My Favorite Smoked Prime Rib Roast Recipe

There are a lot of different ways to prepare prime rib, but this smoked prime rib roast recipe is by far my favorite. If I am cooking a prime rib for my friends and family this is exactly how I do it.

Before we get into all the details let’s set the table – smoked prime rib is not an everyday meal. It’s special. You’ve invested good money in the meat, and there’s a good chance that you’ll be sharing this meal with your closest family members and friends. That’s why it’s so important not to wing it.

This smoked prime rib roast recipe is perfect for your next family get together or big holiday meal. It's easy to follow, and the end result is out of this world delicious. #primerib #traegerrecipe

So What Exactly is a Smoked Prime Rib Roast?

A full prime rib—sometimes referred to as a standing rib roast—is comprised of the sixth through the twelfth ribs (seven bones): It is located between the chuck and short loin sections. This muscle doesn’t get worked much, making it incredibly tender.

How Much Do I Need?

I plan on approximately one pound of meat per adult. If I know that some of my guests are light eaters I adjust accordingly. A 4-bone prime rib will weigh 8-10 pounds and is perfect for a gathering of 8-10 people.

smoked prime rib

If you order the prime rib at a butcher let them know how many people you’ll be feeding and they should be able to give you a recommendation for how big a prime rib roast you’ll need. Alternatively, you can order a prime rib online or grab it locally. When I’m cooking a special meal it’s even more important for the quality of the meat to be the best it can be.

How to Prepare a Smoked Prime Rib Roast

A smoked prime rib roast on its own is fancy, but I like to doctor it up a little bit. Adding compound butter to the surface of the prime rib will add an extra layer of flavor, and moisture to this already incredible cut of meat.

If you’ve never made compound butter before, that’s ok! It’s easy to make, and this is a great time to give it a shot. You’ll just need a few ingredients:

  • Butter
  • Garlic
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Combine all of the ingredients together using a mixer, and set to the side. Full measurements for each ingredient can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Set up your smoker to smoke at 225 degrees using indirect heat and oak wood. There are a lot of different wood options available, but with smoked prime rib, I’ve found that it’s best to stick to Oak or Apple.

While the smoker is coming up to temperature cover the entire surface of your prime rib with the compound butter mixture. You can add a few sprigs of herbs on top of the roast if you’d like too.

prime rib with compound butter on a cutting board

I place the prime rib in a large roasting pan with chopped veggies. This will catch the juices, and if you’d like, you can use them to make a GREAT gravy to serve with the prime rib.

How to Make Smoked Prime Rib

When your smoker is up to temp place the roasting pan in your smoker. Plan on smoking the prime rib for 30-35 minutes per pound. Your goal here is to get the internal temperature up to 120 degrees. It’s really crucial that you use a high-quality thermometer, and the Thermapen is my go-to for every cook.

smoked prime rib

When the internal temp hits 120 pull the roasting pan with the prime rib from the smoker and adjust your temp up to 450+ degrees. When the smoker gets up to temp place the prime rib back in the smoker and let it cook until the internal temp hits 130 (rare)-135 (medium rare) degrees.

Let the smoked prime rib rest for about 20 minutes before slicing thin and serving.

sliced prime rib roast

If you made it this far, congratulations, you just made an incredible cut of beef, and you’re going to eat REALLY well. If you’re looking for other high-end meals like this one consider my smoked picanha recipe. Another great option is my smoked beef wellington recipe or my fool-proof brisket recipe.

smoked prime rib
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Smoked Prime Rib Roast

When it comes to holiday meals, smoked prime rib is the ultimate. Gather your friends and family, and get ready to share one of the greatest cuts of meat you've ever sunk your teeth into.
Course Beef
Cuisine Barbecue
Keyword holiday food, how to smoke a prime rib, smoked prime rib
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Additional Time 45 minutes
Total Time 5 hours
Calories 680kcal
Author Nick @


  • 6 pound bone-in prime rib

Compound Butter

  • 8 Tbsp Butter softened
  • 1 Tbsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary Chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Thyme Chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced


  • Set up your smoker to smoke at 225 degrees using indirect heat and oak pellets
  • Combine all of the ingredients for the compound butter.
  • Cover the entire surface of the prime rib with the compound butter.
  • Place the prime rib in a large roasting pan on a bed of vegetables, and smoke for approximately 30-35 minutes per pound.
  • When the internal temperature hits 120 remove the prime rib from the smoker and adjust your temperature up to 450.
  • When the grill is up to temp place the prime rib back in the smoker and continue to cook until the internal temperature hits 135 degrees.
  • Let the prime rib roast rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing thin and serving.



Serving: 1g | Calories: 680kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 77g | Fat: 126g | Saturated Fat: 55g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 57g | Cholesterol: 320mg | Sodium: 115mg
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5 Replies to “My Favorite Smoked Prime Rib Roast Recipe

  1. I smoked a 2-bone prime rib for the 1st time that weighed about 5 lbs and followed all of your steps and it came out perfect. I had a bag of Traeger Reserve Blend pellets (oak, cherry & apple) so I used this and it was fantastic. Can’t wait to try another of your recipes. Thanks

  2. Hi Nick !
    I just wanted to let you know that I made the Smoked Prime Rib for my Christmas meal and it was amazing. I used the Traeger Reserve pellets and cooked it to 135 degrees and it was perfect. Thank you for all the great recipes you post.

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