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Poor Mans Prime Rib

Can you even imagine the entire house filled with the mouthwatering aromas of slow-roasted prime rib on a chilly winter night? I’m talking tender, garlicky, melt-in-your-mouth beefiness with a gloriously caramelized outer crust. As much as I positively live for that restaurant-quality standing rib roast, my wallet begs to differ! Dropping a small fortune on prime rib is only reserved for the most special of occasions in my home.
But just between you and me, I’ve discovered a tasty little secret to achieving forktender, flavorful faux prime rib using an inexpensive beef chuck roast and my homemade signature spice rub. I’m talking peppery, herby flavor encrusted around the edges with crispy browned bits. And the inside? Succulent, rosy pink slices of pure meaty heaven! Not to brag, but this budget-friendly “poor man’s prime rib” recipe has fooled more than a few dinner guests over the years.
My cooking magic lies in transforming a humble beef chuck roast into a restaurant-caliber dish by utilizing spice rub flavors seared right into the meat itself along with a low and slow cooking method until that collagen melts away. The end result is a gorgeous roast I can slice into juicy, tender pieces that rival any pricey standing rib roast. And the fun part is customizing my go-to spice mix based on whatever herbs and flavors sound good that day.
I absolutely love surprising my family with this poor man’s prime rib since it always exceeds their expectations. The kiddos can’t seem to wrap their heads around how their mom crafted such an elegant, beefy meal using one of our affordable weekly staples. But why spend big bucks on true prime rib when I can achieve nearly the same fork-tender texture and bonafide meaty flavor for a fraction of the cost? This budget roast never disappoints!

What cut of meat works best for poor man’s prime rib?
I highly recommend using a well-marbled beef chuck roast, ideally with some fat cap on top. The marbling essentially bastes the meat from the inside out for added moisture and flavor. The fat cap helps keep the roast tender and juicy. Bone-in chuck roast also imparts extra flavor during the low and slow cooking time.

How does the flavor compare to real prime rib?
While it won’t be exactly the same as true prime rib, which comes from the prized rib section, this chuck roast recipe gets remarkably close in texture and flavor. The spice rub forms a tasty, textured bark on the outside, while the long cooking time helps break down the collagen for fork-tender meat.

What temperature and doneness is best for poor man’s prime rib?
I highly recommend cooking this chuck roast recipe to medium rare, removing it from the oven or slow cooker once the internal temp hits around 140-145°F. This ensures a nice rosy center while keeping the meat juicy and tender. If you prefer more well-done, you can aim for 155°F internal temp.

How do you keep poor man’s prime rib from drying out?
Cooking low and slow is key, along with leaving some fat cap on top. You also want to let the roast rest before slicing into it, allowing the juices to redistribute evenly through the meat. Resist cutting in right away!

What are the best side dishes to serve?
I love serving this budget prime rib with all the classic pairings like garlic mashed potatoes, Yorkshire puddings to soak up the meaty juices, roasted vegetables like carrots and parsnips, or even just a simple salad with horseradish dressing. Comfort food heaven!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 90 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes


  • 3 pounds bone-in beef chuck roast (1.4kg)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (30ml)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf

Instructions :

  1. Take that gorgeous well-marbled chuck roast out of the fridge and unwrap it onto a clean cutting board. Admire the nice white fat cap coating one side that will baste our meat during the long, slow cooking time. Let that chilly beef sit out for about 10 minutes so it’s closer to room temp when cooking. We want as even cooking as possible!
  2. As the meat rests, make your signature spice rub in a small bowl. I like to mix together 2 tablespoons of smooth, fragrant olive oil, 2 teaspoons of mellow garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder (just enough bite without overpowering), 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly cracked black peppercorns, 1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves for earthiness, 1⁄2 teaspoon woodsy dried rosemary, and 1⁄4 teaspoon oregano. Stir vigorously with a fork until combined into a loose, wettish paste.
  3. OK, that chuck roast has aired out a bit now! Use a sharp paring knife to lightly score the fatty side, making shallow 1⁄4 inch crosshatches about 2 inches apart. This helps the spice mix grab hold even better. Go about 1/4 inch deep at most so your knife doesn’t cut all the way through the fat layer we want to keep intact.
  4. And now, the fun part – rubbing down the meat! Dig your hands right into that spice paste, grabbing heaping fingerfuls, and massage vigorously onto all surfaces of the roast, taking time to thoroughly coat every inch. Be sure to firmly push the mixture into the crosshatches you scored as well. Slow down and admire your work as you go!
  5. By now your hands are fully spiced up from handling the seasoned meat directly – and that’s a good thing! Nestle the roast gently into a slow cooker, fat cap facing up. Tuck a bay leaf into the side seam for its woodsy, aromatic contribution during cooking.
  6. Put the lid on securely and cook entirely undisturbed on low heat for at least 90 minutes. I know, I know, the waiting is the absolute hardest part! But don’t peek or lift that lid at all yet if you can stand it. Let the meat and juices do their delicious thing.
  7. When time’s up, carefully remove the lid to let those mouthwatering aromas out. Insert a meat thermometer deep into the thickest part of the roast without touching any bones. We want to hit 145°F for perfect medium rare with a nice rosy center.
  8. Once it hits temp, use sturdy tongs to transfer the gorgeously spiced roast to a cutting board to relax for 15-20 minutes. This resting period allows all those meat juices to redistribute evenly instead of spilling out immediately when sliced. Patience pays off!
  9. Now just look at that crusted, succulent beauty ready to be carved up! Use a sharp knife to cut thick slices against the grain, revealing that tender rosy interior. Arrange artfully on a platter with all your prime rib favorite sides. Then slice yourself off the chef’s first taste – you earned it!

Cooking Tips:

  • Choose a well-marbled chuck roast for the most tender and flavorful meat.
  • Let the meat come closer to room temperature before cooking so it cooks more evenly.
  • Create a flavorful spice rub that permeates deep into the meat.
  • Slow cook without lifting the lid for hassle-free cooking with no monitoring or turning needed.
  • Use a meat thermometer to test doneness for perfect results every time.
  • Let roasts rest before slicing to retain juices and moisture.

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