Smoked and Seared Prime Rib

feature image of a sliced smoked prime rib

Prime rib is considered by many to be the epitome of fine dining. It’s not only the perfect holiday dinner, this smoked prime rib recipe is also a great dish for a dinner party when you want to impress.

And, impress you will when cooking prime rib the way I’ll outline below. In fact, prepare to enter legendary griller status after serving this perfect medium rare smoked prime rib.

Want to take it over the top? Serve this along with some lobster and chorizo stuffing and homemade horseradish sauce.

Jump to Recipe

Bone-in or Boneless Roast?

First things first, let’s tackle the question of bone-in or boneless prime rib. That’s really just personal choice and doesn’t matter near as much as the quality of the beef.

You’ll hear the “experts” tell you the bone adds to the flavor and in some cases that’s true.

For prime rib however, the real benefit of the bones it to act as an insulator from high heat and overcooking. The flavor that comes from a rib bone is really only noticeable in the immediate area (1/8″ or so) next to the bone.

uncooked prime rib with rosemary

Rib bones do provide an incredible visual, and can be used to make bone broth; but there’s a cost to them. Bone-in and boneless prime rib are typically the same price per pound, so you’re paying for bone. If you don’t plan to make bone broth, it’s certainly more economical to buy boneless prime rib.

uncooked prime rib on a cutting board

In short, don’t get caught up in the commonly handed down misconception that the bone adds flavor. My blog about this will explain in greater detail, I highly encourage you to check it out.

Cooking Method

Next, let’s talk about the method we’ll be using for this smoked prime rib recipe. We’re going to start with just a hint of smoke, and then use the reverse sear method to finish this beauty off.

You can use a charcoal grill with a couple of wood chunks, or a gas grill with a smoke tube or foil pack. We’re not going for traditional pit bbq flavor here. The goal is just a subtle hint of smoke.

sliced smoked prime rib recipe on a cutting board

How To Season Prime Rib

Let’s talk about seasoning the beef. Seasoning should enhance a meat’s flavor, not mask it. So, for this smoked prime rib recipe we’re keeping it simple: salt, fresh garlic, fresh rosemary and pepper.

If you prefer a little more kick that draws out the flavor, consider my Cajun prime rib recipe.

prime rib resting on a cutting board

Tips To Smoke Prime Rib

Oven Safe Pan: I like to place the roast in an oven safe pan to collect the juices for basting and to make au jus. That’s totally optional, the roast can be set directly on the grill grate.
Positioning: When place the roast on the grill, be sure to orient the rib cap away from the heat source. It cooks faster than the rest of the roast so keeping it away from the heat helps to prevent that.
Temperature: Using a reliable leave-in thermometer is essential. Don’t ruin an expensive roast by guessing.

Smoked Prime Rib Recipe

Serves: 8-10 | Prep time: 15 mins. | Cook time: 90 mins.

Ingredients:
1 4-5 lb. prime rib roast
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp kosher salt
4-5 cloves fresh garlic, slivered
2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves pulled from stems
1 cup, homemade horseradish sauce

Step 1: Preheat your grill to 225°F. If using a gas grill, place the smoke tube over direct heat at this time in order to get the pellets smoking. If using a charcoal grill, place your wood chunk on the hot coals.

Step 2: While the grill is preheating, prepare your prime rib by applying a light coat of olive oil over the entire prime rib. Using a sharp knife, make several evenly spaced apart incisions (about one inch deep and one inch wide) along the prime rib.

Step 3: In each incision, push in a sliver of fresh garlic. Season entire roast with salt and pepper as well as fresh rosemary.

garlic studded roast beef on a cutting board

Step 4: Insert a reliable meat thermometer in the center of the roast, and place the roast on the grill over indirect heat, facing the ribeye cap away from the heat source.

smoked prime rib on a grill

Step 5: Spoon juices collected in pan over roast about every 20 minutes. When internal temperature reaches 125°F, remove roast from grill and increase direct heat to high.

TIP: You’ll want this portion of the grill to be as hot as possible in order to quickly sear the roast. 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 6: Place the roast directly over high heat for a total of 5 minutes, turning often so that a nice crust builds up.

Step 7: Remove roast from heat, place on cutting board and tent with foil. Allow to rest for 10–15 minutes before slicing. While resting the roast will continue to cook and will be a perfect medium rare when sliced.

smoked and seared prime rib ready for slicing

Step 8: Using a sharp knife, slice the prime rib roast into ½ inch slices, and serve.

overhead view of a sliced smoked prime rib

sliced smoked prime rib with rosemary

Smoked Prime Rib

4.53 from 19 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Course: Entree, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 10

Ingredients

  • 1 4-5 lb. prime rib roast
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 4-5 cloves fresh garlic slivered
  • 2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 sprigs rosemary leaves pulled from stems
  • 1 cup homemade horseradish sauce

Instructions

  • Preheat your grill to 225°F.
  • While the grill is preheating, prepare your prime rib by applying a light coat of olive oil over the entire prime rib. Using a sharp knife, make several evenly spaced apart incisions (about one inch deep and one inch wide) around the prime rib.
  • In each incision, push in a half of fresh garlic clove. Season entire roast with fresh rosemary as well as salt and pepper.
  • Insert a reliable meat thermometer in the roast, place roast in cast iron pan (or any oven safe pan) in order to collect the drippings and put the pan on the grill over indirect heat.
  • Spoon juices collected in pan over roast about every 20 minutes. When internal temperature reaches 125°F, remove roast from grill and increase direct heat to high.
  • Place 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 cutting board, and tent with foil. Allow to rest for 10–15 minutes before slicing.
  • Using a sharp knife, slice roast in ½ inch slices and serve.

Notes

Prime rib is considered by many to be the epitome of fine dining. The perfect Christmas or New Year’s Eve dinner, smoked and seared prime rib is also a great dish for a dinner party when you want to impress. Oh, and impress you will, by the way, when cooking prime rib the way I’ll outline below. In fact, prepare to enter legendary griller status after serving this perfect medium rare rib roast. Want to take it over the top? Serve this along with my lobster and chorizo stuffing recipe and prepare for the accolades.

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