Smoked beef short ribs are my absolute favorite bite of BBQ! The flavorful, crispy bark with a beefy, tender inside is just something I can never pass up. I usually buy plate ribs as they are larger and have more meat, but any type of short ribs will work just fine with this recipe.
- 5 pounds beef short ribs, preferably beef plate ribs
- 2 sheets of butcher paper, substitute for aluminum foil (see notes)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons black pepper, coarse
- 3 tablespoons seasoned salt, like Lawry's
- 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup beef broth
- 1/4 cup soy sauce, low sodium
- 1 spray bottle, food grade
Prep the beef ribs
Remove the beef ribs 1 hour prior to smoking. This will give the meat time to reach room temperature for more even cooking and allow the rub to adhere better. Trim off any extra thick fat and silver skin from the top of the short ribs. You can remove all of the fat, but I keep a thin layer for protection and added flavor. Slather the mayonnaise evenly over the entire surface of the beef ribs. Mix dry rub ingredients in a bowl and sprinkle evenly over the ribs. You'll want a heavy coating of the rub to help build a nice bark on the outside of the beef short ribs. The ribs are thick, so even a lot of rub won't overpower them.
Prep the smoker
Preheat smoker to 250°F. Most pellet grills don’t need it, but you can add a pan of water in the corner of the smoker to keep moisture inside.
Smoke the beef short ribs
Place short ribs on the smoker and smoke at 250°F until it hits an internal temperature of around 175°F in the thickest part of the meat, approximately 5-6 hours depending on the size. I recommend using a good leave-in meat thermometer so you don't have to constantly check the short ribs. We're looking for a nice bark to have formed before we wrap the short ribs. If your bark isn't where you'd like it to be yet, keep smoking for an additional hour or so to help the bark form.
Spritz the beef short ribs
Combine the spritz ingredients and place in spray bottle. Each hour after the first 3 hours or once the bark starts looking dry, open up the smoker and spritz the beef short ribs. Make sure your spray bottle is set to spray in a light, even mist and not a direct blast of the liquid. You just want to moisten the short ribs, not soak them.
Wrap the smoked beef short ribs in butcher paper
When the bark has formed and the smoked short ribs hit our target temperature of at least 175°F, remove them from the smoker, lay them in the center of 2 pieces of partially overlapped butcher paper (lengthwise), and then wrap tightly around the ribs. You can spritz the butcher paper a few times to help it form a tighter wrap around the beef short ribs. If you don't have butcher paper, you can use heavy duty aluminum foil instead. Just note, the bark will be a little mushy when it's done as it's not permeable like butcher paper and will partially steam it.
Continue smoking the ribs
Return to the smoker, insert the meat probe again, and smoke at 250°F for approximately 4 more hours. The smoked beef short ribs are done when the internal temperature is around 205°F-208°F and the meat thermometer slides in and out like a knife slicing through room temperature butter - barely any resistance. I find that this usually occurs around 205°F, but all meat is different. Remember to take the temperature in a few places as the short ribs tend to cook slower in larger areas.
Rest the smoked beef short ribs
Remove the smoked beef short ribs from smoker and keep wrapped while it rests for a minimum of 1 hour. If you need to keep the meat warmer even longer, place them inside of a good cooler for up to 4 hours.
Serve the smoked beef short ribs
Slice the short ribs between each bone and serve with the bone or slice into smaller portions and share. Enjoy!
What are short ribs? How are they different from other types of ribs?
Short ribs are pretty accurately described from their name - they’re short lengths of ribs taken from various parts of the cow, 3 to 6 inches in length. The shorter 3-inch length ribs are usually individual ribs without a bone, and the longer 6-inch length ribs come butchered into sections with the bones still attached. Both types are very meaty, although they can be tough, which is why they are very well-suited for extremely long cooking times. Plate ribs are 3 or 4 ribs connected together and are ideal for this recipe.
Other types of ribs are the back ribs, the typical longer ribs that are usually butchered in a long rack. These have less meat on them and can be cooked as a whole rack to keep them juicy. These ribs can also be split into two portions, the back ribs and chuck ribs.
Why should I trim the fat and silver skin?
The tough shiny silver skin should always be removed, as this isn’t fat but rather sinew that is really hard to chew and eat because it won’t render the way fat does. Use a sharp paring or boning knife to slide under it and remove it. Also, trim off excess or thick fat, leaving an even layer over the short ribs so that they have some protection. Creating an even layer will allow the ribs to cook at the same rate throughout.
How long should I smoke the short ribs?
Because short ribs can be a tougher cut of meat, low and slow is the way to go when cooking. Plate ribs cooked in this way usually take around 8-10 hours, but can take longer if needed. Always cook to temperature rather than time, and remember that cooking low and slow will create tender, fall-apart ribs. The results are worth the extra time!
Internal Temperature Tips and Tricks
The collagen in the fat and muscle will start to soften around 205 degrees, which is considered the “sweet spot” for short ribs. This is when the meat will become very tender, and a meat thermometer will slide in easily at this point. At this temperature, the meat will easily fall off the bone and have a buttery texture.
Using an instant-read thermometer is a great way to check the short ribs for two reasons. You can tell the meat is done by how easily the thermometer slides into the meat, and the temperature reads quickly so you won’t need to open the smoker for long to read the temperature. Internal thermometers work great for smoking meat as well because they are left in the meat and you can constantly monitor the temperature without opening the smoker, which releases the heat.
Should I rest the meat before serving?
As always, you should absolutely rest the short ribs before serving! This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making it even more tender and juicy. Without resting the short ribs, the moisture achieved by the rendering fat will all run out, leaving the meat dry and bland. If you allow the time for the short ribs to rest, those juices will reabsorb back into the meat, adding flavor and keeping it as tender as possible.
Cuisines around the world that use short ribs
Short ribs are a popular choice in many cuisines around the world; Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Jewish cuisines all use short ribs in various ways. You can try switching up the flavors of the rub to create flavors from these cultures, or create BBQ sauces to dip the smoked short ribs in that reflect the flavors of these cuisines. Experiment with spices for the dry rub and the spritz to create something unique!