Smoked Prime Rib

Hard to describe how much I love prime rib. The great thing is that you can cook a prime rib at home that rivals anything you get at a restaurant. Prime rib can be scary because it is an expensive cut of meat. Kind of intimidating to think you might ruin an $80-100 cut of meat. But please don’t let that stop you. It is surprisingly easy to do. Here is a method I have adopted and refined over the years that work great.


Pick out a nice prime rib roast, boneless or bone in. I prefer boneless. You can age it in your fridge for several days if you like. I have done 8-10 days without a problem. Shorter duration is fine. Longer aging = more tender and flavorful.

Take the roast out of the fridge and let sit on counter at room temp for 1-3 hours before cooking. This causes the temps in the meat to equilibrate and ensures that the roast cooks more evenly.

Wet Rub

Prep the following wet rub:

1/4 C olive oil
1/4 C crushed garlic
1.5 T kosher salt
1.5 T fresh ground pepper (coarse)

Spread wet rub all over surface of p-rib and put in disposable aluminum pan. Sometimes I used a grate to keep the roast off of the bottom, but that is entirely optional.


Searing Stage

This is very important. The best part of a prime rib roast is the crust. To get a good crust you need to sear before you smoke it. Put it in oven in kitchen at 450°F for 25 minutes to sear the crust. After searing it will look like this:

prib-after sear

Cooking Stage

Move to the smoker at 250°F using oak pellets (or whatever you prefer – I like oak with beef). Cook until temp probe in the middle of the roast reaches your desired temperature. However, you need to be careful – the worst thing you can do to a prime rib roast is overcook it (I have made this mistake a couple of times). Classic prime rib roast is medium rare or medium (125-132°F). But what is important to remember is that you typically test the temperature at the very center of the roast and the roast cooks from the outside in so let’s suppose your temp probe reads 132° in the center. That means everywhere else in the roast is >132°. Furthermore, after you pull the roast, the overall roast stops cooking but the temps inside the roast are going to move to an equilibrium state, which means that the middle of the roast will continue to cook because it is surrounded by warmer meat. You can count on the center of the roast going up an extra 5-7° as it sits. Therefore, you might want to use this table as a guide:

DonenessPull TempTarget Temp
Medium rare 118°F 125°F
Medium well127°F135°F
WellDon’t even think about itNope
Table derived from:

My family prefers about 132°F and this is what is shown in the pics below.

Reaching temp typically takes 1-3 hrs in the smoker, depending on the size of the roast. Finished roast:



After it reaches your desired temp, take it out and let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes before slicing. This allows the meat fibers to relax. If you slice too soon, the juices will drain out of the meat. Use a good carving knife and slice across the grain. The slices on the ends will be more done.


Serve and enjoy!


If you have leftovers, slice it thin the next day and do french dip sandwiches. Yum.

Horseradish Sauce

I love my prime rib with a good horseradish sauce. I found this recipe on and tweaked it. I use this brand of prepared horseradish:



  • 1-1.5 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard  <– you can substitute prepared mustard
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (otional)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

You can use lowfat mayo and sour cream if you like.


In a small bowl whisk together horseradish, vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise, ground red pepper and sour cream.

These quantities are usually plenty for one roast.

One Comment Add yours

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