How To Smoke a Holiday Prime Rib Roast

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With the holidays approaching, my mouth starts to water just thinking about smoking the family’s prime rib roast for Christmas. Prime Rib is certainly a treat for myself and my family, as they are quite expensive. Therefore I certainly don’t want to screw up cooking one, that’s why I’m trying to help you smoke your own perfect Prime Rib Roast for the Holidays.

What is a Prime Rib Roast?

A Prime Rib Roast is essentially a standing rib roast, or the primal cut of the ribeye steak. It is a large section that can contain up to seven ribs. It’s also the cut where your ribeye steaks come from. This is often considered the best cut of beef, due to its rich marbling of fat, which gives it perhaps the best flavor of any cut. When cooked properly, it will melt in your mouth, and you won’t want any other cut.

Where Can I find a Prime Rib Roast?

Whole Prime Rib Roasts can be difficult to find from time to time. The best place to find one is at your local butcher. Simply as the butcher if he has any primal cuts of ribeye roasts, or standing rib roasts. If he does, also ask him or her to tie it up for you and trim the fat.

If you can’t find one locally, there are many options available online, but you need to order soon to ensure you get it before the holiday season, as these are very popular for families to do during Christmas time. I’ve found one for you here

Prep Work

Perhaps the most important part of smoking your holiday Prime Rib Roast will come in the prep work.

Start by trimming any excess fat you see on the roast. You want some fat, but not too much. Most will render down, but try and leave it at 1/4 inch or so to make sure there isn’t too much. There should be plenty of fat on the cut to keep it moist.

Next, this is optional, is to remove the bone. I remove the major bone to allow for myself to season it all the way around, but also so I can make an ajou sauce to go alongside the Prime Rib Roast. We’ll get to that later. For now, just simply cut alongside the bone, and remove it, set it to the side for later.

Seasoning the Prime Rib Roast is where you will make or break this holiday roast. I like to do this a few hours before I plan on starting the cook, so the seasonings can really bind, and also so that the meat can come to a uniform temperature before going to the grill. With a cut of meat this quality, its best to keep the seasonings simple.

Salt, Pepper, Minced Garlic, Rosemary, Thyme.

Grab a small bowl to mix the ingredients

1 part salt, to 2 parts pepper here. I like to use a coarse sea salt, and a freshly ground black pepper.

2 tablespoons of minced garlic

1 tablespoon of rosemary,

1 teaspoon of thyme, just for some additional savoryness.

Put all of these into a small bowl, and add a small amount of olive oil to create a paste.

Rub this all over the cut of meat. If you find you don’t have enough to fully cover the Prime Rib Roast, make up some more or fill in spots on the roast as you like.

The goal here is to create an herby, garlicy crust that will pop in your mouth when you get a bite. This is a big cut of meat, so over-seasoning isn’t as likely, but could happen with salt. Feel free to cut the salt back if you need to, or use a substitute.

Let the Prime Rib Roast hang out covered on the counter, or safe space away from the nose of a dog. It will take a few hours for it to settle at a uniform temperature, so fire the smoker up to 250 degrees while you wait.

The Cook

With your smoker or offset set at 250 degrees, now is the time to cook your prime rib roast. My favorite smoking wood for this is pecan, or hickory. You don’t want to over-smoke this, as you want the meats flavor to take center stage., so make sure to get good smoke going so it doesn’t get a bitter taste.

I like to plan on 30 minutes per pound of cooking time, but no one can tell you exactly how long it will take. In order to cook the perfect Prime Rib Roast, you need to get a thermometer probe that will tell you the internal temperature of your meat, while its cooking. Like this one.

What you are looking for is the internal temperature of the meat, which tells you the doneness. You do not want to overcook this Prime Rib Roast, trust me. Something to keep in mind is that the meat will actually continue to cook after you pull it off and rest it, which we will do.

For a medium rare Prime Rib Roast, I like to pull my rib roast off at 125 degrees internally. For medium, do 130, and med well 135 ish. Pull it off, and let it hang out. We aren’t done yet though. When you pull the meat off, crank your grill up. We’re now going to sear the meat to get a nice and firm crust that’ll drive your guests wild.

For this part, I like to get my grill up to about 500 degrees while my meat rests for a few minutes. Or if you are crazy like me, get a second grill already warmed up 😉

Be careful with this part, as it can overcook the rib roast, but done correctly and you’ll never order another prime rib in a steakhouse.

For literally just 30 seconds on each side, sear the heck out of this chunk of meat. That’s all. Once you sear all 4 sides, pull it and cover it lightly with foil to rest on the cutting board.

The Rest

Resting a piece of meat this large is difficult, but well worth the mouth watering. Grab a beer and wait at least 30 minutes, seriously, its worth it.


Serving the Prime Rib Roast comes down to preference of size and cooking doneness. The more rare will be toward the middle of the roast, while the edges will be medium to medium well in doneness. Slice to your guests desire and serve. It’s as simple as that!

Now that you’ve experienced just how easy it is, and how amazing prime rib can be, you will be sure to add Prime Rib Roast to your holiday menu this year !

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