Bone in, french cut prime rib, slathered in garlic and herbs, then slow smoked in a pellet smoker before being blasted with 550F degrees of intense heat to form a beautiful flavor crust to make this a glorious centerpiece fit for any holiday table. Christmas Prime Rib on a Pellet Smoker is a recipe that will walk you through every step of the process and remove the intimidation felt from cooking such an expensive cut of meat on such an important date. We will make a magnificent roast beast indeed.
Roast Beast is a Christmas staple. Whole turkey, sweet ham, leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary, pork crown roast, lamb crown roast, beef tenderloin all qualify as the beast in need of roasting, but for me, the king of all Roast Beast is prime rib. My entire life, I have never cooked anything other than breakfast on Christmas or Christmas Eve, but in 2020, due to an in-law being Covid positive and my son having flu like symptoms (Covid negative though), we stayed home for both days and thus it was my turn to roast the beast. It was the first year that we didn’t celebrate those two holidays with anyone other than my immediate family. It wasn’t going to be the same but the dinner was going to be beyond epic! Because Christmas Prime Rib on a Pellet Smoker is maybe the best thing I’ve ever grilled!
“And he, he himself…the Grinch…carved the roast-beast!” ― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Pellet Grills are Perfect for Winter Grilling
I decided I was going to do a bone in prime rib on my Green Mountain Grills pellet cooker. I have a number of amazing grills on my deck. What made me decide to do it on a pellet grill? Simple. The high was going to be 30F degrees that day with some wind dropping the wind chill to around 20F. That was the high. I cooked this after dark when the wind chill was in the teens. I’m all for grilling year round, but when it’s in the teens, I might skip a day around the pit. With the GMG mobile app on my phone, I could put the roast on the grill and monitor the temp of both the cooking chamber and the internal temp of smoked prime rib entirely from next to my warm fireplace. I can also raise and or lower the temp of my grill without having to step outside.
If you want other holiday, or special occasion, worthy roast beast recipes, we can help. Here’s a Hickory Smoked Prime Rib. How about crispy bacon encrusted beef tenderloin? Or maybe give a leg of lamb a try?
How to trim the roast beast
Now that we have secured the roast beast, time to trim it. I took most of the thick fat off the back side:
Then I trimmed the meat from around the bones which makes for a pretty presentation:
Trimmed prime rib, bones and all:
Then I seasoned the standing rib roast with a HEALTHY dose of salt and pepper:
Why such a healthy dose of S&P? Simply put, the meat to exterior ratio is pretty high with a prime rib. We get a lot of steak in the middle, but not as much of the crust on the outside so I prefer to pile on the flavor to really make those bites pop. Basically, lots of red meat, but not a lot of flavor crust. So load up that flavor crust.
Here you can also remove the bones, or partially remove them, and tie them back on before cooking. I prefer to let the prime rib cook with the bones completely intact and remove them after the beef is ready to serve. This is simply personal preference. Make sure to save the trimming for soups, stews and chili.
Now that we have the prime rib trimmed and seasoned, time to bring some extra flavor to it. All a standing rib roast really needs is salt, pepper and some garlic and you can absolutely do just that with this. If that’s the plan, just skip ahead to the Grilling Instructions. For my prime rib here, I covered it with herbs and garlic. I used basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and tarragon along with garlic and olive oil and a little salt. Why did I use these herbs? Because those were the ones that looked the freshest at my local grocer. I would’ve liked to have used some thyme in there, but this is what I had.
Christmas Prime Rib Ingredients:
- 4 bone prime rib (approximately 10 lbs pre trim weight)
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, stems removed
- 1/2 cup fresh cup marjoram, stems removed
- 3/4 cup fresh oregano, stems removed
- 1/4 cup fresh rosemary, stems removed
- 1/4 cup fresh tarragon, stems removed
- 1/2-3/4 cup garlic cloves, brown bases removed
- 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 healthy pinch of salt
How to prepare a Christmas Prime Rib
Combine all the ingredients (except the prime rib) in a food processor and blend into a smooth paste. I have estimates on the garlic and olive oil because I needed to sort of eye ball it as I was blending. I had to add oil three times until I was happy with the consistency:
It’s simply a matter of spreading the garlic and herb paste onto the roast. To make this process a little easier, go grab a couple those disposable aluminum pans. Double them up because one will collapse with even a two bone standing rib roast. Place the prime rib in the doubled up pans and slather on the garlic and herbs. Start with the bone side, because that will be down in the pan during the cook, and then cover the rest:
Then put the roast in the fridge for a few hours or as long as overnight. The salt that was put on first will act as a wet brine and transfer some of that garlic and herb flavor into the meat. The next day (or after a few hours) remove the pan from the fridge for at least 2 hours, if not four to come up to room temp. This will greatly decrease cooking times. I forgot to pull mine out before I went up for a nap on Christmas Day (after all the revelry of presents and such) and so the prime rib went on the grill at about 35 degrees at 5:20 pm. It wasn’t finished cooking until 8:35. Remember, always cook to temp, not time. So while these times were for me taking it straight from the fridge to the grill, if you let it come up to room temp on the counter, it will take considerably less.
Here is mine out of the fridge with all the oil congealed from the cold temps of the fridge:
How to grill Bone In Prime Rib On a Pellet Smoker
Since my prime rib was going on so cold, I started the Green Mountain Grill off pretty low at 225F:
How long does it take to cook prime rib on pellet grill?
Cook to temp, not time. This is an extremely expensive cut of meat and usually served on very special occasions. This is not something to guess at or assume that how long it took me to cook this prime rib is how long it will take you. Grab an instant read thermometer and know when the bone in prime rib is done.
After about 30 minutes, the oil had warmed up and liquified so I raised the temps to 275 (all from the app on my phone!):
Then after another 30 minutes I went up to 325 and after another 30 minutes I ultimately put it at 375 until it reached 110 internal at which point I kicked it up to 550F. Here we have the prime rib at about 75F internal:
And here we the prime rib roasting in a 550F degree pellet smoker:
What temperature do you pull a prime rib?
And here she is, ready to come off the grill:
Yes, that’s a third meat thermometer. OK, I might’ve overdone it a bit with the temp probes, but I think you will see the effort was worth it. All my temp gauges were within a couple degrees of each other so at the same time I cooked this Christmas prime rib, I validated the temps of my two built in probes to be accurate. And besides, with as much as beef is, I absolutely do not want to make a mistake and over cook or undercook Christmas dinner, particularly with how much this roast cost.
I pulled the pans out and stood the smoked prime rib up to snap this shot:
Then I brought the roast beast inside to rest:
And here’s a closer shot of our Christmas prime rib:
How to Carve the Smoked Christmas Prime Rib
After a full thirty minute rest, I carved our Christmas prime rib. I started by cutting lengthwise behind the bones down along their curve until the knife comes out the bottom and the whole rack comes clean off. Then I carved off a slice of that perfect prime rib:
On the end cuts of the roast beast the outside edges are a little more done, but the middle was coast to coast glorious redness. The freshness of the herbs, the sweetness of the garlic, the umami of the beef and fat all came together in a beautiful mouthful. A little horseradish sauce really brings the Christmas prime rib full circle. Oh, I almost forgot to show the very pronounced smoke ring:
Christmas Prime Rib Recap:
Now if you would like to prepare this roast beast a little more well done, simply take it higher before cranking the grill up to 550F. Just go about 10-15 degrees shy of your preferred steak temp and then crank it up. Just remember, that the meat on the ends will be more done than the middle.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below or shoot me an email.
Also, this post has the look and feel of a sponsored post. But truth be told, Green Mountain Grills did not pay me a dime for this post. They’re just good people with fantastic products. Check them out.
Also, if you need more prime rib inspiration, my good friend David Olson has this take on prime rib on his website Live Fire Republic.
Scroll down just a little bit and check out the video we made of this cook that I posted to our YouTube channel and please subscribe.
Christmas Prime Rib On a Pellet Smoker
- 10 lb bone-in prime rib 4 ribs
- ¼ cup fresh basil stems removed
- ½ cup fresh marjoram stems removed
- ¾ cup fresh oregano stems removed
- ¼ cup fresh rosemary stems removed
- ¼ cup fresh tarragon stems removed
- ½ to ¾ cup garlic brown bases removed
- ¼ to ½ cup olive oil
- 1 pinch salt
- Trim the thick fat off the back of the prime rib and carve off the meat from the top couple inches of the rib bones
- Season liberally with salt and pepper
- Combine the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth
- Coat all sides of the meat with the garlic and herb concoction
- Place the standing rib roast in the fridge overnight
- Remove from the fridge and place in a 225F smoker
- After 30 minutes, raise the temp to 275 then to 325 after another 30 minutes
- Raise it to 375 after another 30 minutes and leave it there until the prime rib comes to 10-15 short of the desired doneness
- Then, crank up the heat to 550 to finish off the roast beast
- Remove from the heat and let rest for 30 minutes
- Carve off the bones and then slice and serve
More pics of the Christmas Prime Rib cooked on a Pellet Grill