How Long Do You Smoke Beef Short Ribs? The Ultimate Guide

Beef short ribs are a delicious, meaty cut of beef that benefit greatly from low and slow smoking. When cooked properly, beef short ribs become incredibly tender and flavorful. However, smoking short ribs requires patience – this is not a quick weeknight dinner! Getting the cook time right is essential to achieving tender, melt-in-the-mouth short ribs. So how long do you need to smoke short ribs?

What are Beef Short Ribs?

Beef short ribs come from the rib section of the cow. They are cut across the bone into short 2-3 inch sections. The meat on top of the ribs is well-marbled and packed with beefy flavor.

There are two main types of short ribs:

  • Back ribs – Come from the rib section close to the spine. They have less meat between the bones.

  • Plate ribs – Come from the belly/plate section. They are meatier on top of the bones.

For smoking, choose plate ribs for more tender meat. Look for ribs evenly cut and well-marbled.

How to Prepare Beef Short Ribs for Smoking

Proper prep is key for great smoked beef ribs:

  • Trim – Use a sharp knife to remove any silver skin or large excess fat. Leave some fat for flavor.

  • Season – Generously season the ribs all over. A simple salt, pepper and garlic rub works very well. Let them sit for up to 24 hours.

  • Smoke – Set up your smoker for indirect cooking at 225-250°F. Use fruit woods like apple, cherry or pecan which complement beef.

How Long to Smoke Beef Short Ribs

Beef ribs need lower, slower cooking to break down connective tissue. The collagen melts into delicious moistness. Here are general guidelines for smoking times:

  • At 225°F – Plan on around 6-7 hours total smoking time

  • At 250°F – Plan on 5-6 hours total

  • The thicker the ribs, the longer they will need

  • Cook times vary based on thickness of meat and smoker temp

Monitor Temperature More Than Time

Rather than obsessing over cook times, it’s best to monitor the internal temp and texture:

  • Insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the ribs

  • Cook until 205°F internal temp

  • The probe should slide in like softened butter

  • The meat will start to pull back from the ends of the bones

These are the best indicators your ribs are done. If undercooked, they will seem tough and rubbery. Patience leads to fork-tender perfection.

Smoke For 3 Hours Then Wrap or Braise

To get the most smoke flavor, smoke the ribs for 2-3 hours uncovered at the start. After this, you have two options:

Option 1 – Wrap

  • After 2-3 hours, wrap ribs tightly in foil

  • Place back in smoker for remainder of cook time

  • The ribs baste in their own juices

Option 2 – Braise

  • After 2-3 hours, place ribs in a braising liquid

  • Cover and cook in oven or on smoker until tender

  • The braising liquid keeps the ribs extra moist

  • Use beef broth, wine or a combo

Either wrapping or braising will help tenderize the ribs once they have some smoke flavor.

Let the Ribs Rest Before Serving

This last step is vital. Once the ribs reach 205°F, remove them from the heat. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 30 minutes before cutting or eating. This allows juices to redistribute through the meat.

After the rest, the ribs are ready to wow your guests. The prolonged cook times are so worth it when you bite into tender, smoky beefy bliss!

Quick Reference Guides

For quick reference, here are the key points:

Smoking Temps and Times

  • 225°F – Around 6-7 hours
  • 250°F – Around 5-6 hours

Doneness Indicators

  • 205°F internal temperature
  • Probe slides in like softened butter
  • Meat pulls back from bones

General Process

  • Trim and season ribs
  • Smoke uncovered for 2-3 hours
  • Wrap or braise until 205°F
  • Rest 30 minutes before serving

Follow these guidelines and you will be rewarded with the ultimate tender and flavorful smoked beef short ribs!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about smoking times for beef short ribs:

How can I tell when they are done without a thermometer?

  • The meat will start to pull back from the ends of the bones
  • Try poking it with your finger – it should feel very tender
  • When done, the ribs will have a mahogany red color

What if they aren’t tender after 6-7 hours?

  • Check your thermometer – it may be off. Confirm it reaches 205°F.
  • The ribs may have been improperly trimmed or were an uneven thickness.
  • Put back on the smoker and continue monitoring until tender.

Can I smoke them the day before and reheat?

  • Yes, smoke them fully until 205°F the day before
  • To reheat, cover in foil and warm in a 300°F oven until hot throughout

Should I wrap in foil or braise once smoked for 2-3 hours?

  • Both methods work well, so choose based on your preferences
  • Wrapping keeps it simple and lets the ribs baste in their juices
  • Braising adds moisture and allows you to add more flavor

Tips for Perfectly Smoked Short Ribs Every Time

Follow these tips and techniques for finger-licking good beef ribs every time:

  • Choose plate ribs – They are more consistently shaped and meaty.

  • Trim properly – Remove silver skin and excess fat for even cooking.

  • Season generously – A salty rub accentuates the rich beefiness.

  • Use a meat thermometer – Don’t rely solely on cook times.

  • Wrap or braise – Gives moisture and flexibility on cook times.

  • Rest before serving – Crucial last step to optimize texture.

  • Use an accurate thermometer – Confirm your thermometer is properly calibrated.

  • Monitor the cook – Make sure your smoker maintains an even 225-250°F.

  • Account for thickness – Thicker ribs need more time. Go by temp not times.

Delicious Smoked Short Rib Recipes to Try

Once you’ve mastered the perfect smoking time, try adding some extra flavor with rubs, sauces and sides:

How to Smoke BEEF SHORT RIBS – BBQ Short Ribs Recipe

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