Featuring smoked prime rib, perfectly rare.
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JUICY Smoked Prime Rib

Big meat and bold, beefy flavors take center stage at the holiday table with this impressive Smoked Prime rib generously slathered in a Dijon and chipotle rub. There won’t be a single Grinch at the table when you slice into this edge-to-edge pink masterpiece. This straightforward guide will take you step by step and help you master the crowning glory of any celebratory meal.

This smoked prime rib was cooked to a rare temperature.

Is there anything more satisfying than that perfect bite of rich, tender, and juicy prime rib dipped into a tangy horseradish aioli? It’s a holiday tradition for many yet once you discover the magic of a smoked prime rib roast and how the smoke not only enhances the beefiness but ensures the meat is so tender it cuts like butter, you’ll be serving it up for any special occasion.

Even a Monday, just because.

Like big beef? Try making Smoked Brisket, Reverse-Seared Picanha, Santa Maria Tri-Tip, or Smoked Beef Ribs!

Why This Process Works

  • Big juicy meat. The science of low and slow smoking gently cooks the meat evenly, rendering the fat that gives this cut of meat its rich flavor and ensures that it is incredibly juicy. Because it is cooked at a low temperature you have less risk of overcooking the ribeye cap, or spinalis, like other cooking methods.
  • Flavor profile. A large cut of meat like a smoked standing rib roast can handle bold flavors. The combination of tangy Dijon mustard, spicy and smoky chipotles in adobo, and earthy ancho chile powder along with the classic combination of salt, pepper, and garlic complements the pure beefy flavor without overpowering it.
  • Straightforward process. Cooking prime rib on a pellet smoker is all about knowing your numbers. Let that smoke roll low and slow at 225°F until you’ve reached your first target temperature. Take it off while you crank up the heat and then give it another quick trip to the smoker to crisp it up and give you that beautiful crust before letting it rest.
Serve up your prime rib roast with creamy horseradish aioli.

What is a prime rib roast?

If you’ve never purchased a prime rib roast before the name might be a little misleading. The word prime refers to this being one of the eight primal cuts of beef, not the grade of beef. The other primal cuts include the loin, flank, chuck, round, shank, plate, and brisket. While cattle have thirteen pairs of ribs only ribs six through twelve make up the rib primal.

Different butchers and stores will label prime rib with different names. You might find it called a standing rib roast, prime rib roast, rib roast, and ribeye roast. If it’s on the bone it will have between two to seven ribs.

This is a raw, boneless prime rib roast.

Bone-In vs. Boneless Prime Rib

  • You will find that prime rib comes both with the bones attached, sometimes already sliced off for you and then tied together, and also completely boneless.
  • The boneless prime rib roast is preferred by many. It’s often already trimmed and allows for more surface area to be completely seasoned. 
  • If purchasing bone-in prime rib roast, go for the best of both worlds. Remove the bone section from the bottom of the roast and season it completely. Tie the meat back together with the bones. You can use the bones to make your au jus. For additional flavor, you can also add sprigs of rosemary or thyme in between the meat and bones.
  • Both bone-in and boneless prime rib roasts are equally delicious so buy what looks good and what you like.

What grade prime rib should you buy?

The short answer… the highest quality you can within your budget.

  • Shown here is American Wagyu, which has supreme marbling. This high-quality beef comes with a premium price tag but delivers an incredibly unique experience for diners.
  • Prime-grade beef is going to be the highest USDA-graded beef that is the most tender and has the highest level of marbling throughout. It only makes up less than 3% of all beef. This grade of beef truly equals a special occasion and will leave your friends and family talking. 
  • Right below prime is U.S. Choice. This is a slightly leaner grade without as much marbling but accounts for about 50% of beef on the market. It’s readily available at grocery stores and while not as tender as prime grade can still give you delicious results at a more economical cost. 
  • U.S. Select is the next grade below choice. This is a leaner, tougher, and less juicy grade and is recommended more for moist cooking styles such as braising or stewing.
American wagyu has the best marbling for prime rib roasts.

How to Smoke Prime Rib

  1. Prepare and trim your roast. Trim off any unwanted fat from the top of the roast leaving about ¼” to protect the meat and also give flavor. If it is bone-on, slice off the bones separating the meat from the rib section. 
  2. Use butcher twine to tie together your rib roast if it’s boneless. Place the twine 1” apart all the way down, tying tightly to help hold the roast in a uniform shape for even cooking. If you are cooking the roast with the bone on hold off on this step until after you have seasoned your prime rib roast. 
  3. Mix together the Dijon mustard and chipotles in adobo to form a paste. Mix together your seasonings.
The beef roast is coated in a paste of Dijon and chipotle before adding the seasoning.

How to Season the Prime Rib

Once you choose the combination of your flavor baste (or you can skip it altogether if you must) it’s time to choose your seasoning. We have quite a few homemade seasoning blends, or you can stick with a combination of Kosher salt and pepper. Coarse seasonings are recommended for this cook!

Try using our Canyon Crust Beef Seasoning, which has a base of salt, pepper, and garlic, fortified with smoky chiles to add color and flavor.

  1. Season your roast and allow it to dry brine. Rub the paste all over the roast and then sprinkle the seasoning all over the rib roast. If time allows place the roast on a wire rack fitted into a baking sheet and let it refrigerate for at least two hours up to overnight. This will allow the flavors to permeate the meat while also tenderizing and allowing for a better crust. 
  2. Preheat your smoker to 225°F. Remove the prime rib roast from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. Place the prime rib roast directly on the smoker with the ribeye cap facing away from the direct heat source. Allow it to smoke undisturbed using the guide of 35-40 minutes per pound of prime rib smoking at 225 degrees.
Smoke the prime rib at 225°F for about 35 minutes per pound.
  1. Check for temperature. Make sure to check in the center of the prime rib, not touching the bone. Keep in mind this is just the first target temperature and it will be going back on the smoker at a higher heat. Remove the roast once you have hit your temp.
    • Rare: 100°F
    • Medium Rare: 110°F
  2. Increase the temperature to 450°F and place the roast back on the smoker. Make sure that it’s in the same position with the ribeye cap facing away from direct heat. Remove the roast when it’s about 8 degrees away from your target temperature.
    • Rare: 117-120°F
    • Medium-Rare: 125-128°F
  1. Allow the smoked prime rib to rest for 15 minutes. Snip the butcher’s twine off and carve what you plan on serving. Hold off carving it all to retain the juices.
Rest the smoked prime rib for at least 20 minutes before slicing in.

Important Tips for Prime Rib

  • Due to the large size of a prime rib roast, there is generally a level of doneness that will make most people happy. The ends will be closer to medium while the center will be your desired target temperature. Cooking past medium-rare risks overcooking the entire roast.
  • Save the bones if cooking a bone-in prime rib. You can use them to create a rich and flavorful au jus.
  • Don’t carve more prime rib than you plan to serve. This will ensure that the leftovers remain incredibly juicy.
  • Using a pellet grill is the easiest way to control the temperature for this process, but the same method works on a charcoal grill. Set your charcoal grill up for indirect cooking, banking the charcoal to one side. Add your wood chips or a chunk of wood for smoking to your charcoal. Allow the grill to heat to 225°F and then continue with the process. 
  • Use pellets or wood chips that compliment the flavor of beef. Oak, hickory, mesquite, and pecan are all excellent choices. There are also all-purpose pellet blends that will complement the flavor of the beef.
  • Make sure that you have a dependable instant-read thermometer. You are going to be temp-checking the roast several times throughout the cooking process.
  • As tempting as it is to immediately slice into your smoked prime rib, make sure that you always allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes. This will allow the juices to redistribute into your meat instead of all over your cutting board. You’ve come this far with your roast beast, let it rest to keep it juicy.
Slice thick slices once the prime rib roast has rested enough.

Variations for flavor

This recipe for smoked prime rib uses a simple seasoning to create a crispy crust, but don’t limit yourself!

  • Add your favorite hearty herbs to the paste such as thyme or rosemary.
  • Go with classic flavors and create a paste of olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and thyme.
  • Swap out the Dijon for whole grain mustard, spicy brown mustard, or horseradish mustard. 
  • Slather your prime rib roast in your favorite compound butter.
  • Cut small slits throughout your rib roast and slip in whole garlic cloves.
  • Give the Dijon-chipotle rub an earthy flavor with the addition of adobo.
Rested and sliced, smoked prime rib.

How to reheat Prime Rib

  • Preheat your oven or smoker to between 250-300°F. Place the prime rib roast in an oven or grill-safe pan and add a few tablespoons of any remaining au just to the bottom, just enough to create steam. Cover the pan with foil, and place it in the oven or smoker, allowing it to gently reheat until just warmed through.
  • Dip thin slices of leftover smoked prime rib roast into warmed au jus or beef broth and pile up a steak sandwich, double points if it’s on a flaky homemade buttermilk biscuit.
  • Fire up the griddle and quickly brown up cubed leftover prime rib to build the ultimate taco. Don’t forget to top with fresh pico de gallo.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much prime rib should I purchase per person?

If it is a bone-in prime rib, allow one bone per person. If it is boneless, plan on a pound of meat per person. This allows for both the trimming of the roast as well as the weight lost in the cooking process while still leaving you some for leftovers.

Is U.S. prime grade better than U.S. choice grade?

Yes, prime grade is the highest grade and has the most marbling giving the most tender and juicy texture. However, prime rib is a fattier roast and prepared with the slow and low method of smoking both options will cook up delicious. Buy what is most economical for you. Don’t forget, there’s also American Wagyu which is considered a higher quality than prime grade, but not under USDA grading.

Sides to Serve with Prime Rib

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Featuring smoked prime rib, perfectly rare.

JUICY & Simple Smoked Prime Rib

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Big meat and bold, beefy flavors take center stage at the holiday table with this impressive Smoked Prime rib generously slathered in a Dijon and chipotle rub.

  • Total Time: About 4 hours
  • Yield: About 6-8 1x


  • 68 pound boneless prime rib roast
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon diced chipotle peppers in adobo
  • 4 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons coarse black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder



  • Due to the large size of a prime rib roast, there is generally a level of doneness that will make most people happy. The ends will be closer to medium while the center will be your desired target temperature. Cooking past medium-rare risks overcooking the entire roast.
  • Don’t carve more prime rib than you plan to serve. This will ensure that the leftovers remain incredibly juicy.
  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: About 4 hours
  • Category: Beef
  • Method: Smoking
  • Cuisine: Dinner, Holiday
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