Smoked Prime Rib

This smoked prime rib, coated with a sugar spice rub and smothered with a horseradish mustard mixture, becomes slowly infused with smoky flavor and is simply the best prime rib we’ve ever tried.

A smoked prime rib sliced in half on a wooden board with a green-handled knife beside it.

We thought we knew how to cook prime rib to a faretheewell. Then we experienced this smoked prime rib and had to rethink everything we thought we’d known. The spice rub in tandem with the gentle infusion of smoke produces a prime rib unlike any other.–Angie Zoobkoff

What is the best wood to smoke prime rib with?

Given the loveliness—and priciness—of prime rib, we suggest a less intense wood, such as apple or cherry. Common barbecue woods such as hickory or oak will overwhelm that beefiness.

Smoked Prime Rib

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 3 H
  • Serves 6 to 8
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Special Equipment: Smoker; wood chips, chunks, or pellets (depending on your smoker)



Prepare your smoker according to manufacturer’s directions with a temperature of 325°F (160°C). Let the meat rest at room temperature while the smoker preheats.

In a small bowl, thoroughly combine the salt, pepper, mustard seeds, and sugar.

Pat the prime rib dry with paper towels and evenly coat the surface of the meat with the horseradish mustard. Season on all sides with the spice mixture. You may have some spice mixture left over and that’s ok.

When the smoker is heated and the smoke runs clear, add the prime rib. Cook, maintaining the smoker at 325°F (160°C), until the beef reaches an internal temperature of 125°F (50°C) for rare or 135°F (57°C) for medium, 2 to 3 hours. For the best results, use a probe thermometer to continually monitor the meat’s temperature.

Transfer the beef to a cutting board and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Slice to the desired thickness and serve.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This smoked prime rib was divine. We wanted a nice dinner for ourselves before we saw our families for the holidays and this really fit the bill. When you need something spectacular and don't want to fuss or worry over the meat, this is your dish. It will give you plenty of time to pull together your sides or just time for entertaining before the meal. This is goof-proof and will turn out beautifully every time.

It was extremely fast to get it ready for the smoker and we smoked it to medium rare for a total time of 2 1/2 hours. We pulled it off, let it rest, and served it with the Old-Fashioned Potato Gratin from this site and a nice Brussels sprout dish.

Not many recipes earn a perfect 10 score, but this one does in spades. The smoke flavor combined with the spice rub produces a prime rib like none other. For me, prime rib is a cut of meat for a special occasion (in this case, Christmas) and this recipe made it extra special. Everyone raved about it.

Prime rib is the perfect foil for horseradish mustard, salt, pepper, sugar, and mustard seed. These are bold flavors and you need a cut that can stand up to them. Prime rib does it.

I found that cooking the prime rib on the smoker had many advantages in addition to the flavor including being able to use the oven for other dishes and no messy oven when the meat was finished cooking.

Take the prime rib out of the refrigerator an hour or so before it goes on the smoker so you're not putting a cold roast on the smoker. The meat should be room temperature so you get an even cook.

The hardest part of this recipe—and I use the word “hardest” loosely—is keeping an eye on the smoker and the meat temperature. My roast was a little bigger than what the recipe called for and yet it was done—perfectly—at about 3 hours.

There was more than enough rub. The timing was accurate. I cooked mine, which was a little more than 5 pounds, for 3 hours. We got 6 servings along with mascarpone mashed potatoes, a mushroom bake, and grilled broccoli.


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  1. I’m salivating and can’t stand up. You did not gauge the concerns that those pictures after the information would have on we Boomers. I think I’ll get over it.

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