Sous Vide Beef Ribs

Sometimes we can’t reach for the BBQ smoker or grill, but rather than go for the oven there’s another cooking method that is the ultimate backup to barbecue. The sous vide cooker is a life saver, and can replicate the juicy, tender beef ribs that we’d want from our BBQ smoker.

From times, target temperature, and meat prep guide, find out everything you need to know with our recipe. Here’s how to sous vide cook beef ribs.

Benefits of sous vide beef ribs

Sous vide slow-cooks meat at a low temperature for hours, slowly bringing it to our target temperature. The meat is vacuum-packed in plastic so there is no risk of it drying out through exposure to hot air, and instead allows the meat to sit in its own juices as it cooks.

It’s one of the best cooking methods for producing perfectly cooked, tender meat.

closeup of settings on sous vide machine

It’s also a great hands-off form of cooking. While barbecue smoking does allow us to leave meat cooking for hours, you do still need to monitor it from time to time. With sous vide cooking, we can almost completely leave the water bath to do it’s thing. No basting. No flipping. Just cooking.

If you’re as lazy as I am, it’s a no-brainer.

In the case of beef, it slowly breaks down the connective tissue found in the meat over the course of 24-36 hours (yes, really!). 

What’s the best cut of beef for sous vide ribs?

For this recipe we’ll be using beef back ribs. These are sometimes confused with beef spare ribs, but don’t be alarmed if this is what your butcher hands you: Beef spare ribs are fine for this recipe too.

Most people consider back ribs as the go-to cut for beef ribs, and for good reason. While there tends to be less meat on back ribs than there is on short ribs, the meat is very tender. It’s perfect for a long-form slow cooking method like sous vide!

Sous vide beef ribs temperature

Because back ribs aren’t too meaty, to achieve a good level of tender we want to cook them at a a very low temperature so that we can achieve that tender and juicy finish we want.

I’ve done low temperatures with sous vide beef before, just like with our sous vide tri-tip. It’s what gives us the best results, and brings the best out of the beef.

We will cook them at 150°F (65°C) to achieve a medium-rare finish. If you prefer something closer to medium, then set your sous vide for 165°F (71°C).

How long to cook sous vide beef ribs?

We will cook them for 24-38 hours in the sous vide. This is a long amount of time, but is the best way to allow our meat to come to temperature, while also guaranteeing the tender and fall-off-the-bone consistency we want from barbecue beef back ribs.

How to remove the membrane from beef ribs

Unless your butcher has already removed it, you should see a thin layer of skin or membrane (also called silver skin) across the top of the beef rack. While some people argue the case for keeping it, I’m a big believer in removing it. It can block heat and flavors from working their way into the flesh of the meat, and it can turn rubbery when cooked.

Removing it is the same as how you would remove membrane from pork ribs, although you might find that the skin is a lot more stubborn to remove on beef back.

To remove it, slide a blunt knife under the skin. Use a paper towel to get some purchase on it, and slowly pull it away. It might come away in one go, but if not don’t worry. It’s fine to peel it away in pieces.

sous vide beef back ribs
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Sous Vide Beef Back Ribs

These sous vide beef back ribs are beautifully tender, and have a beautiful fall-off-the-bone finish. Juicy and packed with flavor, they’re prepared with a simple rub and finished on the grill for the best sous vide beef ribs out there!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, BBQ
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 racks beef back or spare ribs
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce optional
  • For the rub

For the rub

Instructions

  • Trim the fat off the rib racks. Remove the silver skin, as well as any excess fat across the surface off the rack. Leave rib rack intact (i.e. don’t cut down into individual ribs)
  • Prepare the rub by mixing one part kosher salt to one part black pepper. Mix thoroughly before rubbing liberally over the surface of the ribs, making sure to work into any dips or crevices on the racks.
  • Place the racks in a vacuum bag each and seal.
  • Place bags in sous vide water bath and set temperature to 150°F. Leave for 24-38 hours.
  • Remove bags from water and carefully open sealed bags with scissors.
  • Pat dry with paper towels to remove excess liquid.
  • Transfer beef to preheated grill and sear over high direct heat. For 1-2 minutes on each side.
  • Transfer ribs from grill to counter surface. Carve and serve.


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