We have done spare, St. Louis style, baby backs and country style ribs which are all pork.  But why do we have to limit ourselves to just pork?  Why not beef ribs?  Few people try grilling these bad boys. Oh, sure, many of you have heard negative things about beef ribs:

  • They’re tough.
  • They don’t have a lot of meat on those gigantic bones.
  • I can only find beef short ribs which really don’t have much meat on them.

But let me tell you, if you follow my simple instructions I can show you how to buy these massively meaty ribs as well as how to make them juicy and tender.  Let me put it to you this way – we didn’t need a steak knife to cut these.  I’m not kidding.  They were so tender we were able to cut them with a butter knife.

And what I mean about releasing your inner caveman?  That cutting board in the picture above can only hold two slabs of beef ribs with 3 bones each is 24″ x 18″.  Those bones are almost a foot long.

First off you need to buy the right cut.  The stuff in the case at your local grocer probably beef short ribs which have very little meat on them.  They make good stock but not so much for grilling.  Ask your butcher or meat cutter if they have any uncut beef ribs in the back.  Here is the cryovacked pack sitting on that same 24″ x 18′ cutting board.  My cell phone is there for even more reference:


First thing you need to do is remove all the thick, tough fat on the outside of the meat side of the ribs:


This is not going to be a quick process, particularly if you have dull knives so I decided to get out the whet stone and sharpen all of my Shuns:


Once I gave my knives a good sharpening I started shaving off the fat:


When done there is quite a lot of fat you can see down below.  To the upper right of the ribs is a little bit of meat that was over that bone that is now exposed in the lower left of the slab.  There was a great deal of fat under a flap so I removed the strip of meat to get to the fat.  That made for a great nibbler during the grilling process:


Here is a close up of the amount of fat I shaved off:


You can see in the pic below that the other slab actually has some silver skin on it which is extremely tough:


I sliced that off first before going after the rest of the fat:


Here is the flap of the meat that had a lot of fat underneath it.  I decided to just cut the fat out from under the flap and leave the meat there on this slab:


Now onto the other side of each slab.  Just like pork ribs the membrane on the bone side needs to be removed:


So I used my trusty chop stick just like when I need to get in between the membrane and the meat on pork ribs:


And another lesson from the pork ribs, I use paper towels to get a grip on the membrane and pull it back:


When you get close to the other end you will see that the membrane gets really thick.   It’s almost the consistency of bacon at this point:


I then sliced off any excess membrane on the back.  With how tough this cut can be you have to do everything you can to make it tender:



Another trick to make it tender is to score the membrane along the back, particularly between the bones.  All that means is cutting long slits in a criss cross pattern along the membrane:



Here are the ribs with the fat removed and membrane stripped away.  I’m guessing my 10 pounds of beef ribs are not about 8.5 pounds with all that fat removed:


Normally I marinade my meat in plastic bags before grilling, but these monsters are too big for gallon plastic bags by a long shot.  Good thing I have this marinading container:



The bigger slab barely fits in the container:


OK, now onto the marinade.  No measurements here.  Not all that difficult.  Half a large onion minced, about 8 cloves of garlic minced, 6-8 ounces of honey mustard and some black pepper.

I minced up the onion and garlic and divided each pile into fours.  Here are three of those four sections of garlic and onion:


The rest of the onions and garlic as well as some fresh cracked black pepper  on the bone side of the larger slab of ribs:


Here are the two slabs with the onion, garlic, black pepper and enough honey mustard to slather all over the surface:


Here are both slathered next to my ginourmous jar of pealed garlic cloves:


The beef ribs were put in the fridge overnight.  The next day I pulled them out and wiped off a lot of the mustard with a paper towel.  The mustard was more for tenderizing than adding flavor.  The vinegar in mustard makes for a fantastic tenderizer.

Now I add a pinch of coarse salt on each side as well as a generous coating of whatever rub you like. In this case I used a paprika/granulated garlic/chili powder/black pepper/tubinado sugar.

If you use a store bought rub, check the ingredients.  If the first ingredient is salt then do not use a pinch of salt on each side:


These hunks are going on the grill at 275 for 2 hours to be  smoked/indirected with a combo of hickory (lower) and apple (upper) woods:


Slabs of beef on the left.  Charcoal and smoke wood on the right.  I just left the far right grill grate off so that I could add more charcoal and wood with ease:


One hour into the process:


Here is a close up of the meat pulling back from the grilled beef ribs:


Smoke wood looked like this after one hour so I needed another chunk of each.  I also added a few more briquettes so that I did not lose any heat:


After two hours the were ready to go into the foil.  I wanted to add some fluid to the foil in order to really make sure these bad boys are tender.  Beer or wine work great for this.  And for this I found the perfect use for that non alcoholic beverage that was taking up space in my fridge:


With the bones from the grilled beef ribs jutting out of the meat I decided to use three layers of heavy duty tin foil.  I poured about six ounces of beer in the bottom of each foil wrapper:


Wrap up the foil and put back on the grill for an hour.  After about 30 minutes I placed some sweet white corn in the husk right over the heat:


After an hour in the foil, those bones are jutting out something fierce:


Corn is ready to come off the grill too:


I let the slabs of grilled beef ribs rest for about 7 minutes before cutting them:


How juicy and delicious do those look?


And finally, plated with an ear of corn and some pasta salad  Sorry, no medium rare here as I normally like my beef, but this tough cut needs slow and low to break down the connective tissue.

The  rib is longer than the plate:


Just to prove we only needed butter knives to cut the meat:


Don’t let grilled beef ribs intimidate you.  It’s basically bone in brisket.  Smoke low and then steam in the foil on the grill and you will get uber tender and delicious caveman bones every time.

If you have any questions about the above dish please feel free to comment below or email me.

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas, the Original Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to college with a suitcase and a grill where he overcooked, undercooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thousands of failures, and quite a few successes, nearly two decades later he started a website to show step by step, picture by picture, foolproof instructions on how to make great things out of doors so that others don’t have to repeat the mistakes he’s made on the grill.
Scott Thomas

@GrillinFool - #GrillPorn abounds here. All meat, all the time!
@bigmoecason says, "You have 4.5 hours left to get to @qintheloustl to eat my ribs. Get to… - 14 hours ago
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So you smoked those massive ribs for only 3 hours and they were butterknife-tender? Thats incredible when compared to pork spareribs, which I have to cook for 6 hours. Will have to give that one a try.


Yes. Foiling is like accelerated cooking without raising the temp. And for spares, you really only need about 2 hours at 275-300. Check out this post to see what I am talking about. I did the 6 hour thing for years. I went back to the basics.

Thank you for this amazing recipe. Never knew how to make beef ribs taste so good. I never was the best with the grille until I have been visiting your website. Your grillin tactics are amazing!


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