Smoked Beef Short Ribs {A Step-By-Step Guide

Smoked Beef Short Ribs {A Step-By-Step Guide

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Carnivorous beef loving friends gather round!! We are sharing our step-by-step guide on how to smoke beef short ribs so that you can make deliciously rich, tender and juicy smoked beef ribs in your own backyard.

These flavorful short ribs are seasoned with our homemade beef dry rub with the perfect blend of herbs and spices, slowly cooked on the smoker kissed by mesquite wood smoke. When the ribs have the perfect amount of smoke flavor they are wrapped and braised in their own au jus until they nearly fall off the bone tender and dripping with deliciousness.

juice dripping from smoked beef short ribs

What Are Beef Short Ribs? 

There are three cuts of beef short ribs that come from three different sections of the cow. 

  • Back ribs – the most common. Comes from the thick side of the prime rib.
  • Plate ribs – come from a section right below the primal rib called the plate section.
  • Chuck Short Ribs – located right under the chuck from first to the fifth rib.

Learn more about cuts of beef short ribs here.

plate beef short rib

For this smoke, we used bone-in plate short ribs consisting of rib and plate sections This cut usually has two, but no more than 5 ribs. The ribs are fattier but tend to have a really nice ratio of fat and meat. 

The problem is that this “Dinosaur” or “Dino” beef rib is not easy to find. David special ordered the beef short ribs from a local butcher.

But, never fear, short ribs can usually be found in the grocery store made into short cut ribs also known as “riblets”. If you cannot get your hands on the long bone cut, you can use the shorter cut. 

beef short rib riblets
Riblets

No matter the cut of the beef short rib, the ultimate goal of smoking beef ribs is to slow cook them until the collagen breaks down making them tender and juicy. 

The large bone is all about presentation and you pay for a lot more bone than meat. But I have to say it sure is fun for us carnivores to gnaw on!

gnawing on rib
No, this is not attractive, but smoke these ribs and you will do the same thing!

Let’s smoke some beef short ribs!

finished smoked beef short ribs with mountain sunset

How To Make Smoked Beef Short Ribs | Servings: 4 | Time: 4 to 6 hours

 What You’ll Need:

  • 1 rack pounds beef short ribs, 5 to 6 (4 long bone or 4 to 5 short bones), trimmed

Beef Rub:

  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

Equipment and Supplies:

raw beef plate short ribs

#1 Prep the Beef Short Ribs

Start with a 5 to 6-pound rack of plate beef short ribs or enough riblets that are within the 5-pound range. 

If they are not trimmed already, trim them so that there is no more ⅛-inch fat over the top. 

trimming the fat from the rib

Rinse them under cold running water and blot dry with paper towels.

Combine all the ingredients for the beef rub in a small bowl; stir with a whisk to mix to remove any clumps. Rub the spice rub onto the ribs on both sides, including the ends.

seasoning ribs with dry rub
seasoned rib

If you have time, wrap the ribs in plastic wrap and let them cure in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight. Smoking the ribs right away is ok, but sitting in the refrigerator for several hours allows the rub to penetrate the meat better.

"Charlie" our offset smoker

#2 Fire Up The Smoker!

Preheat the smoker to 225 to 250 degrees F. To maintain this low temperature, use only half as much charcoal as usual. (A half chimney-full.)

For this smoke, David fired up our new offset Texas Original Pit we have named “Charlie”. Charlie is short for “Charlie Choo Choo” because holy crap that bad boy smokes like a train!

Alternatively, use whatever smoker you have or a charcoal grill set up for indirect heat.

#3 Smoking the Beef Short Ribs

When the coals are ready to cook, place the seasoned ribs onto the hot grate and insert a temperature probe (if using).

inserting probe thermometer into meat

Toss a couple wood chunks onto the hot coals; cover and allow the ribs to smoke.

When smoking meat, David makes heat adjustments by adjusting the vents on the smoker. Since there is heat loss from opening the lid to the smoker or grill, bring the temperature back up to 225 to 250 degrees F. 

mid-smoke check

#4 Low and Slow

You will need to add fresh coals and more wood chunks almost every hour or so for at least the first 3 hours. Check the temperature of the smoker every hour, to ensure it is staying as close to 225 to 250 degrees F as possible. Resist the temptation to open the lid unless you need to add more charcoal or wood to maintain temperature and smoke.

Thermoworks Smoke meat thermometer

The Importance of a Thermometer

Knowing the temperature inside your smoker or grill is crucial. Even if your smoker or grill has a temperature gauge, we still highly recommend that you purchase a digital BBQ thermometer such as Smoke™ from Thermoworks. Thermoworks thermometers are some of the most accurate thermometers money can buy. This particular model was designed for competition BBQ teams and professional chefs. It has a two-channel alarm that uses probes to accurately read the temperature of the meat and the pit.

Smoke comes with a digital receiver that beeps and vibrates at with an alarm, taking all the guesswork out of smoking meat. The receiver displays temperatures and alarm settings on a large LCD screen, which comes in handy when it is cold outside. You won’t have to keep letting cold air come in the house running in and out to check the smoker so often.

smoked beef short ribs on grill

#5 Testing For Doneness

Smoke the beef ribs until a dark “bark” (outside crust) forms and the internal temperature of the ribs is about 165 degrees F, about 4 hours. If you don’t use a probe thermometer, use an instant-read meat thermometer to test for doneness.

checking temperature with instant-read thermometer

#6 Holding

When the beef ribs have reached 155 degrees F, remove them from the smoker or grill and wrap them in a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Return the ribs to the smoker maintaining the ideal smoker temperature between 225 to 250 degrees F.

Holding helps tenderize the ribs and break down the collagen to melt the tough connective tissues of the rib. 

The foil captures the natural au jus of the ribs which helps to braise the ribs in their own juices. This allows the surface of the smoked beef short ribs that have dried out during cooking to absorb some of the juices.

checking temperature with Thermapen

#7 Never Mind the Stall

The collagen starts to break down the internal temperature of the ribs at about 165 degrees F. This surface evaporation causes the ribs internal temperature to plateau. Pit Masters call this “the stall.” Don’t panic. Just wait out the stall.

On this particular cook the stall lasted about an hour, taking the total cook time of the ribs to about 6 hours. However, this could vary from rack to rack and grill to grill. 

smoked beef short ribs on platter with mountain view

#8 Remove the Ribs & Serve

Continue to monitor the temperature of the ribs every 15 minutes or so. Carefully unwrap the foil and rewrap as to not lose any of that wonderful au jus in the bottom of the foil. 

The ribs are done when they have reached internal temperature of 200 to 205 degrees F. At this point, remove the ribs from the grill and allow them to rest covered loosely by the foil so that some of the steam can escape for about 30 minutes before serving.

holding beef short rib by bone

What To Serve With Smoked Beef Short Ribs

David and I have been wanting to get our hands on some beef short ribs for a long time. I’m telling you it was definitely worth the wait and smoked beef short ribs will for sure be making another appearance on our smoker again soon!

smoked beef short rib
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4.5 from 2 votes

Smoked Beef Short Ribs

Our step-by-step guide on how to smoke beef short ribs so that you can make deliciously rich, tender and juicy smoked beef ribs in your own backyard.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Barbecue, BBQ
Keyword beef, Short Ribs, smoked
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 15 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 727kcal

Useful Equipment:

Ingredients

  • 1 rack pounds beef short ribs 5 to 6 (4 long bone or 4 to 5 short bones), trimmed

Beef Rub:

  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

Instructions

#1 Prep the Beef Short Ribs

  • Trim the ribs so that there is no more ⅛-inch fat over the top.
  • Rinse them under cold running water and blot dry with paper towels.
  • Combine all the ingredients for the beef rub in a small bowl; stir with a whisk to mix to remove any clumps. Rub the spice rub onto the ribs on both sides, including the ends. (see notes)

#2 Fire Up The Smoker!

  • Preheat the smoker or grill set up for indirect heat to 225 to 250 degrees F. To maintain this low temperature, use only half as much charcoal as usual. (A half chimney-full.)

#3 Smoking the Beef Short Ribs

  • When the coals are ready to cook, place the seasoned ribs onto the hot grate and insert a temperature probe (if using).
  • Toss a couple wood chunks onto the hot coals; cover and allow the ribs to smoke.
  • When smoking meat, David makes heat adjustments by adjusting the vents on the smoker. Since there is heat loss from opening the lid to the smoker or grill, bring the temperature back up to 225 to 250 degrees F.

#4 Low and Slow

  • You will need to add fresh coals and more wood chunks almost every hour or so for at least the first 3 hours. Check the temperature of the smoker every hour, to ensure it is staying as close to 225 to 250 degrees F as possible. Resist the temptation to open the lid unless you need to add more charcoal or wood to maintain temperature and smoke.

#5 Testing For Doneness

  • Smoke the beef ribs until a dark “bark” (outside crust) forms and the internal temperature of the ribs is about 165 degrees F, about 4 hours. If you don’t use a probe thermometer, use an instant-read meat thermometer to test for doneness.

#6 Holding

  • When the beef ribs have reached 155 degrees F, remove them from the smoker or grill and wrap them in a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Return the ribs to the smoker maintaining the ideal smoker temperature between 225 to 250 degrees F.
  • Holding helps tenderize the ribs and break down the collagen to melt the tough connective tissues of the rib.
  • The foil captures the natural au jus of the ribs which helps to braise the ribs in their own juices. This allows the surface of the ribs that have dried out during cooking to absorb some of the juices.

#7 Never Mind the Stall

  • The collagen starts to break down the internal temperature of the ribs at about 165 degrees F. This surface evaporation causes the ribs internal temperature to plateau. Pit Masters call this “the stall.” Don’t panic. Just wait out the stall. (see notes)

#8 Remove the Ribs & Serve

  • Continue to monitor the temperature of the ribs every 15 minutes or so. Carefully unwrap the foil and rewrap as to not lose any of that wonderful au jus in the bottom of the foil.
  • The ribs are done when they have reached internal temperature of 200 to 205 degrees F. At this point, remove the ribs from the grill and allow them to rest covered loosely by the foil so that some of the steam can escape for about 30 minutes before serving.

Notes

Dry Rub The Ribs: If you have time, wrap the ribs in plastic wrap and let them cure in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight. Smoking the ribs right away is ok, but sitting in the refrigerator for several hours allows the rub to penetrate the meat better.
The Importance of a Thermometer: Knowing the temperature inside your smoker or grill is crucial. Even if your smoker or grill has a temperature gauge, we still highly recommend that you purchase a digital BBQ thermometer such as Smoke™ from Thermoworks. Thermoworks thermometers are some of the most accurate thermometers money can buy. This particular model was designed for competition BBQ teams and professional chefs. It has a two-channel alarm that uses probes to accurately read the temperature of the meat and the pit.
Smoke comes with a digital receiver that beeps and vibrates at with an alarm, taking all the guesswork out of smoking meat. The receiver displays temperatures and alarm settings on a large LCD screen, which comes in handy when it is cold outside. You won’t have to keep letting cold air come in the house running in and out to check the smoker so often.
The Stall: On this particular cook the stall lasted about an hour, taking the total cook time of the ribs to about 6 hours. However, this could vary from rack to rack and grill to grill.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 727kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 79g | Fat: 42g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 244mg | Sodium: 2019mg | Potassium: 1519mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 282IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 46mg | Iron: 9mg
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6 thoughts on “Smoked Beef Short Ribs {A Step-By-Step Guide”

  • 5 stars
    This looks awesome. By the way, that great up front photo ( a la Space Odyssey 2001) is what drew me into reading the recipe and instructions(plus I really like ribs).. Since we are in “stay at home mode” I plan to try this one as soon as I can get the meat. Thanks for sharing. This rating is for the delicious looking recipe as documented in these outstanding photos. . This is possibly the best written set of instructions I have ever seen for ribs. I’ll rate again after I have sampled the results.

  • Outstanding! Nothing quite like beef on the bone to set a soul straight. Wow that looks good. The old boy sure can run a grill, and I tip my hat to him. Heck, you both can cook the pants off a donkey. I just wrote that. Not sure if it works or not, but I’m going with it.

    Peace out, and hey to David…

  • 4 stars
    Great recipe & instructions. I buy the plate ribs the butcher uses for beef short ribs. The chuck ribs have too much fat & connective tissue and the back ribs are too short. I’ve pinned a lot of Dinosaur bone recipes over the years and yours is one of the best.

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