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Grilled prime rib roast and chateaubriand are the two cuts of beef that immediately come to mind when you think about fine dining. Many love the lean tenderness of the chateaubriand, others (like me) prefer the big flavor that comes from the more fatty prime rib roast. This bone-in grilled prime rib roast recipe is perfect for the holidays and makes a great dish for a dinner party when you want to impress.
What’s Better, Boneless Prime Rib or Bone-in Prime Rib?
There isn’t a textbook right or wrong answer to that question. This is more of a personal choice and there are pros and cons to both. What’s far more important is the quality of the beef. For me, that starts with either the boneless or bone-in roasts from Omaha Steaks. I’ve been using their products since well before they became a sponsor and I’m never disappointed.
Back to the question about boneless or bone-in. For a better understanding of the differences between the two, see my blog here. As I’ve said many times, don’t get caught up in the commonly handed-down misconception that the bone adds flavor to an entire piece of meat. It’s simply not true and my blog about this will explain it in greater detail. I highly encourage you to give it a read.
Having said that, there are other reasons to choose a bone-in prime rib roast. First, the bones act as a bit of a heat barrier when grilling the prime rib. This helps prevent an oblong-shaped piece of meat from cooking unevenly. Second, that meat right around the bones is excellent, some of the best on the roast, even. Finally, these bones make for excellent beef stock.
Much like my seafood stock, I save beef bones and freeze them until I have enough to make homemade beef stock that I use for a number of things, like the au jus for this grilled prime rib roast.
How to Grill a Prime Rib Roast
Now let’s talk about preparing your bone-in prime rib roast for the grill, and it starts early. For this roast, I am doing a 3-day dry brine like I do with other big cuts of meat like this porterhouse for two. Simply put, you’re going to place your prime rib roast on a cooling rack, salt all surfaces of the outside of the beef, and allow it to dry in the refrigerator for 36 hours. I can’t stress enough how much I love this technique for the big cuts of beef. The beef flavor is just amplified from the dry brine process, so plan ahead when you’re about to serve this amazing prime rib roast.
Grilling a Prime Rib Roast
Let’s talk about how we are going to grill this prime rib roast. It’s no secret I am a huge proponent of the reverse-sear method and that’s what we’ll use here. I’ve promoted the reverse-sear method and indirect heat on large cuts of meat for years and have blogged about it extensively. The idea of searing first to “lock in the juices” is some of the worst information available when it comes to grilling. Sadly, it just seems to keep being handed down by those who don’t know any better. If you’ve never tried the reverse-sear method, try it now and I promise you’ll be a believer.
For this roast, we’ll build our fire on one side of the grill and cook the roast on the opposite side of the grill, as far from the heat source as possible. Keep the temps low (225°–235° F) and of the utmost importance, place your prime rib roast with the bones towards the fire. Remember the first reason I told you why I prefer a bone-in roast to boneless? Placing the bones toward the fire helps ensure an even cooking process.
What Temperature Should I Cook My Prime Rib On?
Among some of the worst methods I’ve seen for cooking a prime rib, is to start cooking at like 500°. That’s usually followed by some unreasonable formula of cook time per pound of meat. I can assure you, cooking a prime rib this way will turn out a prime rib that looks like this:
Seriously, check out social media (Instagram is full of them) and other “recipes” for prime rib and you’ll see pictures just like the above. This high heat results in the outside of the roast being well-done, and it fades gradually to a medium-ish center. The best piece of the prime rib (the rib cap) as you can see, is cooked to baseball glove level.
Most of these recipes also call for a drip pan to collect the beef’s juices. Of course, when you’re incinerating a roast at these high temps the meat is going to contract and squeeze out all those juices. It’s nice to catch them for an au jus of course, but I want my juices in the meat, not collecting below the meat.
Anyway, I digress. Who wants to eat something like the above prime rib? Certainly not me. If you’re about a roast that looks like the one pictured above, I’d encourage you strongly to just save the money on the prime rib and instead just make yourself some chicken. I’m kidding, of course, and if you’re a well-done person, I’m sure it’s not the first time you’ve heard this type of joke. So, in summary, keep those temps low (225°F–235°F) and allow the prime rib roast to gradually and evenly come up to your desired temperature for doneness. For me, medium rare is perfect.
I Want to Grill My Prime Rib Roast but I Don’t Own a Grill, What Can I Do?
As much as I would love to see everyone using a grill for this, I recognize that’s not possible for some for a number of reasons. The great news is that even if you don’t have a grill, you can still use the reverse-sear method. Just follow my directions here for using an oven and cast-iron pan for the reverse-sear method.
Grilled Prime Rib Roast Recipe
Serves: 8-10 | Prep Time: 3 days | Cooking Time: ~2 hours
1 4 lb bone-in prime rib roast
3 tbsp coarse sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves pulled from stems and coarsely chopped
8 tsp salt
4 tsp ground espresso
3 tsp sugar
3 tsp granulated garlic
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp chipotle chili pepper
How to Grill Prime Rib Roast
Step 1: Rinse your roast under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels and place roast on wire cooling rack. Salt all sides of the roast with coarse sea salt and place in the refrigerator for 3 days.
TIP: Place a plate under your roast in case it drips while drying.
Step 2: Preheat your grill to 225–235 degrees.
Step 3: While the grill is preheating, prepare your prime rib by applying a light coat of olive oil over the entire roast. I use this spray bottle for olive oil but use what you have.
Step 4: In a mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the beef rub. Apply liberally over the entire roast. On top of the beef rub, sprinkle chopped fresh rosemary. Allow roast to sit on the counter and come up towards room temperature while your grill preheats.
Step 5: Insert a reliable meat thermometer in the roast, place roast on grill over indirect heat, as far from the heat source as possible. Be sure to place the roast with the bones facing the heat source. I can’t stress enough the importance of using a reliable meat thermometer, it can be the difference between perfection and disaster with an expensive cut of meat. Don’t ask me how I know.
Step 6: When the internal temperature reaches 122 degrees (about 2 hours), remove the roast from the grill and set aside. Increase the direct-heat zone of your grill to extra-high.
TIP: You’ll want the direct heat or searing portion of the grill to be as hot as possible in order to sear the roast as quickly as possible. We’re only looking to induce the Maillard reaction to the crust of the beef, not cook the inside much more. For a gas grill, this simply means turning the knob to the maximum heat position. For a charcoal grill, you may need to add more charcoal. You’ll want to get the hot coals as close to the grate as possible for this.
Step 7: Place the roast directly over high heat for a total of 5 minutes, turning often so that all sides get a nice crust built up.
Step 8: Remove roast from heat, place on a cutting board, and tent with foil. Allow resting for 10–15 minutes before slicing. While resting the roast will continue to cook and will be a perfect medium rare when sliced.
Grilled Prime Rib Roast Recipe
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This delicious show-stopper of a meal uses a dry brine to maximize flavor.
- 1 4 lb bone-in prime rib roast
- 3 tbsp coarse sea salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves pulled from stems and coarsely chopped
- 8 tsp salt
- 4 tsp ground espresso
- 3 tsp sugar
- 3 tsp granulated garlic
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp chipotle chili pepper
Rinse your roast under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels and place roast on wire cooling rack. Salt all sides of the roast with coarse sea salt and place in the refrigerator for 3 days.
Preheat your grill to 225–235 degrees.
While the grill is preheating, prepare your prime rib by applying a light coat of olive oil over the entire roast.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients for the beef rub. Apply liberally over the entire roast. On top of the beef rub, sprinkle chopped fresh rosemary. Allow roast to sit on the counter and come up towards room temperature while your grill preheats.
Insert a reliable meat thermometer in the roast, place roast on grill over indirect heat, as far from the heat source as possible. Be sure to place the roast with the bones facing the heat source.
When the internal temperature reaches 122 degrees (about 2 hours), remove the roast from the grill and set aside. Increase the direct heat zone of your grill to extra-high.
Place the roast directly over high heat for a total of 5 minutes, turning often so that all sides get a nice crust built up.
Remove roast from heat, place on a cutting board, and tent with foil. Allow resting for 10–15 minutes before slicing.
Using a sharp knife, slice roast in 1/2 inch slices and serve with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and creamed spinach.