Cranberry Braised Smoked Beef Short Ribs

Get your beef on this Christmas with my smoked beef short ribs recipe!

These smoked beef short ribs are braised for a time in a cranberry juice cocktail. It doesn't give them a cranberry flavor but it does wonders for the color and the liquid helps to braise them to perfection. Not to mention, it's a great juice to use for braising at Christmas time!

For best results be really picky about the beef short ribs and try to find ones that have lots of marbling without large clumps of fat.

Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Brine Time: 4 hours or overnight
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 240°F
  • Meat Finish Temp: 185-190°F
  • Recommended Wood: Cherry
What You’ll Need
  • 4-6 lbs of beef short ribs (1 lb per person approx.)
  • Deep foil pan
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • Jeff's original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub)*
  • Cranberry juice or juice cocktail
  • Heavy duty foil

*Note: The Texas style rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) also works great!

IMG 0492 1000x715Please note that my rubs and barbecue sauce are now available in 2 formats– you can purchase the formulas and make them yourself OR you can buy them already made, in a bottle, ready to use.

Dry Brine the Beef

Dry brining, as we discussed last week, is the act of sprinkling salt onto the top of meat and letting it draw moisture to the surface. This slurry of salt and meat moisture is then drawn back deep into the meat.

Unlike wet brining, the meat does not gain extra moisture but is done mostly for flavor.

Study the images below to get a good idea of the correct coverage. I tend to be on the conservative side of dry brining since I don't like things that are overly salty. You can adjust the salt for your tastes but I admonish you to do so after trying it my way the first time.

Place the beef short ribs into a deep foil pan for best results.

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Sprinkle coarse grained kosher salt onto the top of the beef short ribs as shown below:

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Place the pan of beef ribs into the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.

I normally leave the beef uncovered in the fridge but you can cover it if you want to.

When the brining process is complete, remove the beef from the fridge.

Rinse the ribs under cold water or simply wipe them off with a damp paper towel to remove any residual salt from the surface.

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They are now ready for the seasoning.

Add the Seasoning

Even though the braising process does not happen right away, I like to go ahead and pour in about ½ inch of cranberry juice or juice cocktail.

Pour the juice over the meat so that the meat gets wetted in the process. This will help the rub to stick a little better.

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Sprinkle the beef ribs generously with Jeff's original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub).

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While it's sitting there getting sassy.. you can go get the smoker ready.

Preheat the Smoker

Setup the smoker for cooking at about 240°F using indirect heat and cherry wood for smoke. Most other smoking woods will work great as well.

If your smoker has a water pan, fill it full with hot water.

In cold weather, it's a great idea to let the smoker come up to temperature about 30 minutes to an hour before you are ready to cook. This gives the metal time to heat up and allows the smoker to do a better job of temperature recovery when you open the door to input the meat.

Smoke Time

The beef short ribs will take 4 hours or maybe a little more to reach 185°F in the center of the thickest part.

The first 2 hours will be uncovered and this is where the smoke does it's thing.

After 2 hours, add more cranberry juice if necessary to replace what has been lost and cover tightly with foil.

This is where the braising takes place in this sealed, humid environment and where the tenderizing happens.

Use a good quality leave-in meat thermometer to monitor the temperature of the beef ribs while they cook in this covered configuration.

My recommendation is the new “Smoke” thermometer by Thermoworks. It is the best thing out there right now in my opinion and I think if you are serious at all about smoking meat and getting the job done correctly, it's one of the best tools you can have aside from your smoker.

This part stays by the smoker. It has 2 probes.. one for the meat and one for the smoker. Finally you'll know exactly what the accurate temperature is inside your smoker and what the internal temperature of the meat is.

Remember, there is no way to make sure the meat is done properly and safely without using an accurate thermometer.

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Here's the part that goes where you go.. into the house, on the mower, by your bed, etc. and you need not worry, It' ll alert you if anything goes wrong.

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The high and low temperature alarms are so easy to set on the “Smoke” that you'll actually use them every time you cook.

You are looking for about 185-190°F for these smoked beef short ribs. This is the point at which they become really nice and tender.

Ready to Eat

Once the smoked beef short ribs reach this temperature, remove them from the smoker and keep them warm under foil until you are ready to serve them.

Just before serving, spoon some of the juices from the bottom of the pan over the top of the beef.

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If you like, garnish with a little chopped parsley and sprigs of rosemary.

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I recommend serving about a pound to each person. This will vary depending on how they are cut up.


Order Jeff’s Rubs and Barbecue Sauce TODAY!
Jeff's Rubs and Sauce

✅ My rubs and sauce will be the best thing you’ve ever tasted and it’s a great way to support what we do!


You can also order the formulas for my rubs and sauce and make these yourself at home. Grab those HERE and download immediately.

Jeff’s Smoking Meat Books

smoking-meat-book-coverSmoking Meat: The Essential Guide to Real Barbecue – The book is full of recipes and contains tons of helpful information as well. Some have even said that “no smoker should be without this book”!

With more than 1000 reviews on and a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars, it comes highly recommended and is a Bestseller in Barbecuing & Grilling books on Amazon.

AmazonBarnes & Noble | German Edition

smoke-wood-fire-book-coverSmoke, Wood, Fire: The Advanced Guide to Smoking Meat – Unlike the first book, this book does not focus on recipes but rather uses every square inch of every page teaching you how to smoke meat. What my first book touched on, this second book takes it into much greater detail with lots of pictures.

It also includes a complete, step-by-step tutorial for making your own smoked “streaky” bacon using a 100 year old brine recipe.

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Cranberry Braised Smoked Beef Short Ribs

Get your beef on this Christmas or any day of the year with these smoked beef short ribs braised in cranberry juice for the ultimate in tender beefy perfection!
Prep Time4 hrs 10 mins
Cook Time4 hrs
Servings: 6


  • 4-6 lbs of beef short ribs ((1 lb per person approx.))
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • Jeff's original rub
  • Cranberry juice or juice cocktail


  • Place the beef short ribs into a foil pan or plastic container.
  • Sprinkle coarse grained kosher salt onto the top of the beef short ribs. Coverage should be about 10-15% and should leave at least 1/8 to ¼ inch between the grains on average.
  • Place the beef short ribs in the fridge uncovered for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • When they are done brining, there is no need to rinse them.
  • If necessary, move the beef short ribs to a foil pan that is about 2 to 3 inches deep.
  • Pour about ½ inch of cranberry juice or juice cocktail into the bottom of the foil pan. Pour the juice over the beef ribs so that they get wetted in the process. This will help the rub to stick better.
  • Sprinkle Jeff's original rub generously onto the top of each beef short rib and set aside.
  • Prepare the smoker for cooking at 225-240°F using indirect heat and cherry wood for smoke.
  • Place the pan of ribs into the smoker and let them smoke cook uninterrupted for 2 hours.
  • At the end of 2 hours, cover the pan with foil to let the braising really take place. This braising process should last for 2 hours.
  • Uncover the short ribs at the end of 2 hours and spoon some of the tasty juices up onto the ribs.
  • Garnish with some chopped parsley and rosemary and serve immediately.


  1. Don Reiter June 8, 2017 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    For your short rib recipe did you use plate or chuck short ribs and were they bone-in or boneless?

  2. Jessica Gavin December 7, 2016 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    Very nice, I like the idea of the cranberry juice marinade.

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