Grill-Roasted Prime Rib

Prime RibThere’s nothing quite as decadent as prime rib. A crispy, salty exterior and rare, tender interior marbled generously with fat is pure meat heaven. The only thing sinful about prime rib is cooking it wrong, resulting in a flabby or tough roast with little flavor.

The cost of prime rib makes screwing up especially painful. There are a million different recipes for how to cook prime rib in the oven, all very similar and all claiming to be the best method. But those recipes are all wrong. The best method, hands down, is throwing that big expensive hunk of meat on a charcoal grill first then gently roasting it in the oven until prime rib perfection is reached.

If cooking prime rib over a real live fire makes you nervous, relax. Cooking outdoors with the smell of charred beef wafting through the air is about as good as life gets. A charcoal fire gently and perfectly browns the meat in a short amount of time. You get a crispy, browned crust without causing any of the interior meat to overcook; it remains pink all the way through. Plus, grilling gives the meat a subtle smoky flavor you’re going to love.

Once the meat is browned on a charcoal grill (a gas grill isn’t recommended for this recipe), the roast is finished in a low heat oven where it’s easy to control and monitor the temperature. That’s it! Simple, right? The roast that emerges will be legendary – perfectly cooked prime rib that’s crispy, tender, rare, juicy and flavorful.

Servings: 8

Time in the Kitchen: About 4 hours, plus 2 hours to bring the meat up to room temperature



  • 4 rib standing beef rib roast (about 8 to 10 pounds/3.6 to 4.5 kg)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (10 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (30 g)
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper (5 ml)
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed (5 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary (30 ml)


Salting the Meat:

There are two approaches to salting the meat:

  1. Salt 24 hours ahead of time and leave the roast uncovered in the refrigerator, then leave it uncovered at room temperature for 2 hours before cooking.
  2. Salt 2 hours before cooking and leave the roast uncovered at room temperature.

Salting the meat 24 hours ahead of cooking means the salt will penetrate deeper into the meat, producing a more evenly seasoned roast. Salting only 2 hours ahead will produce a saltier crust that is balanced by less salty meat. Neither method is necessarily better; it’s a matter of personal taste.

Salted Meat

Either way, 2 hours before cooking the roast you’ll mix together the melted butter, black pepper, garlic, coriander and rosemary in a small bowl. If you haven’t already rubbed down the roast with salt 24 hours before, then also add the 2 teaspoons of salt to the mixture.


Rub down the roast with the seasoning mixture. Let the roast sit at room temperature for 2 hours.

Prepare the coals for your charcoal grill. Arrange the heated coals so there is a hot side and a cooler side of the grill. Set an oiled rack above the coals and let the rack get hot before putting the roast on the grill.

Over the hottest side of the grill, sear the roast for about 5 minutes per side, until the entire roast is nicely browned. In between turning the roast, keep the lid on the grill.

When the roast is browned, move it to the cooler side of the grill and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes with the lid on. This will give the meat a gentle smoked flavor.


Preheat the oven to 250 ºF (121 ºC).

Put the meat on a roasting pan fat side up and ribs down. You can use a rack in the roasting pan, but don’t have to because the rib bones lift the meat up off the surface of the pan.

As a general rule, roast the meat in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes per pound. However, keep your digital thermometer handy and check it often.

Prime Rib Meat Temperature Guide:

  • 120 F to 125 ºF for rare (48 to 51 ºC)
  • 125 F to 130 ºF for medium-rare (51 to 54 ºC)

Remember, the meat will continue to cook a little after it’s taken out of the oven, so it’s wise to take the roast out about 5 degrees before it reaches your ideal temperature.

Allow the meat to rest outside of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.

Prime Rib

Recipe Notes:

This recipe was adapted from Michael Ruhlman’s Grill-Roast Prime Rib recipe. According to him, the prime rib can be grilled up to 2 days ahead before roasting it.

This recipe can be adapted for smaller or larger roasts by following these guidelines:

  • For a bone-in prime rib, figure 2 servings per rib bone or 1 pound (450 g) per person (you should have leftovers)
  • For seasoning, use 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon (a pinch) black pepper per rib bone if you’re seasoning just 2 hours before cooking the roast. If seasoning 24 hours before, double the amount of salt and pepper.
  • For the butter, use 1/2 tablespoon (7 g) for every rib bone in the roast

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20 thoughts on “Grill-Roasted Prime Rib”

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  1. Thanks for the great recipe! We’re going to make one for Christmas dinner!

  2. How about cooking it sous vide? That means:

    1. put it in a vacuum sealed bag
    2. Slowly cook it in a precisely regulated water bath for many, many hours at an even lower temperature (see Modernist Cuisine (at Home) by Nathan Myrhvold) between 60 and 70 degrees celsius
    3. Shortly before serving, sear it on the grill

    The cooking time depend a lot on the type of meat, can be more than 24 hours for tough meats – but since the vacuum bag keeps all the juices in and the long time at the perfect temperature turns all the tough parts into – essentially – gelatine, it’s as tender as it can possibly get. Also, by varying the temperature you can precisely predict the outcome (rare, medium rare etc.).

    I just got a water bath – I’m eager to try it on tough meat. Last weekend I cooked a steak this way (takes only 50 minutes), and it was brilliant! 🙂

  3. Is there no way to do this on a gas grill? Don’t want to buy another grill just to have charcoal.

  4. This is an excellent way to cook a Rib Roast. Don’t worry about using a gas grill. It works just as well as charcoal. Add a packet of damp hickory smoke chips and you’re in business.

  5. Big Green Egg is the ONLY BBQ to use. Charcoal plus very exact temperature control (with a little practice). I haven’t used an oven in 3 years. I do everything, including baking on my egg. Fabulous roasts, prime rib, leg of lamb, venison , etc.

  6. Let’s KISS, Using a gas grill may not give you quite as smoky a flavor, but it does work. You’ll still get a crispsyness and somewhat smoked flavor. Especially if you use a recommendation posted here to use hickory smoke chips if you have access to them. I’ve actually done this with chicken — it may need to cook longer in the oven, but the flavor is still there.

    I don’t know why the recipe in the post says this won’t work with a gas grill — I really wish whoever trys out and/or posts these recipes was a little more forgiving or at least explained why they don’t recommend a particular function. I seriously doubt Grok had access to a BBQ and an oven.

    That said, IMVHO as a very experienced and “seasoned” cook I would appreciate knowing why someone thinks something won’t work., but over all, the recipes ideas posted here have always been excellent. And. prime rib is on the menu for Christmas.

    1. I doubt that Grok would have complained about tough and/or overcooked meat. I guess that in some cases the “primal methods” of preparing food are optimal, but there are times when we can improve upon these method using 21st century technology, and still retain the benefits of the primal philosophy.

    2. Gas grills produce a small amount of water when the propane burns that could decrease the amount of “crust” you obtain on the outside of the roast. If this is important to you I’d stick to charcoal/hard wood but if you only have access to gas you can still get a nice sear and smokiness if you use wood chips on your gas grill as previously suggested.

  7. It looks like the perfect Christmas dish! I’m going to use this recipe with my Big Green Egg so I can get a nice sear. I was planning on doing a Prime rib but now I’m stoked!

  8. Gotta agree with Stacey, a Big Green Egg is the only way to go!

    You can sear the roast on high heat, then set it aside and dial down the temp to about 375, and then let if finish there, absorbing all that smokey goodness.

    Sous vide works great too, especially if your using tougher grass fed meats. Leave the roast in the bath long enough to tenderize (for grass fed ribeye, that could be maybe 8 to 24 hours), and the finish it off on a BGE at full blast. Awesome stuff.

  9. Gas and charcoal have nothing on a Traeger!! Pellet grill with no flare ups and steady even heat whether you want to smoke or sear. Expensive…but who cares its awesome!!!! Doing a version of this with the Traeger this weekend.

  10. I live in an apartment so I’m not able to grill. Can I just sear it off in my cast iron frying pan first then put it into the oven? Yeah, I won’t have the smoky flavor but it should still be good? I have 2.5 lbs to cook for Christmas dinner.

  11. Made this last night for Christmas Dinner and not only easy but foolproof! I got lots of praise for my skills in and out of the kitchen. The roast was fun to make and eat!

  12. For Christmas this year, I ended up buying a prime rib for dinner, and had been looking around for a good, unique, and simple recipe to cook this hunk of meat up. And, as you mentioned, screwing up this meat hurts the wallet, and the ego… Thanks for the recipe! Christmas Dinner went great this year! I tempted to make this a yearly tradition because even the leftovers were amazing!

  13. help please can i cook prime rib in a roasting pan (elec)