Smoked Beef Ribs: Big & Meaty BBQ Ribs

These Texas Style beef short ribs use a simple rub to allow the beef flavor to shine through.
smoked beef ribs stacked on a wood cutting board

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These smoked beef ribs are packed with flavor and they are sure to get the attention of all your guests.

Don’t let their jumbo size scare you. Beef ribs are surprisingly easy to cook and come out great if you follow a few simple steps.

In this recipe, you’ll learn which type of beef ribs to use, how to get an awesome bark, and how you can have juicy, tender bbq beef ribs each and every time.

holding a single smoked beef short rib in a black gloved hand

What you’ll need:

Before you get started, ensure you have:

  • A smoker  I smoked these beef ribs on my Pit Boss 1600 Pellet Smoker with hickory pellets from Bear Mountain BBQ but you can cook these on any type of smoker.
  • One or more slabs of beef short ribs (individual ribs will work, but for best results try and get a whole slab.
  • A decent temperature probe
  • A binding agent such as yellow mustard or olive oil and salt, pepper, and garlic to make your own rub.
  • 6 – 10 hours until you need to eat.

Types of beef ribs

There are three main types of beef ribs:

  • Plate short ribs
  • Back ribs
  • Chuck ribs

For this recipe, I used plate short ribs (also known as just short ribs). Plate ribs come from the chuck primal cut found on the shoulder and neck area of the beef animal.

Plate ribs are incredibly meaty and usually come in a set of three to five ribs, with just one rib weighing in at 1 – 1.25 pounds! 

Don’t worry if you can’t find plate short ribs, any type will work although you may find the cooking times vary.

Before we get into how to smoke these ribs, let’s run through what to look for when you’re at the butcher.

Tips for buying beef ribs

  • Try to get the best quality you can afford. Some things to look out for include USDA Choice, USDA Prime, Wagyu, or Certified Angus Beef.
  • Look for a rack of ribs on the thicker side, with decent marbling throughout. You can see in the picture below the lines of marbling running through the meat. This is going to break down and make your ribs taste delicious!
  • You don’t need a large fat cap as we’ll trim most of that off, but being able to leave a little on does help keep everything moist

For this recipe, I used a rack of American wagyu short ribs from Snake River Farms that had a crazy amount of marbling. You can still get great results with a cheaper cut though.

Side view of raw beef ribs showing streaks of marbling
White streaks of marbling mean these ribs will be nice and tender when smoked

Now that you’ve selected your beef ribs you’re probably rearing to go. But before you can throw it on the smoker we need to make sure we maximize the flavor.

How to make smoked beef ribs

You can’t go wrong keeping things simple and going for classic Texas Style beef ribs. This involves using a simple rub of salt, pepper, and ground garlic and allows the beef flavor to shine through.

For this recipe, I decided to add an extra layer of all-purpose bbq rub to really amp up the flavor, but this is optional.

You don’t need to fuss around with fancy rubs, sauces, or injections to get delicious bbq ribs.

1. Trim your beef ribs

These BBQ ribs are very easy to prepare.

Begin by removing the fat and the very tough silver skin from the top of the meat. It might be tempting to keep the fat on but it won’t render and it will stop your rub flavor from getting into the meat

You can see how much fat I take off in the photos below.

You can leave a little bit of fat, especially around any thinner areas as this will help prevent them from drying out.

I usually don’t remove the membrane on the back because I like it there to hold the rack/ bones together.

2. Rub your ribs

I like the keep the flavor simple with bbq beef ribs, so I used a simple homemade rub of equal parts salt, pepper, and garlic flakes.

I find flakes work better than garlic powder although you can certainly use powder. You could also add some smoked paprika for a little bit more flavor.

Mix the rub ingredients together and preferably use a rub shaker to help you get an even coating of seasoning over the ribs.

Before applying the rub, spread a thin layer of yellow mustard over the ribs to help the rub stick. Oil or Worchester sauce work too.

Try and get an even layer of rub where you can still see the meat

You can let your ribs sit for 20 minutes while you get your smoker setup but I don’t find any benefit in leaving the ribs to sit overnight.

3. Smoking your ribs

These bbq ribs are simple to smoke, and the exact setup depends on the type of smoker you are using.

  • I recommend cooking on the higher end of low and slow around 250-275°F. Aaron Franklin does beef short rubs at 285°F so feel free to experiment with temperature.
  • I used hickory wood pellets but you could use any fruit wood or oak, which is traditional in Texas.

Place the ribs on the grill, bone side towards the heat source to protect the meat.

beef ribs on pellet smoker
Placing the ribs bone side down helps protect the meat from the heat source

I wouldn’t bother turning the meat over. I wish I could tell you exactly how long it’s going to cook but there are so many factors that can influence cook time.

For a general rule of thumb these time estimates are pretty accurate:

  • 1″ thick ribs about 5-6 hours
  • 1.5″ thick ribs about 6-7 hours
  • 2″ thick ribs about 10 hours

Leave your ribs to smoke for at least two hours to allow the bark to set properly. At that point, you can start spritzing every hour with a 50-50 mix of water and apple cider vinegar.

Now you need to sit back and wait until the ribs get to at least 200°F internal temperature and the probe goes in and out like butter.

If you’re used to cooking pork ribs you might be in for a shock at how long these can take.

This is what my ribs looked like after a couple of hours before the bark had properly set.

beef ribs on on a smoker rack with the bark not set yet
These ribs have a while to go before the bark is set

These bad boys can take a long time to cook.

4. Resting and serving your beef ribs

This is where all your patience pays off. The probe goes in like butter and measures 200-205°F.

Carefully pick the ribs up and wrap them in aluminum foil or butcher paper to rest.

rack of smoked beef ribs on a chopping board
These short ribs are now ready to wrap and rest

Be careful not to damage the bark. A good tip I got from Aaron Franklin’s video is to pick the ribs up with a damp towel so you don’t accidentally damage the bark.

When resting smoked beef ribs make sure to give them at least 30 minutes, or preferably an hour.

  • If you need to serve them to your guests sooner, let them sit uncovered for 30 minutes before slicing into them.
  • If you have longer to wait, wrap them in butcher paper and then a towel and place them into a cooler.

If you’re serving these ribs at a party you can using the faux cambro technique will keep the meat warm for a few hours and you will benefit from a longer rest time. This allows the juices to redistribute back into the meat.

Once your ribs have rested for at least an hour slice them into individual ribs with a good slicing knife. Don’t forget to grab a rib by the bone for the ultimate caveman experience.

I’d say that’s about enough for ribs one serving

And that’s it! If you’ve followed this guide your ribs should be tender, with a rich smoke ring around the outside.

Bbq beef ribs like these really don’t need any kind of barbecue sauce, but if you really like sauce use something that goes well with beef like this Texas mop juice

How long does it take to smoke beef short ribs?

As a general rule of thumb, you should allow 6-8 hours to smoke a large rack of beef short ribs.

I wish I could give you a more accurate time estimate, but the cooking time will vary based on the thickness of the meat, the number of ribs in the rack, and the temperature you decide to smoke at.

If you are pressed for time feel free to smoke a little hotter, around 275-300°F.

Don’t forget to include the time it takes to prep and heat your smoker, and an hour to rest the ribs.

So from start to eating, allow a solid 8-9 hours. This is why I like to always have more time than I think I will need because if the food is finished early I can always leave it in faux cambro for longer.

What temperature should short ribs be cooked to

Beef short ribs are typically done between 200-210°F. I usually aim for the higher side, between 205-210°F.

I use my Thermapen ONE to check the internal temperature in multiple parts of the rib, and don’t consider it done until everywhere is probing like butter.

At that point, the ribs should be almost falling off the bone.

How to get a great bark 

Getting a good bark on bbq beef ribs involves a few easy steps. The first step is to apply enough rub to the meat. Because beef ribs are a huge cut, feel free to season them liberally.

You will need to put a nice even layer on to help the bark formation. Use a rub with a coarse blend of seasonings instead of finely ground which will just absorb into the meat. Large chunks of pepper, garlic, and other spices really help the bark and texture. 

Spritzing also helps with getting a good bark, just be careful not to spritz too early and rinse away the rub. Normally I wait two hours before spritzing. By this time the rub has had enough time to stick to the meat and by spritzing you will allow the smoke to stick and layers of bark to form as moisture evaporates. 

Smoke is another key factor in the creation of the bark. The longer your meat is exposed to smoke, the darker it will become as more and more smoke sticks to the surface. When cooking low and slow you are giving the meat more time to build your bark. 

You may notice that if a piece of meat has been smoked for a long time it may almost look burnt. More than likely it is just the particles that have caramelized on the meat and gotten dark over the long cooking process. It should not taste burnt and still be cooked through and be moist on the inside. 

Do you need to wrap beef short ribs when smoking?

I find that wrapping during the cook prevents the bark from forming properly, and there’s really no need unless you are running out of time.

Aaron Franklin doesn’t wrap his smoked beef ribs, and that’s good enough for me!

If the bark is getting too dark or I need them done sooner, I will wrap them in butcher paper.

The reason I opt to wrap in butcher paper is that allows the meat to breathe and does not steam or braise the ribs like aluminum foil does. You’ve worked hard to create a nice bark, the last thing you want to do is ruin it. 

Ready for more delicious rib recipes?

Smoked Beef Ribs Recipe

smoked beef ribs stacked on a wood cutting board

Smoked Beef Ribs

Skip the sweet rubs and sauces and let the beef flavor shine through in this recipe for Texas Style Barbecue Beef Short Ribs. 
4.41 from 42 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 689kcal
Author: Jordan Hanger

Ingredients

  • 1 7-8lb rack beef short ribs
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar

For the rub:

  • 2 tbsp black pepper freshly ground
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder garlic flakes also works

Instructions

  • Trim most of the fat and silver skin from the beef ribs.
  • Coat ribs in mustard or olive oil to help the rub stick to the meat.
  • Mix rub ingredients together if making your own, then apply rub evenly being sure to get plenty on the sides.
  • Heat your smoker 250-275°F using a smoke wood like hickory, apple, cherry, pecan or oak.
  • Place ribs on the smoker bone side down.
  • Smoke for between 6 – 10 hours between 250° – 275°F
  • You can start spritzing with a mix of apple cider vinegar and water after two hours. Repeat every hour.
  • Remove the ribs from the smoker when probe tender (between 200- 207°F) and rest for at least 30 minutes. If you need to rest longer, wrap in aluminum foil or butcher paper and leave to rest wrapped in old towels in a cooler.
  • Slice the ribs and serve with beans and coleslaw or any of your favorite bbq sides.

Nutrition

Sodium: 2636mg | Calcium: 48mg | Vitamin C: 1mg | Vitamin A: 14IU | Sugar: 1g | Fiber: 1g | Potassium: 1460mg | Cholesterol: 228mg | Calories: 689kcal | Saturated Fat: 17g | Fat: 40g | Protein: 74g | Carbohydrates: 4g | Iron: 9mg
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28 Comments

  1. Joe,
    This was a great , well explained, and simple instructional for beef short ribs.
    Good work!

  2. Joe Wilkinson says:

    5 stars
    Great easy steps to follow and the result was amazing. Doing some more today! Cheers!

  3. Alvin Palmer says:

    Can I smoke and cook them on my Napoleon gas grill? Thank you, Al.

  4. 5 stars
    Looks amazing!! Any adjustments for using the snake method in the Weber kettle?

      1. 5 stars
        I just did a 2″ think rack of 4 ribs using the snake method.
        They took 10.5 hours…. and OMG they are good !!!!

  5. 5 stars
    Joe,
    I have smoked beef short ribs quite a few times using different methods and rubs. Your method has by far produced the BEST tasting, juiciest and most delicious beef ribs I have ever cooked.
    Thanks so much for the cooking tips!

  6. Don Desjardins says:

    Using your recipe for my first time smoking beef ribs this weekend

  7. What’s the reason for not using a leave-in temperature probe? I like my Meater probe because I open the lid less frequently.

  8. Leigh Barclay says:

    Hi,
    This was a very well written and easy to follow recipe, so thank you First time trying the beef ribs in a char griller kamodo.
    Ribs look great but came to temp and probe just after 6 hours but doesn’t quite have the full bark yours did in your photos. Was definitely on the way but not enough time in the smoker.
    How can I overcome this with smaller ribs that will not take as long to cook?
    Thanks again for the recipe, really made my first attempt a lot easier than it could have been and tasted great

  9. 4 stars
    What a fantastic easy to follow instruction, Thank you
    My Ribs were talk of the BBQ .

  10. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe they worked a treat.

  11. I have been smoking forever, but I am trying beef short ribs for the first time.
    I have seen some recipes that say to pre cut the ribs so they get the amazing bark all the way around instead of only on top. In my experience with pork ribs, I feel they would dry out by cutting them up first, but I would like your thoughts on 5 bone slabs versus individual bones.

    1. I would definitely keep them whole, although there’s nothing wrong with experimenting.

  12. Hi
    Did you wrap in foil during cooking or just during resting? Lovely last time just can’t remember. Thanks

    1. You can do either, wrap in foil if it looks like they are drying out, but no problem to leave them unwrapped either. One of those things you can experiment with and decide which way you prefer.

  13. Bill Sheppit says:

    I did your rib recipe yesterday for the family and they turned out wonderfully. My wife, said they were the best ribs she had ever tasted.

  14. Chris keyser says:

    Some times if you put a colder rib or piece of meat you can get more of a bark before it gets to proper temp. It’s my method

  15. Thanks for the recipe from Aberdeen in Scotland. In the final bit of cooking just now and very much looking forward to these for dinner

  16. 5 stars
    Hey from New Zealand Joe, love your site, best on the interweb! three weber family, predominantly using the smokey mountain and kettle. am smokin your beef ribs again this afternoon. my question is, you never seem to mention whether you’re using the water pan or not. please include this detail as it can obviously make a big difference. Cheers, Cam

    1. Hey Cam, thanks appreciate it mate!

      Good point – I pretty much always use the water pan unless I’m doing a chicken or anything where I want to get over 300degrees.

  17. I live in Alberta Canada and the meat we get to select is for the most part is god awful. And I’am losing my mind over the price,don’t get me started on that as you probably know we are cattle county.for example a 12 lb. Brisket $80-100 on sale and after the trim 8.5-9 lbs after the the trim.and with out a smoker you could not chew it. Roasting a beef roast,a nice size ,cooking to medium comes out the size of my fist and tasteless.Frying bacon, well you need to get past all the watery stuff to even get to a little grease from the bacon.So we love our smokers to get our meat to something that keep it size , and tender and sooo tasty. Also Ps. Hope you all enjoy all the great grass feed tender beef we ship to you guys as we keep the other stuff like the apple on the ground if you know what I mean.

  18. lowandslow says:

    Wagyu beef ribs,$139.00 + shipping.Must be nice.

  19. 4 stars
    I was happy to see this covered so many important areas of a beef short rib cook.
    Nice job!
    Aaron has also been my mentor for nearly six years now.
    He states a few other critical facts that are good to know regarding beef short ribs.
    1) One important key to know in a beef rib cook, is you want the fat to render, without drying the ribs out. It is a balance. The higher temperature does that well towards the end of the smoke. Spritz near the end for sure, and do a LOT of feeling and squeezing to get to know the changes as they occur. Use a cotton glove under your thin rubber type gloves to protect your hands from the heat. (Mad Scientist BBQ)
    2) I have come to disregard the “like butter” analogy as I struggled with. For me, it is too subjective.
    The best check for me is when the probe is pulled back out, the meat does not “grip” and lift, but releases the probe allowing it to slide back out without resistance. No mistake there…
    3) Finally, the membrane in between the bones on the back side is Aaron’s “spot” for checking doneness. Right in the middle between two bones works best for me.
    As the fine point punctures and breaks thru, very little resistance is felt. As the tapered area begins to move thru the puncture, a very slight resistance is felt. Upon removal, no pull back or lift means they are done.

    As usual, experience is the best teacher here.
    Take LOTS of notes, and change only one thing per cook as you learn from your mistakes.
    After many hundreds of beef brisket and beef rib smokes, I am STILL learning.
    This truly is a fine write up! Thanks again!

    1. Jordan Hanger says:

      Thanks so much Bill! You also make some great points to consider.

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