Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time4 hours
Skill Leveleasy

This smoked prime rib roast will wow your guests at your next special occasion. We are going to kick it up a level by using beef tallow as a binder – everyone will think it’s dry aged! Make this smoked prime rib recipe at your next get together and be the BBQ hero everyone can’t stop talking about.

What is Prime Rib?

Prime rib is a roast cut from the beef rib primal cut, although the term “prime” sometimes refers to the top quality USDA grade of beef. The same cut of meat can also be called a standing rib roast or a rib-eye roast if it is boneless. Prime rib is known for its high fat content and excellent marbling of fat which make it an extremely tender cut. Prime rib is generally bone-in, but some cuts are boneless. If you end up choosing a boneless prime rib, keep in mind that you will need to adjust the cooking time. The bones add flavor and helps retain moisture so a bone-in cut is definitely recommended!

What if I can’t find Prime Rib?

Some butchers or grocery stores only carry prime rib around holidays, so if you can’t get a prime rib roast, you can look for other similar roasts. Prime cuts are the most expensive as well, so choosing a different cut can also be more cost-effective. Look for a standing rib roast or a rib-eye roast – they’re cut the same as prime rib roasts but will have slightly less marbling. Another option is to ask your butcher what cuts are available that have a similar size and fat content as prime rib.

How much Prime Rib should I purchase?

A good rule of thumb when purchasing meat is to estimate one pound of meat per person. A prime rib is a roast so will generally be a few pounds minimum, but ensure you have enough meat for each person by following this rule. Having leftovers is always a plus, so add in another pound or two to ensure there will be extra meat to go around or for the next day.

What temperature should Prime Rib be smoked to?

Prime rib roasts are typically cooked rare to medium rare because you want to retain most of the fat within the meat rather than rendering it all out. This cut of meat is one of the most tender cuts of beef, right after tenderloin, because of the fat marbling. It is an extremely delicious cut of meat that you will not want to overcook. To achieve a perfect medium rare, cook the prime rib to 125 degrees F before resting for 30 minutes, and then return to a much hotter smoker to get a crust.

What is the best way to check the temperature when smoking?

Ideally, using an internal thermometer is the best way to keep tabs on a piece of meat when smoking it, since you won’t need to open the smoker to know the temperature or test the meat for doneness. Most internal thermometers come with Bluetooth apps to connect to your phone or tablet, making it really easy to keep tabs on when the prime rib will be done. Instant read meat thermometers are another good choice. Because this type of thermometer reads the temperature quickly, you won’t need to open the smoker for long, meaning less heat will be released.

What is beef tallow?

Tallow is the beef version of lard – rendered out fat from the animal. At room temperature, it has a similar texture to softened butter or vegetable shortening. Beef tallow can be used to intensify the flavor of cuts of beef, and it also can be used when cooking at high temperatures since it has a very high smoke point. It doesn’t have much flavor on its own, can be used in a variety of ways, and is also shelf-stable. In this recipe, the beef tallow lends a dry-aged flavor to the prime rib roast!

Where can I get beef tallow?

Since beef tallow isn’t as well-known or popular as lard, it may be a bit difficult to find in a regular grocery store. Try sourcing beef tallow from a local butcher shop, or ask at your grocery store’s meat counter if they have tallow available. Some stores may stock it in the same area as other fats or near the bullion and broth. This is the beef tallow we like to use!

Can I substitute something else for beef tallow?

For a similar texture in this recipe, if you can’t get beef tallow, use your favorite mayonnaise instead of the tallow. Use the same amount of mayo as tallow, and no other adjustments are needed.



  • 7 pounds Prime rib (bone-in), bone removed and tied back on
  • 4 tablespoons Beef tallow, substitute with mayonnaise
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons Sea salt, divided
  • 1/2 tablespoon Black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 teaspoons Fresh rosemary leaves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 6 Garlic cloves, minced


  1. Remove and tie bones to prime rib

    If your butcher hasn't already done so, remove the bones in one piece by slicing along the bone. Once the bone is removed, tied it back to the meat using butcher twine. This will allow for easy removal when it's time to carve the smoked prime rib.

    Remove and tie the bones back to the prime rib
    Tie bones back to the prime rib
  2. Salt the prime rib

    Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the salt over the prime rib, cover with plastic wrap, and let it sit on the counter for up to 3 hours. This will allow the prime rib to come to room temperature for a more even cooking experience.

  3. Preheat the smoker

    Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

  4. Create the mixture

    In a medium bowl, combine the beef tallow (use mayo if you can't find tallow), herbs, salt, pepper, and garlic. Using a spatula, evently coat the prime rib with the mixture.

    Spread herb mixture over prime rib
  5. Smoke the prime rib

    Place the prime rib bone side down on the smoker and cook until the internal temperature reaches 125 degrees Fahrenheit for medium rare, approximately 4 hours.

  6. Create a nice crust on the smoked prime rib

    Remove the smoked prime rib from the smoker and cover it loosely with aluminum foil. Increase the temperature of the smoker to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also place it in the oven if your smoker doesn't go that high. Allow it to rest for at least 20 minutes while the smoker reaches the correct temperature. After the prime rib rests, return it to the smoker and cook for 10 minutes to build a nice crust on the outside of the prime rib.

    Heat smoked prime rib on high to form a crust on the outside
  7. Slice the smoked prime rib

    Remove the bones from the smoked prime rib by cutting the twine holding them to the meat. Slice the prime rib to your desired thickness. Don't forget to slice the bones into ribs and serve with the sliced smoked prime rib - it's my favorite part!

    Slice smoked prime rib to your desired thickness


  1. Shane
    December 9th, 2022
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    When removing from smoker at 125 and then resting. Will the internal temperature raise more and not be medium rare when placing back into the smoker to get the crust? Also, would i need to place the prime rib directly on the grill grates or still leave it on a elevated pan to get good crust?

    1. Allan Kiezel
      January 25th, 2023
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      Hey Shane, it will definitely raise a bit, but since you’re smoking the prime rib at a lower temperature it won’t rise as much as if it was in a burning hot grill. I would cook it directly on the grill grates for all steps.

  2. Lew Shapiro
    October 6th, 2022
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    I plan on doing this on my pellet grill. What’s kind of pellets do you recommend?

    So you have an au jus recipe you recommended?

    1. Allan Kiezel
      October 10th, 2022
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      Hey Lew, I make it on my pellet grill all the time and it’s amazing! I like to use a heavier wood pellet like hickory or oak for beef. Traeger had a bold blend that works really well with this recipe. For the au jus here is a quick recipe I like: 1 1/2 cups of drippings (add beef stock if not enough), 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup red wine, and salt & pepper to taste. Let me know how it goes!

  3. Billy
    September 13th, 2022
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    Going to make this for the upcoming holidays. Should the roast be at room temperature before smoking?

    1. Allan Kiezel
      September 14th, 2022
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      Hey Billy, yes! I always recommend bringing meat up to room temp to allow for a more even cook. The outside tends to cook a bit more if the center is ice cold. Let me know how you like it!

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