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How to Smoke a Ribeye Roast

Learn step by step how to make a smoked ribeye roast on ANY grill or smoker!

Take your prime rib to the next level with this smoked rib roast that is sure to impress even the most discerning guests!

Let’s get started!

slicing into a smoked ribeye roast

 

A ribeye roast, sometimes called a prime rib or rib roast is actually the same thing they cut ribeye steaks from.

But today, we are smoking a ribeye roast whole and the going to slice and serve like a delicious prime rib.

We are going to cover:

  • How to prep your ribeye roast for the smoker
  • How to set up different grills and smokers for a smoked ribeye roast
  • What temperature to smoke your rib roast
  • The best wood choices for a smoked ribeye roast
  • How to know precisely when your smoked prime rib roast is finished
  • How to rest, slice, and serve your perfect smoked ribeye roast.

Wow, that’s a lot…so let’s jump in!

 

How Big a Ribeye Roast Should I Buy to Smoke?

Ribeye roasts generally come with the bones removed, but then tied back on by the butcher for presentation and to held them against the meat while cooking.

You will see some ribeye roasts with 3-4 bones and others with as many as 6. Usually the roast will be about 2 lbs per bone.

a raw ribeye roast

So an 8 lb ribeye roast will have 4 bones.

A general rule is to count on 1 lb per person so an 8 lb ribeye roast would serve about 8 people .

 

How to Prepare a Ribeye Roast for the Smoker

Thankfully you won’t need to do much of anything to your ribeye roast other than season it before you smoke it.

Don’t remove the strings before cooking!

bones of a ribeye roast

These strings are holding the bones in place and you want to keep everything held together while it is cooking.

 

Top Seasonings and Marinades for Smoked Ribeye Roast

mixing the spice rub for a smoked ribeye roast

When it comes to an expensive, top of the line cut of meat like a prime rib, or ribeye roast, you want to keep the seasonings simple and let the meat shine through.

Save the flashy sugary and spicy BBQ rubs for your brisket, ribs and pork butts.

For our recipe below, we simply mix kosher salt, black pepper, and fresh minced garlic to form our exterior bark.

Ideally use a HIGH smoke point oil to help the rub adhere to the meat such as avocado or grapeseed oil, especially if you plan to reverse sear at the end of the cook as we go into detail on below.

You should also avoid any BBQ and Spice rubs with a heavy amount of sugar in them if you plan to use high heat searing or else the sugar will burn.

We coat and marinate the ribeye roast for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator before placing on the smoker.

This gives the salt loads of time to penetrate the meat and really flavor it all the way through.

 

Best Smoking Wood Choices for a Ribeye Roast

For a big robust piece of beef like a smoked ribeye roast, go with something like hickory or pecan that will compliment the beef well.

wood chips for an electric smoker

If you want to keep it simple and straightforward, choose a lighter smoking wood like oak, apple, or peach, although these lighter fruitwoods may not impart as much smokey flavor into the beef as they might with chicken or fish.

When in doubt, you can always mix and match your choices/

 

Best Times and Temperatures for Smoking a Ribeye Roast

You will need to watch both your cooking temperature and internal temperatures carefully when smoking the ribeye roast.

 

Smoker Temperature

We recommend setting up the smoker to cook at 275°F.

This seems to be the sweet spot where its low enough that the outside doesn’t overcook but also high enough that the roast doesn’t cook so long that it dries out.

 

Watch the Internal Temperature Closely

You HAVE to use a good instant read meat thermometer to know where the internal temperature is of your smoked ribeye roast.

Ideally you want a good leave in probe thermometer like the Thermopro as well as a second instant read to spot check different depths and areas on the roast.

We are going to slowly bring the internal temperature up to about 120°F, then crank the heat as hot as we can to reverse sear the ribeye roast until the internal temperature hits about 133°F and then remove it from the smoker.

You can’t do all this without accurate thermometers.  There is very little room for error when smoking a prime rib roast.

We are particular fans of this instant read thermometer from Powlaken because of its durability and affordable price.

Everyone from beginner smokers to competition cooks need to use instant thermometers to consistently make great food.

So keep it handy and use it often.

 

How Long Does it Take to Smoke Ribeye Roast?

A general guide is that it will take about 15-20 minutes per pound to smoke a ribeye roast at 275°F.

So plan on a 6 lb prime rib roast to take about 90-120 minutes to cook.

temperature probe in a ribeye roast in a smoker

Then you will need to let the meat rest for 45-60 minutes after cooking it before carving.

No joke.

Unless you want all those delicious juices running all over your cutting board instead of staying in the meat where you want them, you need to set aside time for the meat to rest, and a large piece of beef like this needs extra time.

 

 

 

Setting up your Smoker for a Smoked Ribeye Roast

Vertical or Offset Charcoal Smoker

Weber 22-inch Smokey Mountain Cooker, Charcoal Smoker
The Weber Smokey Mountain is a CLASSIC Charcoal Smoker.
See the Weber Smokey Mountain on Amazon

 

Fill your firebox or lower charcoal basin with about 1/4 a bag of unlit charcoal and create a small hollowed out depression in the center where you can add your lit briquets.

If your smoker comes with a water pan, like the Weber Smokey Mountain, fill the water pan as well to help stabilize the temperature and add moisture to the cooking chamber.

Light a charcoal chimney about 1/3 way with charcoal and wait about 20 minutes for it to fully ignite.  You don’t want TOO many lit briquests initially or the temperature will get too high too fast and be unmanageable.

Fill your water pan first, then add the lit briquets to the center depression you created.

Keep the dampers about 1/2 way to 3/4 open until the temperature is to about 225 deg F.  Then slowly close them down until you are maintaining a temperature of 275°F.

This will obviously take longer on a cold winter day than a hot summer one.

Add 1-2 chunks of smoking wood once the smoker is up to temperature and put your ribeye roast on the cooking grate.

You can keep it in an aluminum foil pan to collect the juices or place it directly on the grates.

Want to see a list of our FAVORITE Vertical Smokers for 2021?  Check it out here!

 

Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt MB20073519 Bluetooth Digital Electric Smoker with Broiler, 30 inch, Black
The entry level Masterbuilt Electric Smoker
See the Masterbullt Electric on Amazon

Plug your electric smoker in and turn the temperature to 275° F.

While it comes up to temperature, add smoking wood chips, not pellets, to the smoking wood tray.

Fill the water tray if there is one.

You can keep it in an aluminum foil pan to collect the juices or place it directly on the grates.

Close the door.

Debating whether to buy a propane or electric smoker?  Check out our COMPLETE Comparison Guide HERE.

 

Pellet Grill

Click the Image to check out the Zgrills 1000E in action.

Fill the pellet hopper with your choice of smoking wood pellets.

Plug in the pellet grill and run it through its start up process.

Once it is creating smoke, turn the temperature to 275° F.

When the pellet grill has come up to temperature, place your ribeye roast on the grill grates.

You can keep it in an aluminum foil pan to collect the juices or place it directly on the grates.

Never used a pellet grill before? 

Read our ultimate guide to pellet grills to learn why they are so easy and how to set one up for success every time.

Here is also a list of our favorite pellet grills priced under $500

 

Gas or Charcoal Grill

Weber Spirit E-310 Liquid Propane Gas Grill, 46510001 model - Black
The always dependable Weber Spirit E-310 Propane Gas Grill.
Read Weber Spirit Reviews on Amazon

On a charcoal grill you can use wood chunks just like you would in a charcoal smoker.

On a gas grill you will likely need to use a smoker box filled with wood chips, or a pellet tube smoker filled with wood pellets.

Think you need a fancy smoker to smoke food at home?  Think again. Great smoked food can be made right on your current gas or charcoal grill.

Check out our Ultimate Guide to Smoking on a Gas Grill HERE.

If you are unfamiliar with these gas grill smoking devices mentioned above, no worries, we have you covered!

Read everything you need to know about smoker boxes here, and see a selection of our favorite pellet tube smokers here.

In the case of a smoked ribeye roast, we would opt for the pellet tube smoker since it will provide you with a longer smoking time without needing to refill multiple times like a smoker box.

However either one will work just fine depending on what you have available.

Set up your gas or charcoal grill for indirect cooking with the burners or a small amount of lit briquets on one side and plan for your meat to be on the other side.

charcoal grill set up for indirect heat

Once the temperature of your grill is about 275° deg F., place your wood chunks, smoker box, or pellet tube smoker over the coals or lit burners and once smoke begins coming out, place your meat on the opposite side.

 

Optionally Reverse Searing a Smoked Ribeye Roast

reverse searing a rack of lamb after smoking

“Reverse Searing” is just a fancy term for searing your meat at the very end, once it is pretty much all the way cooked through, in order to get a nice crispy exterior crust that you sometimes just can’t get from low and slow smoking alone.

In this case, we are not technically going to sear the ribeye roast like we might do with a steak in a pan like we did with our smoked ribeye steak recipe.

Rather, we are going to bring the temperature of our smoker or grill up as high as it will go right at the very end of cooking, and only for a few minutes, in order to get a nice, golden brown crust on the outside of our smoked ribeye roast without overcooking the inside.

This step isn’t 100% necessary.

You can just as easily leave it on the smoker 275°F until it goes all the way up to 133°F internally, we just think you’ll like the contrast of textures you get from a crispy crust and a fall apart tender interior.

And it isn’t that hard to do, so keep reading!

 

How to Reverse Sear your Smoked Ribeye Roast

If  you wish to reverse sear the meat, you will want to smoke it at 275°F only until it reaches an internal temperature of about 115-120°F.  At this point it will still be very rare.

Next, you will either open up all the vents, turn up the burners or temperature settings, or move it to an indoor oven preheated to 500°F.

smoked ribeye roast

You need to watch your smoked ribeye roast VERY closely at this point as it may only need maybe 2-4 minutes total at this temperature.

Watch for the exterior fat to begin to sizzle and crisp up, watch for the color to turn from grayish to medium-dark brown, and whatever you do, do no leave it unattended to burn or over cook!

Use your meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature has reached 130-133°F and no further.  If it is still too rare you can always throw it back in the smoker for another minute or two but if you over cook it, there’s no going back.

 

How to Carve and Serve a Smoked Ribeye Roast

You will then remove the smoed ribeye roast from the hot smoker, grill, or oven and let it rest.

You can tent loosely with foil but DO NOT wrap it tightly or it will overcook from its own residual heat.

Let the smoked ribeye roast rest for 45-60 minutes before carving.

Cut the Ties and Remove the Bones

Once the smoked ribeye roast has rested you will want to cut the ties an remove them from the roast.

removing the strings from a smoked ribeye roast

 

The roast should separate easily from the slab of bones where the butcher cut them apart.

Set the rib bones aside for a midnight snack.  These are delicious and can be sliced and eaten like a rack of ribs or you can use the meat for other purposes.

Place the rest of the rost on the cutting board.

 

Carving

Use a good meat slicing knife and cut the smoked ribeye roast into nice thick slices based on how many guests you are serving.

We particularly like this meat slicing knife from Mairico.

 

Want to review our 5 FAVORITE Meat Cutting knives of the past year? Check out this Complete List HERE!

The outside slices will be more done than the very center if you have guests who prefer various levels of doneness.

medium rare smoked ribeye roast

 

Best Things to Serve on the Side

You also can’t go wrong with a flavorful jus or horseradish cream to cut through the richness of the smoked ribeye roast.

On the side you can serve roasted asparagus or brussel sprouts.  You can even cook them on the smoker alongside the roast if you wish.

Smashed Red Potatoes and a glass of spicy Australian Malbec will pair nicely against the garlic and beef.

 

What Other Food Can I Smoke?

Looking for some more smoky inspiration?

So glad you asked.

Check out some of our other great recipes of smoked and grilled food to try out at your next outdoor BBQ!

Trash Can Turkey – OK, technically not made on a grill but one of the most fun ways there is to cook a Turkey…at over 700 degrees in only 2 hours!  You’ve got to check it out!

 

slicing into a smoked ribeye roast

Smoked Ribeye Roast with a Garlic Crust

A prime rib roast rubbed with a minced garlic paste, smoked to perfection on any grill or smoker and then reverse seared at the end to finish a perfect crust.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 45 mins
Rest Time 45 mins
Total Time 3 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Australian, BBQ, Smoked
Servings 6 people
Calories 550 kcal

Equipment

  • Smoker or Grill
  • Cutting Board
  • Meat Slicing Knife
  • Aluminum foil pan
  • Instant Read Thermometer
  • Dual Probe Thermometer
  • Wood for smoking (chunks, chips, or pellets). Preferably Hickory or Pecan.

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Ribeye Roast, bone-in, tied 5-8 lbs (plan on 1 lb per person served)
  • ½ cup Kosher Salt
  • ½ cup Black Pepper
  • ¼ cup Fresh minced garlic
  • Cooking Oil High smoke point like avocado or grapeseed oil

Instructions
 

Prep Ribeye Roast

  • Take ribeye roast out of packaging but DO NOT cut and remove strings.
    a raw ribeye roast
  • Rub with a thin layer of cooking oil
    spreading oil on a ribeye roast to smoke
  • Mix salt, pepper, and garlic thoroughly and coat the entire outside of the rib roast with the mixture.
    mixing the spice rub for a smoked ribeye roast
  • Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to put on the smoker.

Set up Smoker

  • Start or light your smoker and bring the temperature up to 275°F. If using a gas or charcoal grill, only light one side and set the grill up for indirect heat.
  • Add wood to the smoker using either chunks or a smoker box or pellet tube smoker placed over the burners on a gas rill.
    vent on an electric smoker

Smoke the Ribeye Roast

  • Place the ribeye roast in the cooking chamber away from any direct heat. Place a temperature probe into the deepest part of the rib roast.
    placinga ribeye roast in the smoker
  • Cook until the internal temperature reaches about 120°F.
    a ribeye roast cooking in a smoker
  • Crank the burners, turn up the heat, or open all the vents to reverse sear the roast at the end.
  • Watch closely to make sure it does not burn and cook until the internal temperature rises to about 130-133°F then remove from the smoker or grill.
    smoked ribeye roast

Rest, Slice and Serve

  • Let the smoked ribeye roast rest in an aluminum foil pan, uncovered or very loosely tented with foil for 45 minutes.
  • Cut the ties off the rib roast and gently remove the slab of bones away from the rest of the roast. Do not discard, these are delicious.
    removing the strings from a smoked ribeye roast
  • Place the main part of the roast on a cutting board and slice in thick slices for each guest.
    slicing into a smoked ribeye roast
  • Serve immediately.

Video

Notes

Video courtesy of Weekend Warrior BBQ
Keyword barbecue, bbq, BBQ Rub, Beef, Beef Rub, Charcoal, Dry Brine, electric smoker, Garlic, Gas, Grilled, Grilling, Grills, How to, pellet grill, pellet smoked, Prime Rib, Propane, propane smoker, reverse sear, rib roast, Ribeye, ribeye roast, Roast, Setting up a Smoker, smoked, smoked prime rib, smoked rib roast, smoked ribeye, smoked ribeye roast, Smoker, Smoking, traeger, wood smoke

 

4 Comments

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  1. 5 stars
    Did this last night on out Traeger. Came out really well but next time I would have pulled it off a little sooner, maybe closer to 120 or 125, but thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks, Jim. You are right you can always pull it off a little earlier if you like it more on the rare side. You can always put it back on if needed but can’t put that genie back in the bottle if you over do it!

  3. 5 stars
    This came out great on Easter, nd looked beautiful. Thanks for the tip about leaving the bones attached while it cooks!

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