Smoked Prime Rib or Standing Rib Roast

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One of the most perfect pieces of meat known to man is the smoked prime rib.. my opinion of course!

The prime rib or what some call a "standing rib roast" which is, as I understand it, ribs #6-12 going from front to rear. The term "prime" has nothing to do with the quality of the meat as it is graded by the USDA but simply implies that it is the rib primal cut.

I don't claim to be an expert when it comes to the cutting or butchering of meat and it's various nomenclatures, I lean heavily on my butcher for these sort of things.

I think normally it is comprised of 7 bones, some of the last few I have purchased have only had 5 and were extremely tasty. My butcher tells me that it is the "best" 5 and based on flavor, I have to agree.

A little preparation is in order before smoking it and here's how it's done:

A cut was made down next to the ribs.. then it’s all tied up with butchers twine.

Sometimes I do this myself.. but nowadays I usually just let the butcher do it for me to save time.

The outer layer of meat likes to pull away from the rest of the meat.. if this happens it will not cook evenly and the part that pulls away will end up being overdone. To prevent this from happening, you tie it up with butchers twine about every 3/4 inch or so for the full length of the roast.

The cut is just one that I like to make before the fact… a clean cut right next to the feather bones.. those large bones that are on one side (imagine the knife blade touching the inside edge of all the bones at once). I don’t cut all the way through but just down to the end of the bones. Once the prime rib is done cooking, it makes it easy to just untie the roast and make the final cut through the meat to remove the bones leaving you with a nice piece of meat that you can slice into pieces.

Look at that marbling..Sweeeeeeeet!!

Sprayed with extra virgin olive oil very generously.. all over.

For these pictures which were taken a good while back.. I used Emerils Steak Seasoning. Nowadays, I use my rub and it works even better in my opinion! You have options;-)


Sitting on the Weber grate.. cherry smoke is hard to beat!!


In most case, you will want to remove it at 125-130 and let it creep up to 135 with some foil tented over it.

If you like it more rare, you can take it off the smoker a littler earlier at 120-125 or so. Any more rare than that.. you're on your own;-)

Look at that beautiful coloration!

Man! Does that look juicy or what!!? It was so tender you could cut it with a fork and it melted in our mouths.

I kept the smoke going throughout the entire cooking session. The smoker was maintained at 225 degrees and it took almost exactly 4 hours to reach 125-130 degrees. The top vent was all the way open and I used (1) cherry split at a time approximately 3? x 12? in size.

Other wood such as pecan, hickory and even some oak would work very well also.



  • Make a single cut across the inside edge of the bones but don't cut it completely off. leave it barely connected at the bottom edge (have your butcher do this)
  • Tie the meat up at 3/4 inch intervals using butchers twine
  • Spray the meat with olive oil (or brush it on)
  • Apply Jeff's Rib rub liberally to the outside of the meat
  • Smoke the meat at 225 degrees for 4-6 hours or until the meat reaches 125-130 degrees in the center.
  • I recommend cherry wood smoke throughout the entire cooking period
  • Remove from smoker and tent foil over the meat for about 15 minutes to let the juices disperse.
  • Remove twine, slice and serve immediately

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  1. Kevin White says

    I am smoking A 9 lb prime rib. I’m having a hard time trying to figure out how long to smoke it for. Anyone with tips will be greatly appreciated.

  2. Rich Barner says

    I did my first smoked Prime Rib for Christmas Eve and I will be doing it again. I had to make 11lb of Prime Rib, I did 7lb in the smoker and the rest on a rotisserie and nobody wanted the rotisserie because the smoked rib was a hit. I took mine off at 120 degree and tented it for 30 minutes and the juices flowed.

    • Jim Farnham says

      I have never brined a rib roast and honestly don’t know of anyone that has, therefore I can’t comment on this issue. If by chance you do brine yours, and can ascertain the difference of doing this or not, I would appreciate the results. FYI, all the older recipies that I have seen or used have not mentioned this.

  3. michael blanding says

    I want to use my masterbuilt smoker for cooking a Standing Rib Roast. I noticed your method/recipe used a Weber grill. Would the recipe change for this type of smoker ?

    • Jim Farnham says

      I use my electric masterbuilt for just about all roasts from venison, to boston butt, pot roast, turkey & chicken, and most of all, a good prime rib when I can afford it. I put the water pan in dry under the roast to catch the drippings for gravy, and on average I cook at about 200 to 220 degrees for one hour per pound of meat. This “formula” has never failed me and I use different woods just for some variation. I rarely put any rubs, just use a lot of salt, garlic salt and black pepper, but that is my choice. I have never had a roast of any type not come off tender and super delicious.

  4. donald butterbaugh says

    I am using your recipe for Prime Rib Monday, would injecting Cherry Juice harm the flaver of the Prime Rib? Gosh I have almost wore out your book. I use it so much. I have purchased other Books on Smoking but they are not as concise and easy to follow as yours. I brag about you every day at work. A bunch of us formed a group for meat smoking and trade recipes at lunch. Once again thank you for your weekly emails and help.


  5. Jon Cockes says

    Jeff, I think it was from you about the standing rib roast. The article described the cut of meat like the “lip” and “eye” and which ribs were preferred. When I search my e-mails I can not find the description that I think you provided. I thought it was the best info about what to look for in selecting a roast. If you have this, could you e-mail me. Love your newsletter! Jon

  6. Angela Paiva says

    Hey Jeff,

    I bought your cookbook for my husband as a Christmas gift and I'm digging through it now! We are making a smoked prime rib for Christmas and I'm looking at this recipe on page 120 in the book and it calls for a 5lb. prime rib roast. My husband bought a 5 bone (10lb) prime rib to smoke on Christmas Day. Will the estimated cook time or temp change? If so, what do you reccomend?

    Thanks and Merry Christmas

    Angela Paiva

    • garyland says


      Your cooking time will increase definately. The internal temperature is the constant you want to be watching as this is the indicator of doneness. As every smoker is different cooking times are different as well. As this is indirect heating of the roast it won't be double the cooking time from a 5 lb roast to do a 10 lb roast. It has been my experience that if you can maintain 225 degrees in your smoker you can plan on 30 minutes per lb on a roast 5 ribs or larger. Once the internal temperature reaches 110 degrees I keep an almost constant eye on it until it reaches the desired temperature for the doneness my company desires. And do not forget about letting it rest for 30 minutes after removing the roast from the grill. Your roast will increase in internal temp. anywhere from 5-10 degrees. Best of luck.

      Merry Christmas,


      • greg says

        I have a smoker from Bass pro shop, off set wood box heavy gauge metal. I’m going to attempt to smoke a 25 lb prime rib roast bone in for Christmas. I’m going to shoot for medium rare. my smoker likes the 250 mark. I know you suggested 30 min. / lb my math tells me to have it done for 2:00 pm dinner I need to start at 2:00am, any comments are welcome.

    • says

      I recommend using the water pan every time you smoke meat if your smoker is equipped with one. The only exception would be if you are drying meat such as in making jerky.

      The prime rib will benefit from having water in the water pan thus making the air moist and decreasing it’s ability to dry the meat.

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