Prime rib is juicy, tender, and delicious. However, it’s possible to undercook it, especially if you like your meat rare. When you make undercooked prime rib, you lose the consistency you’re looking for and risk spreading foodborne illnesses. Nobody wants to deal with that!
What Temperature Is Considered Undercooked Prime Rib?
Rare prime rib is done at 120-125 degrees Fahrenheit so anything under that would be undercooked prime rib. Medium rare meat is finished at 130-135 degrees.
If you want your prime rib cooked to medium, the internal temperature should be 135-145 degrees, and it should be 145-155 for medium well. Well done meat is done when the internal temperature is 155-165 degrees. In order to prevent serving undercooked prime rib, you need to know what temperature the meat cooks at.
Risks of Undercooked Prime Rib
The CDC recommends that you cook beef roasts to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit with a rest time of 3 minutes.
This is the temperature required to kill bacteria that causes foodborne illnesses. That means that prime rib is technically unsafe to eat until it’s cooked to at least medium doneness.
Undercooked prime rib can have a tough texture, which is not ideal for consumption. That’s because the connective tissue in the meat hasn’t broken down.
It can also make you sick. Bacteria and diseases live on raw meat, and cooking makes the meat safe to eat. If your prime rib isn’t cooked properly, you could risk catching salmonella, E. coli, or clostridium.
Preventing Foodborne Illness
There are other ways to prevent foodborne illness besides cooking your meat to the right temperature. You should avoid washing your prime rib before cooking, even though some recipes call for it. This can cause bacteria to spread and doesn’t actually clean your roast.
Store any leftovers in your fridge within two hours of preparing your prime rib. Your fridge should be 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. If you wind up with leftover prime rib after serving dinner, cut your roast up into small portions before refrigerating. This allows it to cool down quicker.
Avoiding Undercooked Prime Rib
When cooking prime rib, you should always use a meat thermometer. This is because you can’t tell how cooked the meat is just by looking at it. For the best reading, insert your thermometer in the thickest part of the roast.
As much as you may enjoy rare beef, it may be best to avoid it if you’re cooking prime ribs with the bones still intact. That’s because the bones insulate the meat, causing the parts close to the bones to not cook as quickly as the rest of your roast.
This is preferable when cooking prime rib to medium doneness, since it produces a juicy, tender, and more flavorful section. However, it’s dangerous if you’re cooking your beef rare due to it possibly undercooking.
What Does Undercooked Prime Rib Look Like?
While you can’t tell if meat is cooked just by looking at it, undercooked prime rib shows some signs that it’s not cooked enough. The meat will have a bright red center and/or pink edges, and it will be lukewarm or warm to the touch.
The less pink (or red) you can see, the more well done your prime rib is cooked. Remember, rare isn’t better when it comes to avoiding foodborne illnesses!
What Does Undercooked Prime Rib Feel Like?
Undercooked prime rib shows physical signs of being undercooked, as well. To see if your meat cooked to medium doneness is still raw, perform the following test:
- Open up your palm
- Press your index finger right below the base of your thumb
- Note that it’s squishy and soft
- Touch your prime rib. If it feels like the spot below the base of your thumb, it’s not cooked well enough
For rare prime rib, you can perform a similar test. Instead of feeling below the base of your thumb, you’ll note how the tip of your thumb feels and compare your roast to that.
You can also use your face to determine if your prime rib is still raw. Medium rare beef should feel like your cheek – soft, fleshy, and tender. Medium well beef, on the other hand, should feel like your forehead.
While these tests are reliable, nothing beats using a meat thermometer when it comes to checking on prime rib. You may want to invest in one if you don’t have one on hand to avoid undercooked prime rib.
Rare vs. Raw Prime Rib
At this point, you may be wondering if your rare prime rib is safe to eat. After all, it might not cook to a safe temperature.
Of course, there’s a difference between prime rib cooked rare and prime rib that just hasn’t cooked for long enough. Rare prime rib is still seared before you eat it, preferably at 400 degrees until it forms a brown crust.
It’s then cooked until it reaches the temperature that correlates with the doneness you’re looking for. The meat then continues to cook while it’s out of the oven. Raw prime rib, on the other hand, isn’t seared.
So, is it safe to eat rare prime rib?
It’s risky. Ground beef is never safe to eat because the grinding process brings bacteria to the surface. Prime rib, on the other hand, can be safe if cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. That makes it not 100% safe to eat rare prime rib, since it’s considered undercooked.
Risks of Cooking Prime Rib Well Done
Unfortunately, prime rib just doesn’t taste as good when it’s cooked medium well or well done. When it’s cooked to a higher temperature, the fat melts out of the meat. This leaves the roast dry and tough to chew.
Still, you risk getting sick if you eat rare or undercooked prime rib. When it comes to prime rib, you may wind up sacrificing safety for a better flavor. If you overcook prime rib, the texture can become straw-like. Therefore, you might want to be careful about leaving your roast in the oven for too long.
Undercooked prime rib is dangerous to consume, and rare prime rib can be considered too undercooked to eat. In order to stay safe while consuming your roast, it’s best if you follow the CDC’s guidelines on food safety.
This will give you the best shot at preventing foodborne illnesses at your next gathering. Even though rare prime rib may taste better than a medium well roast, you have to ask yourself whether it’s worth the risk.
Hi there! I’m Darren Wayland, your BBQHost. My love of great barbecue inspired me to curate this site as a resource for all my like-minded fellow pitmasters out there. When I’m not researching and learning all I can about the latest tips and techniques, you can find me at the grill—that is, if you can spot me at all through the clouds of sweet-smelling smoke. And since you asked, yes, that probably is barbecue sauce on my face. Welcome to the party!