fat can even melt at a typical room temperature.

You may want to spend a couple of minutes leaving the sections in their Ziploc bag and immersing that in a container full of water so that it starts defrosting. After that, add a bit longer to your cooking time and let the grill do the work.

How Long Should It Take To Defrost A Prime Rib Roast?

The overall size and weight of a prime rib roast should be the defining factors in how long the cut takes to fully defrost.

A six-pound prime rib roast may take three days to thoroughly defrost when left in the refrigerator. Using the same method, a prime rib roast weighing only five pounds may only take two days to fully defrost. 

For an eight-pound prime rib roast, you should leave at least 36 hours for it to defrost.

A cut of meat of that size and weight will require plenty of room in the refrigerator so dedicate a shelf for it and try to set the refrigerator temperature to between 34°F and 38°F.

Leave the prime rib roast for 24 hours and then allow a further 12 hours for it to reach room temperature when covered in some plastic wrap and left on the countertop. 

How To Best Look After A Thawing Prime Rib Roast

Whichever method you decide to use for thawing your prime rib roast, you should look after it during this process too.

As long as it has not been in the freezer for too long, it should not have suffered freezer burns but if it has, you may want to consider smoking it to infuse a more robust flavor.

If you do decide to cut the prime rib roast into two-rib sections then ensure that the freezer bags are big enough as if they split then the airtight feature is voided.

Keep an eye on how your prime rib roast thaws as once it is fully defrosted you only have an hour or so before you need to cook it.

Try not to even consider refreezing a thawed-out prime rib roast as that could compromise the flavor and invite bacteria. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Leave Out A Prime Rib Roast On The Countertop Overnight To Thaw?

If the prime rib roast weighs around six pounds then you should be able to leave it to defrost on the countertop overnight.

However, you should make sure that it is properly wrapped in plastic wrap and left on a baking tray to collect any juices.

Meat can dry out when kept out for too long so if the prime rib roast looks defrosted then it may be time to start thinking about cooking it.

Bear in mind that once the meat has fully defrosted then it should not be left to reach room temperature for longer than two hours as it may attract bacteria which would result in food poisoning. 

Once The Meat Is Defrosted, How Long Will It Remain Safe In The Refrigerator?

A fully defrosted cut of beef should remain safe to eat once fully defrosted for around three to five days, just like most meat. While it is thawing, ensure that you leave it on a plate or tray to trap the water that comes out.

How To Properly Thaw Your Prime Rib Roast

How To Properly Thaw Your Prime Rib Roast

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 3 days
Total Time: 3 days 5 minutes

The most gentle way to thaw your prime rib roast is to place the meat into the fridge. Just wrap it in plastic wrap, put it on a baking tray and put everything into the fridge for a few days.


  • 6 pound prime rib roast


  • Large baking tray
  • Plastic wrap
  • Refrigerator


  1. Wrap your prime rib roast in plastic wrap: Before you place your prime rib into the fridge, wrap some plastic wrap around it. Alternatively, you can also use a ziploc bag.
  2. Place the prime rib roast on a tray: Use a baking tray and put the prime rib roast on the tray.
  3. Put the prime rib into the fridge: Once you made some room in the fridge, you can put your prime rib roast into the refrigerator. Allow it to sit for at least 3 days to thaw out.
Jess Smith
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