How to Grill Prime Rib

  • 01 of 09

    How to Grill Prime Rib - What you Need

    Finished Rib Roast
    Finished Rib Roast. Sabrina S. Baksh

    Few things in life are better than a prime rib roast. This ultimate cut of beef is a holiday favorite and something wonderful, but also one of the most expensive foods you can buy. To treat this right and to get the most out of your investment requires the right cooking method. This means taking it to the grill to get extra flavor from a little smoke and utilize the grills great roasting capabilities. 

    The first thing to consider with this grilling method is the size of your grill. Most...MORE full-sized grills can accommodate a three bone rib roast (5 to 6 pounds), but a larger roast will take up a lot of space and since this is an indirect cooking method the grill area needs to be at least twice the size of the roast you are going to grill. Makes sure to measure the space available before you buy a roast. 

    What You Need:

    • A rib roast
    • Fuel for your grill 
    • Aluminum foil
    • A reliable meat thermometer
    • A large cutting board
    • A sharp knife
    • A good prime rib rub
    • A disposable aluminum pan

    This process is going to take about 15 to 20 minutes per pound depending on the level of doneness you are aiming for and your particular grill. See my cooking time chart for prime rib to calculate the time you need. Knowing your grill and your fire is very important to this process and be prepared to make adjustments to the cooking temperatures. Frequent testing of the internal temperature is also a good idea. 

    For help selecting a prime rib roast see my article on prime rib secrets.

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  • 02 of 09

    How to Grill Prime Rib - Trimming a Rib Roast

    Trimming Rib Roast
    Trimming Rib Roast. Sabrina S. Baksh

    You can ask your butcher to trim your roast for you however you want. This is actually an economical choice since it will reduce the overall weight and, therefore, the final price. However, if you want to do it yourself you will have better control over what goes on the grill. I always trim my own roasts, but then I can be a control freak about things like this. 

    One note about butcher trimmed roasts. Butchers will frequently remove the bones from the roast and then tie them back on (if you are...MORE using a bone-in roast, which I recommend). The advantage to this method, which you can choose to do if you wish, is that seasonings can be put between the roast and the bones.  Otherwise, the bones can be left in place and carved off later. I prefer an intact roast with the bones attached. 

    The goal with trimming a rib roast is to expose more of the meat so that seasonings and some smoke can reach it. Well-flavored fat is not as important as well-flavored meat. Generally, there is a heavy fat cap over the top of this roast and it can be peeled away easily. This will let you get to the meat with your flavors. 

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  • 03 of 09

    How to Grill Prime Rib - Seasoning a Rib Roast

    Rib Roast Herb Paste
    Rib Roast Herb Paste. Sabrina S Baksh

    Of course, it is the flavor of the roast that should be the star with any prime rib, but that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be seasoned. The most vital ingredient here is salt. Without a good dose of salt, the meat will not have much in the way of flavor. 

    When thinking about how much seasonings to add to your roast, consider the mass of it and not the surface area. This means that you should prepare a large amount and pack it in place well. 

    The best starting place for seasoning a rib roast is ol...MOREive oil. While there is a good amount of fat in this roast, a coating of oil will help the surface brown and it will act to hold seasonings in place. What I prefer to do is to use a paste of oil, herbs, salt, and spice. My wife has developed an amazing Herb-Dijon Prime Rib Paste. This has all the elements of flavor that a great prime rib should have. The addition of the mustard adds a great depth of flavor.

    Whatever you choose, center it on the meat and not the fat, apply it thickly and be gentle with the roast to keep it in place. 

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  • 04 of 09

    How to Grill Prime Rib - Grill Setup

    Grilling Prime Rib Setup
    Grilling Prime Rib Setup. Sabrina S. Baksh

    The first question to answer before we set up the grill is, Do you want drippings? When you put a prime rib in a roasting pan in the oven, there is a little more control over what happens to the drippings. On a gas or charcoal grill, you are going to need to capture the drippings, but also keep them clean enough to use. The secret to this is to make sure that the cooking grate that the roast is going to sit on is very, very clean. The grate will act like the rack in a roasting pan and needs to...MORE be free of debris before you start cooking. Underneath the grate, place a disposable aluminum pan to catch the drippings and fill it with water to prevent those drippings from burning. During the cooking time, you may need to add more water. It is better to have diluted drippings that can be boiled down later, than burnt drippings that are useless. 

    Of course, this cooking process is going to be indirect, so there can be no fire underneath the drip pan. 

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  • 05 of 09

    How to Grill Prime Rib - Turning

    Prime Rib Turning
    Prime Rib Turning. Sabrina S. Baksh

    Grilling indirectly will require that the prime rib roast be turned periodically to ensure even cooking. Even if you are using a large grill and have ​the heat on either side of the roast, it will be difficult to get cooked correctly without turning. If you are using a smaller grill and have the heat on only one side, then it might need to be turned more than once. This is why ​a frequent monitoring of the cooking temperature with a reliable meat thermometer is necessary. Test the temperature on...MORE either side of the roast to determine how evenly it is cooking and turn to accommodate. 

    While testing the temperature and moving the roast accordingly, take note of the level of the water in the drip pan. If it is getting low, you may need to add additional water. I recommend adding boiling hot water so that you don't drop the cooking temperature significantly. 

    NOTE: We want our prime rib roast to be cooked through the middle and nicely crusted on the surface. We do not want it burnt on the outside and raw in the middle. This means that as it grills you will need to make adjustments to ​the cooking temperature of the grill to get to the perfect roast. If it is pale and grey on the outside while the center temperature is rising nicely, the grill temperature is too low. If it is heavily browned and crusty on the outside and cold in the middle, the grill temperature is too high. Adjust accordingly. 

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  • 06 of 09

    How to Grill Prime Rib - Temperature Check

    Rib Roast Temperature Check
    Rib Roast Temperature Check. Sabrina S. Baksh

    As the cooking time gets close to the point where the prime rib roast should be done, begin testing the temperature in the middle or very center of the roast. Medium rare is going to be a temperature of 135 degrees F/55 degrees C, but the temperature will continue to rise about 5 degrees F/3 degrees C while the roast rests after grilling is done, to if you want your prime rib to be medium rare, you will want to remove it at 130 degrees F/55 degrees C. See my Prime Rib Cooking Chart for...MORE temperatures at all levels of doneness and subtract 5 degrees F/3 degrees C to see when you should remove the roast from the grill. 

    If you are collecting drippings, you will need to remove the cooking grates and lift out the drip pan. This is best done with a pair of Grilling Gloves. It is also vital that the cooking grates be spotlessly clean on both sides.

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  • 07 of 09

    How to Grill Prime Rib - Resting

    Prime Rib Resting
    Prime Rib Resting. Sabrina S. Baksh

    It really seems like a step that can be skipped, but resting your prime rib roast is vital. People who claim that resting meat after cooking is pointless, don't understand the process. This rest time allows the meat to relax, the heat to even, and the juices to distribute. 

    In general, resting can be done by placing the roast on a cutting board and cover it will aluminum foil and then a kitchen towel. I prefer to wrap the roast tightly in foil to hold in the heat better as well as keep the juices...MORE in contact with the meat. For a 2 to 4 bone rib roast, allow it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Anything larger should rest for 15 to 20 minutes. You might want to place a kitchen towel over the prime rib while it rests to hold in more heat. 

    There will be a good amount of juices trapped in the foil wrapping after the resting time. I pour these into the pan I have collected the dripping from the grill in for making gravy. These juices should be heated to boiling temperature. 

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  • 08 of 09

    How to Grill Prime Rib - Carving

    Carving Prime Rib
    Carving Prime Rib. Sabrina S. Baksh

    The first step in carving a bone-in prime rib roast is to remove the bones. Take a sharp, long knife and slide it along the bone keeping as much of the meat on the roast section as possible. This should be an easy cut since the bones are smooth. I cut the ribs into individual bones and hide them for later. Honestly, no one will notice and they are the best part of a prime rib. 

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  • 09 of 09

    How to Grill Prime Rib - Final Cut

    Caring Prime Rib
    Caring Prime Rib. Sabrina S. Baksh

    With the roast section separated from the ribs, it is time to cut the slices. There is something you need to know about this. Thicker cuts will be tougher and thinner cuts will be dryer. As you first cut into the prime rib you need to decide which of these might be the bigger problem. Not all rib roasts are the same and you should decide as you carve whether to go for thick cuts where everyone gets a single slice or a couple of thin slices. I leave this choice to you. I generally go for the...MORE thinner slices, they then I am already thinking about sandwiches at this point. 

    Place the slices on a warmed platter and immediately wrap up those bones and any portion of the roast you are not serving right away.