Favorite end of a ribeye for a standing roast?

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Meat Mopper
Original poster
Jun 22, 2021
Queensbury, NY
Bought a whole ribeye last week for our Christmas dinner (on Jan 1st because we're traveling.) I'm planning on cutting a 4 rib roast and the rest will become steaks and saved for later. Since I'll be cooking for different people with different tastes, I'm just trying to get an idea of what section most prefer for a rib roast.

It's easy for me. In my opinion, the ribeye cap is the best part of the cow. So if I were just cooking for my household, I'd do the large end.

Small end, large end, or maybe cut one out of the middle. And why?

And pardon the large and small end talk. I don't speak butcher as a second language like a lot of you do. And maybe it will help another novice in the future.
The chuck end, no doubt. Look for an "eye" in the middle of the meat. The chuck end will have one and the NY Strip end, or loin end, will not...
Just to clarify. All the grocery stores in my area use large end for the chuck end and small for the loin end.

Not sure what they call it everywhere else.
So is there anyone here that prefers the loin end?

The people I'm feeding rarely eat rib roasts. And when they do, they all prefer strip and filets. I'm the only one in the family that prefers ribeye over any other cut if steak.
I'm easy to please so I like them all! But I'd go with your gut...if they're not much for ribeyes go for the other end. Some people don't like the fat (flavor)...crazy!

Some people don't like the fat (flavor)...crazy!

Back when I was much younger, I was a meat cutter for Winn Dixie, The Beef People as they marketed themselves. Anyway, I had a customer who would come in and get me to cut her some ribeyes, but she didn't want those that had any amount of the crown, or cap as we called it, on them. She said it was fat and they didn't eat fat. I'd try to sell her NY strips, but she only wanted ribeyes, said they were better. Sometimes it is what it is and no use trying to explain, so I'd cut her the first 2 steaks off the small end of the whole rib and it would take 3 whole ribs to get her the 6 steaks she wanted. That was a LONG, LONG time ago, but I still remember her...
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Hello. Nate

I hope this helps and that it doesn't come across like Charlie Brown's teacher's "Wah,wah, wah!".

As a general rule, the few weeks around Christmas and the New Year are the best time of year to stock up on rib roasts as pretty much every store chain except Walmart will offer them on sale. I almost always cut the ribs off with a good bit of the meat left on them and vacuum pack them separately so I can smoke them at a later session. The rest of the roast gets any excess fat trimmed and then it's tied into a uniform and compact roast which aids even cooking.

There's generally just the two of us around for meals. When we stock up on rib roasts we leave some larger roasts for entertaining, some get cut to around 2 to 2-1/2 pound size, which the smallest I feel roasts well, and some, especially any end parts that weren't cut as neatly as I'd like by the store, get cut into steaks. Often those "squaring up" steaks vary in thickness a good bit across the slab of meat and they will get used as shaved steak for cheese steak sandwiches or for stir frying. After thawing them they go in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to reach the "frost crust" stage and then they shave beautifully.

The chuck end, no doubt. Look for an "eye" in the middle of the meat. The chuck end will have one and the NY Strip end, or loin end, will not...

That's because the small end is pretty much all "eye". :emoji_wink:


When looking at a whole rib section the end nearest the loin is the small end. The small end tends to be the most tender as that part of the muscle does the least work. A roast cut from that end is often referred to as the "first cut" roast. The first cut roast has one big muscle and little other muscle other than the thin layer along the top of the ribs so it slices very neatly.

The big end has several smaller muscles the largest of which is the eye. The separate and distinct muscles can make keeping the slices neat and intact a bit more challenging.

OK, you got me. It can make neat slicing a lot more difficult.

This is a big end roast that weighed 9# 6oz before trimming and removing the bones (with a good layer of meat on the bones) and I tied it into a nearly cylindrical roast so it would cook evenly. It was 7# 8 oz ready to smoke.


It hit the MES electric smoker at 200 degrees at 1 PM and came out at 5:30 PM at 122* internal. The temperature was adjusted as high as 220* to keep the temperature rise on track to hit our desired time to get the roast to a friends house and served around 6:30 PM. An A-MAZE-N AMNPS smoke generator was used for around 2-1/2 to 3 hours with hickory pellets. In the MES the AMNPS make a light smoke as opposed to the large amount of smoke it can make in open air.

Three and a half hours in. As the sun was shining into part of the smoker and the shadow made taking a picture difficult the roast was slid to the front of the rack for this shot. Note the complete absence of juices in the visible part of the drip pan that was several inches below the roast.


The guest of honor is out at 122* in 4-1/2 hours and is ready to wrap in foil and with a towel over that prior to a ride in a small cooler to dinner. At this point there was about 1 tablespoon of juices in the drip pan; proof of how much juicier a "low and slow" roast can be than when some other methods are used.


And sliced, ready to serve. The slicing knife at the top has a 12" blade. Note the eye of this big end roast at the top (sliced through lengthwise to halve the slices) and the other muscles at the bottom and how they pretty much fell apart at the seams of the muscle groups....one proof of a very tender roast. A small end "first cut" roast would have a much neater slice which is worth keeping in mind if you're cooking for a more formal setting than our casual buffet......

The drip pan is just above the cutting board. Nearly all the juices are from when the roast was wrapped and transported. There would have been very little addition drippings if it were rested on the counter. Still, the drippings barely cover the bottom of the pan.


This roast was 132* when it came out of the cooler so it rose 10* in "carry over" heating which is more than the 5-6* you can expect if it rests on your counter.

And no, the amount of marbling in a rib roast really doesn't affect tenderness in a rib roast cooked to rare or medium rare. Why? Well, as long as you you are cooking to rare or medium rare the amount of fat in the interior of the particular roast matters very little in regards to tenderness as you won't get it hot enough for long enough to render it out anyway.

As stated in posts above, some folks prefer that extra marbling from the big end (the chuck end) as they feel the fat brings more flavor to the party. I find it hard to argue that point. Make a few notes each time you do something new or nearly new so you can learn what your preferences are.

My personal take is that I'm aiming for rare to no more than medium rare. If someone wants it more done than that then there's a microwave in the kitchen or camper for a reason. I'm not overcooking a whole rib roast for anyone......

On the other hand, for those folks who insist in cooking to medium well or well done :emoji_disappointed: the additional marbling in the big end near the chuck is a real plus. A small end roast cooked that high might well be dry and tougher than desired while a large end roast will likely be more juicy and tender.

One last note: smoked meat drippings are generally too salty and too strongly flavored to make gravy with. Here's a trick to help out if gravy is desired. Save some of the fatty trimmings. If the roast if being trimmed before being frozen then package them with the roast. You can dice them up and either pan fry or bake them to release the fat so you have some for the gravy.

For beef gravy you can use low sodium beef broth or, better yet, use canned beef consomme which is concentrated beef broth with some gelatin added and is usually served cold. Due to its concentrated flavor and the thickening from the gelatin it makes darn good gravy.


Again, I hope this isn't too much rambling but in the spirit of the first post I also hope that it helps someone in the sometimes scary process of deciding what to do with an expensive cut of meat.

Best regards to all and I wish all of you a great new year.


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