Beef back ribs can be turned into some great barbecue in a pretty short amount of time. The trick is finding a rack that still has some meat on the bones!
The reason it is hard to find meaty beef back ribs is because the meat attached to the ribs are the ribeye steaks. Butchers want to sell as much of the meat as possible as steak, not the less expensive ribs. If you do find a meaty slab of beef ribs then let me show you how to get them smoked up right!
Smoked Beef Back Ribs Recipe
The general steps for smoking beef back ribs are:
- Remove the tough membrane from the bone side of the ribs.
- Season both side of the ribs with a beef rub.
- Allow the rub at least an hour to dissolve into the beef.
- Smoke the ribs at 250F for four hours until done.
Let’s look at these steps in a little more detail.
Preparing the Beef Back Ribs for the Smoker
The front or “meat side” of beef back ribs are usually pretty clean, free or fat deposits and do not need much prep work. Ideally here is what they will look like.
The back “bone side” of the ribs is a different story. There is a tough membrane on the back of the ribs that needs to be removed. I grab and edge with some paper towels and give it a good tug. Sometimes I can get it off in one large piece but more often that not it takes me a few tries to get it all.
This membrane needs to be removed as it will only get tougher when cooked and will feel like chewing rawhide if you attempt to eat it. Additionally the membrane prevents any seasoning or smoke from reaching the back of the ribs.
There will sometimes be large packets of fat under the membrane. I go ahead and trim the fat deposits out although it isn’t completely necessary.
I season the ribs with my special brisket rub blend but you can use any other beef seasoning including Montreal Steak Seasoning or even just salt and pepper. Here is the recipe for my killer brisket rub that works great on all smoked beef.
Doc Somerville’s Brisket Rub
- 6 Tablespoons salt
- 2 Tablespoons turbinado sugar
- 2 Tablespoons granulated garlic
- 2 Tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 Tablespoon granulated onion
- 2 teaspoons ground Ancho chile pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground Chipotle chile pepper
- 2 teaspoons Gebhardt’s Chili Powder
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Accent (MSG)
You want to season the ribs liberally and let the rub soak into the meat for at least an hour. If you have the time then it would be even better if the rub got to work into the ribs overnight in the refrigerator.
Smoking the Ribs
The first two steps in setting up your smoker are deciding upon the temperature and type of smoke wood.
As far as smoking wood is concerned a combination of oak and hickory is typically considered the best wood for smoking brisket and it works pretty well with beef ribs. It is easy to find oak/hickory blends in pellets but if you want to go with a pure flavor wood like cherry that would be pretty dang good too. If you want a source for 100% flavor wood pellets then check out this resource guide for the best wood pellets for smoking meat.
As far as smoking temperature goes I like to smoke ribs at 250F. You can go higher or lower but I found this temperature to be the best balance that gives the ribs plenty of time in the smoke but won’t take all day to get the ribs finished.
How long does it take to smoke beef back ribs at 250F? It takes about four hours to smoke beef back ribs at 250F.
You will want to start checking the ribs for doneness at the 3.5 hour mark. Every slab of ribs is different and some cook faster than others.
The true test for doneness is when the tip of a thermometer slides through the meat like warm butter. The internal temperature of the ribs will be around 205F at this stage.
When the ribs are probe tender go ahead and pull then from the pit and let them rest a minute before slicing.
The resting doesn’t really help with “letting the juices distribute through the meat” but it sure helps slow things down and keeps you from burning your mouth on a big pile of hot beef!