Smoked Prime Rib Roast
If you love prime rib, then you will be amazed at the next level flavor achieved from a smoked prime rib roast.
Our family has always followed the tradition of Oven Roasting Prime Rib with perfect results, and I have held firm to this tried and true method. For a recent family dinner, my daughter and son-in-law prepared smoked prime rib on their pellet smoker grill. They wanted to share with the family their favorite method for cooking prime rib. Everyone was in pure bliss with each bite of juicy prime rib imparted with a kiss of smoke flavor. My eyes have now been opened to new possibilities! While I still love my oven roasting method, I would highly recommend following my daughter’s recipe and instructions for cooking a smoked prime rib on a pellet grill.
We also enjoyed side dishes of German Creamed Spinach and Garlic Roasted Baby Potatoes with this wonderful smoked prime rib. My daughter told me the next day, she used the left over rib meat and bones to make Homemade Beef Stock and a savory Vegetable Beef Soup.
For in-deph information on the following topics, please refer to our comprehensive Prime Rib Guidelines:
- Prime Rib Size & Purchasing Tips
- How To Prepare Prime Rib Roast For Cooking
- Carving Prime Rib Roast
- Side Dishes for Prime Rib Roast
Purchasing Prime Rib & Sizing:
Sizing: A full prime rib roast is comprised of seven (7) ribs starting from the shoulder (chuck) down the back to the loin, close to 15 to 18 pounds, and enough to feed a crowd of at least 14 people. The term “standing” means the bones are included in the roast, thus the roast can stand by itself. For a generous serving of roast, figure on two people per rib.
Selecting: I do NOT recommend purchasing a boneless rib roast, as roasting with the bones adds flavor. But, if you do purchase a boneless prime rib roast, smoke using the same guidelines as a roast with ribs. Usually, the weight is figured without the bones. If in doubt, weigh your roast before cooking it. The Prime Rib meat should have a bright red color with no dry or brown edges.
Bones: Have the butcher cut off the chine bones from the bottom of the roast and the rib bones from the meat just along the bone line, but do not discard them. They can be cut off in separate pieces or the chine bones can be cut off as one piece with the rib bones. Have the meat placed back on the rib bones and wrap them along with the chine bones to take home to cook along with the roast. Your butcher will also tie the bones back on the roast if you ask. Having the bones cut away from the meat before cooking will make carving the finished prime rib a lot easier.
Prepare Prime Rib For Smoking:
Step 1 – Bring Prime Rib Roast to Room Temperature:
Previously Frozen Roast: If your prime rib roast is frozen, let it thaw completely in the refrigerator. Remove the roast from the refrigerator about 2 to 4 hours before cooking to let it come to room temperature. Depending on the size of your roast, the time to come to room temperature may vary. I can not give you an exact time on this. Use your best judgment!
Room Temperature: To cook evenly, the roast must not be cold – let it stand at room temperature, loosely covered, for about 2 to 4 hours. This time can vary depending on how big or small your roast is. I can not give you an exact time on this. If you do not let the roast come to room temperature, if will take longer to cook your roast, your roast won’t cook evenly, and you will end up with well-done slices on the end and raw meat in the center. Use your best judgment on room temperature times!
Step 2 – Trim the fat cap:
The fat provides the flavor, so it is important to leave a thin layer (fat cap) on. Use a sharp knife to trim fat cap down to 1/4-inch to ensure the smoke is able to penetrate the meat. If the fat cap is too thick, the prime rib will not cook evenly. If the fat is completely cut off, you will lose the flavor. The surface fat and the marbling melt as the prime rib smokes. Most butchers will trim the fat down for you when purchasing.
Step 3: – Tying up the prime rib roast:
It is important to tie the prime rib before roasting. If left untied, the outer layer of meat will pull away from the rib-eye muscle and overcook. To prevent this problem, tie the roast a both ends, running the cooking twine parallel to the bone. Most butchers will tie your rib roast for you – so ask the butcher!
Tie the roast at both ends, running the cooking twine parallel to the bone. Tie the meat to the rib bones and include the chine bones at the bottom of the prime rib roast. Tie around the meat and ribs in between the bones on each end, making sure to tie the chine bones to the meat also. Also, tie around the meat and bones in the center of the prime rib.
Types of Wood for Smoking Prime Rib:
For a wood smoker grill, cherry, hickory or pecan wood will impart a nice flavor when smoking prime rib. For an electric smoker grill that uses wood pellets, use cherry, hickory or pecan pellets in the hopper. For this recipe we used hickory flavored pellets in our pellet grill smoker.
Smoker Internal Temperature:
Maintain an internal smoker temperature between 200-250 degrees F. For this smoked prime rib recipe the target internal temperature of the smoker should be around 225 degrees F. Note: Each manufacturer’s smoker grill will have different instructions for heating, it is recommended to follow the manucturer’s instructions for your individual smoker’s heating method. In this recipe, we provide guidelines for internal temperature settings of smoker grill, cooking timelines and internal meat temperature.
Some smokers may not have an exact 225 degree F. setting, so it is ok to turn smoker temperature up to 250 degrees F. as long as you watch your internal temperature – remember the idea is to cook low and slow.
Tips for smoking prime rib on a grill when you don’t have a smoker:
If you do not have the means to buy a smoker, a smoking effect can be achieved using a grill. Use the “indirect” heat method of cooking on a grill, by pushing all the coals to one side of the grill, or if using a gas grill, only light one side of the grill. The brisket should sit on the side of the grill with no fire underneath.
Soak hardwood chips in water for at least one hour and place over fire. These will produce the smoke to flavor the meats and add the moisture to keep the meat from drying out.
Add a drip pan below where the meat will sit, to catch the fat that will be dripping off the meat.
Try to maintain a grill temperature as close to 225 degrees F, as possible.
Prime Rib Recipe & Smoking Instructions:
1 Prime Rib standing rib roast at room temperature very important
Preheat Smoker Grill to 225 degrees F.
Some smokers may not have an exact 225 degree F. setting, so it is ok to turn smoker temperature up to 250 degrees F. as long as you watch your internal temperature. Do not allow the internal temperature of the smoker grill get above 250 degrees. Remember the idea is to cook low and slow.
In a small bowl, combine garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Add olive oil and mix until all ingredients are combined.
Pat the room-temperature prime rib dry with paper towels or napkins. Using your hands, rub the outside of the prime rib roast with the Herb Seasoning Rub (see above Herb Seasoning Rub recipe).
Place the prepared prime rib roast directly on the smoker grill surface with the fat cap up and bone side down. The rib bones are a natural rack: you will not need a metal one. Insert a thermometer probe into the center of the prime rib so you can monitor the internal temperature of the roast while it’s smoking. Now you are ready to close the smoker lid. Estimate a smoking time of 30 minutes per pound of meat. ( ex: A 9-10 pound prime rib roast could take 4.5 -5 hours to smoke) Check your prime rib every hour to make sure the smoker is maintaining the 225 to 250 degree F. cooking temperature and watch the internal meat temperature. Do not raise the lid of the smoker any more than you absolutely need to (it reduces the temperature inside every time you do).
Start closely monitoring the internal temperature of the prime rib about 45 minutes before the estimated cooking time is due to finish. Remove prime rib from the smoker when the roast reaches an internal temperature of 120 degrees F. (or 5 degrees lower than your desired temperature. Ex: If you prefer Medium Rare instead of Rare, then remove prime rib when internal temperature reaches 125 degrees). See internal temperature chart to determine Prime Rib Roast Internal Cooking Temperatures for rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well and well-done.
It is important to use a meat thermometer with a cable attached to the meat probe tip. This will allow for the meat probe tip to stay in the Prime Rib during the entire cooking process while the barbecue lid is closed, giving you a continuous temperature reading of the meat to ensure it does not overcook. I recommend using the Thermoworks Smoke Pro Series 2 Channel High Temp Cooking Probe for continuous monitoring of the meat’s internal temperature in addition to monitoring the smoker’s internal temperature during the smoking and cooking process. Includes wireless receiver to remotely monitor the temperatures from up to 300 feet away.
New! Thermoworks Signals™ 4-Channel Wi-Fi/Bluetooth BBQ Alarm Thermometer with built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth that can seamlessly switch between the two. Signals boasts 4 channels of continuous temperature monitoring and real-time alerts whether your nearby or across town. Works with both your smart device AND as a stand-alone unit with physical buttons.
Estimated Prime Rib Smoking Time until Internal Temperature reaches 120 degrees F:
1 rib (2 to 2.5 pounds) – 60 to 75 minutes
2 ribs (4 to 5 pounds) – 2 to 2 1/2 hours
3 ribs (6 to 8 pounds) – 3 to 4 1/2 hours
4 ribs (9 to 10.5 pounds) – 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours
5 ribs (11 to 15 pounds) – 5 1/2 to 7 1/2 hours
6 ribs (15 to 16 pounds) – 7 1/2 to 8 hours
7 ribs (16 to 18.5 pounds) – 8 to 9 1/2 hours
Prime Rib Roast Cooking Internal Temperatures:
Rare – 120 to 125 degrees F. – center is bright red, pinkish toward the exterior portion
Medium Rare – 130 to 135 degrees F. – center is very pink, slightly brown toward the exterior portion
Medium – 140 to 145 degrees F. – center is light pink, outer portion is brown
Medium Well – 150 to 155 degrees F. – not pink
Well Done – 160 degrees F. and above
Resting the Prime Rib:
Loosely tent the prime rib in aluminum foil and allow to sit and rest for 15-20 minutes. The internal temperature will rise (5 to 10 degrees higher) 125 degrees F. to 130 degrees F. (medium rare) in 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure to pay attention to how long you let the cooked prime rib roast rest as the internal temperature will rise even higher if allowed to rest as long as an hour. Cutting into the meat too early will cause a significant loss of juice. Do not skip the resting stage.
Carving Prime Rib:
Use a long, thin, sharp knife.
(1) Place the cooked prime rib on a large Meat Cutting Board with a well at one end to hold the juice. Remove the cooking twine that is tied around the roast.
(2) Use a carving fork to hold roast in place. Turn the platter to where the rib bones are on your left, if you are right-handed, and on your right if you use your left hand to carve.
(3) Using your sharp carving knife, make one cut to slice off the chine or feather bones (the large-end bones) to sever meat from bones in one piece.
(4) Set roast cut-side down. Slice the meat across the grain to the thickness you prefer.
Note: Save the bones for nibbling on later or for making a delicious Beef Stock to use in soups, stews, and pot roast recipes. You could also save the bones to make a pot of Vegetable Beef Soup or Caldo de Res (Mexican Beef Soup).