Prime Rib in a Smoker Recipe

What could be more exciting at a barbecue than Prime Rib in a Smoker? Slow-cooked smoky beef falling off the bone with a crispy sticky crust… 

Ready to learn how to cook it yet?

The Prime Rib cut comes from the cow’s ribs and spine, and it’s where you get the fantastic fat-marbled cut the ‘ribeye,’ from. When you buy a Prime Rib of Beef (or as it’s sometimes called a Rib Roast) you are buying a series of uncut ribeye steaks that can feed up to 10 people. 

It isn’t cheap but it is glorious. So let’s make the absolute most of it.

How to Choose Your Prime Rib

We like to deal with a local butcher when it comes to choosing your rib roast. Be in mind you might need to order it in, in advance.

Don’t be afraid to ask about the quality of the meat, where it came from, the kind of life that it had, and in particular the amount of fat. A decent marbling of fat is good but you still want to make sure you will get plenty of meat.

You will need to consider whether you want your Prime Rib bone-in or boneless. We prefer our Rib Roast bone-in because the marrow in the bone really adds to the flavour, and the layer of bone actually protects your meat from cooking too quickly.

It’s up to you in the end.

If you are going to invest in an expensive cut you want the best quality possible. If you aren’t happy with the answers you may want to go elsewhere.

There are plenty of decent, honest butchers out there.

In terms of weight, a good rule of thumb is to aim for 1 pound (or 0.45 kg) of meat per person. If you are feeding 10 people at your barbecue aim for a 10 pound Prime Rib or 4.5kg Prime Rib roughly.

You may want to get your butcher to trim off any excess fat around the outside of the joint, to save you a job.

Prime Rib in a Pellet Smoker Step 1 Prepare Your Prime Rib

Now that you have chosen your marbled masterpiece we can started with the prep.

Start by trimming off any excess fat from around your meat, if you haven’t got the butcher to do this already.

If you are keeping the bone in (highly recommended) just be aware that we are going to cut the Prime Rib into 1 inch thick steaks after cooking. Bones can cause confusion and divided opinions in cooking!

Prime Rib in a Pit Boss Smoker Step 2 Light Your Smoker

Regardless of your smoker box and how you fuel it, the process of smoking will be the same. 

You want to bring your smoker to a temperature of 110-120°C or 225-250°F, and keep it there.

We like to use hickory wood chips which are perfect for smoking beef. Apple wood works well too and imparts a more subtle, slightly sweet smoke flavour into your meat. 

Top Tip – if you have plenty of herbs in your garden you can add a lovely extra flavour to your smoke. We use bay leaves, thyme and rosemary. The woody stalks of rosemary are particularly good.

Prime Rib in a Smoker Step 3 – Prepare Your Rub

Now we are going to make a simple rub to go over the top of your Prime Rib. 


  • 4-5 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • a sprig of rosemary leaves picked, finely chopped, stalk discarded
  • 2 tbsps of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp of honey (or maple syrup if you prefer)
  • 1 tsp of mustard
  • 1 very cheeky shot (1 tbsp) of Bourbon
  • freshly ground salt and pepper
  • optional – a little chilli powder according to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and give them a good whisk with a fork.

Now pour liberally all over your lovely Rib Roast, trying to get it into every nook and cranny. Use your hands to coat your roast with your rub.

Now we’re ready to start cooking!

Prime Rib in a Smoker Step 4 – Smoke Your Prime Rib

When your smoker is up to 110°C or 225°F put your Prime Rib onto your smoker grills directly. 

Now we are going to cook the Prime Rib in the smoker until the meat comes to the desired internal temperature.

Internal Temp of Prime Rib

The internal temperature of Prime Rib is the most important way to tell if your meat is cooked to desired doneness.

  • For rare your internal temperature will be 50-52°C or 125°F 
  • For medium rare internal temperature of 57°F or 135°F 
  • For medium internal temperature of 63-66°C or145°F 
  • For well done (although it’s a crime!) 72°C or 160°F 

Obviously you will need an internal food thermometer for all of this.

That being said you can follow this rough timing guide to help. 

  • 110°C or 225°F takes roughly 40 minutes per pound (per 0.45kg)
  • 120°C or 250°F takes around 30 minutes per pound (per 0.45kg)
  • 135°C or 275°F takes about 20 minutes per pound (per 0.45kg)

If you are smoking at around 110°C or 225°F a 4pound Rib Roast will take 2hours 40minutes, a 6 pound Rib Roast will take 4hours, an 8 pound Prime Rib 5hours 20minutes, and a 10pound one will take 6hours 40minutes.

If you are concerned that your beef is drying out at any point brush it with a little honey or oil.

Prime Rib in a Smoker Step 5 – Rest Meat & Serve

Once you are happy with the internal temperature of your beef, you need to rest it for at least 30minutes. Wrap it in tinfoil.

This allows you to keep all the lovely juices and moistness in your meat. Don’t worry it won’t get cold!

FAQ’s About Smoked Prime Rib

How Long to Smoke Prime Rib at 225?

At 225F it will take around 40 minutes per pound to smoke prime rib. This means that a 6 pound Prime Rib will take roughly 4 hours to come up to temperature. Always rely on internal temperature to be sure your meat is cooked.

Is it a Good Idea to Smoke Prime Rib?

It certainly is a good idea. Smoking any meat adds a level of flavour and a delicious crispy bark, and this is particular true of a great cut of meat such as Prime Rib.

When Smoking Meat Do I Need to Flip?

You don’t need to flip meat when smoking because you are cooking over indirect heat, away from open flames. This means that the meat is cooking slowly and evenly at a low temperature.

Happy smoking! Leave us a comment if you tried this recipe and it worked for you!

If you want to look at another awesome recipe on this subject try this one:


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