Smoked Beef Ribs are the newest (and most glorious) meat trend to hit the BBQ scene. If you follow any grilling gurus on social media, you’re bound to see pictures of these mammoth mouthfuls of meat adorning the best BBQ platters.
What are Beef Ribs?
First, let’s start with the cut of beef you’re looking for. I know that sometimes that sea of meats at the grocery store can be intimidating. Skip the pre-packaged stuff and simply ask your butcher for beef ribs. These beefy, beautiful ribs come from the lower end of the ribs and often have a good 1-2 inches of meat right on top of the bone.
You do not want back ribs. Those have hardly any meat on the bone and only about an inch of meat between bones. These type of ribs are often called “shiners” because there is so little meat on top that the bones shine through while cooking.
The thick beef ribs that are the best for smoking come in two different varieties. Chuck ribs, which usually come in a 4-bone section (bones are also usually a little shorter with slightly less meat) and plate ribs which have 3 big bones and a higher layer of meat on top. Different pitmasters prefer different cuts, but either one works perfectly with this recipe. I used a 4-bone section of chuck ribs for this one because it was what my butcher had in stock, but plate ribs are a perfect substitute!
Smoked Beef Ribs
You’ll often see a layer of fat on top of the ribs and another papery membrane on the bone side of the ribs. You can ask your butcher to remove the membrane or you can do it at home. Either way, that membrane is not very pleasant to eat and you want it gone. If you’re doing it at home, work a butter knife underneath the membrane, use a paper towel to get a good grip, and lift it off.
This recipe was a big hit when I made it during the second episode of Food Network’s show BBQ Brawl. While I used my awesome Homemade Coffee Rub for that challenge (which the judges LOVED), my Beef Seasoning tastes totally amazing on these ribs.
Also, I was under a time crunch on BBQ Brawl, so I smoked between 275 and 325 degrees F to have these ribs done in under 5 hours. When you have the time, definitely cook at 250 degrees F for a longer period of time.
Beef Ribs Seasoning
Next up, we’ve gotta chat seasoning. I like to keep my seasonings pretty simple when it comes to big, beefy cuts like this. You gotta just let the meat and the smoke do the talking. That said, I did add a little element of heat to keep everybody on their toes. It’s not spicy, just a warm and amazing melt in your mouth bit of smoked beef rib goodness.
I start by slathering my trimmed ribs in spicy Dijon mustard (make sure to get a variety that contains horseradish), and seasoning liberally with either my awesome salt and pepper based Signature Beef Seasoning, or a simple mix of Kosher salt, coarse black pepper, and garlic powder. The mustard gives a little hint of flavor while also helping that rub cling to the outside of the ribs.
How to Smoke Beef Ribs
Finally, we’ve got to talk technique! Low and slow is the name of the game with these smoked beef plate ribs. You need enough smoke to properly season the meat and give you that beautiful dark coveted bark. These guys also need plenty of time to render that fat and tough connective tissue to get them to a perfect melt-in-your mouth texture.
For these ribs, I’m spritzing with a vinegar and hot sauce blend. I’m choosing not to wrap (like I often do with my briskets) because I feel like the fat content in the ribs can stand up to a little more smoke exposure. However, to keep things moist and help develop that yummy bark, the spritz is crucial. Don’t be fooled into thinking it is too spicy, it’s really not. It just adds a little extra bite and “wow” to the ribs (kind of like how I use vinegar in my Carolina Style Pulled Pork).
Cooking Temperature for BBQ Beef Ribs
Once your beautiful ribs are seasoned and slow smoking, it’s time to finish it up and bring it all together. I smoke my ribs to an internal temperature of 203 degrees F, and this is where a good meat thermometer is absolutely crucial. Smoked beef chuck ribs are a slow process and require nice consistent smoker temperatures and a perfect internal temperature on the meat to get optimum results.
When you’ve hit your target 203 degrees F for the ribs, it’s important to let them rest. Wrap them up in a little butcher paper, transfer to a cooler, cover with a towel, and let them rest for an hour before slicing into individual ribs and serving. These things are so good, sauce isn’t even necessary (but is totally optional).
More Ribs Recipes
Oh hey there! I see you like ribs just as much as I do, and did you know that Hey Grill Hey has a variety of smoked ribs recipes ready for you to make yourself? It’s true! Check some out below:
Beef Ribs Recipe
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Smoked Beef Ribs
- 1 4-bone section beef chuck ribs ((about 4-5 pounds))
- 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard with horseradish
- 6 Tablespoons Signature Beef Seasoning
Simple Beef Rub (Can be used in place of Beef Seasoning)
- 2 Tablespoons coarse Kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons coarse black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 cup white vinegar
- ¼ cup hot sauce
- Preheat the smoker. Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees F for indirect cooking. Use a hardwood, like oak or hickory, to generate the best smoke for these ribs.
- Season the beef ribs. Slather your ribs with the Dijon mustard. Season liberally on all sides with my Signature Beef Rub, or the salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Smoke the ribs. Place your ribs on the smoker and insert the meat thermometer probe in the thickest part of the meat (without touching the bone). Program your thermometer alert to sound at 203 degrees F. Close the lid, and smoke the ribs for 3 hours.
- Spritz the beef ribs and continue smoking. In a food safe spray bottle, shake the vinegar and hot sauce together. After the initial 3 hour smoke, begin spritzing your ribs every 45 minutes to an hour. Continue smoking until the ribs have reached an internal temperature of 203 degrees F. This process typically takes between 8-10 hours, but every rack is a little different.
- Rest, slice, and serve. Remove the ribs from the smoker, wrap in foil, butcher paper, or unwaxed parchment paper and let rest in an insulated cooler for at least an hour before slicing and serving.
**This post was originally published April 2018. It has since been updated with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.