A perfectly tender, borderline pre-historic-sized slab of Smoked Beef Ribs, absolutely dripping with unadulterated beefy flavor is Texas BBQ at its best. Impress your guests with this falling-off-the-bone goodness that only calls for a few ingredients and won't have you stuck in the kitchen for hours on end.
Whether you're using an offset smoker or a pellet grill, now is the time to invite the neighbors over, break out the cocktails, and flex those outdoor cooking skills. Want to offer a variety of carnivorous options? Check out our brisket, pork spare ribs, and slow cooker spare ribs as well.
WHAT ARE BEEF RIBS?
Beef Ribs come from the cow's ribs. They are also known as plate ribs, chuck ribs, or short ribs. Although, they should not be confused with the short ribs you'd purchase for braising. Short ribs for braising are sold individually cut (not in rack form) and much smaller than the big boys you want for your smoker.
This big, beefy, smoker-worthy cut comes from ribs 6-8, which are found in the rib and plate cuts. You're looking for the fatty plate short ribs, usually sold as a slab.
Primal cuts are the sections of the beef carcass that are first up in the butchering process before they are broken down into smaller, more specified cuts (which are also known as sub-primal cuts).
While looking for Beef Ribs at the grocery store, aim for a plate of Beef Ribs that is quality grade branded or is labeled choice or prime. If you have trouble finding them, just ask your butcher. They're typically more than happy to help!
Avoid packages labeled back ribs; this recipe will not work for back ribs.
WHAT TO DO WITH THE MEMBRANE AND FAT CAP
If you'd like a thinner layer of fat, you can trim it down a bit. However, this is not entirely necessary. The fat cap protects the meat from drying out, giving it almost a self-basting effect.
Removing the membrane is also somewhat pointless because there's not enough meat on the bottom to make it worth the added task or trouble. The membrane also serves as a protective layer. After all, you cook it with the membrane side down, closest to the heat, which ultimately protects the entire cut from getting too charred or burnt.
So, in a nutshell, unless you love knifework, you have full permission to leave both the fat cap and the membrane in place.
HOW TO SEASON BEEF RIBS
Once you've got your Beef Ribs, it's time to do a little seasoning. We are all about that simple salt and pepper, Texas-style rub. For this style of rub, you must use Kosher salt, and it's best if you can grind your own pepper, but not necessary. Store-bought coarse ground pepper will work fine.
Combine the salt and pepper in a small bowl and season the ribs liberally by rubbing the mix all over. Make sure to coat the top, bottom, and sides of the ribs. Discard any remaining dry rub, and we're on to the mop sauce.
ABOUT THE MOP SAUCE
Again, we are smoking these ribs in an authentic smoked meat fashion, and there will be no BBQ sauce. Instead, to make sure those Beef Ribs stay nice, shiny, and insanely flavorful, we'll prepare a simple mop sauce.
If you have a food-safe spray bottle, this is most definitely the best vessel for keeping that meat glistening. However, a bowl and a BBQ mop brush will also work fine.
Combine unsalted beef broth and Worcestershire sauce in your vessel of choice, and it's on to the smoker or the pellet grill.
PREHEAT YOUR SMOKER OR PELLET GRILL
Bring your smoker or pellet grill to 250°F and place a heat-safe pan full of water on the cooking rack between the heat source and where you will place the Beef Ribs.
The water pan keeps steam going in the cooker, adding moisture to the air, and keeping the meat from drying out.
Add your ribs to the smoker, fat-side up, and close your cooker.
You want to check on the ribs once every hour, and give them a good spritzing or brushing with your mop sauce. If using an offset smoker, you'll also want to check your fire often.
After about 3 hours, begin checking for bark development. As soon your ribs have reached the level of bark desired, wrap them in butcher paper and return to the smoker or pellet grill to finish cooking.
It is best to have an instant-read thermometer to gauge the doneness of your meat. The probe of your meat thermometer should slide like butter into the centermost point between the rib bones. Your Beef Ribs should be finished smoking after a total cook time of 6 to 8 hours. You are looking for a temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove the ribs from the smoker and allow them to rest for about 30 minutes before unwrapping. Once the time is up, remove the Beef Ribs from the paper and slice in between the bones to serve.
Serve with barbecue sauce if you'd like... but we promise, it certainly won't be necessary.
6 MORE TEXAS RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Brisket Tacos
- Chopped Beef Sandwich
- Tex Mex Cheese Enchiladas
- Texas Kolaches
- Fajita Tacos
- Cowboy Steaks
Smoked Beef Ribs are the epitome of a Texas cookout and this is the way to ensure yours come out tender and juicy every time.
- 1 (4-bone section) beef short ribs
- ¼ cup Kosher salt
- ¼ cup coarse black pepper
- 4 cups low-sodium or unsalted beef broth
- ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
If desired, with a large sharp knife, carefully shave away the fat cap until only ⅛" of an inch remains, and trim away any large, loose hunks of fat.
Combine the salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub all over your Beef Ribs. Discard any extra.
In a food-safe spray bottle or small mixing bowl prepare the mop sauce by combining the beef broth and Worcestershire. Set aside.
Heat your smoker to 250°F and place a heat-safe pan full of water (like a cast iron loaf pan) on the cooking rack between the heat source and the meat.
Place the ribs fat-side up in the smoker and close the cooker.
Once every hour, open the smoker to generously spray or brush down the ribs with the mop sauce. Take care to keep your smoker in a heat range between 225°F and 275°F throughout the entire duration of the cook.
Between the 3-4 hour mark, begin checking the bark. Once it has taken on a crust with a dark brown to near-black coloring, wrap it in brown Butcher's paper and return it to the smoker.
Cook for approximately 6-8 hours, or until ribs reach an internal temperature of 200°F.
Remove the ribs from the smoker and allow to rest, wrapped, 30 minutes before slicing.
Make your cuts in between the bones to separate the ribs, serve, and enjoy.