Home Smoked Beef Back Ribs

Smoked Beef Back Ribs

by Brad Prose

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.


Step aside pork, these Smoked Beef Back Ribs need the spotlight. Incredibly juicy, tender, and so savory with a deep beefy flavor in every bite. The best news, is they are also very simple to smoke low and slow, so let’s go!

Low and slow smoked beef back ribs with a coffee bbq sauce.

Smoked meat on the bone is a huge hit at any barbecue, and beef ribs are often overlooked.

Beef back ribs are sometimes a mystery, this very affordable rack of meat and bones in the grocery store is puzzling. Why is it so affordable? Can you smoke them?

The short answer is yes you can, and absolutely should smoke them. I’ll cover more about what they are and why beef back ribs should be at your next family barbecue.

These smoked beef ribs are served with a coffee bbq sauce.

These are not the giant, plate beef ribs you might see on social media or at the restaurant. Beef back ribs are smaller, the reject cut from creating the boneless ribeyes and prime rib roasts. That doesn’t mean they should be ignored!

Why You’ll Love Smoked Beef Back Ribs

  • Brisket-like flavor. Most people that love smoked beef associate it with brisket, for a good reason. These beefy ribs have a nice amount of fat and moisture, allowing them to be incredibly tender while giving that strong beef-forward flavor.
  • Absolutely affordable. Yes, you might also be paying for bones, but these beef back ribs are generally much cheaper than the average cut. Read along for more details as to why, but just know that these don’t break the bank.
  • Simple to smoke. There’s no need to stress over this cook, it’s one temperature the whole way through with a bit of painting. Beef back ribs can take the heat, and with a little love they end up incredibly juicy.
  • Juicy and tender. I’ll teach you how to make sure these do not dry out by layering flavors and keeping them incredibly moist. The meat is incredible when cooked properly, similar to that of short ribs.
Make sure to trim off the membrane from the back of the beef ribs.

What are Beef Back Ribs?

This economical cut is trimmed from the beef rib primal cut. Butchers remove as much meat as possible when trimming off the prime rib and ribeye cuts from the ribs, leaving these beef back ribs.

What that means for you is that the delicious, marbled meat is left behind, sandwiched between the bones. Beef back ribs become a tender snack, having a similar type of fat distribution as your favorite ribeye steaks.

What should I look for when purchasing?

Sometimes you will see the surface of the bone poking through the top of the meat. This is not what you want to purchase, as there will be very little to eat after cooking.

Look for slightly meatier beef back ribs (image above) where you can’t see much, or any, of the bones showing through.

Most grocery stores will carry these beef ribs, or you can also look to online retailers which will generally carry a higher quality.

Beef back ribs are seasoned generously with salt and pepper.

Prepping the Beef Back Ribs

Let’s spend time through the simple process. There are a few very important steps to make sure that your smoked beef back ribs don’t only taste amazing, but also retain as much juicy moisture as possible.

Trimming First

Remove the membrane – Sometimes I feel that this is optional with pork ribs, however for beef back ribs I feel this is really mandatory. The membrane is significantly thicker, sometimes also layered with quite a bit of fat. While it does insulate the meat and protect it from drying out, we will be mopping the meat regularly anyway, so that benefit isn’t as important.

Use your fingers, a butter knife, or a paper towel to pry the membrane up and get a good grip.

Check for extra bones – Just like pork spare ribs, there can be very small bone pieces at the tips where you would normally place a knife to slice through. These will get in the way when it’s time to slice and serve, so check for any small bone fragments that can easily be cut out.

Prepare the mop sauce and allow it to stay warm in the smoker.

Seasoning the Ribs

Let’s talk about flavors for the ribs, both the dry rub and the mop sauce. These are two stages to lay down some complex flavors while keeping the beef back ribs as moist as possible.

Dry Rub Choices

Use anything that you feel is going to taste delicious with beef. I’m a believer that less is more when it comes to classic barbecue, but don’t feel afraid to explore with more wild flavors too. Here is my standard build for a traditional, bare-bones Texas dalmatian rub:

Texas Dalmatian Rub

  • 1/2 cup salt: Kosher, coarse, sea, etc. Don’t use table salt, but use a salt that you’re familiar with. Kosher salt is one of my favorites, but it’s pretty coarse. I personally choose to use fine sea salt, which blends well and sprinkles evenly along with the black pepper.
  • 1/2 cup ground black pepper: Fresh ground or pre-ground, it’s your choice. Again, I personally use a pre-ground variety because it sprinkles evenly across the meat.

Optional Flavor Additions

  • Chile powder: So many choices here, my preferences would be ground guajillo, ancho, or chipotle chile powder.
  • Garlic: You can use either powder or granules. I prefer granulated garlic for a consistent texture.
  • Paprika: Personally, I choose not to use this for a brisket rub. It’s extremely popular for its flavor, but if I were going to use it, it would be smoked paprika. The color really makes the bark pop.
  • Coffee: Ground coffee, or espresso, really adds a deep flavor to the bark. Make sure it’s finely ground, similar to the salt and pepper if possible. A little goes a long way and creates a very dark bark.

These are the most common additions to the basic blend. Use what tastes good, or test these in a small amount and continue to adjust.

Beef back ribs are glazed with the mop sauce throughout the cook.

Smoking the Ribs

  • Preheat your smoker to 275°F. Choose your wood wisely, I recommend something with medium flavor such as post oak or hickory, even a little mesquite added in tastes delicious.
  • Smoke the ribs for 2 hours, undisturbed. Let the low and slow warm smoke bathe the meat, setting in the seasoning. These first 2 hours gives the meat a chance to firm up and soak in the smoke flavors while forming the beginning of a bark.
  • Baste or spritz the ribs. Every 45-60 minutes, give them a little spray or mop. There is more detail below about this process.
I prefer to use a mop sauce instead of spritzing to add more flavor.

Mop Sauce or Spritizng?

There are some options when it comes to keeping the smoked beef back ribs moist.

Most of us are used to spritzing, which is simply spraying the meat with a liquid (water, beer, apple cider vinegar, coffee, etc.). Spritzing the beef back ribs is absolutely acceptable, and will keep the meat nice and moist throughout the process. If you’re open to a little more effort, using a mop sauce for ribs adds a lot more flavor and creates a better bark.

Give the smoke a chance to set the seasoning. After 2 hours, the seasoning and bark will start forming on the outside, creating a firm surface. This is critical if you’re planning to mop especially, as you don’t want to brush off any seasoning if possible.

Every 45-60 minutes, spritz or mop. The acid in the liquid helps to break down the collagen, which adds more moisture and flavor. This is important, especially for the edges of the beef ribs.

Mopping sauce over the ribs throughout the cook.

Savory Mop Sauce Recipe

  • ½ stick of unsalted butter
  • ½ white onion, sliced thin
  • 6 smashed garlic cloves
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 cup coffee or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce

Combine everything into a grill-safe saucepan and bring the contents to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 7-8 minutes until the onions are soft. At this point, go ahead and set the pan in the smoker if you’d like, or at least keep the basting liquid warm. After the first two hours it’s a good idea to gently baste the ribs every 45-60 minutes, generously, creating a nice glaze.

You’ll need a BBQ mop, here is my recommendation which is easy to clean and comes with replacements:

Rest is Always Best

Smoke the beef back ribs for about 5-7 hours, really until they are probe tender. A meat thermometer should show a reading between 200-210°F and will slide in easily with little resistance. The timing of course depends on the individual cut itself.

Once the meat is ready, Feel free to mop lightly one last time and wrap up tight using pink butcher paper. Allow the smoked beef back ribs to rest for 30-45 minutes at room temp, wrapped up tight.

Beef back ribs are smoked and ready to wrap before resting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are these the same as beef plate ribs, or beef short ribs?

No, beef back ribs are a completely different cut. Ironically, you can use the same method to cook any of the beef ribs, provided they are still attached to the bone. Timing will definitely vary.

Do I have to mop the ribs during the cooking process?

You’ll need to add moisture, as they tend to dry out. The acid in the mop helps tenderize the meat while also adding flavor and moisture. Spritzing will work too, but the mop will give the best results.

Why are my beef ribs dry?

There’s a chance the rack had less meat, which can happen. If you notice the rack has significantly less meat than shown in the photos, cook at 250°F instead of 275°F and nurture it a little more. Don’t forget to wrap and rest!

Do you love this recipe?

Please give it a star rating in the recipe card below and leave a comment. I value your feedback and this helps me create more content!

Looking for More Guides about BBQ?

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Smoked beef back ribs with a coffee bbq sauce

Smoked Beef Back Ribs

Step aside pork, these Smoked Beef Back Ribs need the spotlight. Incredibly juicy, tender, and so savory with a deep beefy flavor in every bite. The best news, is they are also very simple to smoke low and slow, so let’s go!

  • Total Time: 7 hours
  • Yield: Serves about 6-8 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 racks of beef back ribs
  • Salt & pepper (see notes)

Savory Mop Sauce

  • ½ stick of unsalted butter
  • ½ white onion, sliced thin
  • 6 smashed garlic cloves
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 cup coffee or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat the smoker to 275°F.
  2. Prep the beef back ribs by removing the membrane, and any extra bone bits. Season both sides generously with the salt & pepper mixture, or BBQ rub of choice.
  3. Place the beef ribs in the smoker and allow them to cook for 2 hours, undisturbed.
  4. Prepare the mop sauce. Combine everything into a grill-safe saucepan and bring the contents to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 7-8 minutes until the onions are soft. At this point, go ahead and set the pan in the smoker if you’d like, or at least keep the basting liquid warm. 
  5. After the first 2 hours, start gently mopping the ribs with the warm sauce. Repeat this every 45-60 minutes.
  6. Continue cooking the ribs for about 4-5 hours until the internal temperature is around 200 degrees. At this point, check the meat with a temperature probe. There should be little resistance when sticking it through the meat. If it’s not ready, keep cooking and checking.
  7. Wrap the ribs and rest. Set the ribs onto pink butcher paper and give them one final mop of sauce. Wrap them up tight and allow them to rest for about 30-45 minutes at room temp before slicing.

Notes

  • Use any BBQ seasoning you’d like on the ribs. The article provides a basic recipe for the classic Texas Dalmatian Rub, which is a combination of salt & pepper with suggested add-ins.
  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 7 hours
  • Category: Beef
  • Method: Smoking
  • Cuisine: BBQ

Keywords: beef back ribs, beef ribs, smoked beef, beef, barbecue, bbq, smoking

Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating