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What is the best way to freeze leftover prime rib?

Prime rib is a delicious and expensive cut of beef that is often served at holidays and special events. However, prime rib roasts are quite large, usually between 8-12 pounds, which often leaves plenty of leftovers. Freezing the leftovers is a great way to save the extra prime rib so it doesn’t go to waste. But what is the best way to freeze prime rib leftovers?

Should You Freeze Leftover Prime Rib?

Freezing is an excellent way to preserve leftover prime rib and extend its shelf life. Properly frozen, prime rib leftovers can last in the freezer for 2-3 months. During this time, the frozen prime rib will maintain its quality and taste.

Freezing leftover prime rib allows you to enjoy this pricey cut of meat again at a later date without having to purchase another full roast. It also saves you from having to eat prime rib everyday for a week straight until it’s gone!

Some tips for freezing prime rib leftovers:

  • Freeze prime rib as soon as possible after cooking. Leaving prime rib leftovers in the fridge for too long increases the risk of bacteria growth.
  • Package prime rib leftovers in an airtight freezer bag or freezer-safe container. This prevents freezer burn.
  • Remove as much air from the freezer bag or container as possible. The less air, the better.
  • Label the freezer bag or container with the contents and date. This makes it easy to track.
  • Use frozen prime rib within 2-3 months for best quality.

As long as proper freezing procedures are followed, freezing is an excellent way to preserve leftover prime rib.

How To Freeze Cooked Prime Rib

Freezing cooked prime rib is simple to do at home with just a few easy steps:

  1. Allow the prime rib to cool completely – Do not freeze prime rib leftovers when still hot or warm. The meat needs to cool down to room temperature before freezing for food safety.
  2. Cut into portions – Slice the prime rib into individual servings or meal-sized portions. This allows for easy thawing and use of only what you need.
  3. Package in airtight bags or containers – Place each portion of prime rib into its own freezer bag or freezer-safe storage container. Squeeze out excess air and seal tightly.
  4. Label – Label each bag or container with the contents and freeze-by date (2-3 months from freezing date).
  5. Freeze – Place prime rib portions flat in a single layer in the freezer until completely frozen, at least 24 hours. Then you can stack them.

Proper packaging is key when freezing prime rib leftovers. Use only high-quality, durable freezer bags or containers to prevent freezer burn.

How To Freeze Prime Rib Bones

The bones from prime rib also freeze well for making soup stock at a later date. Here’s how to freeze prime rib bones:

  1. Pick off any remaining meat or fat from the bones and reserve for other uses.
  2. Wash bones thoroughly under cool running water.
  3. Cut bones into 2-3 inch sections to make them easier to store.
  4. Place bones in an airtight freezer bag or freezer container.
  5. Exclude as much air as possible and seal tightly.
  6. Label with contents and freeze-by date (3-4 months).
  7. Lay flat to freeze solid, then can stack.

Frozen prime rib bones can be used to make flavorful beef broth or soup stock. The collagen in the bones adds body and a rich taste.

Can You Freeze Prime Rib Au Jus?

The concentrated beef juices leftover from roasting prime rib are delicious for dipping or pouring over the carved meat. But can you freeze prime rib au jus?

Yes, it is possible to successfully freeze prime rib au jus for future use. Follow these tips:

  • Chill the au jus completely in the refrigerator before freezing.
  • Portion into ice cube trays or small containers with lids.
  • Leave 1⁄2 inch headspace to allow for expansion during freezing.
  • Cover tightly and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Reheat frozen au jus cubes or portions in the microwave or in a saucepan.
  • Stir while reheating to blend any separated fat back in.

Frozen prime rib au jus may develop a slightly altered flavor and texture after thawing compared to fresh. But it’s very useful to have on hand for adding concentrated beefy flavor to other dishes and gravies.

What Is The Best way To Thaw Frozen Prime Rib?

The proper method for thawing frozen prime rib is to allow it to thaw slowly and safely in the refrigerator overnight. Never thaw prime rib at room temperature or in hot water.

Here are some guidelines for thawing frozen prime rib:

  • Place frozen prime rib in a thawing tray or rimmed sheet pan to catch any drips.
  • Thaw prime rib in the refrigerator, allowing 24 hours for a typical 3 lb roast.
  • If pressed for time, thaw in the refrigerator for the minimum time required, about 5 hours per pound of meat.
  • Cook prime rib immediately after thawing – do not refreeze.

Refrigerator thawing keeps the prime rib at a safe 40°F or below. Thawing on the counter or in water allows bacteria to grow rapidly on the exterior before the center is defrosted.

For the juiciest results, roast the thawed prime rib immediately after thawing and do not refreeze. But if needed, prime rib can be safely refrozen once if still partially frozen or ice crystals remain.

How To Cook Thawed Prime Rib

Cooking thawed prime rib is just as easy as cooking fresh prime rib. Follow these tips for the best results:

  • Pat the thawed roast dry thoroughly with paper towels before cooking.
  • Season the exterior well with salt, pepper, and spices of choice.
  • Sear all sides over high heat for 2-3 minutes per side to caramelize.
  • Insert a meat thermometer into the center and roast to the desired doneness in a 300-325°F oven.
  • Allow prime rib to rest for 10-20 minutes before slicing into it.

Use a digital instant-read thermometer to check for the preferred internal temperature when roasting thawed prime rib:

  • Rare: 120-125°F
  • Medium Rare: 130-135°F
  • Medium: 140-145°F
  • Medium Well: 150°F
  • Well Done: 160°F

The thawed prime rib roast may take slightly less time to reach the target temperature than fresh since it’s already been cooked once before freezing. Monitor it closely.

Other Tips For Freezing Prime Rib

Here are some other helpful prime rib freezing tips:

  • Chill prime rib well before freezing – Cool in the fridge for 1-2 hours after cooking.
  • Frozen prime rib looks gray but will turn pink again during cooking – Don’t be alarmed!
  • Double wrap freezer bags – Use two bags for extra protection against freezer burn.
  • Wrap foil around frozen prime rib portions – Adds another layer against quality deterioration.
  • Do not re-freeze prime rib more than once – The texture will degrade.
  • Store frozen prime rib below 0°F – Colder is better for longest freezing times.
  • Cook frozen prime rib immediately after thawing – Do not refreeze thawed meat.

How To Use Leftover Frozen Prime Rib

Leftover frozen prime rib can be used in many different ways beyond just reheating slices:

  • Chopped in hash, tacos or burritos
  • Diced in pasta dishes, risotto or fried rice
  • Shredded for barbecue beef sandwiches or pizza topping
  • Added to soups, stews or chili
  • Pureed into creamy mashed potatoes
  • Sliced thin for steak sandwiches or paninis

Get creative with leftover frozen prime rib! The flavor pairs well with bright acidic and spicy ingredients.

How Long Does Frozen Prime Rib Last?

A high-quality prime rib roast that was properly handled and frozen can typically last in the freezer for 2-3 months before the flavor and texture starts to deteriorate. Poultry and fish usually last only 2-3 months whereas red meat like beef can often last 4-6 months if the freezer is very cold (0°F).

Here are some tips on maximizing the freezer life of prime rib:

  • Use high-quality prime or choice grade rib roasts.
  • Chill meat rapidly after cooking before freezing.
  • Double wrap in freezer bags and squeeze out all air.
  • Freeze immediately at 0°F or below.
  • Avoid freezing previously frozen meats again.
  • Store meat flat until frozen solid then can stack.

Store frozen prime rib leftovers towards the back of the freezer rather than the door where the temperature fluctuates. Be diligent about labeling with the freeze date and use within 2-3 months.


Freezing is an excellent way to preserve leftover prime rib so it doesn’t get wasted after the big holiday meal. With proper handling methods, frozen prime rib can last 2-3 months in the freezer without sacrificing quality or taste. Be sure to package the prime rib tightly in freezer bags or containers, label, and freeze it as soon as possible after cooking. Thaw in the refrigerator before roasting again or using in other recipes. Follow these tips and your leftover prime rib will be delicious even months later!