Mix it up this Christmas by serving Smoked Prime Rib. A boneless or bone-in prime rib roast is coated with a killer prime rib rub and smoked low and slow on the grill to create a perfectly seasoned crust to compliment the buttery interior.

As Pitmasters and experienced cooks, we’re well-versed in all-things prime rib related. When developing this recipe, we went through countless testing sessions to help ensure your smoked standing rib roast turns out perfectly. We’ve included many pictures from the testing sessions in this post to serve as visual guides.

You can make this smoked prime rib recipe with a pellet smoker, electric smoker, charcoal grill or even a wood-fire grill.

Round out your meal by serving your Christmas dinner roast with Horseradish SaucePrime Rib Au Jus, or Prime Rib Gravy.

Raw prime rib on a black cutting board surrouned by garlic, black pepper salt and rosemary.

Smoked Prime Rib

Tens of thousands of you have made my 5-star Melt-in-your-Mouth Prime Rib recipe and quite a few have asked for a Smoked Prime Rib version. Not one to disappoint, I mixed together a huge batch of our favorite Prime Rib Rub and went to work. It’s the same rub we use when making Sous Vide Prime Rib. Our Smoked Prime Rib Rub Recipe is a classic and a keeper.

Here are all the ingredients you need to:

  • Prime Rib (Bone-in Roast or Boneless Roast) – Make sure to nab a “prime grade” roast vs. a “choice grade”. The quality of the “prime” rated roast is far superior.
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Garlic Cloves
  • Smoked Prime Rib Rub – Kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary (fresh or dried) and thyme (fresh or dried).

When shopping for prime rib for sale you want to pick a well-marbled prime rib. The fat marbling is what gives the steak the “melt in your mouth” buttery texture. The prime graded roast have a ton more fat marbling throughout.

For more tips, read this list of “25 Pitmaster Tips For Smoking Prime Rib“.

Recipe Testing

We went through 6 rounds of testing before delivering this smoked prime rib recipe to you. It’s such an expensive piece of meat it was imperative we get it right. One very important thing we learned early on: if you use a butter-based rub the butter immediately melts off and takes a ton of seasoning with it. Opt for dry prime rib seasonings with olive oil instead. It also provides for a better crust.

Photo of a raw prime rib in a roasting rack covered in garlic butter.

Wood Recommendations

It would be a sin to overpower the beautiful beef flavor with a heavy hit of smoke. The smoke should compliment the prime rib, not dominate it. As such, I recommend sticking with a mild wood such as apple woodcherry wood, pecan wood or even oak.  

Check out the list of The Best Wood For Prime Rib for more options.

Required Equipment

  • Smoker –  Take your pick: pellet grill, charcoal grill or wood-fire grill.
  • Energy Source – charcoal, pellets, gas, etc.
  • Smoking Wood –  Wood Chunks, or Wood Chips.
  • Digital Thermometer – Our go-to meat thermometer is this ThermoPro.
  • Drip Pan
Overhead shot of a charcoal grill.

Step-By Step-Instructions

Here’s an overview of the steps required to make a perfectly cooked smoked prime rib.

Remove For The Refrigerator

Remove the prime rib from the refrigerator, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and rest on the kitchen counter for four hours. This step is needed for an evenly smoked standing rib roast.

We tested removing the roast an hour prior and it did cook unevenly. The picture below is from that test session – notice the inside is pink while the exterior isn’t.

Cut smoked prime rib on a cutting board.

Truss The Roast

If you purchased a bone-in prime rib you’ll need to truss the roast if your butcher hasn’t already done it for you. To cut, run a knife along the rib bones (where they connect to the meat) and cut until the meat is almost separated from the bones. Keep the knife as close to the bones as possible to minimize cutting off any meat. Immediately fold the roast back together (so it looks like it wasn’t cut apart) and use butcher twine to tie it back up.

Here’s a great video showing detail if you’re new to the practice and need visual help.

Prime rib in a white dish on the stove.

Season The Roast

Pat dry the roast with paper towels. Using a small knife, create small slits all over the top of the roast (the fat layer) and insert slices of fresh garlic cloves. Do not cut into the red flesh. Coat the outside of the roast with olive oil followed by the prime rib rub. The entire roast should be coated in rub.

Smoking Prime Rib

Insert a digital thermometer into the center of the roast to closely monitor the internal temperature. Place the roast on the middle of the grill grate with the fat side facing up (bone-side is face down). Place a drip pan filled with water directly underneath it to collect any drippings and to ensure moisture when smoking. Close the lid of the grill to start the cooking process. I recommend checking the temperature starting at the 60 minute mark.

Smoked prime rib on a grill.

Reverse Sear

If you like a nice crust on your roast, you’ll need to reverse sear it after smoking. To reverse sear, remove the roast when the internal temperature is between 105°F-110°F and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Crank up the temperature of the smoker to 425°F-450°F. When this higher temperature is reached, put the uncovered roast back on the grill grates. Continue to cook until it’s 5°F-7°F degrees under your desired internal temperature. 

The below picture is after smoking, but before reverse-searing. You’ll notice the crust isn’t dark and crispy and the fat isn’t fully rendered.

Standing Rib Roast on a grill.

Rest The Meat

Transfer the cooked prime rib to a cutting board and loosely cover with aluminum foil to rest. Do not skip this important step as the carry over heat from resting the meat will bring it up to the perfect final internal temperature. 

Large roast on a cutting board covered by foil.

Serve

When ready to serve, cut off the butcher’s twine and use a carving knife (this is the one I personally use and recommend) to slice the meat. Serve immediately for best results.

Temperature Chart

Cook smoked rib roast by temperature not time. Here are the “final doneness temperatures” you want to aim for. The “pull from the heat” temperature will be 5-7°F under the temperatures called out below. The carry over heat when resting will bring it up the final 5-7°F. 

Note – It’s ideal to keep the internal temperature of the roast either rare or medium rare. At this temperature it’s buttery soft and melt in your mouth. But, go with what you prefer. 

  • Rare Prime Rib: 120-129°F
  • Medium Rare Prime Rib: 130-134°F
  • Medium Prime Rib: 135-144°F
  • Medium Well Prime Rib: 145-154°F
  • Well Done Prime Rib: 155-164°F

TIP –  Download our free Temperature Chart For Prime Rib and/or Beef Temperature Chart Printable for quick access when making.

Prime Rib Temperature Chart printable.

How Long Will It Take?

It takes about 40 minutes per pound to reach an internal temperature of 130°F when smoking at 225°F.  Depending on the size of your beef roast, here’s a good guideline to calculate your roast’s cooking time:

  • 4 Pound Roast = approx. 2.6 hours
  • 6 Pound Roast = approx. 4 hours
  • 8 Pound Roast = approx. 5.3 hours
  • 10 Pound Roast = approx. 6.6 hours

TIP- to speed up the cooking time, you can set your smoker to 250°F instead of 225°F. It will take approx. 30 minutes per pound vs. 40 minutes per pound. The estimated time does not include the resting time.

Sliced beef roast next to horseradish sauce.

Tips From A Pitmaster

  • Depending on what’s available and your budget, you can make a smoked prime rib with the bones or a smoked boneless prime rib. The flavor won’t be affected if you go boneless, however the bones act as a buffer between the grill grate/heat and the meat. Something to keep in mind.
  • Select a “USDA Prime” rated prime rib. Even though it’s called “Prime Rib” the name is misleading. The “prime” in “prime rib” refers to the cut itself – NOT the USDA grading. There are 3 different quality levels to choose from: Prime, Choice and Select. Avoid select at all costs. 

The picture below was a “choice” graded cut, which is what we utilized during testing. Look at the lack of fat marbling throughout. While delicious, it lacked the buttery texture prime rib is known for. It also shows how the crust curled when exposed to a kitchen torch.

A smoked prime rib roast with one slice cut off laying on a black cutting board. A glass of red wine is setting next to the cutting board.

How Much Smoked Prime Rib To Serve Per Person

A good rule of thumb is to buy .75 lb – 1 lb per person. We always go with 1 pound of prime rib per person to ensure everyone grubs down and leaves full. We love having leftovers and use the leftover rib bones to make Instant Pot Bone Broth

What To Serve With Smoked Prime Rib Roast

In addition to Horseradish Sauce For Beef Tenderloin, these side dishes are pair well with Smoked Prime Rib.

Want more side dish ideas for your flavorful prime rib? Check out this comprehensive list of What To Serve with Prime Rib.

White bowl of prime rib gravy.

Drink Pairings

As with any red meat, red wine is optimal as it pairs brilliantly with the beefy and mineral-forward flavor of smoked prime rib.

  • Red Wine Recommendations – Bordeaux, Riojo, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec.
  • Beer Recommendations – Brown Ale, Porter, Stout, and Amber Ale.

How To Re-heat?

There’s a science to re-heating prime rib and I’ve done all the testing. Check out our ‘How To Reheat Prime Rib‘ post for 7 different options and tips!

Leftover Ideas

There are so many uses for leftover prime rib, we couldn’t fit it in this post. Check out this comprehensive list of 27+ Recipes With Leftover Prime Rib. My favorite way to use up leftover smoked prime rib is a Prime Rib Sandwich or sliders.

Close up photo of prime rib sliders.

Additional Resources

Still, have questions? Feel free to leave a comment or question below as we’re happy to answer them. We want to make your holiday season as stress-free and successful as possible! After all, prime rib isn’t a cheap cut.

Smoked Standing Rib Roast Recipe

This smoked prime rib recipe was originally posted in December 2019, but has been updated with new photos and additional text.

Smoked Prime Rib Recipe on a black cutting board.

Smoked Prime Rib

Mix it up this holiday season by serving this smoked prime rib roast. USDA Prime Rib is coated in garlic and herbs, and smoked low and slow, to create a perfectly seasoned crisp crust to compliment the buttery interior.
5 from 45 votes
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Prep Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours 30 minutes
Resting: 20 minutes
Total Time: 10 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8 People
Calories: 1405kcal
Author: Darcey Olson
Cost: $150

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 prime rib roast (bone-in or boneless) ((*Note 1))
  • 2-3 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced ((*Note 2))
  • 3 tbsp olive oil ((*Note 2))

Smoked Prime Rib Rub

  • 2 tbsp kosher salt ((*Note 3))
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 1 garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp black pepper

Instructions

REMOVE FROM THE REFRIGERATOR (OPTIONAL)

  • Remove the prime rib from the refrigerator, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and rest on the kitchen counter for four hours. 
    1 prime rib roast (bone-in or boneless)

PREP THE PRIME RIB ROAST

  • Pat dry the roast with paper towels. Using a small knife, create small slits all over the top of the roast (the fat layer) and insert slices of garlic cloves. Do not cut into the red flesh.
    2-3 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
  • Add all over the prime rib rub ingredients to a small bowl and mix to combine. Coat the outside of the roast with olive oil followed by the prime rib rub. The entire roast should be coated.
    3 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp kosher salt, 1 tbsp dried thyme, 1 tbsp dried rosemary, 1 garlic powder, 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 tbsp black pepper

SMOKE THE PRIME RIB

  • Pre-heat your smoker to 225°F.
  • Insert a digital thermometer into the center of the roast. Place the roast on the middle of the grill grate with the fat side facing up (bone-side is face down). Place a drip pan filled with water directly underneath it. Place the lid on the smoker.

REVERSE SEAR

  • Remove the roast when the internal temperature is between 105°F-110°F and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Increase the temperature of the smoker to 425°F-450°F. When this higher temperature is reached, put the uncovered roast back on the grill grates. Continue to cook until it’s 5°F-7°F degrees under your desired final internal temperature. 
  • Remove the roast to a large cutting board and tent with foil. Let rest for 20 minutes minimum.

SERVING

Notes

Note 1 – You can use any size prime rib roast you like. Just calculate the cooking time, based on the weight, using the provided guideline:
It takes about 40 minutes per pound to reach an internal temperature of 130°F when smoking at 225°F.
Here’s a good guideline to calculate your roast’s cooking time:
  • 4 Pound Roast = approx. 2.6 hours
  • 6 Pound Roast = approx. 4 hours
  • 8 Pound Roast = approx. 5.3 hours
  • 10 Pound Roast = approx. 6.6 hours

Note 2 –
The measurements are for a 4-bone prime rib. You may need more olive oil and garlic cloves if using a 7-bone roast.

Note 3 –
Make a double batch of the smoked prime rib rub if using a 7-bone roast.

Note 4 –
if using fresh herbs, use 2 tablespoons each.

FINAL TEMPERATURE CHART
  • Rare Prime Rib: 120-129°F
  • Medium Rare Prime Rib: 130-134°F
  • Medium Prime Rib: 135-144°F
  • Medium Well Prime Rib: 145-154°F
  • Well Done Prime Rib: 155-164°F
Nutritional information is just an estimate and not exact. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1Slice | Calories: 1405kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 62g | Fat: 126g | Saturated Fat: 51g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 56g | Cholesterol: 274mg | Sodium: 1947mg | Potassium: 1023mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.02g | Vitamin A: 31IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 7mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @foodieandwine or tag #foodieandwine!

Join the Conversation

  1. Avatar of Debra M Falagan Debra M Falagan says:

    I am planning to use your recipe for our Christmas dinner Do you have great au jus that does not require wine?

    1. Absolutely! This post has two versions, one DOES NOT include any wine. https://foodieandwine.com/prime-rib-au-jus/

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