Best Dry Rub For Prime Rib

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Whether it’s the holidays or just a special occasion, a prime rib roast is one of the best centerpieces of a great dinner. It’s got a great beefy flavor that should shine through, but you also want to make sure the exterior has a beautiful, flavorful crust as well. Have you ever asked yourself the…

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Prime Rib Rub Recipe
Prime Rib Rub

Whether it’s the holidays or just a special occasion, a prime rib roast is one of the best centerpieces of a great dinner. It’s got a great beefy flavor that should shine through, but you also want to make sure the exterior has a beautiful, flavorful crust as well.

Have you ever asked yourself the question ‘What should I put on my prime rib before cooking?’ You aren’t alone, and we’ve got a great prime rib rub for you. You don’t want to overdo the seasoning on a prime rib roast, but you want to make sure you choose the right flavors to help accent the beefiness of the prime rib.

Let’s look at how we can deliver the best flavor experience with a prime rib roast so you can entertain a dinner party or just enjoy the greatness that is prime rib for you and your family.

How To Make A Homemade Seasoning Blend For Prime Rib

We know that the prime rib roast comes from the rib primal of the cow, and it has plenty of marbling and is tender thanks to doing almost no work during the cow’s life. So we want that beef flavor to shine through by following a prime rib rub recipe that accents that flavor. You want a rub for prime rib that has salt and black pepper while also adding garlic and herbs like rosemary, parsley, and thyme.

These ingredients serve as a great accent to the beefy flavor of the prime rib without overwhelming it. Some people also like to add some other ingredients like smoked paprika for a smoky note and some color as well as onion powder for just some more savory notes so feel free to do some experimenting as well.

Best Prime Rib Rub Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 TBSP black pepper
  • 1 TBSP garlic powder 
  • 1 TBSP dried rosemary
  • 1 TBSP dried parsley
  • 1 TBSP dried thyme
  • 1 TBSP kosher salt (1 tsp if you dry brine like we cover later)
  • 1 TBSP smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1 tsp onion powder (optional)

 Instructions

  1. Mix ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. Store the seasoning blend in a clean shaker or airtight container.

Now, you can go even simpler if you want. When Michael Haas smokes prime rib, he keeps it simple and lets the prime rib shine. He simply combines three tablespoons each of kosher salt and coarse black pepper to cover the roast. 

Do I Need To Use A Binder On My Prime Rib Roast?

Smoked Prime Rib
Nice brown crust on the outside thanks to using cooking oil as a binder and browning aid.

We use binders on a lot of the meat we smoke so the rub adheres to the surface of the meat during the cooking process. So should we do the same with a prime rib? It’s always a matter of preference, but I’m a fan of doing something to make sure the rub is sticking when I pat it on the surface of the meat. So if we are using a binder, which one should we use?

Mustard

Simple yellow mustard is one of the most common binders in the world of barbecue. I use it on just about everything from ribs to pork butts to my brisket-style chuck roasts. I don’t even like mustard, but it works well, it’s cheap, and you don’t taste it. 

Oil (Vegetable Or Olive)

This is also quite common as a binder on cuts ranging from steaks all the way up to packer briskets. These are both kitchen staples so you’ll almost always have them at hand. If you’re doing something that requires high heat, you aren’t going to want to use olive oil. It has a relatively low smoke point so you might burn it over high direct heat. This is Michael’s preference as using cooking oil also aids in creating a nice brown crust (pictured above) on the outside of the prime rib if you hit it with high heat at the final stage of cooking.

Butter

Now this is not a typical binder in the barbecue or grilling world, but it’s not uncommon for prime rib. You can simply spread softened butter across the surface of the prime rib or make a compound butter using the rub ingredients. The butter will melt quickly which can result in a loss of rub, but if it’s done properly, it can help build a nice crust. 

Worcestershire Sauce

Ah yes, the infamous “one of the hardest words in the world to say.” However, its flavor profile matches perfectly with beef, so it makes sense to try as a binder for big cuts of beef. Remember, just like every other binder other than butter, we just want a thin coating to help the rub adhere.

Should I Dry Brine My Prime Rib Before Putting On The Rub?

Most of us are familiar with the concept of brining, usually in terms of chicken or turkey. That’s usually a wet brine where we submerge an entire turkey in a salt solution (can include sugar and other aromatics) for multiple hours. The theory is to help keep the poultry moist and impart more flavor.

Dry brining is simply the practice of salting a cut of meat and letting it sit in the fridge for multiple hours. It helps tenderize the meat and allows the salt to penetrate further, adding more flavor. Dry brining is not necessary with a prime rib due to its tender nature, but it can help accent the flavor of the prime rib.

If you want to dry brine your prime rib roast, you will want to liberally apply kosher salt to every surface of the roast. If you don’t have kosher salt, I would recommend getting some because it works great for a lot of seasoning applications, but you can use table salt. You’ll want to go easier because table salt delivers a much saltier taste experience than kosher salt. 

Once you’ve salted the exterior of the roast, you’ll want to put in the fridge on a baking sheet. For best results, you want to put a rack on top of the sheet to allow the entire surface of the prime rib to be exposed. This will help draw moisture out better rather than just pooling on the underside of the roast.

If you do choose to dry brine your prime rib roast, you’ll want to reduce or completely omit the salt from the dry rub. Once you pull your prime rib out of the fridge (anywhere from two to 24 hours after applying the salt,) you’ll want to put your binder on and then apply your rub. Then you’re ready to cook!

Can I Get A Store-Bought Seasoning Blend For Prime Rib?

To no one’s surprise, there are store-bought options for prime rib rubs as well. Most brisket or beef rubs will get the job done, but there are some quality prime rib-specific options as well. Usually these are basic and you can save some coin if you make them yourself. But, if you want some recommendations to try, may we suggest the following….

Traeger Prime Rib Rub

We are all familiar with Traeger as one of the preeminent pellet grill companies in the industry, but the company also has its own line of rubs and sauces. For the Prime Rib Rub, Traeger focused on a garlic and herb flavor profile while also adding some cane sugar which can help develop a crust as well as salt, paprika, onion and chili powder for a little warmth. 

Kinder’s Prime Rib Rub

Kinder’s makes a lot of rubs and sauces, so it should be no surprise that the company has as Prime Rib rub. Unsurprisingly, Kinder’s focuses on garlic along with a host of spices that likely includes rosemary. It also includes salt, sugar, and chili pepper but a couple of other interesting ingredients in lemon peel, natural butter flavor, and mustard seed. All these spices work well together with Prime Rib Roast.

Wrapping It Up

When it comes to cooking a prime rib for a special occasion or for Christmas dinner, you want to stick with a simple rub. Prime ribs have plenty of beef flavor that we want to enjoy. You want to choose ingredients that will accentuate that flavor, not mask or overwhelm it.

That can be as simple as Michael’s kosher salt and coarse black pepper, or you can add some garlic and herbs to add a little extra flavor. Either way, you will have a prime rib roast that is worthy of being the centerpiece on the table.

What’s your favorite dry rub for prime rib? Let us know in the comments!

FAQs:

Question: Can I Smoke Prime Rib?

Answer: You absolutely can, and it’s easy. I linked to Michael’s recipe above, but you’ll want to smoke your prime rib at 250°F until it hits 119°F internal temperature. Then you’ll rest it for 30 minutes and crank your smoker, grill, or even oven to 500°F, and then cook the roast for 15-20 minutes for a beautiful sear and crust.

Question: What Is The Proper Internal Temp For Prime Rib?

Answer: We believe that prime rib is best served at medium-rare (130°-135°F internal temperature,) but you absolutely can serve great prime rib at medium (135°-140°F.) You want to keep an eye on the temperature using a wireless meat thermometer. Remember to account for a thermal carryover of around 5°F when you take the prime rib out of the oven or off the smoker.

Question: Should I Let My Prime Rib Come Up To Room Temperature Before Cooking?

Answer: When Michael Haas smokes his prime rib, he does pull his prime rib out of the fridge an hour before he’s ready to throw it on the smoker. There are plenty of people who insist that this helps meat cook more evenly rather than cooking straight from the fridge. You don’t want to leave your meat out on the counter for hours due to bacterial issues, but you can do it safely for up to an hour.

Question: Should I Cook Bone-In Or Boneless Prime Rib?

Answer: You may come across bone-in and boneless prime rib options at the butcher or local grocery store. Which should you purchase? A lot of it has to do with what’s important to you. Bones can act as a heat sink so the meat around it cooks slower and tends to be more tender and moist. Boneless prime ribs are easier to slice because you aren’t worrying about accidentally hitting bone with your knife. If you are following a specific prime rib recipe, you’ll want to use whichever it tells you.

Question: Can I Use Fresh Rosemary Or Fresh Thyme In The Rub?

Answer: Fresh is best, right? Well, when it comes to seasonings in a dry rub, we almost always use a dried version. That’s because when you dry herbs or spices, you’re concentrating the flavors. That doesn’t mean you can’t use fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme. Just remember that you need to use roughly three times the amount when using fresh. You also need to be careful not to burn the fresh herbs if/when you sear the exterior.

Prime Rib Rub
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Prime Rib Rub Recipe

Keeping the rub simple is "the right" thing to do with Prime Rib. Top shelf cuts natural flavors should shine through, and this rub does that.
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, BBQ
Keyword: Prime Rib Rub, Prime Rib Seasoning, Smoked Prime Rib Rub
Servings: 4
Author: Jeremy Pike
Cost: $3

Ingredients

  • 1 TBSP black pepper
  • 1 TBSP garlic powder
  • 1 TBSP rosemary
  • 1 TBSP parsley
  • 1 TBSP thyme
  • 1 TBSP kosher salt 1 tsp if you dry brine like we cover later
  • 1 TBSP smoked paprika optional
  • 1 tsp onion powder optional

Instructions

  • Mix ingredients together in a bowl.
  • Store in a clean shaker or airtight container.

Jeremy Pike

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