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How to: smoke prime ribs using pellets

Pellets give you all the heat control you need to cook up a perfect prime rib.

  • 1 boneless prime rib roast 4–6 pounds
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1/3 cup fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Prep time: 48 ½ hours
  • Cook time: 4 hours
  • Servings: 6

Cooking prime rib on a pellet grill may be slightly intimidating because of the size and cost of the meat but it’s not hard to do.

Whether you’ve been training to smoke the perfect prime rib your whole life or you decided to smoke one on a whim, there’s no mistaking that the pellet smoker prime rib roast is the ultimate showstopper of a dish.

You don’t have to tell your dinner guests that this recipe is easy to make. You don’t have to tell them it practically cooks itself. And you don’t have to tell them that the all-natural hardwood smoke makes it even more delicious than cooking in any oven. But when you make this smoked prime rib recipe, what you are telling them is that you care for them enough to serve them the undisputed champion of beef roasts!

Here’s how to season and prep prime ribs for smoking:

  1. 1

    Trim the fat and tie the meat.

  2. Trim any excessive fat from the fat cap to less than ¼ inch on the roast and remove any silver skin. Using butcher’s twine, tie the meat every ¾ of an inch or so to make the meat more round than oval shaped. This will promote more consistent smoking and cooking.
  3. 2

    Time to dry the dry brine roast.

    Dry brine the roast by sprinkling 3-4 teaspoons of kosher salt on all sides of the meat. Allow the meat to rest covered in the refrigerator on a baking rack with a cookie sheet beneath it to catch any juices for 24-48 hours.
  4. If you like, you can also cut small slits in the surface of the meat 1–2” apart from each other and push garlic slivers into the slits.
  5. 3

    Make the seasoning paste and preheat the grill.

  6. Make a seasoning paste by combining rosemary leaves, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and mayonnaise. Slather the roast with paste, and don’t worry if you have some left over.
  7. Preheat your pellet grill to 250°F.
  8. 4

    Start cooking.

  9. Place the roast on a baking rack with a cookie sheet beneath it and place the roast in the pellet grill. Insert a digital-probe thermometer into the center of the roast, and smoke until internal temperature reaches 115°F. You’ll need about 30–45 minutes per pound.
  10. 5

    Raise the heat temperature.

  11. Remove the roast from the pellet grill, and raise the grill temperature to 450°F. Now cook for another 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the roast reaches 125°F and the exterior has browned.
  12. >
  13. 6

    Rest and serve.

  14. Remove the roast from the heat, and allow it to rest until the internal temperature reaches 135°F–140°F. Slice and serve.

How to cook prime rib on a pellet grill?

One of the beautiful things about cooking a large roast is that it’s a relatively hands-off cooking process.

We start by salting or dry brining the meat and allowing the salt to work its magic a day or two before it’s time to cook. The meat then gets a slather of herbs and aromatics before it hits the pellet grill. Once inside, it takes an epicurean soak in rich natural smoke, allowing the flavors to fraternize and intensify.

What are the best wood pellets for prime rib?

The best wood pellets for prime rib contain hickory. Kingsford® Hickory Pellets bring hearty and strong flavors that any carnivore will enjoy. Another wood pellet worth trying is Kingsford® Classic blend. It’s a combination of hickory, oak, and cherrywood that brings a robust smoke with a touch of spice and can stand up to a roast of this size.

What temperature to smoke prime ribs?

Smoking a prime rib at 250°F is the perfect balance of smoke and heat for this dish. Smoking at 250°F allows the meat to be completely immersed in smoke without cooking too quickly. Our prime rib will smoke at this temperature for the majority of its time in the smoker before the heat is raised so the surface can brown and get crispy.

How long to smoke prime rib?

It’s safe to budget 25–30 minutes per pound when smoking prime rib. The balance between allowing the meat to absorb all the smoke flavor without cooking too quickly is a bit of an art form which is why it’s so important to monitor the meat’s internal temperature and doneness with a high-quality digital-probe thermometer.

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