These beef short ribs are the perfect barbecue comfort food. Rich in smoke flavor and juicy beef, this recipe is enjoyed with a tasty rub and BBQ sauce for the perfect plate of Texas style smoked meat.
If you get them right, beef short ribs are beautifully tender and delicious, and pack in a rich beef flavor that’s different to any other type of rib.
It might not be your favorite beef brisket, but these are a close second.
But what makes them stand apart from other cuts of smoked beef is just how easy these are to rustle up.
Requiring only salt, BBQ sauce, and beef rub, cooking them from start to finish couldn’t be easier.
Today I’ll walk you through the entire process, and give you some easy tips to make sure you’re all set to make the best BBQ short ribs possible.
From dry brining to smoking woods, I’ve got it all covered. So let’s get into it!
While in an ideal world you would dry brine them every time, if you are up against the clock and doing things last minute then you can skip this step. But I urge you to do if possible, as it’s a way to guarantee that your ribs are as tender and juicy as possible.
The BBQ sauce is a great way to add flavor, but it also acts as a binding agent to help the BBQ rub to adhere to the ribs while they cook.
A lot of people also use sriracha, Worcestershire sauce or mustard. These are all great and will depend on your own personal preference, but for me nothing matches the flavors of the beef and the rub as well as barbecue sauce does.
When you place your ribs on your grill or smoker grates, try to do so with the bone-side facing down. This will help shield the ribs from direct exposure to heat, and allow the whole cut of meat to cook slowly.
If you don’t have a smoker, a charcoal grill is just as good. Just be sure to set it up for indirect grilling in order to enable a low and slow cook. As an added tip, if you want to take your indirect cooking to another level, try setting it up in line with the snake method. Find out more with my guide on how to use a charcoal grill as a smoker.
It’s easy to be confused when buying beef short ribs, largely because of the different ways that butchers tend to sell them.
The name itself can be confusing too. ‘Short’ ribs aren’t actually particularly short in length when cut from the cow, but do tend to be served shorter when they make their way onto your plate.
What are beef short ribs?
It’s all in the name with short ribs. They’re exactly as they sound.
They come from the short sections of ribs from across the lower part of the cow’s rib cage (source), and are usually between 3 and 6 inches long. For this recipe, we’ll be making 3-inch, individual beef short ribs.
Unlike other types of pork or beef ribs, short ribs don’t tend to come from one specific region of the animal’s rib cage. Instead, they can come from the main rib, as well as the brisket or chuck (source).
Want more smoked beef? Check out our smoked chuck roast recipe!
In its best form, the short rib will carry some of the serratus ventralis muscle (also called the boneless short rib or the chuck short rib ) running through it (source). While your regular butcher might not be able to tell you the muscle composition of the meat, the price should be a good indicator. Chuck tends to be more expensive than other rib cuts of beef.
Despite their short length, they tend to carry a lot of meat. They can also be really tough, so getting your timings and temperatures dead right is very important here. I’ll get on to all of that in this recipe.
When beef short ribs are done right, they’re very tender and rich in delicious, beefy flavor.
Smoked short ribs internal temperature
Aim for an internal temperature of 210°F. Short ribs tend to soften at a higher temperature than other cuts of beef, at a temperature of 205 to 210°F. This means that we need to smoke at a higher heat than the 225°F that we normally do as a general rule.
I like to smoke short ribs at 250°F. This is usually enough to allow the ribs to slowly come to our target internal temperature without the risk of it during out.
If you like to go on feel, your ribs should be done once your thermometer probe can glide into the flesh of the meat, almost like cutting through butter. This will show that he meat is tender throughout, and will be fall-off-the-bone done.
How long to smoke short ribs
It usually takes 6-8 hours to smoke short ribs. Time will vary depending on the thickness of the meat on each bone, as well as the quality of your smoker.
Ultimately however, your ribs will only be cooked once the internal temperature of the meat has reached 210°F. If this takes you past 8 hours of cooking, then so be it. Internal temperature will always be a better gauge of doneness over smoking time. So allow yourself added time when planning.
What’s the best wood for smoking beef short ribs?
Like with a lot of smoked beef, woods that give an earthy and deep flavor tend to be best.
I like to pair woods like oak or hickory, but also sweeter woods like cherry or pecan are also great.
Short ribs seasoning
A lot of smoked beef recipes are best with little-to-seasoning, and short ribs is no different. Texas-style BBQ is best done with just salt and black pepper, so will be the approach we take here.
I like to only use a little bit of salt, which I apply ahead of time in the form of a dry brine. This is a process in which you apply salt across the surface of the meat and allow it to rest. This will help bring the juices in the meat closer to the surface, and give you a juicier finished product after you have cooked it.
If you want to add a little bit more seasoning, you can use a blend of salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
If you like to add a bit more flavor with a kick, try using a beef rub to ramp things up a bit.