Prime Rib


I've been barbecuing Prime Rib for Christmas for a long time. This page highlights a few things I've learned over the years.



  • 17 pound (or so) Whole Bone In Prime Rib (will feed at least 8 and up to 17 people). Re-heating leftovers is not a problem.
  • 6 cloves garlic - cut each clove into 4 pieces
  • 6 sprigs of fresh Rosemary
  • Drip pan to put under the grate and the meat
  • Turkey bag to hold the seasoned meat overnight in the refrigerator
  • Maple, fruit, and/or oak wood chips
  • Horseradish
  • Olive oil
  • Rub:
    • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
    • 4 tablespoons dried rosemary
    • 4 tablespoons coarse (kosher, sea, pickling) salt
    • 4 tablespoons sweet paprika
    • 4 tablespoons brown sugar


  • These instruction are for cooking the Prime Rim to Medium Rare - you can adjust as necessary
  • The local grocery stores seem to always have Prime Rib on sale around Christmas time, so it's a good time to buy it
  • The store may call the meat Prime Rib, Rib Eye Roast, Whole, Large End, or Small End. Always get Bone In
    • Small End is supposed to be more tender then the Large End. Whole has both Large and Small End
    • I get Prime Rib that's labeled USDA Choice
  • If you need more than 10 pounds you'll get Whole. I usually purchase 12-21 pounds
    • On average adults seem to eat about an equivalent of a little more than a pound (5 adults will eat about 1/2 of an 11 pound roast)
    • There's more on re-heating leftovers below
    • Also, if your roast is really too big you can cut a chunk off and wrap and freeze it for another occasion
  • I cook the Prime Rib cut and tied with no fat removed
    • The ribs are cut off and then tied back to the meat
    • The cut ribs makes serving a lot easier, the ribs tied back help when barbecuing, the fat helps when barbecuing (plus it tastes good)
    • You can have the butcher cut and tie it:
      • They may charge for this service - ask
      • Ask them to not trim off the fat
      • It may come in a bag - ask them to cut and tie it just before you pick it up
    • You can do it yourself:
      • It should come sealed in a bag (which keeps it fresh longer)
      • You should unseal it and cut and tie it just before cooking
      • You can get the rub in-between the ribs and the meat before you tie it
  • If you're going to cook on Christmas then order pickup for Christmas Eve or the day before
  • On Christmas Eve:
    • Make the rub (crush and combine all ingredients
    • Unpack the meat
    • If necessary cut off a chunk of the roast, wrap it, and put it in the freezer for another day
    • If not already done cut off the ribs
    • Rinse meat with water, don't dry off the water, and spread the rub all over the meat and ribs (the water will melt the rub better than oil)
    • If not tied then tie the ribs to the meat
    • Put the meat in a turkey bag and put it in the refrigerator for tomorrow
    • Clean the grill, crank up the heat to burn off the grates, turn off, when everything is cool put a drip pan under the middle grate(s)
  • Plan to cook the Prime Rib for 40 minutes per pound, and don't plan a rest - carve and serve immediately.
  • On Christmas:
    • Put wood chips on the grate over the side burners and heat the grill using the side burners (leave the center burner(s) off
    • Before cooking:
      • Take the meat out of the bag
      • Cut slits in the top every few inches and insert the garlic pieces
      • Add rosemary sprigs under strings

Photographs and the Process


If you're going to cut and tie it yourself then pick up your bagged prime rim on Christmas Eve.
This one is just the right size for our celebration:

This one was too big, because it was a great price!

So, a chunk was cut off and frozen for a later meal:

Remove the prime rib from the bag. If you plan to cut and tie it yourself then you'll want to use
a sharp knife and slowly start cutting down from the edge of the ribs to the backbone:

As you're cutting, pull the meat away from the bones and continue to cut trying to leave as little meat on the ribs as possible:

Almost to the backbone:

Ribs removed:

Now you want to prepare the ribs, remove the connective tissue from the outside:

You'll want to scrape all of it off the meat because if you try to eat it you'll find out it's like chewing a rubber band:

Next you'll want to remove the buttons. You can slice up to them but you'll need to use the point
of the knife to get between them and the ribs:

All cut and ready for the next step:

Note that you may want to put all of the scraps into a stock pot:

Apply the oil and seasoning to the meat and ribs:

Put the meat back on top of the ribs:

Tie everything together with cooking twine (cotton) about 2" apart using a
surgeons knot - 3 loops on the bottom, 1 on the top - make it snug, then put it in a turkey bag and the refrigerator:

The next day, make slits and insert the garlic:

Insert the rosemary under the string, ready for the grill. Note: you don't want to let your prime
rib sit out and "warm up" before putting it on the grill. The colder meat actually attracts smoke
so when you are finished the final prep then put it directly in your grill.

Before placing the meat in the grill rub some olive oil on the grate. You should have a good accurate
thermometer to measure the temperature of the grill and at least two thermometers
(one mechanical and 1 electronic) to measure the temperature of the meat (temperature of the meat
is important and I've found that sometimes just one thermometer isn't a good idea):

With the lid closed keep the barbeque temperature between 180 - 190 F (below 200 F). Record the
temperature of the meat every 30 minutes and you'll get a good idea of the progress. Replace wood chips
as necessary. At 128 F you may want to crank the side burners to the max to help make a crust and
make the edge of the Prime Rib closer to medium. When the meat reaches 130 F it's done. All cooked:

No rest is needed or wanted. A rest doesn't create extra juices, but it does soften your nice crust,
and with a rest you'll have to monitor/wait for the carryover temperature to be correct.
Without the rest, by the time you are set to carve the meat it will probably already have
increased to 131 F (which is fine).  Cut the string that holds the ribs, and put the meat in a
shallow pan with a cutting pad under it (to capture the juices).
Note: keep your notes and use them next year to help tweak your process. Make that first cut...


When your Christmas meal is over save the uncut piece of meat in the refrigerator. You can make
leftovers and still have nice red meat to eat. When it's time for leftovers slice off the meat you want,
put each slice in a zip lock bag, put the bags in the sink in hot water (120 F). You can drain/add water
from the tap (if it's hot enough), and/or mix in boiling water to keep the temperature up.
After 45 minutes to 1 hour your meat will be warm (not hot). If you want it hotter you'll have to use
hotter water (no more than 130 F), or after it's warmed up you can zap it in
the microwave for a short time to just get it hotter:

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Last Modified: December 24, 2022 03:21:05 PM