Finding the Best Beef Back Ribs – A Meat Lover’s Guide

For barbecue fans and meat lovers alike, beef back ribs are the ultimate treasure. These large, meaty ribs pack incredible beefy flavor and make for finger-licking good eating when slow smoked or grilled. But sourcing high quality back ribs can be a challenge if you don’t know where to look.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to track down the best beef back ribs, including:

  • Beef Back Rib Basics – Cut, Shape, Flavor
  • Where to Buy Back Ribs Online
  • Finding Back Ribs at Local Butchers or Markets
  • Back Rib Selection and Quality Tips
  • How to Prepare Beef Back Ribs for Optimal Tenderness & Flavor

Let’s get started on the hunt for beef back rib perfection!

Beef Back Rib Basics

Back ribs come from the rib section of the cow, specifically the rib bones that are removed when fabricating ribeye steaks. They are sometimes called “dinosaur bones” due to their large, meaty size.

Beef back ribs have an elongated, curved shape with a typical rack containing anywhere from 9 to 13 bones. They can measure over a foot in length!

The meat on back ribs is well marbled with fat, making for great tenderness and juiciness when cooked low and slow. The flavor is deep, beefy and rich.

Where to Buy Back Ribs Online

Finding high quality beef back ribs online has gotten much easier thanks to a number of online butchers and specialty meat shops. Here are some top sources:

Snake River Farms

This rancher known for American Wagyu beef offers beautifully marbled, premium quality back ribs. The ribs are cut thick and sold in racks around 4 pounds each.

Snake River Farms feeds their cattle a balanced diet including alfalfa and corn. This produces well-marbled back ribs with wonderfully rich flavor.

Crowd Cow

Crowd Cow partners with independent ranchers to provide high quality craft beef and other meats. Their back rib selection includes both grass-fed and grain-finished options.

You can choose the quantity of ribs based on weight, with portions from just 1 pound up to an entire rib rack. The ribs are cut, packaged and shipped frozen direct to you.

Porter Road

This Nashville butcher shop offers beef back ribs from Midwest-raised cattle. Their ribs are nicely marbled and sold in racks around 3 pounds each.

Porter Road ages their back ribs for a minimum of 14 days to develop tenderness and flavor. They ship the vacuum-packed ribs overnight on ice.


Rastelli’s back ribs are wet aged for a minimum of 21 days before cutting and shipping. This extended aging helps break down tissue for enhanced tenderness.

Their back ribs come from USDA Prime or Choice grade beef. You can choose racks between 2 to 4 pounds or go for a 3-rack bulk pack.

Omaha Steaks

Omaha Steaks provides premium Midwestern grain-fed beef back ribs. Their ribs are sold bone-in and vacuum sealed in 1 to 4 pound portions.

As an added bonus, many of their back rib options come pre-seasoned with a signature spice blend for convenience.

Finding Back Ribs at Local Butchers or Markets

Beyond online options, your local butcher or specialty meat market can also be great sources to find fresh back ribs. Here are some tips when buying locally:

  • Inspect the ribs yourself – Look for good marbling, meatiness and fresh color. Avoid dry or dull looking racks.

  • Ask questions – Any reputable butcher should be able to tell you the source, grade and aging details of their ribs.

  • Buy small first – Try a pound or single rack before purchasing large quantities to test quality.

  • Look for sales – Many local butchers run weekly specials on ribs and other popular cuts. Check circulars and shop accordingly.

  • Timing matters – Fridays and weekends are often the best times to find newly cut quality ribs from a local butcher.

Buying back ribs locally has the advantage of inspecting racks in person for the size, shape and quality you desire. You can confirm freshness firsthand.

Tips for Selecting High Quality Back Ribs

Whether buying online or from a local butcher, keep these tips in mind when selecting beef back ribs:

  • Check for marbling – There should be thin streaks of white fat visibly marbled throughout the meat. This keeps the ribs juicy and flavorful.

  • Seek flexibility – Quality back ribs have a slight flexibility when held at one end. Stiff, rigid ribs will be tough.

  • No odd smells – Fresh back ribs have a neutral smell. Any sour, ammonia-like odor indicates spoilage.

  • Consistent shape – Racks should have a relatively even thickness and rib lengths. Odd shapes may indicate poor butchering.

  • Avoid dried out racks – The ribs should look glossy and moist, not dried out. Discoloration is also a bad sign.

When found, beautifully marbled, meaty, fresh smelling back ribs will lead to the most delicious results possible.

Preparing Beef Back Ribs for Maximum Tenderness

Preparing back ribs properly is key to taking them from tough to tender and packing in smokey barbecue flavor:

  • Remove membrane – Peel off the thin membrane on the bone side for better smoke penetration.

  • Season generously – A good rub adds lots of flavor. Apply seasoning the night before for it to penetrate deep into the meat.

  • Slow and low – Cook low (225°F – 250°F) and slow for best results. The extended cooking gently melts collagen for fall-off-the bone tenderness.

  • Finish with sauce – Brush with barbecue sauce during the last 15-30 minutes of grilling or smoking.

  • Let rest before serving – Allow the ribs to rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting for juicier meat.

When smoked low and slow or grilled properly, beef back ribs transform into a mouthwatering barbecue masterpiece!

Incredible Beef Back Rib Recipes to Try at Home

Once you’ve sourced excellent quality beef back ribs, here are some drool-worthy recipe ideas to try:

  • Beer Braised Beef Back Ribs – The ribs are browned then gently braised in a Belgian style beer with onions and garlic.

  • Coffee Rubbed Back Ribs – Espresso powder adds wonderful depth of flavor when blended into a savory rib rub.

  • Cola Beef Back Ribs – For sweet and sticky back ribs, braising them in cola is an awesome choice.

  • Smoked Bourbon Beef Back Ribs – Corn cob smoked ribs get brushed with a smoky bourbon barbecue sauce for the last 30 minutes of cooking.

  • Texas Style Beef Back Ribs – Smoked for hours over post oak before saucing, this is Texas barbecue at its finest!

  • Korean BBQ Beef Back Ribs – A sweet and spicy Korean style marinade gives these grilled ribs an amazing depth of flavor.

How to Buy the Best Beef Back Ribs


What are beef back ribs called?

Back ribs, also called long ribs, are taken from the loin area of cattle. They are smaller and have a higher proportion of flesh to bone than short ribs. Back ribs are more delicate than short ribs because they have less fat and marbling.

Why are beef ribs hard to find?

Short beef ribs are easy to find at the butcher counter; however, full beef ribs are a bit more elusive. Not only is this because the portion sizes can be a bit comical, but it’s also due to the fact that they’re expensive.

Are beef spare ribs the same as beef back ribs?

Spare ribs are often called beef back ribs because they come from the cow’s rib area, which is commonly associated with barbecued beef ribs,” explains Daniel P. Craig, a chef with more than 20 years of experience working in professional kitchens. Beef spare ribs tend to be large, so they require a longer cooking time.

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.

Leave a Comment