Prime Rib is delicious. Prime Rib on your Traeger is mind blowing-ly delicious. It's like delicious times infinity to the square root of outstanding.
It's also expensive.
Because of the cost, many members of Traeger Nation are hesitant to tackle the prime rib on their grills for fear of ruining the roast and wasting their precious cash. We understand the hold-up (I had a mini panic attack the first time I threw a $75 packer brisket on my grill) so we are here to guide you through the ins and outs, ups and downs of cooking a prime rib on your Traeger. From start to finish, we will answer the most common questions we get about smoking the perfect prime rib.
Purchasing your Prime Rib:
What is a prime rib? A prime rib is a large cut of beef from the upper rib section of the steer. The roast can typically be purchased in sections of at least 3 and up to 7 ribs. It is pretty high in price because it is favored for the large amount of fat and marbling (flavor) in the meat.
Should I buy a standing rib roast (bone-in) or a rolled rib roast (boneless and tied)? This is personal preference, but we always prefer a standing rib roast (bone-in). We actually like getting the best of both worlds and have our butcher remove the rib bones for us then tie them back on with butcher string. Cooking a prime rib with the bones on the bottom creates an awesome natural roasting rack and the tender rib meat makes for some good eats the day after your party.
What does prime, choice and select mean in terms of beef quality? Is it worth paying more for prime? USDA Prime is the highest quality of beef. Most often served in fancy steak houses, prime beef is hard to find in a common grocery store. We've had success with our private butcher and let me say, it was worth every penny. If you can't bring yourself to shell out the cash for Prime prime rib, your next best bet is USDA Choice. This grade ranges from good to very high quality and is easily found in higher-end grocery stores. This quality is used most often in restaurants. You can maximize your dollar by purchasing the highest quality of choice you can find at the store. Look for bright red meat with no dark spots and plenty of fatty marbling. Also be sure to check the dates on the package or have your butcher counter cut your roast right before you buy it. Finally, there is USDA Select. A grade of acceptable quality commonly found in grocery stores. When a store has its own private label brand, it usually is USDA Select. A Select prime rib will still be tasty, make no mistake, but will likely have less marbling and might be tougher and less melt in your mouth tender.
How big of a prime rib do I need? We recommend approximately 1/2 lb per person, plus maybe a pound or two extra for good measure. Another way we have planned is anticipating feeding 3 or 4 people per rib. A 3 rib roast feeds 8-10, typically. A 7 rib roast feeds 20-22 people.
Trimming and Tying:
Do I need to trim my prime rib? We like to leave a nice layer of fat at the top of the roast, but trim any fat that is over an inch thick. Try not to trim any fat down to less than a quarter of an inch thick.
Should I separate the bones from the roast if they are still attached? Always. Separating the ribs and then tying them back on helps the ribs act as a natural roasting rack. Using a sharp knife, simply cut along the top of the bones to separate it from the roast. Use butcher's twine to tie the section of bone back onto the rib roast.
Marinating or Injecting:
I've heard of people marinating or injecting their prime rib. Should I? We have heard of people marinating or injecting their prime rib, but we have never found it necessary. Marinades would only penitrate the first few millimeters of the roast anyways. Injecting could get flavor deeper into the rib roast, but with all of the extra holes in your meat you might lose more moisture than you gain from the injection.
What's the best rub for a prime rib? Well we love Traeger's Prime Rib Rub, obviously. This particular rub was specifically designed and tested to enhance the flavor of your prime rib. If you want to keep it more simple, good old kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper gets the job done nicely. One other little recommendation, rub the cut ends of your roast with butter before roasting. It helps form that yummy crusty end piece that your guests will fight over.
Cooking your Prime Rib:
Do I put my prime rib on the grill cold or should I let it come to room temperature? We recommend room temperature as it allows for the most even penetration of heat during the cooking process.
Can I just smoke the prime rib until it's done? You can and that extra smoke flavor is very tasty. Be aware, however, that if you only smoke your roast to done-ness you won't have that crusty crunchy yumminess on the outside of your roast. If that is something you are willing to sacrifice, then smoke on! If you buy your roast boneless, plan roughly 30 minutes per pound at 180 degrees for a rare roast. If it's bone-in, plan 32 minutes per pound. Of course, we like to cook to temperature instead of time so be sure to use an internal thermometer.
How long and at what temperature should I roast my prime rib? We like to sear the outside of our prime rib roasts for about 30 minutes at 450 degrees first to form that delicious exterior crust, then reduce the temperature to 250 degrees allow for slower cooking and extra smoke flavor. Using this method a 10-12 lb roast will sear for 30 minutes then roast at 250 for approximately 2.5 to 3 hours until the internal meat temperature reaches 130 degrees for medium rare. Obviously a smaller roast will take less time, so it is wise to invest in a thermometer and keep an eye on your temperature.
What type of pellets should I use? We are especially fond of cherry and pecan for prime rib, but you can refer to our pellet guide and select your own favorite blend.
Directly on the grill or in a roasting pan? We like to put the prime rib on a roasting rack in a large roasting pan. The juices collected at the bottom of the roasting pan make the best au jus you'll ever have. We serve it right alongside the sliced prime rib as a dipping sauce.
How long should I let it rest? At least 20 minutes on a cutting board, 30 minutes if you can wait that long. The resting period is crucial to allow the juices to redistribute in the meat so they don't run everywhere as soon as you slice it. We don't recommend that you tent your meat with foil as this can actually cause a greater rise in temperature resulting in meat that is more done than you might like.
How do I carve and serve my prime rib? Remove the butcher's twine, and carve in thick slices parallel to the ribs from the end of the roast. Serve the ribs separately, but only to your favorite guests. Serve the au jus from the roasting pan as a dipping sauce. Enjoy!