A beef prime rib roast can be an intimidating protein for many home cooks. It is often oven baked for many hours. You can also grill it or slow smoke it. I think this is an ideal cut of beef for a Masterbuilt Smoker. Allowing the smoker to do most of the work can take the anxiety out of tackling this massive roast. The results will be amazing.
What Exactly is the Prime Rib
A steer or cow has an enormous variety of muscles that are all mostly great for eating. However, they each have different textures, flavors, and fat content. The prime rib sits between the tougher muscles of the shoulder and the rump. This muscle runs along the backbone and contains the rib cage. The prime rib area gets little exercise during the animal’s life. This underused muscle is well marbled with fat and is among the most desirable and most tender cuts of beef.
The term “prime” refers to the roast’s position along the ribcage. The first five ribs of the steer enclose the tougher muscles from the shoulder area. This is a good choice for braising to break down the muscle fibers. The prime rib is cut from what is referred to as the prime or superior portion that includes the 6th through 12th ribs. These ribs are generally trimmed of the fat cap, leaving the rib bone ends exposed. Prime rib roast, with the ribs intact, is also called a standing rib roast. The bones enable the roast to stand upright while cooking. The bones add a lot of flavor, minerals, and collagen to the cooked roast.
For this recipe, we are using a bone-in prime rib roast. The prime rib is most often cooked to medium rare with plenty of melting fat visible. However, you can cook the roast to a higher level of doneness without sacrificing much flavor or the tender texture. Despite its size and appearance, this is actually a pretty forgiving cut to cook.
Preparing for the Recipe
The number one thing you need to do before buying your roast is to see what capacity of meat your smoker can accommodate. A standard prime rib roast runs at about 7 pounds and is approximately 16 inches long. You should count on leaving 2 inches of air space all around the roast so the smoke can get to all surfaces.
When buying or ordering the prime rib roast, count on 1 rib steak per person. Ask the butcher to trim some of the fat off of the roast for smoking. You do want the flesh to be exposed to the smoke. A 1/4 inch or so thick layer of fat is good to keep the meat moist and tasty.
Count on smoking the roast for approximately 30 minutes per pound. Plan the preparation of your accompaniments around that timing of the roast. For a 7 pound roast, that leaves you approximately a generous 3-1/2 to 4 hours to make everything else, unless you are savvy enough to make a few things the day before.
About this Recipe
The recipe in this article is relatively simple. Prime rib is such a delicious cut of beef that is really needs to be the center of attention. I don’t recommend over-seasoning it or marinating it. Less is more with this regal roast.
The smoked bones are excellent for noshing on or to make a soup stock. I admit to looking forward to leftover, fatty prime rib. It is delicious cut into cubes, charred to a crisp, and eaten as a snack.
Serve the roast with classic Yorkshire pudding, horseradish cream sauce, and a full-bodied, dry red wine. I have included recipes for the sauce and pudding.
Smoked Prime Rib Roast with Horseradish Cream Sauce
- 1 bone-in, trimmed prime rib roast, 5 to 7 pounds
- 3 TBS extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-1/2 TBS kosher or coarse sea salt
- 2 TBS dried thyme
- 1 TBS freshly ground black pepper
- Wood chips, such as cherry or oak
- Water + dry red wine
Total time:1 hour 30 min – Prep time:10 min – Smoke time:4 hour – Serves:6 people
1. Take the prime rib roast out of the refrigerator 45 minutes before smoking. Place it on a clean cutting board or in a large roasting pan.
2. Prepare the smoker. Add wood chips to the side tray. Fill the water bowl halfway with equal parts water and red wine. Set the temperature to 250°F, open the top vent, and turn on the smoker. Allow it to come up to temperature while you prepare the roast.
3. In a small bowl, combine the EVOO, garlic, salt, thyme, and pepper. Coat the roast evenly with this mixture. You can use your hands to do this.
4. Place a disposable roasting pan on the rack below the middle rack of the smoker to catch the beef drippings. Place the roast, fat side facing up, directly on the middle rack in the smoker above the pan. Smoke the roast for 3-1/2 to 4 hours for rare to medium rare. Check the internal temperature with a probe thermometer. You are looking for 125°F to 135°F for medium rare and 145°F to 155°F for medium to medium well. Remember to check the wood chips and water bowl every 45 to 60 minutes. Replenish both as needed.
5. Remove the roast to a clean cutting board and tent with aluminum foil. Allow the roast to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing and serving. Save the pan with drippings to use in making Yorkshire pudding. (recipe follows).
6. Slice between the ribs into individual rib steaks and serve with horseradish cream sauce on the side (recipe follows).
Horseradish Cream Sauce
- 1-1/2 cups sour cream or crème fraiche
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup + 2 TBS jarred, prepared horseradish
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 TBS finely chopped chives
Total time: 5 min – Prep time: 5 min – Serves: 6 people
1. Place the sour cream and cream in a medium bowl. Whisk together well to combine and thicken slightly. Stir in all of remaining ingredients. Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
2. Serve with the smoked prime rib.
- 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 3 whole eggs
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup pan drippings from roast prime rib of beef*
*If the roast has not yielded 1/2 cup of drippings, add some melted butter to this ingredient to bring it up to measure.
Total time: 30 min – Prep time: 10 min – Cook time: 20 mim – Serves: 6 people
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk until light and frothy. Add the wet mixture into the flour and stir until well incorporated.
3. Pour the beef drippings into 9 inch cast iron skillet or square baking dish. Put the skillet or dish in the hot oven and heat until the drippings just start to smoke. Carefully take the pan out of the oven and pour the batter into the drippings. Don’t mix.
4. Place the pan back in oven and cook until the batter has risen and appears dry, 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Cut into wedges or squares and serve with the roast prime rib and horseradish sauce.
We love our Masterbuilt smoker. I use it a lot for chuck, brisket and tri-tip. Chicken and fish too. Going to use it tomorrow for a 5.5 lb prime rib. Bring in the New Year. We do a lot of roasting on our charcoal barbecue especially turkeys, indirect with coals to the sides. We are excited to do a rib roast – water, hickory and lots of love.
We had a small (1 rib) prime rib roast leftover from New Years that we used this recipe for. We seared the roast in butter and rosemary before we smoked, made the horseradish cream sauce and Yorkshire pudding and it was the best! We did have to supplement the drippings with butter for the pudding but it was still outstanding! This will be our go to from now on!