Oh, beef ribs. It’s hard to imagine a cut of meat that embodies BBQ quite the way beef ribs do.
If you’ve seen them or ordered them before, you know what I’m talking about. They’re those long, thin, and wide bones with a solid 1 to 2 inches of beef sitting right on top of the bone.
I’ve heard beef ribs described by one of my friends as brisket, but better. It’s hard to disagree with that assessment – when done right, a beef rib has a perfect balance of beefy flavor, smokey flavor, tenderness, succulent bark on the outside.
The good news is that achieving legendary beef rib results isn’t overly complicated if you know what to do, and that’s exactly what we’re here for.
In this post, we’ve created a complete guide to smoking beef ribs, and we’ll share our simple Texas Style recipe so you can fire up the smoker with confidence.
Getting the Right Beef Ribs
There are a few different types of beef ribs out there, and each of them go by multiple names, so let’s make sure we are on the same page.
What we are talking about in this beef rib recipe and guide are beef plate ribs, also known as beef dino ribs. The “dino” name came about because of the sheer size of the bones!
This cut features long, wide, skinny bones that have an inch or two of hearty beef on top of them. Most racks of beef plate ribs come with 4 bones.
What we are NOT talking about are beef back ribs, or beef short ribs, although both of those cuts can make some excellent BBQ too. Beef back ribs are cut right by the ribeye section of the animal and typically don’t have much meat on them – only fingers in between each bone.
Beef short ribs are aesthetically similar to beef plate ribs, but they’re just a smaller, shorter looking rack.
So be sure to get ahold of some proper beef plate or dino ribs for this recipe.
Prep and Season Your Beef
Most of the time, you don’t need to do any fat trimming on a rack of beef ribs. But there are some situations where you might need to do a little bit of trimming.
As a general rule of thumb, I’ll shave down the top layer of fat on the beef if it’s over a quarter of an inch thick. The thin layer of fat will render to help cook and tenderize your meat, but you definitely don’t want so much that your bites are full of fat.
So if you have a thick top layer of fat, shave it down to about a quarter of an inch thick uniformly across the top of your rack. From there, trim off any loose pieces of fat or meat that are dangling off of the cut. We want to do this because loose pieces can tend to burn when they’re on the smoker.
Once your beef ribs are nice and trimmed, it’s time to season them with a rub mixture.
Now, I’m from Texas, so I like to do my beef ribs Texas style. Here’s all you need to do it that way:
- 4 oz hot sauce
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup coarse black pepper
That’s it! The hot sauce should be rubbed all over the beef as a base. It’s there to help the salt and pepper mixture stick and to provide a little bit of tangy flavor to the end results. You by no means have to use hot sauce though! Many folks will instead use olive oil or even just put the salt and pepper on bare.
After the hot sauce is spread uniformly across the beef, mix the salt and pepper together and apply it to the outside of your rib rack. Be sure to coat it uniformly around your beef, ensuring to not skip any of the small sides as you go!
Smoked Beef Ribs on the Smoker
Next on the agenda is to prepare your smoker. I have a Camp Chef Woodwind WiFi (check it out on Camp Chef here), which is a pellet grill, so all I needed to do was add some pellets and set my temperature.
I like to smoke beef ribs at 275°F. They are fatty and tender enough that you don’t need to really need to cook them any lower than that, although you could if you wanted to.
After your smoker has preheated, simply place the ribs on the grate, bone side down, and close the lid. Every 60-90 minutes I will open the lid and spritz apple cider vinegar on the beef to help keep it nice and moist, and to check on the beef’s internal temperature with a probe thermometer.
As far as how long to smoke beef ribs at 275? It’s going to depend on the size of your rack. I’ve had smaller racks finish in about 6 hours, and I’ve had larger racks finish in about 8. Really, you’re cooking until they reach an internal temperature of 200-205°F. Measure internal temperature using a probe thermometer and poke the probe into the thickest sections of meat, away from the bone to measure.
If you need a general idea of timing to plan for dinner, plan for 6-8 hours. Lean towards the higher end for a big rack and the lower end for a small rack.
Let It Rest
After your smoked beef ribs have reached the desired internal temperature, it’s important to let them rest before slicing them. I typically let them rest for about an hour before serving them – which is long enough to allow the moisture to redistribute throughout the beef but short enough that the ribs will still be at a nice warm temperature for serving.
Bare or Wrapped?
There’s a little bit of a debate when it comes to the best way to wrap beef ribs, or if you should wrap them at all.
Due to the fatty nature of beef ribs, I almost never wrap them. I simply don’t think it’s necessary – and smoking them bare allows for the best opportunity for the beef to develop a beautiful and succulent BBQ bark on the outside.
That’s not to say you can’t wrap them. Some folks might prefer to cook bare for the first half of the cook then wrap in pink butcher paper or even aluminum foil for the second half of the cook. Either of those options will result in a more tender, less barky rib.
If you’re unsure about which to try out for your first time, I’d say to just do them bare. It’s a little bit easier to do it that way, and if you don’t like the end result you can try out wrapping them next time!
Serving Smoked Beef Ribs
Once your beef rib rack has rested, it’s time to slice and serve. You want to use a knife that is long and slender, with tiny teeth in them that are enough to cut through the tough outside of the beef yet not so serrated that it will completely tear up your tender beef.
We’ve created a guide to the best knives for slicing brisket – any of the knives on that list are also perfect for beef ribs.
Your sliced ribs should have a beautiful look to them, with a bark and pink smoke ring on the outer portion of the rib and brown beef and fatty content in the center.
I like to serve beef ribs with some sides. Great sides to go with beef ribs include:
- Potato salad
- Mac and cheese
- Baked beans
- Mashed potatoes
- Green beans
That is by no means a complete list, but you can’t go wrong with any of those!
Where to Get Beef Ribs Online
If your local grocer or butcher doesn’t regularly carry beef ribs, there are a few online outlets that will deliver delicious beef ribs straight to your doorstep. One of our favorites is Snake River Farms. They are a leading purveyor of American Wagyu – and they will deliver beef ribs straight to your doorstep – they aren’t cheap but make an excellent cut if you’re looking to treat yourself.
Texas Style Smoked Beef Ribs Recipe
Texas Style Rub
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup coarse black pepper
- 1 rack beef plate ribs (dino ribs) usually 4-5 ribs
- 4 oz hot sauce
- Preheat smoker to 275°F
- Slather hot sauce uniformly on all sides of beef rib rack
- Combine salt and pepper in a container and shake until evenly mixed
- Season beef ribs uniformly with salt and pepper rub, including all of the short and thin sides
- Place seasoned beef ribs on the smoker grate, bone side down
- Close the lid and cook. After 3 hours, spritz the beef ribs to add moisture (apple cider vinegar, beef broth, apple juice, or even water work great)
- After 5 hours total on the smoker, start probing the meat with a thermometer. Measure at a middle point of the beef that is away from the bone
- The ribs are done once they reach an internal temperature of 203°F. Depending on the size of your rack of ribs, they could spend 6 to 8 hours total on the smoker before they are done
- After the ribs reach desired internal temperature, remove them from the smoker. Let them rest for 1 hour before slicing and serving
I hope this guide to smoked beef ribs has helped to inspire you towards your next legendary BBQ! The amazing thing about beef ribs is that they’re incredibly simple to make. They look intimidating, but the process for smoking them makes them one of the easiest types of BBQ to make, and they are sure to wow your friends and family who are lucky enough to get to try one.