This Smoked Prime Rib is sure to be the star of any occasion and a fitting centerpiece to holiday meals! Check out all of my tips and walk-through instructions for perfectly smoking your boneless prime rib or standing rib roast!
Need help rounding out your Christmas dinner menu? Check out all of my faves on the what to serve with prime rib page!
Smoke the perfect prime rib roast every time - whether it's the first or hundredth!!
This amazing prime rib is the crowning glory of any table, and deservedly so! This rich, beefy cut is so well marbled that the fat just melts into your tasty beef making every bite mouth-watering and deliciously irresistible!
Of course, with the price of prime rib, no one wants to mess up this meaty main dish! Check out all of my sections below for perfecting your smoked prime rib game and being the hero of all your holiday meals!
This wonderful smoked prime rib recipe comes together easily with very few ingredients needed! When in doubt, simply season your roast with salt and pepper to let the incredible meat flavor shine!
The amounts for the rub will work beautifully on a 4-6 pound roast, for larger portions be sure to increase the amounts.
- Prime Rib - Choose a well-marbled prime rib, whether it's a boneless roast or standing rib roast. Also called a rib roast or ribeye roast.
- Salt - I like kosher salt for this rub, if using table salt reduce the amount by half.
- Pepper - Break out the pepper mill and use freshly ground black pepper for the dry rub. Yum!
- Paprika - I LOVE paprika when cooking meats, it adds great flavor and color too. Since we're smoking the roast, you can use regular paprika rather than smoked paprika.
- Garlic Powder - The unique flavor of garlic pairs well with any beef, and adds to the hearty richness of your roasts.
- Onion Powder - Like garlic powder, the onion powder adds depth of flavor and richness to the glorious 'crust' of your prime rib.
- Rosemary - Dried rosemary works best in this dry rub, other great herbs to season your roast with include thyme and sage.
- Chili Powder (optional) - Just a pinch of some heat will add spice to your roast, swap out chili powder with the spicier cayenne pepper.
🍖 Best Woods for Smoking Prime Rib
Hickory and oak are two of the best wood chips to use when smoking beef, along with mesquite which has a strong and distinct smoked flavor. Maple, pecan, and walnut also impart a mild flavor that is good when paired with beef, as well as the fruit tree flavors from apple and cherry woods.
- Hickory – adds a strong smoked flavor to your smoked meats and is one of the most popular woods used in smoking. It is my top choice when smoking prime rib (especially in combination with cherry)!
- Oak – a great smoked flavor that is not overpowering. Oak chips can be used on their own for longer cook times without needing to be combined with any other wood varieties.
- Mesquite – is an oily wood that adds a distinctive flavor to your smoked beef and other meats. *I personally find that mesquite is overpowering on its own (for prime rib) and like to combine it with a medium wood like hickory, oak, or pecan as it will even overpower the mild sweet woods.
- Apple Wood – adds a great, mild smoked flavor with a touch of sweetness.
- Pecan – a wood that is wonderful when used in combination with other woods for smoking. I like to mix pecan chips with a fruitwood for the best flavor and to keep the pecan from adding a pungent flavor.
- Cherry – adds a mahogany-like dark coloring to your smoked beef bark. This is a great wood to use in combination with hickory, oak, or pecan. A very versatile wood for smoking any meat!
- Maple - even though maple is one I like to use with poultry and sometimes pork, it is a great secondary flavor to combine with stronger woods. The mild maple flavor is slightly sweet and pairs well with hickory.
All of these are wonderful woods to use when smoking beef cuts! You can also get creative, and combine wood chips for customizing your smoked prime rib flavors.
💭 Tips & Recipe Notes
Usually, when preparing a roast I advocate allowing the prime rib to come to room temperature before cooking. However, in the case of smoking a prime rib, you do not need to do this.
You'll get a better smoked flavor from starting with a cool prime rib portion straight out of the refrigerator. Your prime rib, whether a bone-in standing rib roast or boneless, will sweat as it heats in the smoker. This 'sweat' allows the smoke to permeate the roast best.
When cooking in a smoker, remember that while estimated times are given per pound for the cooking time, you should always judge the timing based on the temperature of the meat.
This is why using an accurate, calibrated meat probe or digital meat thermometer is important when smoking your prime rib. Monitor your roast as it nears 125°F (52°C) the minimum internal temperature needed for rare doneness.
Tying up your roast helps to keep the meat (eye and cap) and fat portions from separating during smoking or roasting.
Use butcher twine to tie the roast between the ribs (for a standing rib roast) or every 1 ½ inches (for a boneless prime rib roast) down the length of your prime rib. It not only makes for a neater appearance but also makes carving the roast easier.
Both boneless prime rib and standing rib roast are equally delicious!
Neither one tastes better than the other, despite what you may have heard. Trust that whichever roast you have bought is going to be fabulous.
🔪 Step-by-Step Instructions
Just to make sure you really nail that perfect roast, there's quite a bit of info on this post. However, smoking your prime rib low-and-slow couldn't be easier!
Preparing the Prime Rib
- Thaw overnight (or two). Firstly, make sure that your prime rib is FULLY thawed if it had been frozen. This is important to ensuring that your roast is cooked evenly.
- Rinse and dry. Rinse the roast under cool running water, then pat dry with paper towels.
- Trim excess fat as needed. The fat layer should be around ¼-inch in thickness at most. If you have a standing rib roast that is bound with butcher twine, remove the twine and trim. Then re-tie the roast.
- (Optional) Tie your boneless prime rib. Use butcher twine to tie the roast moving down the length of the roast in 1 ½-inch intervals.
Apply The Dry Rub
- Combine the dry rub ingredients. Grab a small bowl and measure out the following: 3 tablespoons kosher salt, 1 ½ tablespoons coarse ground (freshly ground) black pepper, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, ½ tablespoon onion powder, ½ tablespoon dried rosemary, and (optional) ¼ teaspoon chili powder or cayenne powder.
- Season the prime rib. Place your prime rib on a working surface (cutting board, parchment paper-lined counter, or a baking dish) and apply the dry rub. Use the 'dry hand/wet hand' method to sprinkle the rub over the roast with your dry hand. Massage the seasoning into your rib roast with the wet hand.
Smoking Your Prime Rib
- Prepare your smoker. Preheat your smoker to 225°F (107°C) according to the manufacturer instructions. Start or fill any wood chips, pellets, or charcoal as needed.
- Transfer and smoke. Place the seasoned prime rib onto the grill in your smoker. If smoking a standing rib roast, place the bone side down.
Close the lid or door and smoke for approximately 3 hours 20 minutes (or about 40 minutes per pound for a 5 pound prime rib at 225°F), until the internal temperature of the roast reaches your desired doneness (see the step below).
*More specifics for cooking times are noted in the 'Prime Rib Cooking Times' below - with variables for your size/weight of the roast and smoking temps.
- Remove, rest, and serve. When the roast has an internal temperature of 120-125°F (49-52°C) for RARE, 125-129°F (52-54°C) for MEDIUM RARE, 130-139°F (54-59°C) for MEDIUM, and 140-145°F (60-63°C) for MEDIUM DONE remove the roast from your smoker and allow it to rest tented loosely with aluminum foil for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
Reverse Seared Smoked Prime Rib
This is an optional step to sear your roast for a fabulous crust! You can raise the temp in your smoker, or have your oven already preheated to finish off the smoked prime rib quickly.
- Rest and heat. Remove the roast about 10°F (5.5°C) below the temperature of your desired doneness listed in the section above. Transfer the roast to a cutting board or platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Heat your smoker or oven up to 400°F (205°C).
*Your oven can be preheated already, skipping the quick rest period.
- Transfer and sear to finish. Sear your roast until the internal temperature is 130°F (54°C) for RARE, 135°F (57°C) for MEDIUM RARE, and 140°F (60°C) for MEDIUM.
*Keep a close eye on your prime rib as this reverse sear step moves along quickly.
- Rest and serve. Remove your roast from the smoker or oven and cover loosely with a square of aluminum foil tented over the roast. Rest for at least 15 minutes if the roast was partially rested while preheating your smoker. Rest for 30 minutes if you transferred the prime rib straight from your smoker into a preheated oven.
👪 Servings (Bone-In & Boneless)
When estimating your roast size there are, of course, considerations for how many people you're going to be serving. You'll need enough prime rib to feed everyone like kings, right?!
|3-5 adults||4 lbs (2 bones)||3 lbs|
|4-6 adults||5 lbs (2-3 bones)||3-4 lbs|
|5-7 adults||6 lbs (3 bones)||4-5 lbs|
|6-8 adults||7 lbs (3-4 bones)||5-6 lbs|
|8-10 adults||8 lbs (4 bones)||6 lbs|
|10-12 adults||10 lbs (5 bones)||7-8 lbs|
|12-15 adults||12 lbs (6 bones)||9-10 lbs|
|14-18 adults||14 lbs (7 bones)||11-12 lbs|
⏲️ Prime Rib Cooking Times
Use this table of cooking times for your smoked prime rib as guidelines, but remember to temp the meat! It's the best way to know when your prime rib is ready to rest before serving.
|Smoking Temp||Time per Pound|
|200 degrees F/93 degrees C||50 min/lb|
|225 degrees F/107 degrees C||40 min/lb|
|250 degrees F/121 degrees C||30 min/lb|
|275 degrees F/135 degrees C||20 min/lb|
Here are some example times for the cooking times of different prime rib roasts by weight.
|Prime Rib Weight||200°F||225°F||250°F||275°F|
|4 pounds||3 hr 20 min||2 hr 40 min||2 hours||1 hr 20 min|
|5 pounds||4 hr 10 min||3 hr 20 min||2 hours 30 min||1 hr 40 min|
|6 pounds||5 hours||4 hours||3 hours||2 hours|
|7 pounds||5 hr 50 min||4 hr 40 min||3 hr 30 min||2 hr 20 min|
|8 pounds||6 hr 40 min||5 hr 20 min||4 hours||2 hr 40 min|
|10 pounds||8 hr 20 min||6 hr 40 min||5 hours||3 hr 20 min|
With all cooking times, remember to add 30 minutes for resting the roast before slicing and serving. The optional reverse sear step does not add to your cooking time.
🥡 Storing Leftover Prime Rib
First thing first, don't let a single morsel of your delicious prime rib leftovers get used in any way that isn't extraordinary. 🙂 See all of my great recipes for your prime rib leftovers on my collection page!
The best part of all those leftover recipes is that they'll tell you the best way to reheat your prime rib for each meal!
To store your cooked prime rib in the refrigerator, allow the meat to cool then wrap securely in plastic cling film. I opt to do a double-wrapping to ensure that no air starts to wick away any of the juices from my leftovers.
Prime rib will store in the fridge for up to 5-7 days.
Like refrigerating, you need to allow your cooked prime rib to cool completely before storing in the freezer. Prime rib freezes very well, but is best frozen quickly to prevent loss of juices and flavor when thawing.
To freeze your prime rib quickly, plan ahead! I usually freeze my portions needed for planned leftover meals individually. *This is the opposite of refrigerating any leftover prime rib, as the cold roast is better suited for thin slicing meat for sandwiches.
Smaller portions of the meat will freeze faster. Also, placing your portioned and cling film-wrapped prime rib onto an aluminum baking sheet will conduct the cold temps in the freezer best to quickly cool the meat.
Once frozen, transfer to a freezer storage bag if desired. Frozen prime rib will stay good in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Hickory is by far the most popular wood for smoking a prime rib roast. Oak and pecan are also great choices, followed by mesquite or apple wood. You can see all of my top wood choices for prime rib above.
Typically you can figure on a ½ pound per person for each serving of your prime rib roast. However, with a standing rib roast (bone-in roast) the loss of water, the amount of fat, and the weight of the bone means that for each 1 pound of the roast you will typically yield an 8-10 ounce serving. See my 'Servings' section above.
Each bone of a standing rib roast will equal roughly 2 pounds of weight, so a 2-bone rib roast would weigh 4 pounds. A 4-bone rib roast would add up to weigh approximately 8 pounds. You can see my chart above for weights of roasts from 2-7 bones total in the 'Servings' section.
Did I leave anything out?! Let me know if you have any additional questions before you get started, I'm happy to help!
Smoked Prime Rib
Smoked Prime Rib Roast
- 5 lb prime rib (boneless or standing rib roast)
Smoked Prime Rib Dry Rub
- 3 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 ½ Tbsp coarse ground pepper (freshly ground is best)
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder
- ½ Tbsp onion powder
- ½ Tbsp dried rosemary
- ¼ tsp chili powder (or cayenne pepper - both are optional)
- Rinse your prime rib roast in cool running water, and pat dry with paper towels. Remove any excess fat or silver skin, if desired.5 lb prime rib
- If your standing rib roast has been cut from the bone and tied, remove the butcher twine and trim any fat as needed.
- (optional) Tie the rib roast with butcher twine. For a bone-in roast, tie between the bones. For boneless roasts, tie every 1.5 inches down the length of the roast.
Prime Rib Dry Rub
- Combine dry rub ingredients in a small bowl (salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried rosemary and the optional chili powder or cayenne pepper) and set aside.3 Tbsp kosher salt, 1 ½ Tbsp coarse ground pepper, 1 Tbsp paprika, 1 Tbsp garlic powder, ½ Tbsp onion powder, ½ Tbsp dried rosemary, ¼ tsp chili powder
- Place the prime rib on a baking sheet or in a baking dish and sprinkle the dry rub over, using one half for each side. Massage the dry rub into place and roll the edges in the excess that is on the baking sheet to coat the entire surface of your roast. *Don't be shy with the seasoning!
Smoking The Prime Rib
- Prepare your smoker. Place the wood pellets/chips in your tray, and preheat the smoker to 225°F (107°C) according to the manufacturer instructions. *I like hickory and oak for prime rib, followed by maple, pecan, or walnut. Fruit trees like cherry or apple are also nice.
- Transfer the rubbed prime rib roast to the smoker rack (bone side down for a standing rib roast) in your preheated smoker. Close the lid or door and smoke for approximately 3 hours 20 minutes (or about 40 minutes per pound for a 5 pound prime rib), until the internal temperature of the roast reaches your desired doneness in the next step below.
- When the roast has an internal temperature of 120-125°F (49-52°C) for RARE, 125-129°F (52-54°C) for MEDIUM RARE, 130-139°F (54-59°C) for MEDIUM, and 140-145°F (60-63°C) for MEDIUM DONE remove the roast from your smoker and allow it to rest tented loosely with aluminum foil for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
(Optional) Reverse Sear
- To reverse sear your prime rib before serving, remove the roast about 10°F (5.5°C) below the temperature of your desired doneness listed above. Transfer the roast to a cutting board or platter and cover with aluminum foil while you bring the temperature of your smoker up to 400°F (205°C).
- Once your smoker is fully heated, return the roast and sear until the internal temperature is 130°F (54°C) for RARE, 135°F (57°C) for MEDIUM RARE, and 140°F (60°C) for MEDIUM. *Keep a close eye on your prime rib as this searing step moves along quickly.
- Remove your prime rib from the smoker and replace the aluminum foil over the roast to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Check the internal temperature of your roast at the thickest portion of the roast, as well as a few other areas toward the center of your roast to determine doneness.
All temperatures given for *removing the roast* from your smoker are not the final temperature that your roast will reach. The 'carryover cooking' that happens while resting should increase your roast's internal temperature by 5-7 degrees F (3-4 degrees C) for its final cooked temp and doneness.
Equipment You May Need
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!