Smoked Prime Rib

Smoked prime rib cooked low and slow in your favorite barbecue smoker or charcoal grill. Trimmed and prepared with a dry brine and BBQ dry rub, this tender barbecue beef is dripping with flavor. Learn how to smoke beef prime rib today.

smoked prime rib recipe

Since the 1800s, people have been cooking up some of the best meals over an open flame with wood. The result is a smoked prime rib recipe that can be enjoyed year-round.

Many people have heard of prime rib but don’t know what it actually is and how to cook it properly; this blog post will clear up that confusion!

smoked prime rib recipe

What is prime rib?

Prime rib is a cut of beef from the primal rib or the ribs primal cut. It typically refers to a meat dish cooked with slow roasting in an oven, although it may also be grilled. The dish is usually roasted whole and carved at the table for serving either hot or cold.

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    The term “prime rib” refers to an entire roast from ribs 6 through 12 on a cow carcass, as well as any bone-in cut taken from this area of the animal (rib-eye steak). When these cuts are cooked properly they are succulent, tender, and juicy with plenty of fat marbled throughout each piece. Prime meat contains enough fat to make it flavorful without needing additional seasonings like salt or pepper.

    Prime rib is a dish that’s been around for centuries. However, it has only recently become popular in North America where the dish originated. In Europe and other parts of the world, prime rib is more common than beef roasts or steaks.

    smoked prime rib recipe

    How do you choose a prime rib?

    You will need a prime rib roast that’s about 16-18 pounds in weight. Prime rib roasts are not usually less than 7 pounds. It’s essential to cook the roast whole, as opposed to cutting it into smaller pieces. And you don’t want to cook the roast in a liquid, as the meat will come out too wet.

    How to trim prime rib

    You will need to trim the fat cap off of a roast. The rib bones should be removed first and then all the fat from around it is trimmed. Doing this will allow the Maillard Reaction, developing a delicious outer bark. This will also help our dry rub permeate the meat and enrich it with flavor. Excess fat can also lead to flare-ups, particularly if you use a charcoal or gas grill set up for 2-zone cooking.

    1. Trim the excess fat and silver skin from the exterior of the roast
    2. Score the fat on top of the meat in a diamond pattern
    3. Cut off any rib bone that is poking out from where it meets with other ribs
    4. Make sure to cut all around and underneath bones so they are exposed but not sticking up

    How much smoked prime rib per person?

    One serving of prime rib should be about 4-6 ounces and enough for one adult. However, if you are cooking a meal that serves six adults, you’ll need 3 pounds of beef or smaller roasts equivalent to size.

    Time & temperature

    Smoking your meats slowly is important to getting the most flavors out of them and making sure they are safe to eat. For meat to be properly smoked, one pound must smoke for at least two hours with a temperature between 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit. The internal temperature for smoked prime rib should be 145°F (63°C).

    Best BBQ dry rub

    The best seasoning and BBQ dry rub for smoked prime rib is a combination of garlic salt, pepper, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper.

    The recipe for this delicious barbecue smoked prime rib is simple: Rub the meat with equal parts salt, ground black pepper, and brown sugar. Add your sweet and savory spices to the meat, such as onion, garlic, or chili powder. Let it sit for 20 minutes while you prepare your smoker.


    To carve a smoked prime rib, first remove the outer bone by cutting along one side. Then trim away any unwanted fat and meat to reveal your carved prime rib!

    Take your knife and slice the meat in consistent slices across. Make sure you do this at an angle so that each slice has parts of both the lean meat and the fat.

    smoked prime rib recipe
    5 from 3 votes

    Smoked Prime Rib

    This delicious barbecue smoked prime rib has a dark and smoky crust and intense flavors inside that sink deep into each bite. Prepared with a simple BBQ dry rub before cooked low and slow over hickory smoke. This tender barbecue beef is a magnificent centerpiece for weekends or parties.
    Course Dinner, Main Course
    Cuisine American, BBQ
    Prep Time 30 minutes
    Cook Time 5 hours
    Dry Brine 8 hours
    Total Time 5 hours 30 minutes
    Servings 6
    Calories 958kcal


    • 8 lb prime rib roast
    • kosher salt for the dry brine

    Dry Rub

    • 2 tbsp black peppercorns crushed
    • 2 tbsp kosher salt
    • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar


    Meat prep

    • Trim fat cap off prime rib roast, followed by rib bones and other excess fat.
    • Apply salt to meat, covering in an even layer. Shape the roast into a circular tube by pulling on its sides, and squeezing it. Tie with butcher's twine to maintain shape and place in refrigerator to dry brine, overnight or for at least 8 hours.

    The smoke

    • Fire up smoker to 225°F (107°C). If you are using a charcoal grill, ensure you set it up for 2-zone cooking.
    • In a small bowl, combine all dry rub ingredients. Apply thin layer of yellow mustard across surface of prime rib. Apply dry rub blend to roast, covering all sides. Leave to stand for 10-20 minutes.
    • Place prime rib roast on the smoker or grill grates. Add wood chips and close the chamber door or lid. Smoke for 4-5 hours, or until internal temperature has reached 130°F (54°C) for medium-rare, or 145°F (63°C) for medium.
    • Refill wood chips every 60-90 minutes, as needed.
    • Remove roast from the smoker and transfer to a chopping board. Tent with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.
    • Slice to serve. Catch any drippings in a spoon and pour back over to add more juice. Enjoy.


    Calories: 958kcal | Carbohydrates: 5.5g | Protein: 131g | Fat: 46g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 21g | Trans Fat: 2.35g | Cholesterol: 374mg | Sodium: 2372mg | Potassium: 1742mg | Fiber: 0.7g | Sugar: 3.7g | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 12mg


    Got any burning questions about your barbecue beef? Our frequently asked questions are here to help.

    How long to smoke prime rib?

    At 225°F (107°C), prime rib is smoked for 40 minutes per pound of meat, until it has reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63°C). Use a reliable meat probe to get an accurate reading of your beef’s temperature.

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