When it comes to smoking a prime rib, it should be smoked low and slow. Heavily marbled, tender, and juicy, this one is seasoned with a simple dry rub and then lathered in a homemade compound butter that helps form the most delicious outer bark. We're talking the perfect prime rib with amazing flavor in every bite!
Prime rib roast is a popular choice of meat enjoyed by many, but have you ever had smoked prime rib? It's now easier than ever to smoke meat in your own backyard with the convenience of the pellet and electric smokers. In my latest cookbook, Smoking Meat Made Easy, I talk about how easy it is to smoke meat and how you can master the art of smoking with no experience required. And the same goes for this smoker recipe. This is an easy prime rib recipe that will please any palate.
ℹ️ Why This Recipe Works
- This smoked prime rib can be made on any type of smoker,
- It's covered in the most delicious seasoning that pairs exceptionally well with my compound garlic herb compound butter. We're talking restaurant taste and quality with this smoked prime rib roast.
- We're not dealing with a long smoke time for this rib roast. In 3-4 hours, you'll be enjoying a juicy steak packed with flavor that has a rich exterior crust.
Prime Rib Cut
Understanding exactly where a cut of beef comes from on the cow will help you distinguish where to buy the meat, different ways to cook it, and what grade may be associated. And this cut of meat is just that..."prime" and it's considered a premium cut which is one of the highest grades and quality you can purchase.
It's made from the beef rib primal cut (forequarter) and yields highly marbled steaks. It's cut from the the longissimus dorsi, also called the rib eye muscle, which sits on top of the cow's back. This part of the cow doesn't get much exercise at all. Which is why this cut is so coveted; it doesn't get much use so it's amazingly tender.
You can purchase it either with the bone in or as a boneless cut. It's the same piece of meat that comes from the same part of the cow. Bone in rib roast is extremely tasty and by leaving the bone in, it contributes to the flavor and the moisture level and will result in the juiciness of the steak. But let's not look down on a boneless cut. If cooked correctly, a boneless prime rib roast can be just as succulent. And, it's more convenient to cut.
🥩 Where to Buy Quality Meat
Where you buy your meat matters. When it comes to buying quality beef and pork, I shop at my local butcher. Over the years, I've bought my fair share of beef rib roast from many different places such as the grocery store, butcher shops, Costco, and Sam's club. I've even bought a slaughtered cow, but my best results have been when I purchased the beef from a good quality butcher shop.
If you're new to smoking and looking to make a variety of smoker recipes like smoked whole chicken, baby back ribs, and smoked brisket, my best recommendation is for you to make friends with your local butcher. Although I will say I've had pretty good results when buying a Costco prime rib roast.
There's a couple of things you need to consider when looking for a butcher shop. If you walk in and it has an overpowering stench in the air, turn around and walk out. Butcher shops will have a mild smell, but if it just flat out smells off, that's not a good sign. Ensure the butcher shop is clean. You should also feel comfortable talking to a butcher. If they can tell you where the meat was raised, where it came from, and what type of diet the animal was fed, that's a good sign that you've met a good butcher.
🛒 Ingredients You'll Need
For this smoked prime rib recipe, you'll need to make both the prime rib rub and the garlic compound butter. For this recipe, I use a 3-4 lb. boneless rib roast. I cover it with a really flavorful prime rib seasoning that can be found at a local grocery store.
Compound butters are excellent for smoking meat and I especially love this herb compound butter on this cut because not only is it extremely flavorful, it also forms the most amazing bark on the outer layer.
Ensure you use an unsalted butter so you can manage the level of saltiness in the butter. To make the most of the flavor, mince your own garlic and finely chop two fresh rosemary sprigs.
Preparing the Smoker
Like I mentioned earlier, this smoked prime rib recipe is smoker agnostic, meaning you can make it on any type of smoker. Here's a brief overview of how to prepare four of the most common smokers used today.
When using a charcoal smoker for any smoker recipe, it's important to control the heat and feed the fire. When I use a charcoal smoker for this recipe, I use charcoal briquettes, a large handful of wood chips, and a small water pan. I love using pecan wood chips with this recipe because it provides a mild flavor and doesn't overpower the beef. I start by soaking a handful of wood chips for about 30 minutes. Wood chips burn out pretty fast and by soaking them first,I find that it helps them burn a bit longer.
From there, remove the grill grate and place about 15 unlit charcoal briquettes on one side of the smoker. Then, place the moist wood chips on top of the briquettes. I use a chimney starter to light about 20 more briquettes and once hot, I dump them on top of the unlit pile of charcoal and wood chips.
Place the grill grate back in place and put a small pan of water on the grate directly on top of the hot charcoals. Put the lid on the smoker and place a temperature gauge in one of the vents so you can regulate the internal temperature. When the internal temperature of the smoker gets around 225°F, you're ready to start smoking the meat.
A gas smoker runs on a propane gas tank. When using a gas smoker, I highly recommend using wood chunks instead of wood chips. Chunks are going to burn a lot longer and I find they help produce more smoke faster.
You'll want to prepare the wood and water pan before igniting the flame. When cooking a prime rib roast on the smoker, it doesn't take more than 4 hours to smoke unless it's a really big roast so I don't typically soak the wood chucks for this recipe. There's a lot of opinions around the need for soaking your wood and I only do it when I'm smoking meat that takes more than 8 hours, like with my smoked pork butt. Once the wood and water pan are in place, light the smoker. When the internal temperature reaches 225°F, you're ready to start smoking the meat.
Electric Smoker and Pellet Smokers
Both the electric smoker and pellet smokers run off electricity and needs to be plugged into an outside electrical outlet. Pellet smokers run on wood pellets and you have a choice whether or not you want to use wood with an electric smoker. With both of these smokers, you'll digitally set the smoker to the desired temperature and when it's preheated, you'll be ready to start smoking your meat.
📋 Step-by-Step Recipe Instructions
How to Make Compound Butter
Before seasoning the meat, I make the flavored butter. And let me tell you, this is the best recipe for compound butter! Compound butters are easy to make and this one is made with 5 simple ingredients. You'll also need parchment paper.
For this recipe, you're going to split the batch of butter in half. You'll use half the batch to cover the steak and then you'll use the rest of the batch to top each steak once it's done smoking.
To start, combine the softened butter, salt, pepper, fresh minced garlic, and fresh chopped rosemary in a medium bowl. Using either a wire whisk or a handheld mixer, mix the ingredients until well combined.
Using a spatula, remove the butter mixture and place it onto a large piece of parchment paper. Divide the mixture in half and put it on plate and set aside.
For the remaining half that is on the paper, starting from one edge of the parchment paper carefully roll the mixture, tucking the paper under the butter as best you can and form into a log shape.
Using both hands, twist the ends on the parchment paper on both sides so it looks like a large tootsie roll. Place it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to set. Once it's chilled, you'll be able to slice it and place it on top of each piece of steak.
Prime Rib Seasoning
Next, I combine the coarse ground black pepper, coarse salt, garlic powder, onion powder, ground coriander, celery seed, dill, dried rosemary, and smoked paprika in a small bowl.
Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil onto the roast and spread evenly. Then, generously apply the spice rub until covered.
Using your hands, apply the compound butter you set aside and completely cover the roast.
Once the smoker is prepared and preheated, put the beef directly on the smoker racks.
Let's take a pause and look at the flavoring covering the outside of this prime rib roast. This is what forms that succulent bark I was referencing earlier.
About 1 hours into the smoke, insert a digital thermometer into the middle of the thickest part of the roast. This will help ensure you don't under or overcook the meat.
Smoke for 3-4 hours, or until desired doneness. I love a good medium rare prime rib and that's the recommended cooked temperature for a tender and juicy steak. Using tongs, remove the smoked prime rib and let it rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing.
When slicing, each steak should be around ½ inch thick.
Once the boneless rib roast is sliced, top each steak with a piece of refrigerated compound butter and let it melt onto the steak. Dinner is now served!
It takes about 30 minutes per pound to smoke a boneless prime rib roast. Reference the following temperature chart to gauge the desired doneness when smoking steak.
💭 Expert Tips and FAQs
- Hickory, oak, pecan, and cherry wood are all great choices to use when smoking prime rib.
- This cut of beef often comes wrapped in a netting or twine. If yours comes with netting in place, leave it there for the entire smoking time and remove it before slicing. When certain types of meat are cooked, they tends to naturally expands. The netting helps the meat stays in place during the smoke.
- About an hour into the smoking process, insert a digital meat thermometer into the middle of beef so you can monitor the internal temperature of the meat.
- The best method for reheating prime rib is to warm it in the oven and then finish it off with a hot sear in a skillet on the stovetop. Just set the oven to 300°F and heat for about 20 minutes. Remove the meat from the oven and pan sear for 1 minute in a skillet.
- If you have leftover prime rib, it's excellent on a salad or on a sandwich.
🍽️ Other Smoker Recipes
If you love smoker recipes, make sure you look at my collection here. And if you're looking for more smoker recipes, check out my latest cookbook, Smoking Meat Made Easy. This is your ultimate guide to backyard smoking and features 65 smoker recipes! You can master the most flavorful techniques, with dozens of options that are easy to follow, and work with any type of smoker.
If you are looking to try other compound butters, try this rosemary butter made with cracked peppercorns, salt, and unsalted butter. It's great on top of steaks or on corn on the cob!
Smoked Prime Rib with Garlic Herb Compound Butter
- 3-4 lbs prime rib, boneless
- 1-2 Tablespoon olive oil
For the Dry Rub
- 1 Tablespoon coarse ground pepper
- 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon dried dill
- ½ teaspoon celery seed
For the Compound Butter
To Make Compound Butter
- In a medium bowl, combine the butter, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper using either either a wire whisk or electric mixer.
- Place half of the butter mixture onto a small piece of parchment paper, about 6 inches long.
- Set the remaining butter mixture in a dish and set aside.
- Starting from one edge of the parchment paper, carefully roll the mixture and form into a cylinder shape, twisting the ends on both sides.
- Refrigerate for 2 hours, or until ready to use.
To Prepare and Smoke the Prime Rib
- In a small bowl, combine the coarse ground black pepper, coarse salt, garlic powder, ground coriander, celery seed, dried rosemary, and smoked paprika.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil onto the roast and spread evenly. Then, generously apply the spice rub until covered.
- Using your hands, apply the compound butter you set aside and completely cover the roast.
- Once the smoker is prepared and preheated to 225°F, put the roast directly on the smoker racks.
- About 2 hours into the smoke, insert a digital thermometer into the middle of the thickest part of the roast. This will help ensure you don't under or overcook the meat.
- Smoke for 3-4 hours, or until desired doneness. Using tongs, remove the meat and let it rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing.
- When slicing, each steak should be around ½ inch thick.
- Once the boneless rib roast is slices, top each slice with a piece of refrigerated compound butter.
- Hickory, oak, pecan, and cherry wood are all great choices to use when smoking prime rib.
- It often comes wrapped in a netting or twine. If yours comes with netting in place, leave it there for the entire smoking time. When certain types of meat are cooked, it tends to naturally expands. The netting ensures the meat stays in place during the smoke.
- About an hour into the smoking process, insert a digital meat thermometer into the middle of beef so that you can monitor the internal temperature of the meat.
- It takes about 30 minutes per pound to smoke a boneless prime rib roast.
- The best way to reheat leftover steak is to warm it in the oven and then finish it off with a hot sear in a skillet on the stovetop.
- If you have leftover steak, it's excellent on a salad or on a sandwich.
Amy Liu Dong
The meat looks so tender and juicy.
I am so excited to make this for everyone this Christmas!
Please let me know how everyone liked it!
I shared this recipe with my son-in-law who loves using his smoker. I made the compound butter this weekend to serve with grilled pork chops ~ it was delish!
Yes - the compound butter is amazing! Your son-in-law will love this smoker recipe!!
Prime Rib is very intimidating to me, however your post seems pretty simple to follow and make. Think I will have to give it a try.
Smoking it on the smoker is a game changer. It's so much easier! You will be amazed at the ease of smoking!
This looks incredible and will be making this for Christmas this year! Bookmarking for later.
Let me know how it turns out for you!!
Such an awesome smoked prime rib recipe, looks incredibly delicious and yummy! The juiciness of the meat makes it so enticing and tempting! A perfect dish for this Holiday season!
So glad you loved it!
What a great recipe to make for my family! Tender and flavorful meat is just what they like.
So glad they loved it!
I love prime rib. That herb butter sounds divine! I'm planning on making it for Christmas. Can't wait to make it.
My husband just got a smoker and I think he would really benefit from your cookbook. Thanks for the suggestion! All your recipes are fantastic!
Thank you, Leslie! I hope your husband loves my cookbook! There are a lot of helpful tips in there for beginners!