Smoked Prime Rib

9 Min Read

This Traeger smoked prime rib recipe offers a delicious smoky flavor that’s perfect for the holiday season or any special occasion! The prime rib is the king of cuts, and we’re showing you how to get a perfect peppery crust on the outside and tender medium rare center with this easy recipe for your pellet grill

When it comes to showstopping feasts, it’s hard to beat a masterfully cooked bone-in prime rib as the king of beef recipes. The finished roast will have a wonderful herb crust and a beautiful medium rare center. Sliced into hearty thick portions and served along your favorite side dishes, there’s a reason this roast is the centerpiece at most holiday feasts.

And we’re here to say a lot of it has to do with the amazing flavor you get from a quick cast iron sear and smoking it on the pellet grill.

Why you’re gonna love it!

  • The best thing about this recipe, is that it’s super easy to make. All you need is your Traeger grill and a few simple ingredients! While the pellet grill is running, try this smoked spiral ham too!
  • This is the perfect smoked prime rib roast because of the savory smokehouse herb butter that melts over top as it rests. The best thing about the herb butter is that it’s an umami blast with minced garlic cloves, black pepper, parmesan cheese, and Worcestershire sauce!
  • Your whole family will love this smoked prime rib recipe for Christmas dinner or any of your holiday meals!
  • Don’t have a pellet grill? Check out our recipe for smoked prime rib on a gas grill for another amazing holiday roast!

What is a smoked prime rib?

The prime rib is a large cut of meat that comes from below the rib primal on a cow. It’s the same cut you get rib eye steaks from. This is just the bigger bone-in roast version, also called a standing rib roast.

The prime rib is known for being a large cut of beef compared to a regular beef rib roast, usually with the bones attached.

It’s one of the best beef cuts for holidays and celebrations and is famous at steakhouses everywhere. It’s also one of the most expensive cuts. But if you watch the deals at your local market, they usually go on sale near Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

A good rule of thumb for knowing how much prime rib to order is that one bone will feed two people well. Three bones would feed six people, and so on. However, the bigger you order, the longer the cooking time.

For this Traeger prime rib recipe, it will have a delicious smoke flavor from the grill, without being overpowering. The finished product has a mouthwatering seared crust, perfectly cooked medium-rare center, and it’s finished in a steakhouse butter to amp everything up!

We skip any hard steps, without giving up taste. No slicing off the bones and trussing or even reverse searing. This roast is easy to make from start to finish!

Smoked Prime Rib Ingredients

  • Prime Rib
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Jack Daniels Steak Seasoning – or your favorite steak seasoning. We love a peppery garlic blend.
  • A head of garlic – chop the top off, about 1/4″ down, exposing the garlic cloves
  • Steakhouse Butter – See ingredients directly below or try a variety of compound butter recipes out.

For the Steakhouse herb Butter:

  • Unsalted butter, softened
  • Garlic cloves – use confit garlic for a richer flavor (trust me)
  • Freshly prepared horseradish – make sure it’s not cream or sauce. You want the grated horseradish that packs a punch!
  • Grated parmesan cheese – you want to use grated here as the shredded doesn’t blend as smoothly into the butter.
  • Parsley
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Coarse ground pepper
  • Salt

Make the steakhouse herb butter

This herb butter is a great option if you’re looking for the ultimate, flavorful prime rib, and it can be made ahead of time.

Start by whipping up the smokehouse butter by combining all the ingredients in a food processor and pulsing a few times to combine. Or mix all the ingredients together with the tines of a fork in a bowl.

Roll the butter onto plastic wrap and tightly seal. Store it in the fridge up to two days in advance.

How to Make Smoked Prime Rib

Although this roast is always impressive, this recipe is about as easy as it can get. Just make sure to use a good digital meat thermometer for the best results.

Prep the pellet smoker

  • Preheat the smoker to 225 F according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  • For more amazing flavor, arrange wood chips in a smoking box and place them on the grill to add additional smoked flavor. Alternatively, use wood chunks in the back corner of the grill. We love hickory or post oak wood chips or chunks for big cuts of beef. See our guide on smoking wood for the perfect pairing and the notes in the recipe card below for using a charcoal grill or a gas grill for this recipe.

Smoke the rib roast:

  • While the grill is preheating, preheat a cast iron skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Place the roast with the fat cap down onto the cast iron and sear until browned. Flip and brown the prime rib on all sides, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Finish with the bones facing down in the skillet.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Transfer the cast iron skillet to the preheated smoker and add a head of garlic and 2 tbsp butter on top of the prime rib.
  • Smoke at 225F until the internal temp hits 125 F internally with an instant-read thermometer. This takes about 2 ½ to 3 hours, depending on the size of your roast. If you like your meat more well done, smoke the roast 10 minutes longer per pound for your desired internal temperature.
  • Finally, rest the beef. Remove from heat and add 4 tablespoons of steakhouse butter over top of the prime rib while it rests for 20 to 30 minutes before slicing. As it rests, the internal temperature of the roast will continue to rise to 135F. Continue to spoon the butter, along with any excess fat drippings, back over top the roast every few minutes as it rests.
  • Slice from the bones by running a knife along the rack of bones to separate the roast.
  • Then slice into individual portions for serving.
  • Serve with additional steakhouse butter, garnished with salt, minced parsley, and freshly ground pepper.

What to serve with 

Smoked prime rib is excellent served with smoked baked potatoes, creamy mashed potatoes, smoked brussels sprouts, or if you’re feeling fancy, Yorkshire pudding (which is most popular in the UK).

Want to make a real presentation out of this? Check out my tips on how to make a charcuterie board to serve as an appetizer before this feast!

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