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  • David Skarin

4-5 Pound Smoked Prime Rib with Smoked Au Jus and Horseradish Sauce

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

If you are looking for an epic meal, look no further. This smoked prime rib recipe is bound to impress and have everyone worshipping your grilling skills. This is a fabulous meal for any special event.

Unfortunately, prime rib isn’t cheap which is why this cook is not an everyday cook. It’s also rather time consuming and you do need to plan a couple days ahead of time. However, when it’s done right, it is absolutely amazing!

A quick tip, ask your butcher for the chuck end of the roast. This will ensure you are getting the best end of the roast. When you’re spending a decent amount of money on meat, you want to make sure you get the best bang for your buck!

Lastly, you can figure about 1 pound per adult. So, if you’re feeding 6 adults you’ll want a 6-pound prime rib. I always suggest bone-in prime rib as well. There’s just more flavor that way.


Fast Facts

Category: Beef

Cut: Bone-In Prime Rib

Weight: 4.5 pounds

Grill: Traeger

Heat Source: Wood pellets

Prep Time: 10-15 Minutes + 24-hour brine

Estimated Cook Time: 3 Hours

Actual Cook Time: 2 Hours and 45 Minutes

Total Time: 3 Hours + 24-hour brine

Estimated Cooking Temperature: 250° Fahrenheit and then high heat sear for final 5-10 minutes until preferred temperature.

Actual Cooking Temperature: 250° Fahrenheit and then high heat sear for final 5-10 minutes until preferred temperature.

Cook Date: December 10, 2020


Ingredient List

  • Bone-In Prime Rib Roast (mine was 4.5 pounds)

  • Coarse Kosher Salt (1/2 teaspoon per pound)

  • 4-6 Rosemary Sprigs

  • 4-6 Thyme Sprigs

Seasoning Rub

  • ½ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)

  • ½ tablespoon dried rosemary

  • ½ tablespoon dried thyme

  • ½ tablespoon granulated onion

  • 4-5 cloves garlic, diced (unless using a food processor)

  • ½ tablespoon coarse salt

  • ½ tablespoon coarse black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon Worchester sauce

  • ½ teaspoon paprika

Smoked Au Jus Sauce

  • 3-4 carrots very coarsely chopped

  • 3-4 celery stalks very coarsely chopped

  • 1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped

  • 1 shallot coarsely chopped

  • 1 whole garlic head, bottom removed

  • 3 cups beef broth or stock (1.5 cups for initial smoking and 1.5 cups for stovetop)

  • 1-2 bouillon cubes

  • Meat trimmings from the prime rib (not the fat, any trimmings that has meat on them)

  • 2-3 Rosemary sprigs

  • 3-4 thyme sprigs

Horseradish Sauce

  • ½ cup sour cream

  • 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  • ¼ teaspoon fine salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

  • Chives, diced for garnish

Supply List

  • Griddle Pan or Shallow Roasting Pan

  • Stock Pot

  • Mixing Bowl

  • Butcher Twine

  • Food Processor (optional)

  • Thermometer - These are critical tools to have there are two main types. First, instant read thermometer like this one or this one. The Thermapen is worth its weight in gold and one I use almost every day. I know the price tag seems excessive but it's the best in the business for a reason. If you're looking for a dual temperature thermometer for both grill temperature and meat, this is the way to go. I use my Smoke for longer more specific cooks such as this.



Step 1: Get your prime rib ready for a dry brine. You can do this in a couple ways. If you are buying the meat from the butcher, you can have them “French” the bones for you, just ask to keep the trimmings. If you are going to do this yourself, you are going to trim the meat and fat where the tips of the bones are. You can typically go at least an inch or two from the bone and remove the meat/fat, set aside and refrigerate in a Ziploc bag. In between the bones, remove the fat and clean around the bones. Trim any excessive fat around the prime rib.

Step 2: For every pound of meat, use ½ teaspoon of coarse Kosher salt and rub into the meat. Let it rest uncovered in the fridge for roughly 24 hours. If you are doing a larger cut, for example an 8-pound prime rib, brine for 48 hours.

Step 3: About 2 hours before you are ready to cook, remove the prime rib from the refrigerator. While the meat is cold, it is easier to handle. With a sharp knife, you are going to cut following the bones and partially filet the meat to allow a stuffing of rosemary and thyme. Don’t go too far and remove the bones entirely. Place a layer of rosemary and thyme, tie back together with cooking twine. Once that is done, let the meat come to room temperature prior to cooking and prepare the rub.

Step 4: In a food processor, combine all rub ingredients and blend until well combined. Spread the rub all over the prime rib.

Step 5: In a griddle pan or shallow roasting pan, combine the carrots, celery, onion, shallot, garlic, 1 ½ cup beef broth/stock, meat trimmings, rosemary sprigs, and thyme sprigs. Place this below where the prime rib will be on the smoker/grill.

Step 6: Preheat your smoker to 225° Fahrenheit. Place the griddle pan with the vegetables and herbs below where the prime rib will be cooking. Place your prime rib on the smoker.

NOTE: At 225°, you can plan on roughly 35 minutes per pound for rare, 40 minutes per pound for medium roast.

REMEMBER: We are going to do a high heat sear at the end to give the prime rib a nice crust so you’re going to remove the prime rib from the smoker 10-15 degrees lower than your desired temperature. You are going to remove the prime rib from the sear about 3-5° from your desired temperature as the meat will continue to cook while resting.

Rare: 120-130°, remove from smoker at 110-115°, remove from the sear at 117-125°

Medium Rare: 130-135°, remove from smoker at 120-125°, remove from the sear at 127-132°

Medium: 135-145°, remove from smoker at 125-135°, remove from the sear at 132-140°

Medium Well: 145-155°, remove from smoker at 135-145°, remove from the sear at 142-150°

Well: 155°+, remove from smoker at 145-155°, remove from the sear at 152°+

Step 7: While the meat is cooking, prepare the horseradish sauce. In a mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, horseradish, mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix until well blended, store in refrigerator until ready to use. Top with diced chives when ready to serve.

Step 8: Once the prime reached has reached the temperature you desire, remove both the meat and griddle pan from the smoker and prepare a high heat sear. This can be done a couple ways. You can turn your smoker or grill up to 450° or you can use a cast iron pan on the stove top. If using a cast iron pan, be sure to add some oil or butter as well. Be careful here and watch the temperature closely as this step can move quickly. Be sure to sear all sides of the prime rib. Upon reaching desired temperature, remove from the sear and let rest on a cutting board. You want to let it rest a minimum of 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.

Step 9: While the prime rib is resting, make your smoked au jus. Take the contents from the griddle pan and place them in a pot. Add the remaining 1 ½ cup beef broth or stock along with a couple bouillon cubes. Bring to a simmer and let the stock start reducing. The more you allow the sauce to reduce, the more powerful the flavor will be. Keep checking until the desired taste and texture is achieved. Strain out the vegetables and herbs and pour the smoked au jus in a serving bowl.

Step 10: Cut and remove the twine, cut off the bones and discard the rosemary and thyme that was between the bones and the meat. Slice your prime rib and serve with the smoked au jus and horseradish sauce.


Lessons Learned (Note: I will update this section to include your lessons learned from the comment section)

  • My first cook wasn't perfectly pink throughout as I made a mistake with my thermometer placement. Pay attention where your thermometer is input into the prime rib. You want the tip of your thermometer to be dead center of the meat. If you are too far to one side, you’ll end up pulling the meat a little too early as the outside edges will cook a tad faster than the center. This happened to me in my first cook. I pulled the meat too early, realized the temperature was off when I was already searing the meat. This forced me to sear longer thereby cooking the outside edges of the meat more than I would like.

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