Smoked Prime Rib Recipe : The Star of Holiday Dinners

sliced prime rib

Smoked Prime Rib Recipe : The Star of Holiday Dinners

Overview: Smoked Prime Rib Roast

Step 1: Prep the prime rib roast.
Step 2: Get your ingredients and tools ready.
Step 3: Whisk the ingredients to form a paste.
Step 4: Preheat the smoker.
Step 5: Smear the paste on the rib roast.
Step 6: Smoke the roast.
Step 7: Let the rib roast rest.
Step 8: Slice and serve with your favorite sides and bbq sauces.

Table of Contents: 

  1. What Is A Smoked Prime Rib Roast?
  2. Tools You Will Need To Smoke Your Prime Rib
  3. Choosing A Prime Rib Roast 
  4. The Best Wood To Smoke A Prime Rib Roast
  5. Ingredients And Cooking Instructions
  6. Alternate Smoked Prime Ribs Recipe
  7. How Long To Smoke Your Prime Rib
  8. Seasoning, Toppings, And Serving Ideas 
  9. Storing Smoked Prime Rib
  10. Ways To Enjoy Leftover Smoked Prime Rib 
  11. Nutritional Value
  12. Serving Suggestions 
  13. Frequently Asked Questions 

      Dramatic, smoke flavored, and all kinds of delicious, a Smoked Prime Rib Roast will be the crowning glory of your holiday dinner. Once coated with flavor, this perfectly roasted chunk of meat will make a magical meal. Slow smoking a prime rib roast for a rich exterior crust and juicy meat inside is one of my trusted methods to ensure perfect results every time.  

      1. What is a Smoked Prime Rib Roast?

      man cutting a prime rib

      A rib roast is a large cut of beef that comes from the primal rib. The entire cut contains 7 rib bones and a whole bunch of marbles, tender muscle, and can weigh up to 30 pounds. The label “prime” rib roast refers to the fact that this comes from a primal muscle, not necessarily the grade of the meat.

      Prime is typically the highest grade available at your butcher or big box warehouse. Most grocery store butchers carry the next grade down calling Choice. Below that you will see select grade beef. These lower grades are still technically “prime rib” and most recipes you come across treat them the same.  

      2. Tools You Will Need To Smoke Your Prime Rib

      prime rib sliced on wood cutting board

      First things first, before you head out to buy a seven-bone prime rib roast, make sure you have a smoker that can handle it. Remember that the largest prime rib roast can measure more than 16 inches in length and you will want to have at least 2 inches on either side of the meat for the heat and smoke to circulate. 

      This means that an 18-inch diameter smoker might not be big enough for a roast of this size. Plan on one bone rib serving 2 people or about 1 pound per person. At the moment, this might sound like a lot of food but I’m sure people will go for seconds and the roast will shrink during cooking. 

      In addition to the prime rib roast, you will need: 

      • Apron: An apron is essential as the process can get slightly messy, especially if you’re new at this.
      • Cutting Board: Keep a sturdy cutting board because you will need it to prep and slice the roast.
      • Applewood or hickory pellets: These will act as the fuel for your smoker
      • Aluminum Foil: Foil will be required to cover up the roast when it’s time to let it rest.
      • Reliable Meat Thermometer: Checking on the internal temperature of the roast is very important and a meat thermometer will help you do this will accuracy.
      • Sharp Knife: A razor-sharp chef’s knife or paring knife should work perfectly fine for this task.  
      • Pair of high-temperature food-safe gloves: This is always a useful tool, especially if you’re preparing this dish for the first time. 
      • Seasonings: Salt and pepper, garlic powder, and thyme. 

      The smoking process takes 20 to 30 minutes per pound, depending on the weather conditions, the type of smoker used, and your desired level of doneness of the prime rib. Make sure to go through your smoker’s manual guide carefully as it is very important to know how it runs. 

      Important: The target temperature of the meat is going to be between 130F/55C or 150F/65C and the smoking temperature is going to be 250F/120C. 

      3. Choosing A Prime Rib Roast

       man cutting prime rib steaks

      Picking out a prime rib roast can be a little confusing but if you know what you’re looking for, you will be able to make an educated purchase and be sure that you’re picking a great piece of meat. 

      At your local grocery store, you will find a wide variety of different grades of meat and different prices. Around the holiday season, you might even spot some in the sale section. “Prime” is most likely the highest grade of beef you will find at the grocery store. 

      If you don’t want to shell out big bucks, you can also go for “choice” or “select” grade. Don’t worry, the ribs will be just as amazing. 

      However, if you want to make an unforgettable impression, you might look into buying a Wagyu Rib Roast but be prepared to feel a slight pinch when you have to pay for it.

      Try and look for a bone-in prime rib is possible but boneless prime rib is tasty as well. Look at the cross-section of the prime rib roast and look for bright red color with nicely marbled meat. If it looks gray or discolored, avoid those cuts. The roast should be even from one end to the other so it cooks evenly.

      Some beef roasts will already be tied and the rib bones partially separated. If not, you can ask the butcher to tie off your roast for you. This only means a little less effort for you when you begin to cook.

      Here are some things to consider when you set out to buy the perfect rib roast for your meal:

    • Select the Size of Roast: When cooking for a roast for a catering event or party, we plan 1 pound of meat per person (pre-cook weight).
    • What is your Budget: Having a budget can help guide where you want to find the most quality for the money. Look online if you aren’t finding what you want locally.
    • Consider the Marbling: Look at the intramuscular fat. Be sure there is healthy marbling, but still a good amount of meat.
    • Bone-In or Boneless: If buying bone-in, typically order the roast by the number of bones it has, such as a 3-bone rib roast. Bone-in has the benefit of a layer between the heat source and the meat to protect the meat while cooking

      4. The best wood to smoke a Prime Rib Roast

      smoked prime rib sliced with carving knife

      For the perfect smoked prime rib roast, you need the right smoking wood. But which hardwood will give the right aromas and flavors for your beef cut? 

      Smoke the perfect prime rib with these hardwoods: 


      This wood is the most popular choice for rib roast. It is a versatile wood that has a hearty, sweet, and bacon-like smoked flavor. This wood is very strong flavored, so be careful to too use too much, or it can make the meat taste bitter.


      This hardwood is recommended for beef and lamb. It is a great choice, especially for beginner smokers. It has a medium to strong smoke flavor, but it’s not overpowering. Oakwood is stronger than fruit woods like cherry but lighter than hickory or mesquite. Oak burns quite fast and produces a medium smoky flavor. Use this wood alone or in combination with fruit woods for the best results.


        This is hardwood with an intense earthy flavor. It’s a great smoke choice because it gives a unique, strong smoke flavor to red meat. Mesquite may give off a bitter and overpowering taste if too much is used. It is an oily wood that burns very hot and quite fast, which is useful when smoking dark meats. For the best results, mix mesquite with another wood.


        This hardwood is part of the hickory family. It is very sweet and lends a rich, sweet and nutty flavor to ribs. Pecan is not as strong as hickory, and the wood burns cooler and slower. Smokers recommend mixing pecan with other hardwoods to balance out the sweetness.


        This wood has a powerful flavor, and it’s used for smoking red meats in combination with other woods that can take away from the bitterness of the walnut.

          These are the best fruit woods to combine with hardwoods:


          This wood is excellent for almost all meats. The smoke from cherry wood turns meat a rich dark mahogany color, which gives the meat that savory appeal. For the best results, mix with pecan and hickory.


          This wood is an excellent addition to hardwoods because it offers a light, mild, and sweet fruity taste. It is combined with mesquite and oak wood. Apple is optimal for smoking ribs because beef requires a long smoke and Applewood also takes a long time to penetrate the meat and provide flavor.

            Here are some things to keep in mind when picking the right wood for your prime rib roast:

            • Avoid using any softwoods such as pine and cedar.
            • Avoid any wood with a high resin content like fir. Resinous wood can ruin your smoker and give an acrid and pungent taste to the meat.
            • Also, avoid wood that is too light because you probably won’t be able to taste the smoke.
            • Fruit woods such as pear and peach are also not recommended for smoking beef because you probably won’t taste the smoke flavor on a rib roast.

            5. Smoked Prime Ribs - Cooking Instructions

            prime rib uncut

            Smoked Prime Rib

            Prep Time
            1 day

            Cook Time

            4 hours

            Total Time

            1 day 4 hours





            6-8 pounds Prime Rib (Bone-In)


            • 1 tablespoon Kosher Salt 
            • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper (recommended: freshly crushed)
            • 3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard 
            • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce 
            • 5 cloves Garlic (minced) 
            • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary (chopped) 

            Cooking Instructions

            Step 1: Prep the prime rib roast

            • The rib prep begins days before it’s time to cook your roast. It is recommended that you pull your roast out of the packaging one week ahead of cooking. However, you can remove it 2-3 days before cooking as well. 
            • When you unwrap the rib, make sure to pat it dry and palace it on a sheet pan with a cooling rack.
            • Do not season the meat yet or place it uncovered in the fridge. It will dry out. 
            • Prepping the meat will intensify the beef flavor but more importantly, it will firm up the roast for a better texture when smoked. 
            • 12-24 hours before cooking- Cut into the fat pad on the top of the meat at a diagonal and then it in the opposite direction and cut again to make a diamond pattern. Rub salt and pepper all over the meat and palace in the fridge. 

            Step 2: Get your ingredients and tools ready 

            On the day of cooking, get started by gathering all the tools and ingredients mentioned above and double-check to make sure you don’t miss out on any important ingredient.

            Step 3: Whisk the ingredients to form a paste 

            In a small bowl, whisk together the Dijon Mustard, Worcestershire Sauce, Garlic, and Rosemary. 

            Step 4: Preheat the smoker

            Set the smoker to 250F and preheat, lid closed for 15 minutes using applewood or hickory pellets. 

            Step 5: Smear the paste on the rib roast 

            Apply the mustard paste all over the meat and rub the outside of the roast to make sure you don’t miss out on any juicy corner. 

            Step 6: Smoke the roast

            Put the prime rib directly on the grill grate. Roast for 3 ½ to 4 hours, or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 125-130F for rare or for medium-rare, 135F. Do not overcook the meat. 

            Step 7: Let the rib roast rest

            Once roasted evenly, remove the rib roast from the smoker and place it on a cutting board but do not slice it just yet.  Let it rest in the tray for 20-30 mins, giving the roast enough time to absorb all the juices it released in the cooking process. This will ensure juicy slices of meat. 

            Step 8: Serve with your favorite sides and bbq sauces

            Slice up the prime rib roast and serve it with your favorite sides, dips, bbq sauces, or salad. 

            6. Alternate Smoked Prime Ribs Recipe

            sliced brisket or prime rib

            Yes, yes, I know the recipe mentioned above takes a little longer to finish, but don’t worry. Here’s an alternative recipe that won’t take as long but will result in an equally delicious and juicy beef roast. So let’s fire up those smokers and make this succulent masterpiece. 

            Smoked Prime Rib- Alternative Recipe

            Prep Time
            30 mins

            Cook Time

            4 hours

            Total Time

            4 hours 30 mins



            8LBS of Prime Rib Roast


            • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
            • 2 tablespoons Kosher Salt 
            • 2 tablespoons Black Pepper
            • 1 tablespoon Thyme (dried or fresh) 

            Cooking Instructions

            Step 1:

            Rub the roast with olive oil on all sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper, garlic power, and thyme. Make sure to have an even amount on all sides. 

            Step 2: 

            • Place roast bone-side-down on a preheated smoker at 225F. Smoke until reaching 10F shy of your desired internal temperature. Smoke it for about 30-40 mins per pound. 
            • Adjust temperate between 200-250F while smoking if it appears to finish early or too late. 
            • Remove prime rib from the smoker, set aside, and increase the temperature to 450F. 

            Step 3: 

            Place roast back on the smoker to reverse sear until a nice crust is formed and your desired internal temperature is reached. 

            Step 4: 

            Remove and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes. Carve into 1” slices and plate. 


            If searing in an oven before smoking, place the roast bone-side-down on the baking sheet in a preheated 450F oven on the bottom rack for 15 minutes. 

            Remove and then smoke until your desired internal temperature is reached. Allow it to rest 20-30 minutes before you slice. 

            7. How Long To Smoke Your Prime Rib

            boning knife with sliced prime rib

            All time ranges are based on a finished internal temperature of 130F. As a reminder when cooking at a low temperature, the guide to when the meat is done is the internal temperature, not the timing. However, you should keep this in mind: 

            • 225F will take roughly 40 minutes per pound 
            • 250F will take roughly 30 minutes per pound 
            • 275F will take roughly 20 minutes per pound

            The times mentioned below are a rough guide for how long a prime rib roast will take to smoke at 225F:

            • 4 Pound Prime Rib: 2.6 hours 
            • 6 Pound Prime Rib: 4 hours
            • 8 Pound Prime Rib: 5.3 hours 
            • 10 Pound Prime Rib: 6.6 hours

            The best way to tell when your prime rib is done is to insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the meat to check the temperature. The correct temperature range for the prime rib is as follows: 

            • Rare: 120-125 degrees F
            • Medium Rare: 130-135 degrees F
            • Medium: 135-140 degrees F 
            • Well Done: 145 degrees F or higher 

            8. Seasoning, Toppings, and Serving Ideas

            sliced rack of prime rib

            Staple condiments are a must when eating prime rib. The first of those is horseradish- that little spice that’s strong enough to clear your sinus. The second must is a great flavored au jus - a thin gravy that accompanies meat. The easiest way is to buy a packet, just like a gravy packet, and prepare it that way. 

            How can I not mention mashed potatoes! Nothing goes better with prime rib than some creamy, great-tasting mashed potatoes. Another great side dish that goes well with this roast is asparagus. You can also go for some classic Mac & Cheese, fries, or jalapeno poppers as well.

            When serving a fine prime rib roast, the best wine is a big red like a California Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, Merlot, or Malbec. These wines complement the flavors of the beef and pair very well with a prime roast. 

            If you want to get a little exotic, try horseradish cream sauce, montreal steak seasoning, 

            9. Storing Smoked Prime Rib

            grilled and smoked prime rib

            Proper storage is key, As soon as dinner’s finished, wrap any leftover prime rib tightly in a plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze. While it’s the best the next day, leftover prime rib is good for between five to seven days in the fridge or up to six months in the freezer.

            For best results, keep the leftover prime rib intact rather than slicing it. If there’s leftover au jus, drizzle a few tablespoons over the leftover meat before wrapping. To reheat from frozen, defrost in the fridge for 24 hours. 

            While it is nearly impossible to reheat prime rub without losing some of the rosy red color that many diners crave, you can come close to duplicating the original meal by being patient and reheating the meat very slowly. The best way to get close to retaining a medium-rare finish is to earmark the thickest part of the roast for reheating. 

            Place the leftover roast in a pan and cover with foil. To retain the succulent quality of the meat, add a little au jus from the previous day or a ¼th cup of low-sodium beef stock. Place this in a preheated 300-degree oven for approximately 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the piece. The USDA recommends that reheated leftover meat reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees, which is well beyond medium-rare at 140 degrees.

            This version does not need to rest before being sliced and served. If keeping the meat as pink as possible isn’t an issue, it’s also okay to reheat the slice of prime rib in the microwave, starting with 30-second intervals, checking the temperature between blasts. However, this method sacrifices some of the meat’s tenderness in exchange for speed and convenience. 

            10. Ways to Enjoy Leftover Smoked Prime Rib

            sliced prime rib with pitmaster knifeBBQ & Pitmaster Meat Knife 8" with Forked Tip & Bottle Opener | Gladiator Series 

            Leftover prime rib can be piled on an open-faced sandwich and popped under a broiler for a few minutes. It can be diced and fried with potatoes for a satisfying hash or added at the end of cooking a beef stroganoff as well. 

            If there are also leftover mashed potatoes and veggies, reheated prime rib can join the party and recreate the original meal. 

            11. Nutritional Value

            Smoked Prime Ribs: Nutritional Value 

            Amount Per Serving (1 slice)  



            Calories from Fat














            Vitamin C






            Smoked Prime Ribs- Alternate Recipe: Nutritional Value 















            Vitamin A


            Vitamin C






            12. Serving Suggestions (per person) 

            sliced prime rib steak

            Plan 1 pound of uncooked prime rib roast per person. This will account for any necessary trimming and volume lost during the cooking process, as well as leave you with enough meat for second rounds and leftover sandwiches the next day. 

            I know it seems a lot, and that’s because IT IS! Prime rib is an indulgence and you would want your guests to feel well-fed when they leave the table. If you’ve got kids on the table, they will eat less, so plan accordingly.

            13. Frequently Asked Questions

            sliced medium rare prime rib

            How long does it take to smoke prime rib at 225?

            Maintaining 225F in your smoker is the perfect temperature to get a great smoke flavor into the meat, Expect about 40 minutes a pound when smoking, so a 6LB prime rib roast will take about 4 hours to smoke. 

            How long to smoke prime ribs?

            All time ranges are based on a finished internal temperature of 130F. However, you should keep this in mind: 

              • 225F will take roughly 40 minutes per pound 
              • 250F will take roughly 30 minutes per pound 
              • 275F will take roughly 20 minutes per pound

              The times mentioned below are a rough guide for how long a prime rib roast will take to smoke at 225F:

              • 4 Pound Prime Rib: 2.6 hours 
              • 6 Pound Prime Rib: 4 hours
              • 8 Pound Prime Rib: 5.3 hours 
              • 10 Pound Prime Rib: 6.6 hours

              How long does it take to smoke a 10 lb prime rib at 250 degrees?

              Estimate a smoking time of 30 minutes per pound of meat. So a 9-10 pound prime rib roast can take 4.5 - 5 hours to smoke. Check your rib every hour to make sure the smoker is maintaining the 225 to 250F temperature and watch the internal meat temperature. 

                How much do prime ribs cost?

                Because this is an expensive cut of meat ranging from $10-15/pound you’ll want to make sure you get it right! 

                  Are prime rib and rib-eye the same?

                  No, they are not the same – the ribeye doesn’t have the surrounding meat and fat and isn’t quite as flavorful a cut of meat. Don’t get me wrong, the ribeye makes a fine steak, but it’s not the same as a prime rib. 

                    Check Out Dalstrong Steak Knives Today! 

                    Written by Himani Vaid

                    Toronto-based food nerd turned food storyteller, Himani is a connoisseur of all things delish. Currently, busy thinking about what to eat next.

                    Smoked Prime Rib Recipe : The Star of Holiday Dinners

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