Smoked Prime Rib

MMMMmmm.  If there is one dish out there that is so utterly delicious, I think I’ve yet to find it.  Smoked Prime Rib.  Now, say that again and just close your eyes and let the ultra beefiness and smoke flavor just roll over your memories.  Wow, just wow.  At this year’s Memphis in May BBQ Contest, I cooked a half prime rib in the smoker.  It was really amazing, so I wanted to pass along how simple, yet divine, it is to do.

What is Memphis in May?

Remember, I said I was down at Memphis in May.  If you’ve never been, it’s a BBQ contest on steroids and adrenaline.  Though this one was a bit more sedate than usual due to COVID protocols, it still ranks as the most amazing BBQ contest in the world.  Basically, a small city springs up on the banks of the mighty Mississippi river, with teams trying to outdo each other in the opulence of their area.  I’ll have a run-down on my MIM set up shortly.

Prime Rib Herb Rub

Being this was a contest, I wanted to keep things simple.  I mixed my Grillin’ Shake and Bold Rub seasonings 50/50, then added olive oil and a bunch of chopped fresh thyme and rosemary.  Simply slather it on.  Easy, quick, and delicious.

Smoked Prime Rib

For this one, I had a full prime-grade ribeye.  As you know, I’m a big proponent of buying full cuts of meat and trimming them down into what I want.  For example, buy a full pork loin and trim it down into thick chops, breakfast chops, and roasts.  The same for beef tenderloin.  Yes, you always have some waste when you do this.  You will always gain significant savings by trimming your own meat as well!

A whole ribeye loin has 2 ends, a chuck end and the loin end.  The chuck end contains more of the delicious spinalis dorsi, or ribeye cap.  It is also usually a bit smaller than the loin/sirloin end of the ribeye.  Many times, the first cut of a steak from the loin end is entirely confused with a NY strip steak.  I’ve had to explain to guest several times in my life that it is in fact a ribeye!

When I’m cutting larger steaks, I start from the loin end.  On this whole loin, I did the same.  When you get about halfway through the loin, you’ll notice a “C” developing where the spinalis muscle becomes more prominent.  I was always taught to call this the “Delmonico” portion of the ribeye.  I trim the tail (mainly fat at this point,) and pull back any fat on the loin.  Then, it’s rub time!  Season fully, and get in the smoker!

Smoking Prime Rib

I smoked this portion of prime rib at 250 degrees.  I was also finishing up some pork ribs, so I kept the temp fairly constant.  Generally, if I had a smoker with just ribeyes in it, I would run a bit hotter- 275-300 degrees.  However, this lower temp allowed the fats to render through the meat, and it was indeed delicious.  I was using a good bit of cherry wood, my favorite wood for beef.

Internal Temps!

When you cook a prime rib, remember, it is a lot bigger than a steak. If you want a medium-rare interior, the exterior cuts are liable to be medium-well.  That’s where seasoning and watching your temps comes into play.  I was super busy at the time, but I used my trusty MEATER to monitor the temps.  That way I wasn’t constantly opening the door and checking temperatures with a hand-held.  Frankly, if the MEATER alarms hadn’t started going off, I would have ended up with shoe leather because I was so busy at the time!  Just follow a normal internal temp chart to achieve your desired finishing temp.  Set that in your MEATER, and it will tell you when to pull it and rest the meat.

Anyway, as always, I hope you enjoy!

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smoked prime rib

Smoked Prime Rib


Want to go the extra step to delicous-ness? Take that ribeye, rub it down and smoke it! It will be the meal you remember!


  • 1 8 lb ribeye roast (trimmed and peeled of extraneous fat)
  • 1/3 cup Melissa’s Grillin’ Shake
  • 1/3 cup Melissa’s Garlic Blend
  • 2 TBS fresh thyme (chopped)
  • 2 TBS fresh rosemary (chopped)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil


  1. Mix all rub ingredients together. Slather on Ribeye Roast.
  2. Prepare smoker to run at 250 degrees, with a good, pronounced wood, such as hickory or cherry (my favorite.)
  3. Rub loin and allow to sit at room temperature, lightly covered, for 30 minutes. Place in smoker with internal thermometer, such as a MEATER.
  4. Allow for 20-25 minutes per pound to smoke. Pull when the internal temperature is 3-5 degrees below the desired end. When resting, place in an aluminum pan and lightly cover with foil. Allow resting for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Remove loin from foil and slice. Use drippings from foil to drizzle over cuts on plates. Enjoy!
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Category: Main Dish

6 Responses

  1. Made this from the version in the Costco Connection magazine (July 2022). Same as this recipe minus the Garlc Blend. Had a small, 4 1/2 pound, beef rib-eye roast. Smoked it in my Traeger pellet grill at 225 rather than 250 because of the small size. Pulled it at 120 degrees and rested for over an hour, I was ahead of schedule. Returned it to the smoker at 425 for 20 minutes to sear it. Beautiful results, lovely rare almost all the way through even though it was small. Thanks for the guidance Melissa and a shout out to Steven Raichlen for the searing info. Don’t forget to serve with horseradish sauce!

  2. I have a 4.90 pound prime rib roast. Actually is prime grade, so it will have more marbling than usual. Have read CafeRoy’s comments. In your opinion, to have a medium rare roast, should we smoke this at 225 or 250? For about 1-1/2 hours?

    1. Depends on what amount of smoke flavor you want. Lower will equal more smoke flavor, and it will also make the internal temperatures more consistent. The higher temp you cook at, the greater spread of doneness levels. A prime rib will, by it’s nature contain several different doneness levels (outside cuts vs. middle cut.) I would generally cook at 250 or even 275.

      1. Impressed that you answered our question! Have already made up the Grillin’ Shake, and we are looking forward to putting this roast into the smoker on Monday! Thank you so much!!!

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