Garlic Butter Smoked Prime Rib

October 21, 2018

Garlic Butter Smoked Prime Rib is the best version of smoked prime rib on the internet. Slathered in an herb infused compound butter and slow smoked to perfection, this prime rib recipe is meat goals! This post is sponsored by MEATER.

garlic butter smoked prime rib


I am all about slow smoked hunks of beef, and there is nothing more indulgent or delicious than a slow smoked prime cut of a beef rib roast. I’ve been smoking prime rib roasts for years, but this method quickly shot up to the top of my favorite preparations. The entire roast is enrobed in a seasoned garlic butter to infuse the roast with flavor and slowly baste the exterior of the meat during the smoking process.

The flavors in the seasoned butter are inspired by a “resting butter” I use on grilled steaks. The idea is to enhance the beef’s natural flavor without overpowering those subtle earthy notes in the beef. The butter has fresh garlic, fresh herbs, and salt and pepper. Simple, but absolutely incredible. The garlic and herbs smoke on the outside edges of the prime rib roast and make the most delicious crust ever!

prime rib roast

Another bonus from this smoked garlic butter crust is the melted browned butter drippings. I smoke my garlic butter prime rib on a rack above a baking sheet. That way, as the meat smokes and the butter slowly melts, it collects underneath the roast and bubbles and browns. When the roast is finished, I strain that gorgeous butter, season it with a little salt, and use that as a finishing sauce drizzle over the sliced prime rib. Absolutely indulgent.

smoking prime rib


To make the best prime rib, I believe you should consider smoking it. I feel like I’ve mastered the cooking process in my viral video for “Smoked Prime Rib” so that’s what I recommend. The process is incredibly simple, and if you are without a smoker, you can still follow the same time and temperature guidelines with great success.

For this recipe, I recommend using a roast between 8-10 pounds. For a roast larger than that, the timing changes a little bit as the roast gets longer, but not necessarily bigger round. Plan 35 minutes per pound at 225 degrees F for smoking a rare roast. 40 minutes per pound at 225 degrees F for smoking a medium roast. Don’t forget to allow at least 30 minutes of rest time and another 15 minutes or so for the high heat sear before serving.

Of course, the most important part of smoking a perfectly pink prime rib roast is cooking to the correct internal temperature. For that, I recommend getting an internal thermometer that you can use to track your prime rib during the entire cooking process. I used the MEATER thermometer to track both the internal temperature of the meat as well as the ambient temperature of my smoker. MEATER also has an amazing feature where it will estimate your total cook time for you by calculating the temperature of your smoker and the temperature of your meat. It removes all of the guess work out of smoking prime rib.

smoked prime rib recipe

One thing to always remember when cooking a large roast is carryover cooking. That is where your meat continues cooking and rising in temperature even after being removed from the smoker. This is a part of the cooking process where the MEATER thermometer really shines. The MEATER thermometer will actually notify you within the app when your meat is ready to remove from the heat and rest.

For example, if I want my finished prime rib roast to be medium rare (135 degrees F) I will actually pull the prime rib out of the heat at 5-7 degrees F below the finished temperature, when alerted by my MEATER. During the 15-20 minutes after removing the roast from the smoker, it will continue to cook and rise up to the perfect medium rare finish.

Smoked Prime Rib Recipe

smoked prime rib
Print Recipe
4.89 from 18 votes

Garlic Butter Smoked Prime Rib

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time6 hrs 15 mins
Resting Time20 mins
Total Time6 hrs 25 mins
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Smoked Prime Rib
Servings: 10
Author: Susie Bulloch (


  • 1 8-10 pound bone-in prime rib roast
  • coarse salt and pepper

Garlic Herb Butter

  • 16 oz softened butter
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 sprigs rosemary finely minced
  • 2 sprigs thyme finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper


  • Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F for indirect cooking using a hardwood like oak or hickory for smoking.
  • While the grill is warming up, prepare your roast. Trim any excess fat from the top of the roast down to 1/4 inch thick. Season on all sides with an even sprinkling of salt and pepper.
  • In a small bowl combine the softened butter, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper. Slather the entire roast with the butter mixture.
  • Place the roast on a flat rack elevated above a baking sheet, place on the smoker and close the lid. Smoke until the internal temperature of the roast reaches 120 degrees F for Rare or 128 degrees F for Medium. For a rare, bone-in roast, plan on 35 minutes per pound of prime rib.
  • Remove the roast to a cutting board and allow to rest for 20 minutes. Strain the butter and drippings from the baking sheet into a separate bowl and set aside.
  • While the roast is resting, increase the temperature of your grill to 400 degrees F.
  • Once the grill is up to temperature, return the roast to the grill and sear until you reach your desired internal temperature. Pull the roast off at 130 degrees F for rare, 135 for medium rare, 140 for medium. This process should go quickly, so keep an eye on your temperature.
  • Remove your roast to the cutting board and let the meat rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.


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80 thoughts on “Garlic Butter Smoked Prime Rib

  1. being a meatcutter for over 40 yrs,always look for a pink color meat with nice white flecks of fat .ask the meatcutter cut the rib off the bones and tie it back on.we the rib is done,cut the strings,let the rib rest,and put the bones back in the pan,then into the hot grill or oven to cook the ribs alittle more.take the bones out and you have a great appitizer before the meal.and always be nice to your meatcutter. he can make or break your meal.

  2. I cooked this recipe on 11/4/18 for the first time, cooked to medium temperature. Turned out great. However, one question I had was regarding the rest time between the smoker and the grill. The recipe calls for 20 minutes of rest between the smoking portion and the grilling portion. Pulling from a 225F smoker, the carryover cooking is only going to add about 5 degrees to the center temperature. But by 20 minutes, the outer portions of the meat have started to cool while the center has reached maximum temperature (+5 degrees from when taken out of smoker). I found that on a 400 degree grill after a 20 minute rest it took a very long time for the center temperature to start rising again because the outer portions had to absorb all the heat back before the center started cooking further. Is that expected? I had to leave it on the grill another 30-45 minutes @400 to get the last few degrees.

    1. I have found with the larger roasts, that my carry over cooking is closer to 10 degrees (I usually leave in my thermometer). However, if yours is less, I would recommend leaving the roast on the smoke setting for a longer time to get you closer to that target temp. That way you don’t need to spend so much time during the searing phase.

    2. Put your roast in a disposable pan, cover with foil.
      Have an ice chest handy an put towels on the bottom, an towels on top
      Close lid

      1. Kenneth, good idea. I wrap my roast to rest and then cover it with towels. Like Susie I leave my meat thermometer in and have seen an increase of 15-degrees internal during resting!

    1. Once you get above 10 pounds, it won’t really increase the cook time too much, because the diameter and surface area of the roast being cooked is pretty similar. I would plan maybe 30-45 extra minutes at 225, butnyou could push that to an hour, just to be safe. Remember to plan on time to rest the meat also.

  3. Looking forward to making this today! I’m doing a “test run” to see if prime rib (smoked, of course) will be our definitive Christmas dinner. My quick question: what liquid should I put in the pan at the bottom of my electric smoker? I’ve used apple cider for chicken, ribs, etc. but not sure what to use here. Thanks!

    1. Nice name! You honestly don’t need any flavor in your water pan inside the smoker. The meat will not absorb any of those flavors. You can add flavor to your “crutch liquid” if you are doing a piece of meat like a brisket and that will help to add some flavor. Happy smoking!!

  4. I want to smoke it and need to take it somewhere else for dinner. Will it hold well if wrapped, placed in a cooler and covered with a towel? And if so, how long will it hold?

      1. Just to be sure, if I follow this recipe including the sear, I can pull it off, wrap it, cover with towels and place in a cooler. I still would like a MR center and a crust. Am I asking for too much Xmas magic?

        1. the sear should be just before you are ready to serve which means it will crisp up the outer coating. That is the only reason to sear so if you can’t do that due to travel to another location try to arrange time in the oven to sear the roast.

  5. Always make these for Xmas dinner but was looking for a different way. I’ve never seared mine before but that sounds perfect for a good crust. I have a Traeger Texas Elite and not sure it’ll do well for searing so I’ll probably move it too my grill for that part. My question is, when your searing it do you rotate it at all or just sear one side?

  6. So by the time you put the roast back on a hot grill it would have already reached the desired temp after the resting stage. So in essence, and in response to Bernie’s comment, if it was allowed to rest too long and cooled down and then put back on the hot grill, waiting for it to come back up to the desired temp will result in a roast that is past its required doneness.

  7. I’ve cooked a prime rib (boneless) with this recipe in the oven. The only difference was that the searing was done first to seal in the juices. It turned out great.
    I have a smoker and will try your method.

  8. Had a 10lb boneless prime rib and it came up to temp waaaaaaaay quicker than anticipated. Smoker temp was maintained at 225-230 and it only took just under 3 hours. Holding it wrapped in foil and towels in a cooler until ready to serve a couple hours later but was not expecting to have it done so soon. Going to sear closer to dinner time. Has cooking time been this short in the past for your trials?

      1. Mine is presently cooking, 20+ lbs and it is already reading 140f in 5 hours. Much quicker than I was planning on it cooking. Now what? Dinner is about 5 hours or so away.

        1. I’m getting the feeling everyone isn’t reading the full post description before cooking their prime ribs. I don’t want all this beautiful meat to get ruined and I know you don’t either. For this recipe, I recommend using a roast between 8-10 pounds. For a roast larger than that, the timing changes a little bit as the roast gets longer, but not necessarily bigger round. If your roast is going to done way before dinner you can hold it in a cooler with some towels until it is time to eat.

  9. My husband and I are making this tomorrow, and I am so excited. Thank you for a great recipe.
    One quick question… what do you do with the drippings? Do you make an au jus?
    Merry Christmas!

  10. I smoked 20 pounds of Prime Rib yesterday (Christmas). Hands down the best prime rib we’ve made at home. The meat which was served medium- medium rare had no variance in texture or appearance. A phenomenal recipe that I plan using again and again.

  11. Thanks for the recipe. Excited to try this New Year’s Eve. Have you ever seared in a cast iron pan or throw in your oven at 400 degrees? Using the cast iron, I would probably sear each side for 30-45 seconds if I went that route. Thanks!

  12. I have a question: I have a pit barrel smoker (ugly drum) and have done prime rib on there with great success in the past. I want to try this recipe but due to hanging vertically I don’t really have a place for a drip pan. Will that matter? My main concern is the butter dipping onto the flame and shooting up the temp.

  13. I have a question: I have a pit barrel cooker (ugly drum) and have had great success with prime rib in the past. I wanted to try this recipe but was curious if the meat hanging vertically would be an issue with with the butter rub? I would think that the dripping butter could shoot up the temp when hitting the flames.


  14. Did this for Christmas, just like the recipe but with a little,horseradish in with the butter. Also,did the smoked potatoes..Susie made me look like a hero again, fantastic! Side note, doing the maple glazed carrots again tonight!

  15. Just finished eating our smoked prime rib. Thank you for the recipe, it was great, and a great start to this new year! Happy New Year, I look forward to trying more of your recipes this year.

  16. Smoked 14 lb prime rib on Christmas Eve 8.5 hours at 230 degrees using cherry and oak chips. Prior to smoking covered the meat with the herb garlic butter mix and left for 2 days in refrigerator, covered by plastic wrap. I was not a prime rib fan but this changed my mind. The result was a perfect prime rib, cooked to medium rare edge to edge

  17. Hello making a 20lb on Saturday.
    Want it done by 7pm.
    I’m guessing 11 hours. Should I cut it in half?
    I have done a 10lb before with this reciepe it was fantastic.
    Thank you

    1. If you are following this recipe, I would cut it in half, so you have 2 10lb roasts. The time tends to get tricky on anything over 10 pounds since the roast gets longer, not necessarily thicker.

  18. Ok, so I have a 5 pound roast that I’m aiming for a medium to medium rare finish. That should take about 2.5-3 hours, correct? Or will a smaller roast cook faster? This is my first time doing a smaller roast like this as I normally do this recipe with a 10lb roast. Also, can I substitute dried herbs in case I don’t get to the store to get fresh herbs? Thanks, And I absolutely love this site!

  19. Guys,
    I followed this recipe and it came out perfect! I smoked a 9lb. for a family gathering and everyone commented on how juicy and flavorful it was. The internal temp did reach target faster than what I calculated but I was prepared for that.

      1. All that butter and seasoning will end up in the pan but I was thinking why not use a larding needle to insert part of it into the roast in several places that would allow the flavor to be spread out thru the roast a bit more. and the rest could be slathered on the outside of the roast.

  20. Tyring this today. Having an issue with getting the butter mixture to stick to the roast. Just come right off in my hand. Any thoughts? Will be using a Bradley with Hickory and Apple wood.

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