Is prime rib hard to grill? Absolutely not. Grilled prime rib is one of the easiest things to do on the grill. Did I use a grill or a flame thrower? We’ll get into that in a little bit. It’s so easy, I will be grilling this prime rib, or standing rib roast, with just three ingredients – the prime rib, a rub, and salt. Some would argue that all a good prime rib needs is salt, pepper, maybe some garlic and possibly horseradish sauce at the table. Been there, done that. Once you master this simple recipe, I offer you something a little more bold. This was a prime rib I cooked for Christmas Eve. And if you want to branch out to beef tenderloin, how about this chateaubriand (which is just the center part of the beef tenderloin).
Grilled Prime Rib Ingredients:
- 1 prime rib (or standing rib roast which is the proper name)
- Salt to taste
- Your favorite BBQ seasoning, preferably a beef seasoning
I bought a boneless prime rib for this, but I generally prefer to grill it with the ribs intact, particularly if the rib bones are Frenched. Check out this post on how to french the bones – Simple Grilled Prime Rib with Frenched Bones.
First off, the back of the standing rib roast has a pretty thick layer of fat:
Trim some of that fat, but not all of it. You want the remainder to baste the prime rib as it melts in the heat on the grill:
Now hit the standing rib roast with a liberal coating of coarse salt on all sides:
Now time for some rub:
Now set up the grill for indirect, or two zone, grilling with coals and smoke wood on one side and nothing on the other:
Want to know how simple it is to do grilled prime rib? I’m doing it on a cheapo kettle grill that is worth less than the roast!
The target temperature of the grill is 250-275. If you hit 300, it will be fine. It just means you will have to sear it a little earlier. Yes we’re searing at the end or what is called the reverse seared method which allows smoke to penetrate the meat and then give that nice flavor crust from the sear. Why not sear first and then smoke? Because searing the standing rib roast first greatly inhibits the amount of smoke penetration. This is the best of both worlds.
Some are worried about all that could happen to that slab of beef on the grill. The temperature could spike and overcook it. You could leave it on too long and overcook it. The fire could dwindle and it doesn’t cook enough and have to go back on the grill interrupting dinner. If only there was insurance for that sort of thing.
There is. This:
This is the ultimate insurance policy for that expensive cut of meat your husband or wife or life partner is still not entirely convinced should be grilled. That unit has a base that the probe plugs into and alerts the remote pictured above which tells me when the meat is within 5 degrees of the target temperature, that happens to be 125 in this case. I know it sounds low, but remember the sear we do at the end to take it to a nice 140-145.
Set up the grill for two zone grilling with coals on one side and nothing on the other. Place a chunk of smoke wood on the hot coals and the prime ribs on the side with no coals:
I plug the probe into the center part of the meat, put the aluminum pan on the side with no coals, drop a couple chunks of smoke wood on the fire, and head inside where it’s warm and wait for the remote to alert me when it is done while enjoying a libation.
The prime rib will be reverse seared. That means it will be smoked to about 10-15 degrees short of the desired doneness and then seared over the hot coals.
I used sassafras for the smoke wood, but oak, pecan and hickory work really well too.
An hour into the process it looks like this:
When the handy dandy remote chirps, I head outside and check the now grilled prime rib that is at 125 degrees internal temperature. If the fire is too low, add more fuel and leave the lid open so it can breath and grow. Here’s what it looked like after a little over two hours on the kettle grill and was about 130F:
Now time to put the sear in reverse sear. Basically, take the prime rib off the grill (pan and all) and stoke up the coals. Then sear the prime rib (sans pan) on all sides. Warning, gratuitous fire shots:
Some of you are cringing right now. Now way will you let the flames dance all over a prime rib like that. I’ll admit that this is the hardest part. It takes a lot of patience and internal fortitude to let a standing rib roast sit in those flames, but that flame out is your ticket to flavor town my friend as it will give the prime rib that amazing crust on top of the wonderful smokiness. Think of it as the cherry on top of the reverse sear method.
I chose to show many of the flame pictures to give you an idea of what the fat on that prime rib will do when exposed to a wicked hot fire, also because fire is cool! I seared them on each side, and top and bottom, for only about 90-120 seconds. If you don’t have the patience to do this, set a stop watch on your phone to force you to keep it over the heat. You just need it in the flames long enough for the grease and moisture on the outside to burn off and the exterior to brown which causes the proteins to caramelize. Mmmmmm, caramelized proteins!
Then take the grilled prime rib inside and let it rest for a good 20 minutes so the juices inside, in a frenzied state because of the heat, can calm down, otherwise they will leak all over the cutting board at the first slice. The juices will also evenly distribute throughout the meat while resting to make sure each bite is juicy. Feel free to tent under some loose foil to retain some of that heat if you so desire. I skipped the tent:
Then slice and serve:
Is Prime Rib Hard to Grill?
Not at all. That doesn’t mean even I can’t learn some things from this cook to not repeat the next time I cook a prime rib. That lesson is to learn not to spend so much time snapping cool flame shots and the prime rib will be less done. Hopefully we can both learn from my mistake.
A standing rib roast truly is one of the easiest things to do on the grill. There’s a large margin for error as the prime rib has a good amount of fat in it making it difficult to dry out, (even when over cooked like this) and when you use the probe thermometer, it’s almost like cheating it’s so easy!
If you have any questions about grilled prime rib, feel free to leave them below or shoot me an email.
I might have overcooked this one a bit, but this one was just right for me, which worked out well since I cooked this prime rib on Christmas Eve.
Is Prime Rib Hard to Grill?
- 1 Standing rib roast AKA prime rib
- Your favorite BBQ Rub Preferably a beef rub
- Salt to taste
- Trim some of the fat off the back side of the roast, but not all
- Coat all sides with coarse salt (top, bottom and both sides)
- Give it a liberal coating or rub, again on all sides
- Place fat cap up in a disposable aluminum roasting pan
- Prepare the grill for two zone grilling with charcoal (heat) and smoke wood on one side and nothing on the other
- Target internal temperature of the grill is 275-300
- Insert a probe thermometer into the roast
- Place the roasting pan with the standing rib roast on the side with no heat and close the lid
- When the internal temperature of the prime rib hits 125, take it out of the pan and place directly over the coals and sear all four sides for about two minutes per side or until there is nice browning which will result in a beautiful medium rare roast.
- Remove from heat and place inside allowing it to rest for at least 20 minutes for the juices to redistribute throughout the meat before serving.
- Slice and serve