How to Prepare & Cook Prime Rib to Perfection


There are few cuts as desired but seldom prepared as prime rib! Everybody wants a piece of it, but it is rarely prepared in the average kitchen. Since you’re here, we’re willing to bet that you’re someone who takes pride and joy in experimenting and achieving success with your pellet grill, so it’s time for you to do the same with prime rib. Read on to learn exactly how to prepare and cook prime rib to perfection!

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    How to Choose Your Prime Rib

    If you’re an experienced user of your pellet grill, you’ll know that the cut of meat you choose is extremely important, and that’s certainly no different when it comes to prime rib. 

    Prime rib is a cut of beef taken from the upper rib area of the cow. Generally, you find them in sections of 3-7 ribs, and the more marbling the rib has, the more expensive it will be. 

    You can choose to buy a standing rib roast (with the bone in) or a rolled rib roast (which is where the bones have been removed and it has been tied into a parcel) depending on your personal preference. Generally, people prefer cooking with the bones in or tied to the base of the roll for the best flavor – however, it’s totally up to you. 

    Choose whichever “level” of quality you prefer and can afford. Prime is the best, followed by Choice, and finally Select. If you can, Prime will be best (hence the name), but if it’s out of your budget or unavailable in your grocery store, it won’t be a big deal, you’ll still get great results. 

    When choosing what size you need, it’s generally best to allocate about 0.5lbs per person, plus an extra 1-2lbs. As a guide, a 3-rib cut produces 8-10 portions, and a 7-rib produces 20-22 portions.

    How to Prepare Your Prime Rib

    You generally won’t need to do much, if any, trimming, so simply trim any fat that is over an inch thick. If you do trim, make sure you always leave a quarter of an inch of fat, don’t trim it off entirely.

    If your cut is still bones-in, take them out and tie them to the base of the roast. This will provide you with the best flavor. To remove the bones, simply cut along the top of the bone and it should slide out. Then tie the bones onto the roast with wine at the base.

    Next, marinate, inject, or rub your prime rib, as preferred. You don’t need to marinate or inject your prime rib to see good results, since it will retain a lot of moisture naturally. For rubs, you can buy readymade rubs, use a recipe, or create your own if you know what you like!

    How to Cook Your Prime Rib on the Pellet Grill

    When you’re ready to cook, take your prime rib out of the fridge and allow it to come up to room temperature. This will help it cook evenly.

    Set your pellet grill to 225 °F and allow it to come up to temperature, and then put your prime rib on the grill bone-side down. Cooking time will vary depending on how large your prime rib is – allow 40 minutes per pound for medium doneness.

    When your prime rib reaches an internal temperature of 130 °F, it’s done! Remove it from the heat and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before serving so the flavors settle in the meat.

    Recommended reading: Beginner’s guide to smoking ribs on a pellet grill

    What Wood Pellets Are Best for Prime Rib?

    You can use any wood pellets you like, though generally it’s best to avoid the most strong-flavored pellets unless they’re your favorite, as they tend to overpower the flavors of the prime rib. That means you should generally avoid Hickory Wood Pellet and Oak Wood Pellet. The best flavors will be lighter, so consider using a Fruitwood pelletApple Wood Pellet, or Cherry Grill Pellet.

    Recommended reading: How to Choose the Best Wood Pellets for Your Grill?

    Should I Cover or Wrap My Prime Rib?

    In most cases, you don’t need to, unless you’re intentionally using the 3-2-1 method or it is required for your chosen recipe.

    What Should I Serve with Prime Rib?

    Popular choices for serving with prime rib are roasted or fried baby potatoes, fries, mash potato, beans, peas, roasted carrots, and anything else that takes your fancy!

    How Long to Cook Prime Rib?

    Here is a guide to help you calculate how long it will take your prime rib to cook:

    • 2-2.5lbs – 1-1.5 hours
    • 4-5lbs – 2-2.5 hours
    • 6-8lbs – 3-4.5 hours
    • 9-10.5lbs – 4.5-5.5 hours
    • 11-15lbs – 5.5-7.5 hours
    • 15-16lbs – 7.5-8 hours
    • 16-18.5lbs – 8-9.5 hours

    What Internal Temperature Does Prime Rib Need to Be?

    Follow the guide below for the right internal temperature for your preferences:

    • Rare – 120-125 °F
    • Medium-rare – 130-135 °F
    • Medium – 140-145 °F
    • Medium-well – 150-155 °F
    • Well-done – 160 °F

    How Do I Carve Prime Rib?

    To carve prime rib properly, make sure you’ve got a long, well-sharpened knife, then follow these steps:

    1. Place your prime rib on a cutting board after you’ve allowed it to rest for 20 minutes.
    2. Use a carving fork to hold it in place and turn the board until the rib bones are on your left side if you are right-handed, or the opposite for those who are left-handed.
    3. Make a one cut to slice off the large end and then slice the meat across the grain to your preferred thickness.

    Once you learn how to make delicious prime rib, you’ll be able to make it over and over again for family gatherings or simply to provide you with your meals for the week! Prime rib is a great cut for anyone who meals preps. Experiment with different pellets and rubs for a different flavor profile every time, or stick with your favorite. If you like this recipe or have any questions, let us know in the comment section below!

    Smoked Prime Rib

    Here’s a delicious prime rib recipe to get you started.
    Servings 4
    Prep Time 15 minutes
    Cook Time 40 minutes
    Total Time 55 minutes


    • Z Grills Pellet Smoker


    • 1 prime rib at room temperature

    For herb seasoning:

    • 3 cloves minced garlic
    • 1 tsp rosemary
    • ½ tsp ground black pepper
    • 1 tsp salt
    • ½ cup olive oil


    • Preheat the pellet smoker to 225 °F.
    • Combine the garlic, rosemary, pepper, and salt in a bowl.
    • Add olive oil and combine.
    • Pat the prime rib dry with kitchen down and using your hands or basting brush, spread the rub all over the prime rib.
    • Place the prime rib bone-side-down on the grill and close the lid.
    • Check the internal temperature every hour once it’s been on for a few hours.
    • When it reaches temperature, remove it from the heat, let it rest for 20 minutes, and serve!
    Course: Main Course
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: Smoked

    About The Author

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    Z Grills

    Z Grills is a grill manufacturer with over 30 years of experience within the industry. With over 650,000 pellet grills sold and 85 million cooks made, trust us.

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