How to BBQ Beef Ribs the Right Way

Beef ribs can be intimidating to cook, but with the right technique, they can turn out incredibly juicy, tender and flavorful. This comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need to know about preparing perfect bbq beef ribs in your own backyard.

Getting Started with Beef Ribs

There are a few things to know before you begin cooking beef ribs:

  • Types of ribs – Beef ribs come from the rib section of the cow. The most popular ribs for bbq are back ribs and plate ribs. Back ribs are leaner with less meat between the bones. Plate ribs (also called dinosaur or dino ribs) have more marbled meat and are cut closer to the belly.

  • Slab or individual – Beef ribs are sold whole slabs or cut into individual ribs. Slabs contain multiple ribs connected together. Individual ribs allow more control over cooking but slabs look more impressive.

  • Membrane – Beef ribs have a tough membrane on the bone side. It’s optional to remove it but leaving it on can help hold the ribs together.

  • Seasoning – Go light on sugary bbq rubs, beef ribs should be more savory than sweet. A simple blend of salt, pepper and garlic works well.

Step-by-Step Guide

Follow these steps for perfect bbq beef ribs every time:

1. Prep the Ribs

  • Trim off any excess fat or sinew from the meat side.
  • Rinse the ribs under cool water and pat dry.
  • Optional: Remove membrane from the bone side. This takes patience but can improve tenderness.

2. Apply a Dry Rub

  • Coat ribs lightly with oil then sprinkle with dry rub.
  • A basic blend of 1 part salt, 1/2 part garlic powder and 1/4 part pepper works great.
  • Press rub lightly into the meat to help it adhere.

3. Smoke the Ribs

  • Set up your smoker or grill for indirect cooking at 250-300°F.
  • Use hickory, oak or pecan wood for flavor.
  • Place ribs on the smoker and let cook for 2-3 hours until a nice bark forms.

4. Wrap the Ribs

  • Wrap each slab tightly in foil with 1⁄2 cup beef broth inside.
  • Put back on smoker for 2-3 hours until very tender.
  • An internal temp of 200-210°F indicates doneness.

5. Rest and Serve

  • Allow ribs to rest wrapped for 1 hour before unwrapping.
  • Cut into individual ribs and serve!

Choosing the Right Beef Ribs

To get perfect results, start by choosing high-quality beef ribs:

  • Meaty plate ribs provide the most beefy flavor and tenderness.

  • Prime or Choice grade ensures good marbling and taste.

  • Fresh not frozen for better texture. Thaw frozen ribs in the fridge before cooking.

  • Even thickness throughout the slab cooks evenly.

  • Good marbling means more moisture and flavor. Some fat cap on top is good too.

Getting the right cut of beef ribs from the start makes the cooking process much easier.

Beef Rib Cooking Times and Temperatures

Proper cooking times and temperatures are key to great bbq ribs. Each stage of the smoking process serves a purpose:

Stage 1 – Unwrapped Smoke

  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Temp: 250-300°F
  • Purpose: Develops smoke flavor and bark

Stage 2 – Wrapped Smoke

  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Temp: 250-300°F
  • Purpose: Breaks down fat and collagen for tenderness

Stage 3 – Rest

  • Time: 1 hour
  • Purpose: Allows juices to reabsorb for moisture and flavor

An internal temperature between 200-210°F indicates the collagen has fully broken down and the ribs are perfectly tender.

Choosing a Smoker for Beef Ribs

You can use just about any type of smoker, grill or oven to cook beef ribs indirectly. Here are a few popular options:

  • Smokers – Offset, vertical, cabinet, pellet and electric smokers all work well. Provide steady indirect heat and ample smoke flavor.

  • Charcoal grills – Set up bank of coals on one side and cook ribs on the other. Add more coals and wood chunks as needed to maintain temperature.

  • Gas grills – Turn off burners on one side and cook ribs over indirect heat on the other side. Add wood chips in a smoker box for flavor.

  • Ovens – Arrange ribs on a baking sheet and cook at 250-300°F. Add smoke flavor by placing wood chips in foil on the racks.

Serving and Storing Leftover Beef Ribs

Some final tips for enjoying your bbq beef ribs:

  • Let ribs rest for at least 15-30 minutes before cutting to allow juices to absorb.

  • Use a sharp knife to slice between the ribs. Serve 2-4 bones per person.

  • Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Reheat in the oven or on the grill before serving again.

  • Vacuum seal and freeze leftovers for longer term storage. Thaw in the fridge before reheating.

  • Beef ribs also make amazing sandwiches. Chop or pull the meat and pile it high on a bun!

With the right preparation and smoking technique, you can achieve competition-quality bbq beef ribs right in your own backyard. Just follow this guide for meaty, juicy and flavorful ribs every time.

Common Problems and Solutions

Don’t be discouraged if your first beef ribs don’t turn out perfectly. Here are some common issues and how to fix them:

Problem: Ribs are tough and chewy

Solution: Cook for longer at a lower temp until tender. Make sure to wrap in foil during the cook.

Problem: Ribs are dry or have no smoke flavor

Solution: Add more water to the foil wrap and cook for longer wrapped. Increase smoke exposure during unwrapped stage.

Problem: Bark is burnt but inside is raw

Solution: Lower heat temp and cook longer until done. Spray with apple juice or broth if bark burns again.

Problem: Fat isn’t rendering and meat seems greasy

Solution: Cook for longer, the fat will eventually break down. Or trim excess fat before cooking.

Problem: Ribs fall off the bone and into pieces

Solution: Don’t overcook. Test doneness with a thermometer instead of going by time.

With a little troubleshooting, you’ll be on your way to perfect bbq beef ribs in no time!

Frequently Asked Questions

How many beef ribs should I cook per person?

  • For plate ribs, allow 2-3 bones per person. Back ribs usually need 3-4 per serving due to less meat.

Should the membrane be removed from beef ribs?

  • Removing the membrane is optional and a personal choice. Leaving it on makes the ribs easier to handle but removing it can improve tenderness.

What wood is best for smoking beef ribs?

  • Hickory, oak and pecan all pair well with beef. Use a mild fruitwood if you want a more subtle smoke flavor.

Can I smoke beef ribs on a pellet grill?

  • Yes, pellet grills work great for smoking beef ribs! Just cook indirectly with the deflector in place.

How can I tell when beef ribs are done?

  • Use a thermometer to check internal temp. 200-210°F indicates tender, juicy ribs. Meat should pull back from the bones.

Should I wrap beef ribs in foil or butcher paper?

  • Either works well, foil steams the ribs while paper allows more airflow. Foil results in more tender meat.

Can I grill beef ribs directly over the fire?

  • You can, but they will cook faster and likely dry out. Indirect heat is best for getting them fully tender without burning.

How do I reheat leftover smoked beef ribs?

  • Wrap in foil and reheat in a 300°F oven until hot, about 20-30 minutes. Or reheat on the grill.

In Conclusion

Cooking outstanding bbq beef ribs requires patience but the results are worth it. With high-quality ribs, the proper technique, and a good smoker or grill, you can achieve competition-worthy results right at home. A few trial runs will help you learn to nail tenderness and flavor every time. Enjoy the process of perfecting your beef rib recipe and the rewards of sharing these incredible bbq ribs with family and friends.

Smoked Beef Ribs Recipe | How To Smoke Beef Ribs with Malcom Reed HowToBBQRight


What temperature do you BBQ beef ribs?

I like to cook my beef ribs around 275 degrees as I’ve found that lower pit temperatures doesn’t render the fat as well and the rib sits too long causing them to dry out. Temps hotter than 275 have a tendency to burn the surfaces before the connective tissue in the rib has a chance to soften and tenderize in the heat.

Do you boil beef ribs before BBQ?

Tenderness: Beef ribs are known for their tough connective tissues. Boiling them before grilling helps break down these tissues, resulting in more tender meat that’s easier to eat. The slow, gentle simmering process allows the collagen in the connective tissue to convert to gelatin, which moistens and softens the meat.

How are beef ribs supposed to be cooked?

Put them meat side down in the oven or on the grill and close the door or lid. Cook the ribs for 3 hours without disturbing them. During this time the juices will start to flow and the meat will become succulent and tender. Make sure the temperature stays constant at 225 degrees.

Leave a Comment