What Are Beef Back Ribs? A Guide to This Delicious Cut of Meat

Beef back ribs are a popular cut of beef taken from the rib section near the backbone of the cow. They are meatier than traditional pork ribs with a robust, beefy flavor. If you love ribs, learning more about beef back ribs can open up delicious new options for your barbecue.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about beef back ribs including:

  • What part of the cow they come from
  • How they compare to other rib cuts
  • How to prepare and cook them
  • The best ways to serve beef back ribs

Let’s get grilling!

What Part of the Cow Do Beef Back Ribs Come From?

Beef back ribs come from the rib section of the cow, specifically ribs 6 through 12 along the back of the animal. This section is part of the rib primal cut. The ribs in this area contain a good amount of meat between the bones, unlike ribs closer to the belly which have much less meat.

Back ribs are positioned directly above the short ribs closer to the belly of the cow. They contain more meat and marbling compared to other rib cuts. This gives them a distinctly beefy, rich flavor when cooked.

How Do Beef Back Ribs Differ From Pork Ribs?

Pork ribs and beef ribs both come from the rib section but have some notable differences:

  • Meat content – Beef ribs have more meat between the bones while pork ribs tend to be meatier at the ends.

  • Bone size – Beef rib bones are larger and wider than pork.

  • Flavor – Beef ribs have a stronger beef taste while pork ribs are milder.

  • Cooking time – Beef back ribs take longer to cook than pork due to their size.

  • Appearance – Beef ribs are redder in color while pork ribs are pinkish.

Both types of ribs have outstanding flavor when smoked and sauced, so it comes down to personal preference. Make sure to adjust cook times as needed based on the differences.

How Do Beef Back Ribs Compare to Beef Short Ribs?

Beef back ribs vs. short ribs – they both come from the rib section but have some key variances:

  • Location – Back ribs are higher up; short ribs are below near belly.

  • Bone – Back ribs have longer bones; short rib bones are short.

  • Shape – Back ribs are straighter; short ribs are unevenly shaped.

  • Flavor – Back ribs are robustly beefy; short ribs are slightly milder.

  • Preparation – Back ribs need trimming; short ribs come trimmed.

For the best results, use cooking methods tailored to each cut’s size and structure.

How to Prepare Beef Back Ribs for Cooking

Before cooking beef back ribs, you’ll need to do some prep work:

  • Remove membrane – Trim off the thin, tough membrane from the bone side.

  • Trim fat – Cut away excess hard fat caps but leave some for moisture.

  • Cut into sections – Slice ribs into 3-4 bone sections for easier handling.

  • Season – Rub the ribs all over with your favorite spice blend or marinade.

  • Refrigerate – Let ribs marinate in the fridge ideally overnight before cooking.

Proper prep gets the ribs grill-ready for phenomenal flavor.

Best Cooking Methods for Beef Back Ribs

You can cook beef back ribs low and slow or hot and fast. Popular cooking methods include:

  • Smoking – Ideal for breaking down collagen. Maintain 225-250°F indirect heat for 5-6 hours.

  • Grilling – Direct heat helps render fat. Cook for 1-2 hours flipping occasionally.

  • Baking – Oven roasting builds moisture when wrapped. Bake at 300°F for 3-4 hours.

  • Braising – Partially submerged in liquid helps meat become fall-off-the-bone tender.

  • Pressure cooking – Achieves tender ribs in only 35-40 minutes under pressure.

Use a meat thermometer to ensure ribs reach 195°F internally when done.

How to Serve Beef Back Ribs

Once they’re perfectly cooked, you’ll want amazing sides to serve the ribs with. Here are top pairing suggestions:

  • Baked beans – Sweet, smoky beans complement the beefy ribs.

  • Coleslaw – Cool, crisp cabbage cuts through rich flavor.

  • Cornbread – Buttery bread soaks up sauce and juices.

  • Potato salad – Starchy potatoes even out the fattiness.

  • Mac and cheese – Gooey, cheesy goodness enhances ribs.

  • Fried okra – Crunchy okra pods add great texture.

With the right fixings, beef back ribs make for an incredible barbecue meal. Now that you know what they are and how to handle them, it’s time to get these underappreciated ribs in your smoker or grill! Dig into tender, juicy, finger-licking ribs and experience beef at its best.

Beef Back Ribs


Are beef back ribs any good?

In fact, beef back ribs are just the bones that have been removed during the trimming process for boneless rib eye steaks or boneless prime rib roasts. They have all the fatty marbling and flavor that those same cuts are known for, which makes them perfect to cook on the smoker.

Are beef back ribs the same as short ribs?

You can cook beef back ribs and short ribs in similar ways, but they are different types of beef ribs from separate parts of the cow. Consider the following differences: Cut: The back ribs are cut from the upper back of the cow. Short ribs are cut from the lower portion of the rib cage in the front section of the cow.

Are beef short ribs the same as spare ribs?

Beef short ribs don’t actually come from a cow’s ribs like spare ribs do. “Short ribs are beef ribs from the cow’s belly or ‘plate cut,” Craig says. This area is also sometimes called the beef chuck part of a cow. Short ribs do have bones, but they have fewer bones than spare ribs, making it easier to get to the meat.

Are beef back ribs the same as prime rib bones?

Beef back ribs are taken from just behind the shoulder. They are the ribs that sit on a prime rib roast. The butcher separates the ribs from the prime rib section to create 2 cuts: beef back ribs and boneless prime rib roasts/ribeye steaks. Beef back ribs tend to have less meat than the plate or chuck ribs.

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