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Home Recipes Melt in Your Mouth Smoked Beef Short Ribs

When you start with beautifully marbled meat, there’s not much else you need to do to develop a delicious meal.

smoked short rib on grill.

What are beef short ribs?

Beef short ribs are such a sought-after cut of meat because when cooked properly, the tender meat just melts like butter, but this cut can be confusing because there are different types of short ribs.

If you’re looking for those big dino ribs with large bones, check out my recipe for Sweet + Smoky Beef Plate Short Ribs. Plate ribs are cut from the belly portion of the ribs.

In addition to being cut from the belly, short ribs can be cut from the side of the rib primal, which includes ribs six through 10. Or, they can be cut from the chuck primal, which includes ribs two through five.

raw short ribs on black board.

This recipe is for English cut short ribs, which means the short ribs are cut into individual bones that are usually cut in half, so they are about three inches long. The large rectangle of beef rests on top of the bones.

There are also Flanken cut short ribs. They come from the same ribs, but the rack of 3-4 bones is cut into 1/4-inch strips and used to make Grilled Kalbi or Korean Short Ribs.

Read my tutorial to learn more about beef rib varieties


Ingredients

seasoned short ribs.
  • Beef Short Ribs: At your grocery store meat counter, look for a package of single-bone beef ribs that are about 3-4 inches long. The packaging may say chuck ribs, short ribs or English cut ribs.
  • BBQ Rub: The dry rub in this smoked beef short ribs recipe is a simple mix of my award-winning Brisket Rub and a garlic forward rub from my friend Adam McKenzie from This Jew Can Que. The two combined create a nice balance of salt, sweetness and texture. 
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: To help add moisture and build a nice bark throughout the cook, spritz the ribs with apple cider vinegar, beef broth or even beer.

Substitutions: If you don’t have these rubs, you can use any BBQ rub that goes well with beef like my All-Purpose BBQ Rub or a simple mixture of equal parts kosher salt, black pepper and granulated garlic.

See the full recipe card below for servings and a full list of ingredients.

How to smoke beef short ribs

These beef short ribs can be cooked on any type of smoker or grill over indirect heat. Heat your cooker to 275F degrees and consider using hickory and cherry woods. They pair magically with beef. 

If you only have a gas grill, turn one burner on and leave the other burners off. Add smoke flavor by using a foil pouch with wood chips.

  1. STEP ONE: Start by removing the silverskin from the tops of the meat. Use a sharp knife to work your way under the white layer. Then, slide your knife, trying not to cut too deep into the meat.
  1. STEP TWO: Rub your seasoning all over the short ribs, focusing on the meat side. Let them rest on the counter at room temperature for 1-2 hours to absorb the flavors. You can also rub them overnight and brine them in the refrigerator for even more flavor.
seasoned short ribs.

PRO TIP: Usually, English cut short ribs have been neatly trimmed by the butcher, but if your ribs have a thin layer of silver skin or a fat cap on the top of the meat, use a sharp knife to remove it.

  1. STEP THREE: Place the ribs on your smoker with the bones down over indirect heat. Smoke the ribs for about 4 hours, spritzing every 30 minutes with apple cider vinegar or beef stock, until the internal temperature reaches 205F degrees.
6 short ribs smoking on grill.

PRO TIP: When you insert your instant read thermometer into the meat, it should glide in easily with little to no resistance. That internal temp is really important. If you pull them from the smoker too early, they won’t be quite as succulent.


How to serve smoked beef ribs

Remove the ribs from the smoker and let them rest for 20-30 minutes. You can cover them loosely with aluminum foil to keep them warm.

Because smoked short ribs are so rich and buttery, they go well with tart and spicy sides like grilled shishito peppers and pickled red cabbage.

Personally, I like my smoked beef ribs with just a dry rub, but you can also brush them with BBQ sauce during the last 30 minutes of the cooking process or smoke them and serve barbecue sauce on the side.

Smoked short ribs platter with shishito peppers and red cabbage.

Storage

Smoked beef short ribs can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days. You can also freeze leftovers for a few months.


GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips

  • Season the ribs and let the seasoning brine the ribs for at least an hour
  • Use hickory and cherry woods to complement the beefy flavor
  • Be sure to smoke the ribs until they are tender and reach 205F degrees

Frequently Asked Questions

How many short ribs do I need per person

Beef short ribs usually come 3-4 per package, and the average person will enjoy eating 1-2 bones, depending on what other dishes you’re serving alongside them. 

It’s better to buy extra. Any leftover meat can be shredded and heated up later to make some killer tacos. 

How long does it take to smoke beef ribs?

It can take 6-8 hours of cooking time to smoke beef short ribs at 225F degrees. I prefer to smoke them at 275F degrees. You still get plenty of delicious smoke flavor, and they’re ready in around 4 hours.

At what temp are smoked beef ribs done?

Beef short ribs are ready when they reach an internal temperature of 205-210F degrees. You can measure the temp with a digital meat thermometer. Stick the thermometer into the side through the thickest part of the meat toward the center.

Do I need to wrap beef ribs?

No. Beef ribs contain so much great internal fat that you don’t need to wrap them in butcher paper or aluminum foil to do the Texas crutch method. Instead, just spritz them throughout the cook to help keep them moist.

If you live in a dry climate, you can also add moisture by placing a water pan on the smoker.

three smoked short ribs on black background.

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4.32 from 111 votes

Smoked Beef Short Ribs

These smoked beef short ribs are amazing. The flavorful crust will dance on your tongue as the slow-smoked buttery meat melts in your mouth.
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • Heat Smoker: Heat the smoker to 275F degrees with an indirect heat zone.
  • Season: Combine the rubs in a small bowl. Rub all over the meat. Let rest on the counter for 1-2 hours.
  • Smoke: Smoke over indirect heat for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, spritzing every 30 minutes with apple cider vinegar until the meat is soft and reaches an internal temperature of about 205F degrees.
  • Rest: Let them rest for 20-30 minutes before serving.

Notes

Instead of the rubs listed, you can use any rub that goes well with beef like my Steak RubAll-Purpose BBQ Rub or a simple blend of kosher salt, black pepper and granulated garlic.
For even more flavor, you can season the ribs and refrigerate them overnight. 

Nutrition

Calories: 399kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 43gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 133mgSodium: 729mgPotassium: 818mgCalcium: 18mgIron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
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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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16 Comments

    1. Hi Mona,
      You could try cooking them in a 275-degree oven. I recommend putting a small pan of water in the oven with them to help keep them moist.
      Christie

  1. My ribs varied widely in size, which made timing dinner difficult but we snacked on them as they hit 205 and they were very tasty.

  2. This was the hit of the BBQ my wife and I held for our prayer group. I also grilled chicken, burgers, brats, and shrimp cabobs so there was alot to choose from and everyone seemed most interested in the ribs. Thanks for the great recipe

  3. I just tried these, still testing out my masterbuilt electric smoker. I used 3 small-ish boneless spare ribs, cooked fat on top , temp probe in larger one. Cooked right about 4 hrs to internal temp of 205*, and loaded wood chips twice.
    While the flavor is there, they are a bit dry and tight overall 😭😭😭😭 … any ideas where I may have gone wrong? Will try again soon…

    1. You mentioned in your comment that you used spare ribs, which are pork ribs. This recipe is for beef short ribs. When I cook spare ribs, I usually wrap them about half way through the cooking.

    2. Spritz them every 15 minutes during the last hour of cooking them with apple juice or Dr. Pepper and you will have juices running down your face.

    3. I have a master built vertical smoker. Not sure if that’s the one you’re using. But my best results with this unit was to cook at 225, after first hour I then spritzed, and added more chips. After the first hour I then checked it every 30 minutes spritzing then to keep them moist, with of course the water pan having water or apple juice in them. That smoker is insulated very very well, so if you don’t spritz every so often, and if the temp is high you will get very dry meat. Yes it took longer the way I did, but the end results was nothing short of juicy, moist, great pull, and tender like no other!!!!

  4. I have done Korean style ribs on a hot grill, mage slow cooker ribs the other night, had the left over today as a sandwich with barbecue sauce, it was good but I said to myself, “Joe this tastes a little like brisket, I wonder if anyone smokes them?” And I found your site, can’t wait to try this.

  5. Your smoked beef short ribs sure look excellent! I definitely agree with using hickory to smoke the beef short ribs, it is one of my favorite woods to smoke with. Hope to see more of your recipes out there.