The Best Places to Buy Beef Ribs for Smoking – Top Sources for Quality Cuts

Smoking beef ribs results in finger-lickin’ good barbecue with melt-in-your-mouth meat that falls off the bone. But finding high quality beef ribs specifically cut for smoking can be a challenge. What are the best places to source flavorful ribs perfectly suited for low and slow smoking?

When buying beef ribs for smoking, you want to look for a few key things:

  • Meatiness – More meat vs bone means more tender smoked beef to enjoy

  • Marbling – Intramuscular fat ensures juicy, flavorful smoked meat

  • Cut – Opt for plate ribs with more meat vs back ribs

  • Thickness – Thicker ribs hold up better to long smoking times

  • Bone-In – Bones impart flavor and allow you to get that tasty smoke ring

Keep these factors in mind when evaluating where to buy your smoked beef ribs. Here are some of the top sources for quality beef ribs for smoking:

Online Butcher Shops

Shopping online offers convenience and delivers high quality smoked beef ribs right to your doorstep. Reputable online butchers source from local farms and conduct in-house butchering for the best cuts of meat. Here are some top online shops for smoked beef ribs:

Porter RoadDino Ribs – Hormone/antibiotic-free pasture-raised plate ribs, 5-7 lbs.

Snake River FarmsBeef Ribs – American Wagyu and Black Angus ribs in various cuts

Crowd CowBeef Plate Ribs – Pasture-raised plate ribs from family farms

Omaha SteaksSignature Ribs – Well-marbled wet/dry-aged prime Black Angus ribs

Local Butcher Shops

Visiting an actual butcher shop lets you hand-select the perfect ribs for smoking. A neighborhood butcher sources quality local meats and will often custom cut whatever you need. Ask for a thick-cut plate rib for maximum meat.

Warehouse Clubs

Big box stores like Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s offer economy-sized packs of beef ribs at lower price points. Opt for USDA Prime graded ribs when possible for better marbling. Vacuum seal and freeze any excess.

Restaurant Suppliers

Restaurant foodservice suppliers like Sysco and US Foods offer quality meats like beef ribs in larger quantities to food businesses. Some now sell to the public online. Expect to buy big bulk cases of ribs.

Direct from Farms

Purchasing beef directly from local farms and ranches allows you to know exactly where your meat is coming from. Ask farmers about availability of plate ribs for smoking at meat sales. Or purchase a quarter side of beef and request thick-cut ribs.

What to Look for When Buying Beef Ribs for Smoking

Keep the following qualities in mind when sourcing beef ribs for your next smoking session:

  • Meat to Bone Ratio – Look for ribs with more meat vs minimal bone and cartilage

  • Thickness – Thick-cut ribs have more meat and smoke better

  • Marbling – Good intramuscular marbling means more flavorful, moist smoked meat

  • Bone-In – Bones impart more flavor and allow that pink smoke ring to form

  • Plate over Back Ribs – Plate ribs contain more meat for better smoking results

  • Freshness – Fresh, bright red ribs not brown or dried out

  • Quality Grade – Prime has marbling for flavor. Choice works too. Avoid Select.

  • Quantity – Plan for 1⁄2 to 1 lb per person, depending on appetites

How Much Meat Can You Expect on Beef Ribs?

Beef plate ribs offer the most meat for smoking. Here’s how much edible smoked beef rib meat you can expect per pound:

  • Plate Ribs – About 0.75 lb usable meat per lb of ribs

  • Back Ribs – Around 0.5 lb meat per lb of ribs

  • Short Ribs – Approximately 0.4 lb meat per lb of ribs

Best Beef Cuts for Smoking Beyond Ribs

While ribs may be the most popular choice, other beef cuts also shine when given the low, slow smoking treatment:

  • Brisket – Whole brisket is the classic smoked beef centerpiece

  • Tri-tip – The triangular bottom sirloin cooks quickly for sliced smoked beef

  • Chuck roast – Shoulder meat becomes fork-tender after smoking

  • Short ribs – Smoked bone-in short ribs are full of flavor

  • Flat iron steak – This shoulder top blade steak takes well to smoking

Time to Fire Up Your Smoker!

With so many sources offering quality ribs for smoking, you can easily find the right beef ribs for your barbecue or smoker. Focus on finding plate ribs with ample marbling and meat thickness to yield the most flavorful, tender smoked beef. Then all that’s left is to season up those ribs and settle in for hours of perfecting your smoking technique as you dial in the texture you like best. Your patience will be rewarded with some of the best smoked beef you’ve ever tasted!

Cook the Perfect Juicy Beef Ribs Every Time | Dino Ribs


What are the best ribs to buy to smoke?

For pork, baby back ribs, cut from where the loin is separated from the spine, are generally the most popular for grilling and smoking. They tend to be smaller and cook more quickly than other kinds of ribs. Spare ribs are cut from near the belly, with St. Louis spare ribs being trimmed in a specific style.

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.

What are the giant beef ribs called?

1. Plate Short Ribs. These are perhaps the mightiest of all ribs. Also known as ‘Loaded Beef Ribs’ for good reason, Plate Short Ribs are the biggest and meatiest you can get, taken from the lower part of the rib cage.

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