Smoked Prime Rib Recipe – Complete How To Guide [Pictures Included]

The Perfect Recipe Smoked Prime Rib

Have you ever eaten a poorly prepared prime rib? If you have, then you may have wondered if shoe leather would have tasted better. Prepared correctly, this cut of beef has a delicious flavor that is scrumptious. While it is likely ​to be ​an expensive cut in your butcher's case, the results can be spectacular when cooked to perfection. If you're tired of your usual holiday turkey recipes, we have great news for you. Preparing prime rib in the smoker is very easy as long as you follow some simple steps. My family raves every ​Christmas about my smoked prime rib, and so I thought I would share secrets of preparing the perfect prime rib in this easy recipe.

smoked prime rib

What You Need For This Recipe

  • Prime rib - This cut of meat is from between the 6th and 12th rib of the cow. It can also be called the beef rib roast, ribeye roast, or standing rib roast. Since it is located higher up on the cow, this muscle does not get much use allowing it to be much more tender. Choose a piece of meat with rich marbling as this yields a tender final product. Generally, you will need 0.5 pound​ prime rib per person. Buy the highest quality that you can afford. Have the butcher tie up the meat for you. If he will, then have him French-cut it as it makes a better presentation.
  • Vegetable or olive oil - Either vegetable or olive oil is acceptable, but avoid using oils like peanut oil that have a strong flavor. The oil helps to hold the seasoning in place, and it helps to keep the meat from drying out while it is cooking.
  • Rub - Coating the prime rib before smoking it helps to add flavor to the finished product. Additionally, it helps to stop the juices from jumping out of the meat while it is smoking. Therefore, be generous with the amount that you use. While you can find commercially-prepared dry rubs in almost every grocery store, I tend to avoid these as they are filled with preservatives. Making your own at home also allows you to adjust the flavoring to your personal tastes. My personal favorite is to combine two tablespoons each of cumin seeds, chili powder, paprika, kosher salt, brown sugar, black pepper and cayenne pepper with one tablespoon each of mustard seeds, coriander seeds and garlic salt. While some recommend a savory rub for prime rib without any sugar in it, I find that using one with sugar helps the rub stick to the meat.
  • Smoker - You can use your favorite smoker. If it takes wood chips, then remember that the type of chip will help determine the smoke flavor of the final product. I prefer the flavor of pecan because it leaves the meat with a milder flavor than hickory or mesquite. Fruit woods work for smoking meat, too. Alternatively, hickory produces a bacon-like flavor while mesquite produces an earthy flavor. I have had tasty prime rib cooked over oak wood, which gave it a strong smokey flavor and over cherry, which gave the meat a sweet flavor.
  • Meat Thermometer - Even if you carefully control the temperature of your smoker, different climate changes can affect how fast the meat cooks. Therefore, use a meat thermometer as you will want to take the meat out of the smoker when it reaches 138 degrees.
  • Aluminum Foil - Creating a tent of aluminum foil and letting your meat sit for a few minutes under it helps to make the meat juicier. As the juice in the meat settles down, it will reabsorb into the meat.
Prepare The Meat Add The Oil

Step by Step​ Prime Rib Roast Recipe

Smoking the best prime rib is not difficult to do. You should plan on smoking it to an internal temperature of 138 degrees, which will take about 40 minutes per pound. This cooking method proved to be easy and simple, with great results.

Step 1 Preparing the Meat

As already covered, the first step is to prepare the meat for smoking by removing or almost removing the bones. I try to shop where the butcher will French prepare the meat for me, which involves removing the layer of fat cap between the bones and the meat. While I can do this step at home, having the butcher do it saves me a lot of time and hassle.

Step 2 Add the Oil

Pour some of your favorite oil (olive oil, for example) on the prime rib. Then, use a silicone brush to spread it around the entire roast. Do not forget to coat the ends of the meat with oil as well. Let's face it. Seasonings are expensive, and there is nothing worse than seeing half of them laying in your preparation area after you move the meat. So, do not overlook the importance of this step as the oil helps the seasonings stay in place.

Add Dry Rub Smoke The Meat

Step 3 Add the Dry Rub To The Rib Roast

The next step is to add the dry rub to the meat as this will boost the meat's natural flavor. Start by combining your ingredients in a small bowl. Then, sprinkle it generously on the meat. Do not forget to coat the ends as well. My personal theory is that you cannot add too much, so be very generous.

Step 4 Prepare Your Smoker

Follow your manufacturer's directions to prepare your smoker for smoking the prime rib. After you get the smoke going, then set the control knob to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows the meat to cook slowly allowing the rub and the smoke to seep into the meat. If you are using woodchucks, then smoke the meat for three hours if you desire before finishing it with just heat. I prefer, however, to use wood smoke the whole time since I like the flavor. Be sure to constantly monitor the smoker's temperature.

Cook The Prime Rib Roast

The meat should reach an internal temperature of 138 degrees before you remove it from the smoker. The easiest way to do this is to use a leave-in thermometer placed in the center of the prime rib. Make sure that the thermometer is not touching any bone or it will give you a false reading. Once the meat has reached its temperature, then remove it from the smoker and cover it with an aluminum foil tent. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes as this gives the meat time to reabsorb its juices. Use a sharp knife to cut the meat against the grain as this will increase its tenderness.

Tasty & Delicious Easy Prime Rib Recipe


I hope that you have enjoyed this tutorial on ​the perfect smoked prime rib. It is one of my favorite cuts of meat when it is cooked right, and it is incredibly easy to prepare. To celebrate Merry Christmas, just add some side dishes, a glass of red wine, and your holiday dinner is finished. For such a short cooking time it is amazing that you can get a prime grade roast that your guests will appreciate. If you have enjoyed reading this tutorial, then please leave a comment telling us about your favorite prime rib smoking tips. We also encourage you to share this article with your friends. Think about the last bad prime rib you ate and share it with that person first so they know the correct way to cook one the next time it is their turn to host a get-together.

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Smoked Prime Rib (190 downloads)

Frequently Asked Questions​

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