***Editor’s Note ~ We have updated our prime rib recipe. This Prime Rib was what I served to my family on Christmas Even a couple years ago.***

Simple Grilled Prime Rib
Simple Grilled Prime Rib? Prime rib is another one of those things that people love to eat but are afraid to cook. We’ve already gone over how easy lobster tails are to cook on the grill as well as boil in a pot. And while it is the perfect time to practice on lobster as the prices are at an all time low, prime rib is still, well… prime. It’s not cheap, so that fear of screwing up an expensive cut like that is still there. I’m asking you to face your fear. It’s not hard. Do it just one time and I guarantee that you will wonder why you hadn’t tried this before. You will also laugh at yourself for that fear you had of simple prime rib, because that’s exactly what it is, simple.

My dad has done this for years and has it down to a science, documenting it perfectly in this post. Just follow his lead and you will be blown away by the results of this simple prime rib. Read below to see how he does it and just how simple this is…

Many are intimidated by the thought of placing this large expensive cut of meat on the grill. Inspired a few years ago by Master Raichlen, I’ve tackled this numerous times with repeated success (I’ve never had a bad result). It’s a simple indirect grilling method that requires the time and/or temperature to be monitored to achieve the desired outcome, but that’s not all that hard.

The standing rib roast can usually be obtained ‘bone-in’ or ‘boneless’ at most markets however it is not frequently displayed in the meat case until winter holiday season arrives. If your store doesn’t display this item, just ask the meat cutter to prepare one for you. It’s simply a sliced chunk of whole rib eye:

Grilled Prime Rib - 1
Should your choice be a ‘bone-in’ roast (Grillin’ Fools always prefer this but boneless will do also) then the ribs should be Frenched. Cut the layer of fat covering the ends of the rib bones all the way to the bone:

Grilled Prime Rib - 2
Upon reaching the bone twist the knife toward the end of the ribs and cut this section away and remove as shown:

Grilled Prime Rib - 3
Next trim the pieces of meat between the bones and retain (Mimi says they should become nibblers to be enjoyed while the roast is cooking–she is her father’s daughter indeed):

Grilled Prime Rib - 4

Grilled Prime Rib - 5
Should your prime rib have a heavy layer of fat you could remove that at this time. This one was well-trimmed already and a little fat melting and basting over the standing rib roast while grilling is a good thing.

** Editor’s Note – Frenching the rib roast is not required. The presentation is better this way but some would argue that the fat rendering down over the roast during the cooking from that section can add flavor as well. This is your personal preference. If for the first time you don’t want to French the roast, you do not have to by any means.**

Next, using a sharp knife, make slits about an inch apart and half inch deep over the prime rib. Insert slivers of sliced garlic cloves into each slit.

Grilled Prime Rib - 6
Time to make the rub.

Grilled Prime Rib Rub Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp garlic salt
  • 2 tsp onion salt
  • 2 tsp hickory-smoked salt
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp Canadian steak seasoning ( optional )

Another option is adding a tsp of dried mustard–strictly a taste preference.

** Editor’s Note ~ if you use fresh rosemary increase the amount 50%. Dried herbs are more concentrated than fresh **

Grilled Prime Rib - 7
Pat the rub into the entire surface area of the standing rib roast.

The old charbroil was set up for the flank style of indirect grilling–coals on the left and right with the roast in the center. Several cups of hickory chips were soaked in water an hour or so before grilling and were added frequently during the grilling process. Adjust the amount of wood chips to your taste. You don’t want to overpower the meat but you are trying to achieve that special hickory smoked flavor into the standing rib roast. Other woods may be used such as mesquite (I’d leave the hickory-smoked salt out of the rub if you go this route).

Grilled Prime Rib - 8
***Editor’s Note ~ What a view, huh?***

Simple Grilled Prime Rib
Here are the nibblers:

Simple Grilled Prime Rib
Cooking time for this 6 lb. standing rib roast will be approximately two to two and a half hours or until 135-140 degrees internal temperature in the deepest part of the cut if using a thermometer, which is still pretty rare, but upon resting the meat will continue to cook.. Look for approximately 20-25 minutes per pound at 275-300 degree.  Cooking time may vary depending on the heat efficiency of your grill and number of coals added. The Char-Broil charcoal grate was set on the lowest level for this session.

***Editor’s note – A piece of meat this large will require a good deal of resting time after it is removed from the grill. In this case 15-20 minutes. Resting allows for the internal juices to settle down and redistribute throughout the meat so they won’t run out of the meat as soon as you cut into it. If you cut into it right away that is exactly what will happen. While the roast is resting it will continue to cook. So if you like your prime rib medium, you may want to pull it off a little short of medium, so when it is done resting you will have it just the way you like it***

Now it’s time for the chillin’ side of the evening (my favorite part sometimes). The wine selected for the event was a 2005 B Side Cab. Sauv. I hadn’t sipped a cab for a while and thought it should pair nicely with the prime rib. It was corked and poured to ‘air a bit’ prior to the photo. Of course I had to take a sip to see if it was a worthy choice. It says on the cork ‘music to your mouth,’ and it was. I didn’t wait for dinner with this one and began enjoying it during the entire grilling process. On the back label of the bottle it states the wine is vinted and bottled by Three Loose Screws… how appropriate for Three Grillin’ Fools?!?

Grilled Prime Rib - 10a
While the grilled prime rib is gently smoking, preparations are begun for the sides and garnish. Horseradish sauce made with sour cream and horseradish was prepared (mixed to taste). Yellow squash was washed and sliced then drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and coarse ground pepper to be skillet-grilled later while the roast is resting. During the last half hour of the grilling session Mimi was busy preparing risotto with roasted pine-nuts (might be our favorite dish ever).

One hour into the process the grilled prime rib is browning nicely and the nibblers are crispy. A few more coals are added along with additional hickory chips. The nibblers were delivered to Mimi and disappeared quickly between the two of us:

Simple Grilled Prime Rib
Two hours into the process and the grilled prime rib is ready to be pulled from the grill:

Simple Grilled Prime Rib
Here’s the finished product that will rest on the cutting board under a tent of aluminum foil. The aluminum foil keeps the heat in while the juices come to a rest. A roast this size needs between 10-15 minutes to rest properly:

Simple Grilled Prime Rib
***Editor’s note – Nice job centering the empty part of the cutting board in the pic. How much of that wine did you have by this time?***

The result was medium-rare to rare and was very tasty when combined with the horseradish sauce. Note the rib bones were removed to enable smaller slices to be made (we intended to yield 3 meals from this for the 2 of us). Leave the bones in and you will get much thicker slices. While the grilled standing roast was tented and resting the yellow squash was skillet-grilled just to the point of retaining firmness but still picking up that delicious grilled flavor:

Grilled Prime Rib - 13a

Grilled Prime Rib - 13a
Mimi’s risotto was finished and this is what the plated effort looks like:

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Don’t let this meal intimidate you any longer. Sure it is expensive, but it’s much cheaper to do it at home than it to order it in a restaurant. Dazzle your friends and relatives by making this simple grilled prime rib.

***Editor’s lament ~ I’m so jealous I wasn’t able to be there for this!!***

If you have any questions about grilled prime rib please feel free to comment below or send me an email.

Also, you can follow us on our GrillinFools Facebook page and Instagram.

Greg Thomas

Greg Thomas

Greg Thomas

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mmmmm loooks great making me hungry right now…..will try this soon


Oh man! My mouth is watering! Great website! I live in a condo and I dream of one day owning a home so I can have a grill in my backyard! For now I will visit your site and drool. 🙂


This is amazing! Now that it’s warming up here in MN, we’re ready to grill. Prime rib is pricey but what a spectacular dinner it would make! That last photo would convince me to scrounge for every penny to buy a standing rib roast. 😎


I’ve done this the last two Christmases in a row and now the family won’t accept anything but Prime Rib for Christmas dinner. It’s fabulous and incredibly easy. I know this is a popular holiday dish, and that’s why it’s so pricey this time of year. If you do it in June, you can pick up a standing rib roast for about one half to two thirds the price.


Curious what the grilling temperature is for this?

Also, I am assuming the instructions would be the same as far as time/temp for a larger roast? I am looking at making an 8 rib roast, so just want to sure there are not changes beyond expanding the seasoning amounts?

Thanks in advance!


You will need to cook it a little longer with the bigger cut but not all that much depending on the desired doneness. Keep the same temp. Good luck…


I see the internal temp to get to is 145 degrees. What is the cooking temp…guessing 225-250, but don’t want to be guessing with this cut:)

Thanks again!


I made this for NYE, with some modifications.

I brushed on a mix of 1 part grape seed oil* and 1 part Worcestershire. I then coated with the rub, substituting garlic powder for garlic salt; added paprika; and doubled the rosemary I didn’t have any smoked sea salt, but used course crystals, un-ground. I wrapped in saran wrap and refrigerated for approx 5 hours, removing just before placing on the smoker.

Smoked a 5.5 lb rib roast for 1 3/4 hours at 325-350 degrees, with a mix of soaked apple, sassafras, hickory and cherry chips (a blend purchased at LeGrand’s Tomboy in South City). I removed when the internal temp hit 130, and let sit for 30 minutes in a foil tent.

My 5 dinner guests all raved – a true foodie friend said it was the best prime rib he ever had. Thanks, grillin fools for providing the inspiration to try this one!


*I brush on grape seed oil on nearly every meat I cook. This was a tip I received from a chef I met casually several years ago. Grape seed oil is inexpensive, readily available at most grocery stores, and most importantly, has the highest cooking temperature of any of the traditional cooking oils – and it’s nearly flavorless, so you get the moisture without covering up the meat’s flavor. It doesn’t burn until 800 degrees, so unless doing some serious searing, you’ll keep the moisture it provides.

A coat of grape seed oil is great when grilling/smoking pork tenderloin, chicken, steaks, etc.



I’ll have to try the grape seed oil trick. Thanks for that…


This looks delicious and amazingly easy! I was wondering though what suggestions you might give for grilling with gas? I would be using smoke chips of course but should I soak them first?



Do not soak the chips. Place a couple handfuls on a sheet of aluminum foil and then wad the foil up in ball around the chips. Then poke holes in the foil with a sharp knife. Make up a few of these. Now go to the gas grill, turn the burners on just on one side of the grill and take the grill grates off on that side and put your meat on the other side. Now put the foil balls right on the burners on the side with the heat. I usually go with two or three balls at a time. When I see the smoke diminish on from the grill, I open her up, pulle the spent foil balls and replace with new.

Good luck and let us know how it goes…


Have been using this recipe for about 5 or 6 years now and it always comes out excellent. I also have used the ribs instructions! very very good.


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