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).

Is Prime Rib Hard to Grill

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:

Is Prime Rib Hard to Grill
Hone that knife and get ready to go to work

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:

Trim the Fat

Now hit the standing rib roast with a liberal coating of coarse salt on all sides:


Now time for some rub:

Don’t forget the sides

Now set up the grill for indirect, or two zone, grilling with coals and smoke wood on one side and nothing on the other:

Two Zone Grilling Setup on a Kettle Grill

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:

Remote Probe Thermometer

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:

Is Prime Rib Hard to Grill
On the grill

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:

Is Prime Rib Hard to Grill
One hour in the smoke

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:

Oh MY!

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:

Is Prime Rib Hard to Grill
Holy Inferno, Batman!
Is Prime Rib Hard to Grill
Can’t just sear the bottom, flip and repeat
Is Prime Rib Hard to Grill
Don’t forget to sear the sides as well
And the other side

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:

Resting is Vital

Then slice and serve:

A little over done for me personally, but I was feeding 8 and it covered all gambits of preferences

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.

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Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Is Prime Rib Hard to Grill?

A simple prime rib grilling recipe that definitively answers the question Is Prime Rib Hard to Grill. The answer is no it isn't.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 10 minutes
Course: Christmas Dinner, Christmas Supper, Entree, Holiday Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American, American Fare, BBQ, Prime Rib, Steak
Keyword: Christmas Dinner, Christmas Supper, Grill Steak, Grilled Steak, Holiday Dinner, Holiday Meal, Is Prime Rib Hard to Grill, Prime Rib, reverse sear, reverse seared, Reverse Seared Prime Rib
Servings: 10 People


  • 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


If you want to serve it more medium than medium rare, don't sear until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 135 degrees. For medium well, wait until it reaches 145.


Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas, the Original Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to college with a suitcase and a grill where he overcooked, undercooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thousands of failures, and quite a few successes, nearly two decades later he started a website to show step by step, picture by picture, foolproof instructions on how to make great things out of doors so that others don’t have to repeat the mistakes he’s made on the grill.
Scott Thomas

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Your prime rib recipe was perfect.


Thanks, Ken!

Just started UR recipe looks good so far. I’m trying it on my new weber grill .



Well? How was it?

What about on a propane grill?




Tried this with great success. Suprisingly, using a Weber Q table top gas grill. RV camping. Keeping under 300 degrees was the biggest challenge. Took one side of the grills off and stacked them under the aluminium pan. Put the wood chips right on the gas element.
Came out perfect, btw, seared with Gran Marnier.
Thanks for the guidance &
Happy Thanksgiving to me!


5 stars
Thanks for the assist. I just did one for Thanksgiving on a Weber gas grill. Turned out great (no wood smoke flavor, but that’s okay this time). Just in case the still photos of the final sear aren’t enough for your readers – here’s the moment in slow-mo video:

FWIW, my rub was homemade garlic paste (blended fresh garlic with a bit of vegetable oil), salt and pepper. Simply delicious.


Trying this tomorrow, have about a 5.8lb rib roast. Not sure how long i can expect it to take… the 2 hour smoking time you mentioned, is that for a 5lbs approx size roast? It looks about the same as mine.


Don’t grill to time, grill to temp. Time has too many factors that can impact it like size of the roast, temp of the grill and outside conditions. Make sure to get a probe thermometer so you don’t miss.

ya garbage method, you can get a crust but it’s not “smokey” it’s burnt flesh smoke, quite a bit different lmfao. You either do a reverse seer with a roast of this small size (yet a lot larger than a standard steak thickness) or you do a very low and slow cook on it on the grill while flipping a few times. This is a terrible method for such a great and easy cut of beef to cook.


You might want to reread that method we used in that recipe. It was reverse seared. Maybe read a little closer before you offer such derisive criticism. Thank you. I appreciate it.

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