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Step-by-step photos, instructions and video shows you how to butcher tomahawk short ribs like a pro.

tied up Tomahawk Short Ribs on wooden background

There are a few different cuts of beef ribs. My favorite by far is the beef plate short ribs, because they are beautifully marbled, which means they’re very flavorful.

And as you all know by now, I buy Certified Angus Beef® brand, because they are obsessed with ensuring each cut is packed with flavor and juiciness.

Plate ribs are often called dinosaur bones because the bones are about 10 inches long, far surpassing their pork brethren.

Traditionally, people smoke a three-bone rack of plate ribs, but today my friends, we’re going tomahawk style, and I’m going to show you how easy it is.

The Knife Work

silverskin removed from backside of Tomahawk Short Ribs

Like all ribs, beef plate ribs have a thick membrane called a silverskin on the back. Although, we’re not going to be eating the backside of the ribs, I still like to remove it to ensure the smoke can fully penetrate into the meat.

To do this, glide your knife under the silverskin. Grip it with a paper towel, and pull it off.

three plate short ribs bones

Plate ribs are usually sold in racks with three or four bones. Today, my rack has three.

To make the tomahawk short ribs, separate the bones, by slicing down the center of meat between each bone.

sliding knife between bone and meat of short rib

The bone is a little bit wider on one end. You’ll want to use that end as the base of your tomahawk.

On the end with a smaller bone, place your boning knife flat against the bone, under the meat and glide the knife down, until you’re about 3 inches from the bottom.

meat of Tomahawk Short Rib separated from bone

As you can see here, you’ll be left with a thick chunk of marbled beef. Roll it away from the bone toward the base.

knife scraping Tomahawk Short Rib bone to remove excess

Next, french the exposed bone by scraping off the excess meat and fat. This isn’t a requirement, but it makes for better presentation.

How to Tie Up the Tomahawk Short Ribs

My butcher twine skills aren’t very great, so I promise, if I can do this, you can, too.

Along with these photos and instructions, I’ve produced a video, showing the steps. If you’re still confused, post in the comments below, and I’ll answer your questions.

I use chef-grade 100% cotton butcher twine.

start with one piece of twine on top of rolled up short rib

Step 1

Place the end of the twine on top of the rolled up meat toward the right edge.

Wrap the twine under the base.

twine comes from bottom left and crosses back of bone

Step 2

Turn the bone over.

Take the twine across the back of the bone and over to the opposite side.

two rows of twine across top of rolled up Tomahawk Short Rib

Step 3

Bring the twine back over the roll.

Wrap it down the left edge.

Wrap the twine under the base.

twine criss crosses on back side of bone

Step 4

Turn the bone over.

Take the twine across the back of the bone and over to the opposite side, creating an X.

two rows of twine across top of rolled up Tomahawk Short Rib

Step 5

Bring the twine back over the right side of the roll.

Cut the twine from the spool.

Tie it in a knot with the initial end.

showing two rows of twine along bottom of rolled up Tomahawk Short Rib

You can see here that the two rows of twine will secure the rolled up meat to the bone.

three tomahawk short ribs standing up with gray background

Pretty stunning. Huh?

3 seasoned Tomahawk Short Ribs

My favorite rub for short ribs is my Sweet + Smoky Garlic Rub. It creates a beautiful bark and has a touch of cayenne and smoked paprika.

2 Tomahawk Short Ribs on grill

I smoke my short ribs the same way nearly every time at around 250-275F degrees for 5-6 hours.

orange thermoworks thermapen testing temperature of short ribs, showing 207F degrees

I shoot for an internal temperature of just over 200F degrees. Then, I let them rest for about 30 minutes.

To test meat temperature, I count on my reliable Thermoworks Thermapen.

pulled short rib meat next to bone with whole tomahawk short rib on top

Serving them whole makes for an epic presentation. Each tomahawk short rib will yield around 6 ounces of rich, luxurious meat.

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christie vanover standing against wood wall.

Hey BBQ Family

I’m Christie, the head cook and award-winning competitive pitmaster for Team Girls Can Grill. I have won multiple grand championships and top 10 category finishes. I’m an expert grill reviewer for BBQ Guys, and I have appeared on the Food Network and Ninja Woodfire Grill infomercials. I established this website in 2015 to share my BBQ tips and recipes.

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1 Comment

  1. Some excellent tips for preparing tomahawk short ribs. This is definitely a task that requires a sharp knife and a bit of care. I love that you have used photographs to make the guide more comprehensive.