Planning Ahead for the Holidays: Prime Rib

Prime rib

Prime Rib and the holidays are a perfect combination. It is truly that iconic holiday dish– a big roast on the table with a bunch of amazing side dishes, some spicy horseradish sauce, and plenty of good cheer.

Slicing into that roast in front of family and friends is an amazing feeling, and since we’ve been doing our Prime Ribs on the Traeger grill the past few years, it’s gone from a fun special occasion dish to something I really look forward to cooking. And to be honest, we do a couple each year, because it’s just that much fun.

This easy to follow Prime Rib recipe will be a huge hit at your next family gathering this holiday season. Even if your holiday meal has a smaller group this year, a Prime Rib is a great dish and the leftovers are super versatile.

Depending on where you shop, this time of year Prime Rib roasts are often on sale at a decent price. You can always get them if you ask your butcher or order online from a place like Snake River Farms. For this recipe, a bone-in or boneless Prime Rib will work great. Whatever you can find, or is your preference. A bone in or boneless prime rib will work for this recipe.

Prime Rib roast

When I have the chance to cook a bone-in Prime Rib, I like to French the bones for a beautiful presentation. I also sometimes cut them off the roast entirely, season that piece on all sides, and tie it back on the roast for cooking. It makes the cut really easy to carve once it’s cooked, and then you get some testy beef ribs to enjoy later.

How I Prep My Prime Ribs

I start by seasoning the roast with a blend of salt, pepper and garlic. For me, keeping it simple works great, but you can use any of your favorite beef rubs in this step. Then I placed the roast on a wire rack in the fridge uncovered for at least six hours (or overnight) to give the roast a quick dry brine.

Prime Rib roast

A dry brine helps tenderize the meat a bit, as the salt breaks down some of the muscle fibers and redistributes the natural moisture in the roast. Plus, doing this uncovered makes for a great foundation for an amazing crust on the finished product.

After six plus hours of dry brining, I remove the roast from the fridge and apply a layer of compound butter over the entire thing. I like to use Banner Butter’s Garlic, Basil & Parsley blend for this step. It is full of flavor and takes the Prime Rib up a notch.

Prime Rib roast

Cooking it on the Grill

Once the roast is slathered in butter, I put it in the Traeger Grill at 225* and cook it slowly until the internal temperature reads about 115*. For a three-bone Prime Rib, this step should take a couple hours. I like to use a probe thermometer, like this Thermoworks one, which monitors the temp without having to open the grill repeatedly. Keep an eye on it– but it should take about 2-3 hours to get to temp.

Then, I pull the roast from the grill, cover it in aluminum foil and bump up the grill temperature to 450*. Once the grill is super hot, return the roast to the grill and sear it for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 125* for medium. Then remove it from the grill again and let it rest for 30 minutes before slicing.

Serving a Prime Rib

Having a sharp carving set or long slicing knife is a must for gracefully serving prime rib. And a big cutting board with a channel around the outside is another must-have.

After letting the roast sit for about 30 minutes, I cut off the bones (if they’re attached) and slice the Prime Rib into 1/2 inch pieces. A great Prime Rib will make all your diners happy– more well done on the outside and a beautiful rare in the middle. In our family, both of those extremes are requested, so a Prime Rib fits the bill.

We always serve Prime Rib with a big bowl of spicy horseradish cream, some Yorkshire puddings (made with beef drippings), roasted Brussels sprouts and twice baked potatoes. See below for a recipe for our horseradish sauce!

Yum… now aren’t you ready for a big holiday meal?

Be sure to check out these other holiday posts.

Dry Brined Turkey

Green Bean Casserole

Spicy Horseradish Sauce

This is the best accompaniment to a great slice of smoked Prime Rib.
Prep Time 10 mins
Course Main Course


  • bowl and spoon


  • 1/2 cup extra-spicy prepared horseradish
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 clove garlic, squished
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper


  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until smooth and well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Refrigerate for 1/2 an hour before serving.
Keyword horseradish, horseradish cream, horseradish sauce, spicy sauce