How to Smoke a Whole Prime Rib

by Rose Erickson

You can smoke a whole prime rib in your backyard grill.

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Whole prime rib is a large piece of beef cut from the rib section of the cow. Unlike the rolled rib roast, whole prime rib contains up to seven rib bones. Because prime rib can be tough, it requires a slow and long cooking process such as smoking. Not only does smoking slowly cook the meat, it imparts a smoky flavor into the beef and adds moisture and tenderness.

Remove the bones in the prime rib with a sharp knife or cleaver if desired. Carve away some of the fat cap as well.

Coat the meat with a combination of ingredients such as oil, pepper, coarse salt, rosemary and brown sugar. Tie it up with kitchen twine or string to make it rounder in shape. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Place a handful of wood chips and whole aromatics like a rosemary twig, a cinnamon stick and a bay leaf in a bowl of water for about an hour. Remove your prime rib from the refrigerator and allow it to rest at room temperature while the wood and aromatics soak.

Ignite about 50 briquettes in the middle of a grill or smoker. Dry off and add the wood chunks and aromatics and then separate the charcoal into two piles after they are red hot and covered with ash.

Position a pan of water in the middle of the two piles.

Place your whole prime rib on the grill rack and close the lid.

Cook, checking the conditions every hour or so. Replenish the water in the pan if necessary -- there should always be at least 1/2 inch in it. Add additional charcoal as needed. Rotate the meat if it appears to be getting darker on one side too quickly.

Move the prime rib to the hottest part of the grill when a thermometer reaches 115 degrees F when inserted into the meat. This will help sear the outside of the meat.

Check the temperature after a few more minutes and then remove the prime rib when it reaches at least 125 degrees F.

Rest your prime rib for about 20 minutes before carving and serving.


  • For optimal flavor, the Better Homes and Gardens website recommends picking chips made of wood from trees like mesquite, hickory, apple, oak or pecan. Make sure that you soak them in water before adding them to the fire -- otherwise they will burn away in about 20 minutes. To maximize the life of your wet wood chips, try wrapping them in tin foil with several holes punctured in it.

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About the Author

Rose Erickson has been a professional writer since 2010. She specializes in fitness, parenting, beauty, health, nutrition and saving money, and writes for several online publications including The Krazy Coupon Lady. She is also a novelist and a mother of three.