Bourbon and Black Pepper Prime Rib

Chris Grove
"Nibble Me This"
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The holiday prime rib is a celebration of all that is good about beef and it doesn’t need much other than a grill, salt, pepper, and garlic.  But sometimes it is good to enhance the flavor with a little something special like the oaky smokiness of bourbon.  That’s what I did with this rib roast – I used a bourbon and black pepper baste to complement the beef and build layers of flavor on top of the beef rub base.

Black Pepper and Bourbon Prime Rib

Bourbon and Black Pepper Prime Rib


  • 5 pound bone in beef rib roast
  • ¼ cup beef rub
  • For the Baste
  • 1 tablespoon tallow or oil
  • ½ cup diced sweet onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons coarse black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 cup beef stock


  1. Preheat your smoker to 275°f. For the Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker, this was as simple as putting water in the water pan, putting oak wood chips in the smoker box, and then starting the preheat cycle.
  2. In a small stock pot over medium heat, sauté the onions for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2-3 more minutes.
  3. Add the bourbon (it’s best to do this with the pot away from open flame) and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the pepper, paprika, stock, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes and then let rest. If you want less texture, you can strain the baste before using. I use it with the coarse ingredients still in there.
  5. Season the beef all over with the beef rub.
  6. Place the rib roast in the smoker and let it slow roast.
  7. After 2 hours, baste the rib roast with the bourbon baste and let it keep smoking. Baste it again at 3 hours with the rest of the baste and let it continue cooking.
  8. For rare, pulled the roast at an internal temperature of 125°f – about 4 hours.
  9. For medium rare, pull the roast at an internal temperature of 130°f – or about 4 ½ hours.
  10. For medium, pull the roast at an internal temperature of 140°f – or about 5-5 ½ hours.
  11. Rest the roast for 10 minutes on a raised cooling rack.
Spices for Prime Rib
It is important to use coarse ground black pepper for this, preferably Malabar if you can get it. The sweet smokiness of the bourbon complements the smoky beef.
Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker
The Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker is an easy way to slow roast your prime rib. It has an integrated meat probe thermometer so you will know when to take the roast off.
Smoker Box Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker
I used oak chips because I think it goes well with beef. I also like pecan or a mix of the two. But try others, find out what you like.
Water Pan Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker
Some people ask me about putting flavored liquids into the water pan, like beer or apple juice. I don’t think it hurts anything but I also don’t think it does anything to help, either. If you ask me, I just think it’s a waste of a perfectly good beer.
Spice Rub Prime Rib
I like using extra coarse beef rubs for prime rib because that big hunk of beef can handle a lot of bold flavors. You can use a commercial Montreal seasoning or just some coarse salt, pepper, and dried garlic. Pictured is my current favorite beef rub which is a hybrid of my signature beef rub recipe and Chef Christopher Prieto’s beef rub recipe.
Prime Rib and Spice Rub
I trimmed off the fat cap to expose as much meat as possible to get that delicious crust.
Spiced Prime Rib
Have your butcher partially slice the ribs off. This lets you season the meat under the bones and maximize flavor.
Twined Prime Rib
Roast seasoned and tied back together with butcher’s twine.
Baste for Prime Rib
Whether you strain the baste or not is up to you. I like the slight chunkiness for texture on the crust of the roast.
Prime Rib in Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker
The roast is on the 3rd rack with a half sized steam pan on the 4th rack. Add beef stock to the pan and it will catch the beef drippings, giving you fantastic beef jus.
Roasted Prime Rib after first baste
Just after the first base. For ease of handling I just pull the whole rack out of the smoker. That way I can baste the roast while the smoker stays shut, maintaining its heat.
Prime Rib temperature in Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker
Notice that the probe for the Char-Broil Deluxe Digital Smoker is placed about center mass of the roast. That will give you the most accurate temperature reading.
Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker Display
The “brains” of the Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker makes sure it is smoking at steady temperatures. That’s nice as the days grow shorter, colder, and maybe you don’t want to sit outside tending to a smoker.
Prime Rib perfectly cooked
The baste that was all wet before has now cooked into a flavorful crust.
Prime rib ready to cut
Such a beautiful sight, a prime rib defines “special occasion”.
Prime Rib beautifully displayed
Step 1 – cut off the ribs to make slicing easier. Plus, these are a chef’s treat – what the pitmaster gets to have and doesn’t have to share! Those are beef ribs, delicious tasty beef back ribs. I like to season the cut side with more beef rub and throw it back onto the cooker for another hour or so. They are delightful, steak on a stick!
Black Pepper and Bourbon Prime Rib with au jus
One of my all-time favorite holiday or special occasion meals – beef prime rib au jus.


Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker

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