Last updated January 27, 2019
Prime rib roast is probably the most luxurious piece of meat, and when it’s cooked following the below technique, it melts in your mouth.
Why is it so good? The spinalis dorsi (rib eye cap) blankets the eye of the roast, providing beefy, fatty flavor throughout, while crisping up to add an impressive texture.
I highly recommend choosing a prime rib that carries a USDA grade of choice or prime. If you’re going to pay a little extra for this special cut, you might as well invest in one that will be undeniably incredible. My market carries choice rib roasts for about $8 a pound, so plan to spend around $50.
Prepping the Prime Rib
Remove the Silver Skin
If you’ve cooked ribs before, you know how important it is to remove the silver skin from the back of the bones. It’s a tough membrane that can ruin a good bite. The rib roast has this membrane, too.
Flip the roast upside down and grab the membrane with a paper towel. Peel it off and toss it in the trash.
Rub + Rest
Unlike turkey that gets a wet brine in the fridge, our prime rib gets a dry brine and is left out on the counter.
The counter. What? Is that safe? Yep. It sure is, so long as you don’t exceed four hours.
You want to leave it on the counter, so it gradually comes to temp before it hits the grill. If you put it on the grill at a 40-degree fridge temp, it’s not going to cook evenly. The center will take longer to warm while the outside overcooks.
I leave it on the counter for 2-3 hours, and while it’s sitting around waiting, I slather it with robust herbs and my signature ingredient – allspice. While the beef is adjusting to room temperature it’s breathing in the herbs like an aromatherapy treatment.
Grilling the Prime Rib
The cooking method has 3 stages: slow cook, crust creation and rest.
For an uber-tender prime rib, you want to keep that slow warm-up going by grilling it at a low heat over indirect heat. We like 250F. Be sure to set the prime rib on the grill fat side up. This way, any fat juices will render back into the center of the roast.
You don’t want to cook it all the way at this temp. Aim for an internal meat temperature of 110F degrees. I recommend using a digital thermometer, like the ThermoWorks Smoke. It will alert you when your meat reaches 110F.
A 6-pound rib roast will take about 2 hours.
The best part of a rib roast is the herbaceous crust. To create this, you need to crank the grill heat up to 400F degrees.
Then, just keep on grilling until the internal temp reaches 135F. Remember to change your digital thermometer, so it alerts you when it’s ready.
Once you roast reaches 135F, pull it off the grill and let it rest for 30 minutes while you get the rest of dinner finished.
This step is so important. If you cut the prime rib right away, all of those magical juices will be lost on the cutting board. If you rest the beef, the juices will reabsorb back into the meat, which means every bite will juicy.
If you’re worried about your meat being cold when you serve it, don’t. Your meat is actually going to continue to rise in temperature 5-10 degrees during the resting period. If you’re still skeptical, serve it on heated plates.
How to Please Everyone
I like my beef medium rare, but I respect that there are those who prefer their meat cooked longer. If everyone eating the roast likes their meat medium or medium well, go ahead and cook the meat longer.
If there are just a couple of folks who like their beef extra dead, cut their slice and throw it back on the grill, and cook it to their doneness preference.
Here are the cooking temps to help you out
Medium Rare 135F
Medium Well 150F
Well Done 160F
How to Grill Prime Rib with Your Grill
This is by far the easiest grill to use because you adjust the temp just like you would an oven. What makes it better than an oven though is that the heat is generated by wood pellets that add a smoky flavor. I use a combo of cherry and oak pellets.
With my FireCraft Q450, I adjust the temp just like I described above, and I use the grill’s included thermometer to monitor the meat temp.
To create an indirect heat zone, turn on one burner and adjust it from low to medium until your grill registers at 250 degrees. To get the smoky grill flavor, use an Amazen Pellet Tube Smoker with cherry pellets. Place your meat on the opposite side of the grill and rotate it halfway through the cook.
When it’s time to raise the heat, turn the one burner to high. If the grill doesn’t quite reach 400, turn on another burner. You may need to rotate the meat during the hot part of the cook to avoid one side of the roast cooking faster than the other.
Light your coals until they have a gray ash. Push them to one side of the grill. Adjust your grill vents, until your grill registers at 250 degrees. Add your meat to the side without coals. You can add wet wood chips to the coals for smoky flavor, or use hickory charcoal briquettes. When it’s time to increase the heat, adjust your vents. You may need to add more briquettes.
Big Green Egg
Light your coals and add the plate setter to diffuse the heat. Adjust the bottom and top vent, until the grill registers at 250 degrees. Add wet wood chips for added smoke. When it’s time to increase the heat, open both vents to increase air flow. You can also use a device like the Flame Boss to control the heat automatically.
I realize I may not have converted all of you to the grill yet. So good news – you can roast this in the oven, too. You just won’t get that same smoky flavor that you get on the grill. Follow the steps above, adjusting the temp from 250 to 400 and monitoring the meat temp.
Grilled Prime Rib Roast
Prime rib roast is probably the most luxurious piece of meat. When it's cooked following our technique, it melts in your mouth with an herbaceous crust.
- 6 lb rib roast
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary chopped
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Combine the oil, garlic and spices in a bowl. Rub all over the meat. Let rest on the counter at room temperature for 2-3 hours.
Heat the grill to 250F degrees with indirect heat.
Place the roast on the grill, fat side up. Cook until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 110F degrees, about 2 hours.
Raise the grill heat to 400F degrees. Grill until the internal temperature reaches 135F degrees, about 30 minutes. Remove from the grill. Let it rest 30 minutes before slicing.
Slice and serve. For those who like their rib roast well done, throw their slice back on the grill until it reaches their preferred doneness.