Beef Back Ribs

Would you like to know how to smoke beef ribs? Beef back ribs are a whole different animal compared to pork ribs...in more ways than one.

Beef ribs don't have the popularity that pork ribs enjoy, even though they can be delicious when seasoned and smoked to perfection. And thankfully, due to the law of supply and demand, beef ribs are less expensive than pork ribs, so you get more bang for your buck at the meat counter.



A complete rack of beef ribs should include seven bones. They are cut from the upper part of the steer's rib cage, which is right next to the tenderloin. That's part of the reason these beauties can be such a flavorful, tender treat.

Knowing how to smoke beef back ribs and ending up with a mouthwatering treat is a feat that requires several steps to accomplish.


  1. Buy the right ribs. Be choosy about what you're spending your cash on. There's quite a bit of variation in the quality of beef ribs.


  2. Prep the ribs. Removing the fell and excess fat makes all the difference in the world!


  3. Season well. Beef back ribs have lots of flavor, so if you want to spice them up, they can handle it.


  4. Smoke 'em for hours. It could take six to eight hours…even more, to end up with the most tender ribs.



Meaty Beef Ribs

When you're at the meat counter, don't just grab a couple of racks because they’re cheap. You need to be selective. At the large chain stores, the beef back ribs have invariably been robbed of a lot of the meat. You'll see that meat has been cut and scraped from between the rib bones, and some slabs will be worse than others.

Go for the meatiest slabs you can find. Ring the bell and talk to the butcher. He may be able to set you up with something better than you see in the case. You might have better luck at the local butcher shop. Tell your friend (the butcher…if he's not your friend, make it so) that you are smoking beef ribs and you want good meaty slabs.


Prepare The Beef Ribs

What's next? The back ribs will need a bit of prep work before they get to smokin'. Beef ribs have a tough membrane covering the bony side that needs to be removed. (Your friend will do this for you if you ask!) The membrane, or fell, is a rubbery mouthful if left on the ribs…not very appetizing. In addition, the fell is a barrier that prevents spice and smoke flavor from reaching the meat.



To remove the fell, slip a butter knife or a screwdriver under the membrane and pry up a flap. Using a paper towel, grip the loosened flap of membrane and peel it off.





With the membrane removed, you can now remove the large fat deposits on the surface of the ribs. Don't worry about the small pieces of fat since they'll melt off as the ribs smoke. When both sides of the rack have been cleaned up, it's time to pull out your favorite beef back ribs recipe.


Seasoning The Beef Ribs

Beef ribs can be coated with a dry rub for beef ribs or soaked in a marinade, whichever you prefer. A good, acidic marinade will begin to tenderize the ribs, and will also add a lot of flavor. Vinegar, orange or lemon juice, and even Coca Cola are all acidic and can be used in your marinade mixture. Spices, herbs and veggies can be included to up the flavor of your ribs.

Dry rubs may contain salt, spice, herbs, and sugar. Allowing the ribs to rest after applying the dry rub gives time for the seasoning to be absorbed.

Beef Ribs In The Smoker

The tough connective tissue found in beef back ribs needs a lot of cooking time to break down and melt. And that's where a lot of the great beef rib flavor originates. If the ribs are still tough when you eat them, you're missing out on much of the flavor, too. I've barbecued beef ribs that have taken eight hours to become tender. Every slab is unique and has its own level of toughness that has to be cooked out. Identical looking racks don't necessarily become tender in the same amount of time, so check each slab for doneness.


To shorten the cooking time, wrap the ribs in aluminum foil after a couple of hours of smoking. Then, place them back in the smoker (or in a 250 degree Fahrenheit oven) for three hours. Remove the foil and check for doneness. If they are still a little tough, re-wrap them and cook them a bit longer. With the foil removed, slather on some sauce and enjoy!


When your smoking ribs are almost done, you could baste them with a thinned down barbeque sauce, or a mopping sauce. There are many variations you could try. Something as simple as apple juice works. Or a concoction of ten different ingredients may be the ticket. It all depends upon the flavor that you want your beef back ribs to have. Be aware that a sugary sweet basting sauce or liquid can easily burn, so apply it only during the last half hour of smoking.

Congratulations! You just whipped up some great smoked beef ribs. Your ribs are done to perfection and it's time to munch! You'll need to slice the rack into individual ribs…meat lollipops, as I like to call 'em. Depending upon how meaty the beef back ribs are, you can figure on needing two-to-four per person. If you serve a lot of filling side dishes alongside the ribs, you might be able to get by with one or two apiece. But you know? If you’re anything like me, you won't be satisfied with less that five or six! Smoke accordingly and your guests and family will be happy and full!



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Beef Back Ribs

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