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The first time you smoke a prime rib can be a little scary. It’s a large piece of meat that is more expensive than chuck roast or sirloin roast.
If you follow this smoked prime rib recipe and this cooking process, you’ll end up with a successful, flavorful prime rib perfect for a family gathering or holiday meals.
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What is prime rib?
Prime rib is a cut of beef that comes from the rib primal of a cow. It’s located past the shoulder along the back side of the cow where the 6th through 12th rib bones are.
From the rib primal, butchers will get a variety of cuts, including the prime rib roast, ribeye steaks, back ribs, cowboy steaks and tomahawk steaks.
There is variety in the size and marbling of the meat, depending on whether your roast is cut closer to the 6th bone or the 12th bone. The 6th bone is near the chuck end of the cow and is larger and more marbled.
The 12th bone is near the loin end of the cow (where strip loin steaks come from), so it is smaller and more lean.
If you prefer more marbling, like I do, ask your local grocery store butcher for a boneless prime rib roast cut from the chuck end.
Is a prime rib roast still called prime rib if it’s less than prime grade beef?
Usually when I refer to prime beef, I’m referring to the USDA grade. There are three: select, choice and prime. Select has the least amount of marbling and prime has the most.
Although a prime rib roast is called “prime,” it can actually be select, choice or prime grade.
If you want a prime grade prime rib roast, be sure to clarify the grade of beef with the butcher. The best way to be sure is to look for the USDA seal that says prime grade.
- Prime Rib: I generally like to cook a 3-bone prime rib roast, which will weigh around 8 pounds. For the Ninja Woodfire Grill, you will need to remove the bones in order for the hood to close. Double check it before adding the seasoning.
- Olive Oil: Any vegetable oil will work. I usually use olive oil, but canola oil, avocado oil and coconut oil will work, as well.
- Seasonings: Kosher salt, coarse ground black pepper, granulated garlic and allspice are my favorite seasonings for prime rib.
- Fresh Herbs: Thyme and rosemary pair wonderfully with beef.
Substitutions: You can use garlic powder in place of the granulated garlic. You can also use a pre-made spice rub or my Steak Rub or Brisket Rub.
How to smoked prime rib on a Ninja Woodfire Grill
- STEP ONE: If you purchased a bone-in rib roast, place it in the Ninja Woodfire Grill and try to close the lid. If the lid will close, you can move onto the next step. If it won’t, you’ll need to remove the bones. You can cook them separately for a later meal.
You can also skip this step if you purchase a boneless prime rib roast. Look for one that is 6-8 pounds.
- STEP TWO: Combine the olive oil, fresh herbs and seasonings in a small bowl, and rub them all over the prime rib roast.
NINJA PRO TIP: To prevent the fat layer from shriveling up during the cook, score it with a sharp knife, creating a diamond pattern.
- STEP THREE: Add a cup full of wood pellets to the smoke box on your Ninja Woodfire Grill. Set the function to smoker, the temperature to 250F degrees and the time to 2 hours. I always add a little extra time to the timer, so it doesn’t turn off before I’m done with the cook.
- STEP FOUR: Place the seasoned prime rib on the Ninja Grill with the fat cap facing up. Close the lid and start the cook. The pellets will ignite and begin smoking the meat.
- STEP FIVE: After 90 minutes or when the internal temperature of the roast equals around 105F degrees, raise the temperature to 400F degrees and cook it for another 15 minutes to an internal temperature of 125F degrees.
NINJA PRO TIP: If you have the Ninja Woodfire Pro Outdoor Grill, it comes with a built-in thermometer to help you monitor meat temperature. If you don't have this model, you can use an instant read thermometer like a Thermapen One or a leave-in meat thermometer like a Thermoworks Dot.
- STEP SIX: Once the prime rib reaches 125F degrees and develops a nice crust, remove it from the smoker to a baking sheet. Tent it loosely with aluminum foil and let it rest for 15-30 minutes before carving into it.
NINJA PRO TIP: While meat is cooking, the juices are very active. It's important to let your meat rest so those juices will calm down and redistribute back into the meat. If you cut into the roast before the meat has rested, the juices will still be active and will end up on your cutting board instead.
How to serve smoked prime rib roast
Once the smoked prime rib has rested, you can serve the whole finished roast tableside and slice it to order. Some people prefer thick pieces while others prefer thinner pieces.
For those who prefer their meat a little more well done, the slices closest to the ends will be cooked more. The pieces toward the center will be more rare.
If someone would like their slice really well done, it’s best to slice to order and then throw their slice back on the Ninja Woodfire Grill on the grill function at 400F degrees for a few minutes per side. There’s no need to add extra woodfire smoky flavor to this step.
I love serving smoked prime rib with horseradish sauce and a robust glass or red wine.
If you have any leftover prime rib, you can save it whole, cut it into steaks or dice it into pieces. Store the leftovers in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to five days.
You can also freeze leftover prime rib in a sealed container for up to six months. Thaw your leftovers in the refrigerator before reheating.
Frequently Asked Questions
The cooking time depends on the size prime rib you’re cooking and how cold the prime rib is when you add it to the grill. If you’re cooking a 6-8-pound prime rib that has rested at room temperature for at least an hour, it will take about 2 1/2 hours to smoke at 225F degrees and about 3 hours to smoke at 250F degrees. Also, plan on 15 minutes for a final sear.
It’s best to sear the prime rib after smoking it. This way, the meat is still soft and porous during the smoking stage, so it can absorb more smoke flavor. This method is called the reverse sear.
There is no need to wrap prime rib when smoking it. Ribeye meat is naturally tender, so it doesn’t need to be braised using the Texas Crutch. Instead, just let it smoke and then sear it at the end.
When smoking meat, it’s best to place the fattier side toward the heat source. The fat will help protect the more lean meat. On the Ninja Woodfire Grill, the heat source is toward the top on the smoker function, so you should place the fat cap up.
When cooking a bone-in prime rib, plan on one pound of meat per person or one bone for every two people. When cooking a boneless prime rib, plan on 1/2 pound or 8 ounces per person.
Set up the grill so the smoker temperature is around 250F degrees. Smoke the roast to an internal temperature of 105F degrees. Then, increase the heat to 400F degrees and continue cooking the roast to 125F degrees, which will take about 15 more minutes, depending on the size of your roast.
What to serve with Smoked Prime Rib
For an even more amazing spread smoke a whole turkey on the Ninja Grill to go with your prime rib.
More Ninja Grill Beef Recipes
- Cowboy Ribeye Steak on Ninja Woodfire Grill
- Ninja Grilled Filet Mignon with Mushroom Cream Sauce
- Cowboy Ribeye Steak on Ninja Woodfire Grill
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Smoked Prime Rib on a Ninja Woodfire Grill
- 7 lb prime rib roast, boneless
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp coarse ground black pepper
- 2 tsp granulated garlic
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- Season: In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, allspice and fresh herbs. Score the fat cap with a knife, creating a diamond pattern. Rub the seasoning on all sides. Let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Heat Grill: Add a cup of wood pellets to the Ninja Woodfire Grill smoke box. Set the grill function to smoker. Set the temperature to 250F degrees and the time to 3 hours.
- Smoke: Add the prime rib to the smoker with the fat cap up. Smoke for about 90 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 105F degrees.
- Sear: Increase the grill temperature to 400F degrees. Cook the roast for 15 more minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 125F degrees.
- Rest: Remove the roast from the grill. Tent loosely with foil and let rest for 15-30 minutes before slicing and serving.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.