Smoked Prime Rib

5 from 4 votes
5 from 4 votes

Delicious barbecue smoked prime rib roast prepared with a simple BBQ dry rub before cooked low and slow over hickory smoke. This tender barbecue beef is an incredible centerpiece for weekend dinners or parties.

smoked prime rib roast

There aren’t many holiday centerpieces more impressive than a good prime rib roast (although I’d argue that this can be enjoyed year-round). 

The good news is that this classic meat is one of the most straightforward to smoke out there. Just an overnight dry brine, quick seasoning, then smoke to medium-rare. Easy.

smoked prime rib recipe

What is Prime Rib?

Prime rib is a cut of beef from the primal rib of the steer. 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.

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

Go Boneless

When buying your prime rib roast, you might find prime rib available as either bone-in or boneless. I always recommend going for boneless roast joints: they cook more evenly, develop a better crust, and make carving much easier.

Sure, bone-in prime rib does look impressive but beyond aesthetics, they don’t offer much else (not even added flavor). Give them a miss.

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

Dry Rub

I like to keep things simple here and just use a stripped-back blend of equal parts salt, black pepper, and brown sugar. The connective tissue and fat in the prime rib will do the rest of the work as it smokes, so there’s no need to overcomplicate things here by adding excessive flavor.

Before seasoning the meat, apply a thin layer of yellow mustard to the prime rib. This simply acts as a binder for the dry rub, plus its acidity can help accelerate crust formation. It doesn’t add a whole lot in terms of flavor.

With the mustard applied to the beef, combine the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl before then sprinkling over the prime rib. Aim to cover the meat surface as evenly as possible, on all sides.

Now on to the smoke!

smoked prime rib recipe

Time & Temperatures

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).


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

How Long Should Prime Rib Be Smoked?

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.

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.

smoked prime rib roast

Smoked Prime Rib

5 from 4 votes
Prepared with a simple BBQ dry rub before being cooked low and slow over hickory smoke, this delicious smoked prime rib is loaded with intense flavors inside that sink deep into each bite.
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time4 hours
Dry Brine8 hours
Total Time13 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 6



  • 5 lb prime rib roast boneless
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt for the dry brine
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard

Dry Rub

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


Meat Prep

  • Place your prime rib roast on a chopping board. Trim the fat cap down to a thin layer, followed by any other excess fat and visible silverskin.
  • Create the dry brine by sprinkling salt over the entire meat surface, covering in an even layer
  • Shape the roast into a circular tube by pulling at each end and squeezing it. Tie with butcher’s twine at each end to maintain its shape.
  • Place in refrigerator to dry brine overnight, or for at least 8 hours

The Smoke

  • When ready to cook, remove the prime rib from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature as you prepare your smoker
  • Fire up your 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 the dry rub ingredients
  • Apply a thin layer of yellow mustard across the surface of the prime rib. Apply the dry rub blend to the roast, covering all sides. Leave to stand until your smoker finishes warming up.
  • Place the prime rib roast on the smoker grates. If you are smoking on a charcoal grill, ensure that you place the roast away from the heat source on the indirect side of the grates.
  • Smoke until internal temperature has reached 130°F (54°C) for medium-rare or 145°F (63°C) for medium, about 4 hours. Use a good meat thermometer to gauge the internal temperature.
  • Once the beef has hit the target temperature, pull the prime rib from the smoker and transfer it to a chopping board. Tent with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10-20 minutes.
  • Slice to serve. Catch any drippings in a spoon and pour back over to add more juice.


Calories: 1154kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 52g | Fat: 101g | Saturated Fat: 42g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 44g | Cholesterol: 229mg | Sodium: 3713mg | Potassium: 893mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 22IU | Vitamin C: 0.02mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 6mg

About the Author

Ben Isham-Smith

A BBQ obsessive, Ben is behind 250+ of The Online Grill’s recipes, as well as countless barbecue guides to help barbecue newbies get to grips with the world’s best form of cooking.

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