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Smoked Beef Back Ribs

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Smoked beef back ribs are not extremely meaty like most pork ribs but, I think they reign supreme in terms of flavor.

Cut from the prime rib, all that tasty fat is present to help the ribs stay moist and to give them tons of flavor. By cooking them low and slow, a lot of that fat will melt away leaving the meat extremely delicious and tender.

With a couple of amazing options, you'll be creating beefy fare fit for a king with this one!

Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Dry Brine: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 4-5 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 225°F (107°C)
  • Meat Finish Temp: 195°F (91°C) or until tender
  • Recommended Wood: Oak and/or Pecan
What You'll Need
Getting the Ribs Ready

I purchased some of the ribs already cut up and 1 whole slab so you could see each one.

The ones already cut up where slightly more expensive than the slab and the membrane was not removed. I'd rather buy the slab and prepare them myself personally.

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Here's how to remove the membrane:

Use your finger to get the membrane loose somewhere in the center of the slab. Continue to work your fingers/hand under it to loosen it. Some folks use a sharp object but I tend to do better with my hands. Find whatever works for you and you'll have the perfect tool for you.

A little patience and some practice and you'll be doing this like a pro. By starting in the center, once you have a good grip and are able to pull up on it, it starts coming loose from both ends at once.

Do the best you can and if it takes several tries to get it all, that's fine. You'll get better at this with practice.

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Once the membrane is removed, cut the slab up into individual bones. Try to cut right in between the bones leaving meat on both side of each bone.


Dry Brining the Ribs

Place the cut up ribs into a bowl or container meat side up.

Brush on a little olive oil to help the rub to stick better.


Sprinkle my original rub  on the ribs (top and sides).

You can also use my Texas style rub on some or all of them if you prefer a more savory rub on beef.

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Place lids or covers on the containers and place the ribs in the fridge overnight or for at least 2 hours. This allows the salt in the rub to draw the juices to the outside of the meat where it can mix with the rub and be drawn back into the meat.

Remove the ribs from the fridge, remove the lids/covers and allow the ribs to sit out for about 30 minutes before placing them in the smoker.

**Do NOT rinse the rub from the meat**

Arrange the ribs on a pan/rack or you can take just take them out to the smoker as they are so you can place them directly onto the smoker grate.

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Here's a closeup of those Texas style  beef back ribs.. does that look good or what!


And the ones rubbed with my sweet and spicy original rub .


Ok.. enough salivating! Let's get these in the smoker.

While the ribs are sitting on the counter, it's a great time to get your smoker going and up to temperature.

Get the Smoker Going

These will do well in any smoker including charcoal, electric, gas, or wood as long as you maintain the temperature and keep the smoke going for at least 3 hours.

Get your smoker going and make sure you have plenty of smoking wood. I recommend oak and/or pecan if you have it. I used a mix of red oak and pecan since that's what I had available.

If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.

Once the smoker is ready, it's time to get cooking.

Smoking the Beef Back Ribs

Keep the heat at about 225°F (107°C) since you want to cook these low and slow to allow the meat to tenderize. The long cook time will also do a good job of melting a lot of that fat.

If you are using an electric, gas or charcoal smoker, keep the smoke going for about 3 hours.

The ribs will usually take 4-5 hours to get tender enough but it will depend on how well you maintain the temperature in your smoker, what the meat temperature was when they started cooking and how often you open the door or lid on your smoker.

The ultimate goal is for the ribs to get tender. Forget about the temperature and don't remove them until they get tender.

To test for tenderness, just grab one and take a bite. They're not done until they are as tender as you like them.

This usually happens for me when they reach about 195°F (91°C) but that may differ slightly for you.

Finishing Up

When they get done, serve them immediately. I recommend making plenty since they are not as meaty as pork ribs.

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I served mine with savory potatoes and sautéed green beans (recipes below)


Making the Savory Potatoes


  1. Quarter small potatoes and place them in a foil pan.
  2. Toss them with ¼ cup olive oil and a good sprinkling of my original rub .
  3. Place the pan in the smoker with the ribs during the last 2 hours
  4. Stir occasionally
  5. When they get as soft as you like them, they are done
  6. Give them another good sprinkle of the original rub and serve
Making the Sautéed Green Beans


  1. Clean and trim beans
  2. Place 2 TBS of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat
  3. When the oil is nice and hot, it is ready.
  4. Place the beans in the skillet and sauté.
  5. Stir often to cook evenly
  6. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes or until they are as done as you like them
  7. Sprinkle with an equal mix of kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper and serve
5 from 3 votes

Smoked Beef Back Ribs

Tasty beef back ribs dry brined for a couple of hours then smoked until perfectly tender and smoky giving you the ultimate in beef flavor.
Prep Time2 hours 10 minutes
Cook Time5 hours
Total Time7 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 5



  • Remove the membrane from the boney side of the ribs.
  • Cut them up into individual ribs.
  • Place the ribs into a bowl or container.
  • Brush olive oil onto the meat and sprinkle rub onto the top and sides of the ribs.
  • Cover the container and place the ribs in the fridge for 2 hours to dry brine.
  • After 2 hours, remove the ribs from the fridge and allow them to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes (do not rinse off the rub).
  • Place the ribs bone side down directly on the smoker grate
  • Smoke at 225°F (107°C) for 4-5 hours or until they get as tender as you like them.
  • Serve immediately with a couple of sides such as savory potatoes and sautéed green beans.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Well let me tell you i tried this step by step and however this post keeps stating about tenderness that did not happen… i smoked them for 5 hours maintaining 225 also put meat tenderizer on it and nothing was tender about it also it was half raw. It was like i was chewing on rubber, my dog thanked me for her new tire toy thanks again

  2. 5 stars
    After removing the membrane, cut the second rib at the bone on both sides. This puts more meat on the first rib. That leaves the 3rd rib with plenty of meat on one side. Then cut out the 4th rib next to the bone. And so on. This puts plenty of meat on each bone, But there are only half the number of ribs. Do this with 2 slabs and you’ll have enough to go around.

  3. You mentioned to smoke beef ribs 3 hours and to cook for 4-6 hours …does it matter at what point of cooking I apple the smoke to them?..A newbie smoker and don’t want to screw this up for my quests..

  4. I have followed you and your advise on smoking for several years and by and large your information has been very helpful. It has taught me and helped me explore to the point were I now consided myself a very self sufficient smoker. However, you should have keeped that beef rib recipe away from your reputation. I followed your recipe to the T. 4 hours after ignite I pulled a rib for tasting and 10 seconds later shut the smoker down. The small amount of meat was hardly worth while. And what there was of it was dry and salty and not worth the effort. Two racks and $20.00 later, I dumped the remaining ribs in the dumpster. I’ve asked fellow smokers, since and about my failure and in general gotten laughed at for my attemting to smoke beef ribs. So……Whats this about? Am I trying to justify my screw up. I don’t think so. The recipe is simple and we did followed instructions as written. There are all sorts or food out there that are available for smoking and just maybe beef ribs are not one of them. You think? Let it go and keep your reputation.

    1. Carl, When I put out this newsletter back in April, I had a lot of folks emailing me telling me how good they were. As I said in that newsletter, beef ribs will not have the thick meaty portions like pork ribs do, however, the meat that is there tastes amazing and with all the fat, it should be moist and extremely flavorful.

      I am not sure what you got ahold of, but it sounds like the ribs were the culprit rather than the recipe or method itself.

      I do understand how frustrating it is when you cook something and it just does not turn out the way that it should.. it can make you down right mad and I’ve been right there with you on a number of occasions.

      1. Jeff,
        I have done beef ribs numerous times with good results. I suspect they had “bad ribs” or the heat was much higher than they thought it was…the flavor is always outstanding. This weekend we will smoke two batches of beef ribs with your rub and the Texas version to see the difference. I suspect we will like both of them.

  5. OK, hear me now and believe me later… this is coming from a bonified “cheapskate” who has subscribed to Jeff’s emails for about a year now and used my own rub for Jeff’s amazing recipes. Until three weeks ago when I broke down and purchased Jeff’s rub. UNBELIEVABLE! What a difference! Jeff’s rub is incredible and what’s coming out of my smoker now is absolutely amazing. Here’s one more thought… I just re-heated the ribs I cooked THREE WEEKS AGO using Jeff’s rub and they were BETTER than the day we smoked them! Absolutely incredible! NOTE: I am NOT affiliated with Jeff in any way! I am a “newbie” who has just entered into the world of smoking and this stuff has changed my life! I’m an “empty nester” who now has time to appreciate great food, and smoking-meat.com has made me look forward to smoking on the weekends! THANKS JEFF!

  6. Jeff: I am new to smoking and last weekend I smoked some ribs. I used your rub and my water pan; smoked them for about 3 1/2 hours. I also wrapped them in foil the last hour of cooking but they came out very dry. What did I do wrong?

  7. I have a 15+ lb beef brisket I am smoking for Easter. Your book says that will be about 22 hours in the smoker, if I cut it in half and essentially have two separate briskets can I reduce the cook time based on the new weights? I have a meat thermometer so I will know when it is done but need to know when to put them in so they are ready for dinner since the family will be ready and hungry around 4pm.


    1. Better late than never. Keep the brisket whole. Base your cook time on 1.25 hrs per lb. it’s done when the temp is right. The beauty of a brisket is that you can wrap it in a double layer of foil, put it in a cooler, cover it well with a couple of towels, and keep it for a couple of hours if it is finished a little early. I use a masterbuilt, which allows me to add wood without opening the door. This is excellent, it helps to keep the temp Consistent!