This Traeger smoked prime rib recipe offers a delicious smoky flavor that’s perfect for the holiday season or any special occasion! The prime rib is the king of cuts, and we’re showing you how to get a perfect peppery crust on the outside and tender medium rare center with this easy recipe for your pellet grill

Close up of sliced smoked prime rib beef on a cutting board with herb butter.

When it comes to showstopping feasts, it’s hard to beat a masterfully cooked bone-in prime rib. The finished roast will have a wonderful herb crust and a beautiful medium rare center. Sliced into hearty thick portions and served along your favorite side dishes, there’s a reason this roast is the centerpiece at most holiday feasts.

And we’re here to say a lot of it has to do with the amazing flavor you get from a quick cast iron sear and smoking it on the pellet grill.

Why you’re gonna love it!

  • The best thing about this recipe, is that it’s super easy to make. All you need is your Traeger grill and a few simple ingredients! While the pellet grill is running, try this smoked spiral ham too!
  • This is the perfect smoked prime rib roast because of the savory smokehouse herb butter that melts over top as it rests. The best thing about the herb butter is that it’s an umami blast with minced garlic cloves, black pepper, parmesan cheese, and Worcestershire sauce!
  • Your whole family will love this smoked prime rib recipe for Christmas dinner or any of your holiday meals!
  • Don’t have a pellet grill? Check out our recipe for smoked prime rib on a gas grill for another amazing holiday roast!
Hands holding carving fork and knife cutting into a cooked prime rib.

What is a smoked prime rib?

The prime rib is a large cut of meat that comes from below the rib primal on a cow. The same cut you get rib eye steaks from. This is just the bigger bone-in roast version, also called a standing rib roast.

The prime rib is known for being a large cut of beef compared to a regular beef rib roast, usually with the bones attached.

It’s one of the best beef cuts for holidays and celebrations and is famous at steakhouses everywhere. It’s also one of the most expensive cuts. But if you watch the deals at your local market, they usually go on sale near Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

A good rule of thumb for knowing how much prime rib to order is that one bone will feed two people well. Three bones would feed six people, and so on. However, the bigger you order, the longer the cooking time.

For this Traeger prime rib recipe, it will have a delicious smoke flavor from the grill, without being overpowering. The finished product has a mouthwatering seared crust, perfectly cooked medium-rare center, and it’s finished in a steakhouse butter to amp everything up!

We skip any hard steps, without giving up taste. No slicing off the bones and trussing or even reverse searing. This roast is easy to make from start to finish!

Ingredients for smoked prime rib.

Smoked Prime Rib Ingredients


  • Prime Rib 
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt 
  • Black pepper
  • Jack Daniels Steak Seasoning – or your favorite steak seasoning. We love a peppery garlic blend.
  • A head of garlic – chop the top off, about 1/4″ down, exposing the garlic cloves
  • Steakhouse Butter – See ingredients directly below or try a variety of compound butter recipes out.

Steakhouse herb Butter: 

  • Unsalted butter, softened
  • Garlic cloves – use confit garlic for a richer flavor (trust me)
  • Freshly prepared horseradish – make sure it’s not cream or sauce. You want the grated horseradish that packs a punch!
  • Grated parmesan cheese – you want to use grated here as the shredded doesn’t blend as smoothly into the butter.
  • Parsley
  • Worcestershire sauce 
  • Coarse ground pepper
  • Salt 

Make the steakhouse herb butter

This herb butter is a great option if you’re looking for the ultimate, flavorful prime rib, and it can be made ahead of time.

Start by whipping up the smokehouse butter by combining all the ingredients in a food processor and pulsing a few times to combine. Or mix all the ingredients together with the tines of a fork in a bowl.

Roll the butter onto plastic wrap and tightly seal. Store it in the fridge up to two days in advance.

How to Make Smoked Prime Rib

Prep the prime rib:

Begin by patting the roast dry with paper towels.
Next, score the fat cap with a sharp knife. This helps the spices and butter to permeate deeper flavor into the roast.

Rub the rib all over with the oil and then season liberally with salt, pepper, and steak seasoning. Be sure to coat all sides.  

Prep the pellet smoker:

Preheat the smoker to 225 F according to the manufacturer’s directions.

For more amazing flavor, arrange wood chips in a smoking box and place them on the grill to add additional smoked flavor. Alternatively, use wood chunks in the back corner of the grill. We love hickory or post oak wood chips or chunks for big cuts of beef. See our notes in the recipe card below for using a charcoal grill or a gas grill for this recipe.

Smoke the rib roast:

While the grill is preheating, preheat a cast iron skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Place the roast with the fat cap down onto the cast iron and sear until browned. Flip and brown the prime rib on all sides, about 10 to 12 minutes. 

Finish with the bones facing down in the skillet. 

Remove from heat. 

Transfer the cast iron skillet to the preheated smoker and add a head of garlic and 2 tbsp butter on top of the prime rib. 

Smoke at 225F until the internal temp hits 125 F internally with an instant-read thermometer. This takes about 2 ½ to 3 hours, depending on the size of your roast. If you like your meat more well done, smoke the roast 10 minutes longer per pound for your desired internal temperature.

Finally, rest the beef. Remove from heat and add 4 tablespoons of steakhouse butter over top of the prime rib while it rests for 20 to 30 minutes before slicing. As it rests, the internal temperature of the roast will continue to rise to 135F. Continue to spoon the butter, along with any excess fat drippings, back over top the roast every few minutes as it rests.

Slice from the bones by running a knife along the rack of bones to separate the roast. 

Then slice into individual portions for serving. 

Serve with additional steakhouse compound butter, garnished with salt, minced parsley, and freshly ground pepper. 

Above shot of smoked prime rib thats been sliced to serve, showing medium rare internal temperature, pink center.


For best results, store leftover prime rib in an airtight container or wrap tightly in plastic wrap. If stored properly, it will last up to 5 days in your refrigerator.

However, if you want to freeze your smoked prime rib, ensure it’s cooled off after cooking then store it within at least two hours after cooking and cooling. It should not be left at room temperature longer than this. It will last in the freezer for up to nine months.

Hands holding carving utensils cutting into prime rib.

Reheating / Leftovers

The best way to reheat is by placing individually sliced prime rib in a pan or on a baking sheet and covering it with aluminum foil. Add a splash of au jus or beef broth and place in the oven preheated to 250 degrees. Reheat until it’s hot enough to enjoy, about 20 minutes, depending on how big your slices are. If you’re reheating an entire rib roast, it will take 30 to 40 minutes.

Use up leftovers by slicing thin and serving as sandwiches, chopping leftover meat, and pan searing to use in stir fries, scrambles, and omelets.

Colorful overhead shot of smoked prime rib, with one slice, steakhouse herb butter, utensils and seasonal citrus and pomegranate.

What to serve with 

Smoked prime rib is excellent served with smoked baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, smoked brussels sprouts, or, if you’re feeling fancy, Yorkshire pudding (which is most popular in the UK).

Want to make a real presentation out of this? Check out my tips on how to make a charcuterie board to serve as an appetizer before this feast!


What is the difference between beef ribeye and prime rib?

Prime rib is generally a large cut of meat that includes the bone whereas ribeye is a smaller individual cut that is served as a steak begging to be pan seared in cast iron.

How long to smoke a prime rib?

Rare roast: 35 minutes per pound at 225 degrees F.
Medium roast: 40 minutes per pound at 225 degrees F.
Allow the roast to rest for 30 minutes after you’ve temped it before slicing to serve to allow the juices to return and make for better slices. Know that as it rests, it will continue to cook, raising 5 to 10 degrees.

What is a prime rib called at the grocery store?

Prime rib also goes by standing rib roast or just ‘rib roast.’ So when you’re at your local grocery store or butcher, they will know what you mean if you mention any of the above names. Wait until near the major winter holidays to find it on sale! Christmas and New Year’s Eve are usually when I find them for a good price.

Perfectly cooked pink centered smoked prime rib on cutting board.


Traeger Smoked Prime Rib with Steakhouse Herb Butter

5 from 15 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 3 hours
Resting Time: 20 minutes
Total: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 10
When it comes to flavor, this delicious smoked prime rib has it! It's seared for crust and then smoked on the pellet smoker before being sliced and served with a steakhouse herb butter.


  • 5 lbs Prime Rib
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Jack Daniels Steak Seasoning
  • 1 head garlic top trimmed off
  • 8 tbsp Steakhouse Butter

Steakhouse herb Butter:

  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter softened
  • 2 garlic cloves confit garlic for a richer flavor
  • 1 tbsp freshly prepared horseradish
  • ½ tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp parsley minced
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Course black pepper
  • 1 tsp Salt


Prep the prime rib

  • Remove the rib roast from the packaging and pay dry.
  • Score the fat cap: slice diagonally along the length of the fat cap with a sharp knife
  • Rub the rib all over with the oil and then season liberally with the salt, pepper, and steak seasoning.

Prep the pellet smoker:

  • Preheat grill to 225 F.
  • Arrange wood chips in a smoking box and place them on the grill to add additional smoked flavor. Alternatively, use wood chunks in the back corner of the grill.
  • While the grill is preheating, preheat a cast iron skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
  • Starting with the fat cap, ser the prime rib on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Finish with the bones facing down in the skillet.

Remove from heat.

  • Transfer the skillet to the preheated smoker and add a head of garlic to the pan and 2 tbsp butter on top of the prime rib.
  • Smoke at 225 until the internal temp hits 125 F internally, about 2 ½ to 3 hours.


  • Remove from heat and add 4 tbsp steakhouse butter over top of the prime rib while it rests for 20 to 30 minutes before slicing.
  • Slice from the bones by running a knife along the rack of bones to separate the roast.
  • Then slice into individual portions for serving.
  • Serve with additional steakhouse butter, garnished with salt, minced parsley and freshly ground black pepper.

To make the steakhouse butter:

  • In a small bowl, mash the butter and garlic with a fork. Add the horseradish, parmesan cheese, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and black pepper and mix until combined.
  • Roll into a sheet of plastic wrap and store in the fridge to firm up until ready to use.
  • Butter can be made 2 days ahead and will last 4 days in the fridge.


If using a gas grill: Cook over indirect heat. Prep the grill for 225 with one burner running to maintain the heat. Adjust as needed to hold at 225. Sear the prime rib in the cast iron skillet over the direct heat. Then slice the skillet on the cooler side of the grill. Close the lid and cook as directed above. User a smoker box or foil packet filled with wood chips for a grilled flavor. See our full recipe for a smoked prime rib on a gas grill for more in-depth instructions.
If using a charcoal grill: Prep your charcoal grill for indirect heat by arranging lit coals on one side of the grill, creating a 2-zone fire. Add a drip pan under the grill grate on the cooler side of the grill. Add wood chunks to the coals to add smoked flavor and place the lid on the grill. When the smoke has mellowed and is no longer dark, add the seared prime rib directly to the grill grate above the drip pan. Cover and allow to smoke as directed above, making sure your coals remain a consistent temperature of around 225F for the duration of the cook.
Using a digital probe thermometer will guarantee your prime rib does not overcook. Alternatively, an instant-read meat thermometer is essential to making sure your prime rib stays a perfect medium rare in the center.
If you like your beef more well done, cook to 130 to 135 F internally.
Remember, with a prime rib, the outside edges will always be more done than the middle.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 855kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 80g | Saturated Fat: 37g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 32g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 186mg | Sodium: 1123mg | Potassium: 529mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 609IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 4mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, barbeque
Author: Kita Roberts

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Well, Hey, Y’all.

Kita is a multi-talented individual, boasting numerous accomplishments such as being an award-winning recipe developer, world-traveled professional photographer, and journalist. As the lead creative force behind Girl Carnivore®, she is widely recognized as an authority on all things meat. Kita’s impressive expertise has been honed through extensive education with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Certified Angus Beef, as well as through attending butchery demos and visiting ranchers and farmers from coast to coast, allowing her to better learn and understand American foodways.


  1. 5 stars
    This will be my go-to recipe for smoked prime rib, or even when I do it in the oven. I loved the flavor, and the steakhouse butter is fantastic and goes well on all kinds of things. In fact, I’m going to go make a batch of butter right now!

  2. 5 stars
    Since this recipe is coming from you, I’m going ball’s out and smoking a prime rib from Costco. Will send pics of the final product. 👋🙌🙏

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