The best smoked beef ribs for your backyard cooker. Discover classic brisket, beef short ribs, chuck roast, and more.
A good old American barbecue almost always has to have beef. From beef chuck burger blends to luxurious cuts of steak, there’s something for everyone in the beef barbecuing tradition. A hint of smoke and the perfect barbecue technique can bring any cut to perfection.
If you are planning your next barbecue, here are some of the best beef recipes for smoking.
Brisket is a barbecue classic and many Texans consider it the state national dish. This cut of meat is taken from the lower chest of a cow or calf. Although the cut of meat is very tough when raw, the cooking method breaks it down until it’s tender and delicious.
To prepare smoked brisket, soak it in your choice of marinade. Cover the brisket in sauce after it is done marinating, wrap it in foil, then smoke it for up to five hours. Brisket needs a long cooking time to tenderize properly, but it is worth the wait.
Chuck roast is a cut of beef that comes from the shoulder of the animal. It is one of the least expensive cuts of beef because you need to invest some effort into tenderizing it, but once you do, you are rewarded with a rich, flavorful cut of meat. It is also smaller than brisket, so it’s perfect for a smaller group of people.
To smoke chuck roast, liberally season with salt and pepper and let the meat rest for up to a day to absorb the flavor. Then, smoke the chuck roast unwrapped for about three hours. Wrap it in foil or butcher paper to preserve the moisture and smoke at a low temperature for another hour.
Short ribs are a favorite barbecue cut because they absorb plenty of flavor – and it’s fun to eat with your fingers. Short ribs are shorter than regular ribs and can come from the chuck or plate areas of the cow.
To make smoked short ribs, prepare them by trimming off any silver skin and excess fat, then slather them with seasoning (some cooks prefer regular beef seasoning, others add a liquid base such as mustard). Smoke for several hours, spritzing with stock to ensure that they stay moist.
Tri-tip is a lean cut of steak taken from the bottom part of the sirloin. It is excellent for smoking because it has plenty of marbling and is packed with flavor even though it is inexpensive.
The California town of Santa Maria popularized tri-tip as a smoked barbecue recipe, but you can make your own variation. To prepare smoked tri-tip, season the meat with salt and pepper. Then, smoke it for 60 to 90 minutes. Tri-tip needs less time in the smoker than other cuts because it is tender, so be careful not to overcook it.
The name of this cut explains where it comes from. Beef cheeks are cut from the cheek of the cow. Although the initial texture is very tough, it becomes delicious and tender after smoking it for a long time, with a pull-apart texture similar to pulled pork. It also absorbs marinades well. Beef cheeks are used in Mexican barbacoa, a popular taco filling.
To make smoked beef cheeks, generously cover the meat in your choice of seasoning or a marinade. Then, smoke the meat for about five hours, until it is tender and gelatinous.
Bottom Round Roast
Bottom round roast is not one of the popular cuts of beef, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t delicious. This cut comes from the cow’s back leg. Bottom round roast is inexpensive and tough but tenderizes after a long time in the smoker.
The best seasoning for smoked bottom round roast is a dry brine made with salt. Once the beef has absorbed this flavor, smoke it for about 30 minutes per pound of cut.
Top round steak is similar to bottom round roast, except this cut comes from the top of the cow’s leg. This is another inexpensive tough cut that benefits from a long, slow cook at a low temperature. It’s also a great way to feed a crowd without emptying your wallet.
Prepare beef top round with a dry brine using paprika, salt, and garlic. Smoke for about five hours, but be sure not to overcook it. Cut it into thin slices before serving. Top round slices make excellent sandwiches.
Beef tenderloin is a delicate cut from the loin, which is the part of the cow that runs along the backbone. Tenderloin is one of the most prized cuts of beef. It is used in famous steak dishes such as filet mignon.
Because it’s already so tender and flavorful, smoked beef tenderloin does not need much attention before smoking. You need a mild rub, maybe a combination of olive oil and salt, to bring out the tenderloin’s natural flavor. Then, smoke for about an hour to avoid overcooking the meat and losing its flavor.
Beef Back Ribs
Beef back ribs are a leftover cut that is still delicious. These bones are left after a ribeye roast is cut away from the rest of the cow carcass. That does not mean that you should ignore beef back ribs because they are packed with the same flavor and marbling that ribeye does, just with more bones.
To prepare smoked beef back ribs, season with mustard and dry rub. Then, smoke at a medium temperature for about three hours. This breaks down the tough connective tissue and creates a flavorful, crunchy crust on the exterior.
Prime rib comes from the same cut as ribeye and is one of the most popular cuts of beef. This cut of meat comes from the cow’s primal rib (by the loin) and is also called a standing rib roast. It differs from ribeye because it is cooked for a long time, while ribeye is grilled quickly.
For a medium roast, smoke prime rib at 40 minutes per pound then finish off with a quick sear to get that tasty external crust. Season with mustard and Worcestershire sauce.
Beef jerky is a delicious snack made of dried, salted beef cut into thin strips. While you can get beef jerky at the store, you can also smoke it at home.
To make smoked beef jerky, get any lean cut of meat such as top round or round roast. Trim off any fat and slice it as thin as you can. Make a jerky marinade with flavors that you like, such as black pepper, onion powder, and even soy sauce. Once you marinate the meat strips, pat the jerky dry, lay it across the smoker’s metal rack and let it smoke for several hours.
Flank steak is a lean cut of meat that butchers carve off from the flank or the lower side of the cow. Its tough texture softens after several hours in the smoker, leaving you with a beautiful cut of meat.
For smoked flank steak, prepare it with your choice of dry rub and then smoke it for about 90 minutes. You will get a thin, lean, yet flavorful cut of meat.
Pike’s Peak Roast
There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of Pike’s peak roast before, but it’s an underrated beef cut that absolutely deserves to be served. It’s taken from the lower part of the beef round and boasts the fat content that we love for barbecue smoking.
For our smoked Pike’s peak roast, we prepare the beef with a paprika and brown sugar dry rub before smoking for just two hours over hickory wood. For medium-rare, cook to an internal temperature of 130°F (55°C).