Smoked Beef Short Ribs are cooked low and slow until rich and incredibly tender and finished in a wine braising liquid. This is the ultimate comfort food.
Today we have a recipe I’m super excited about! Smoked beef short ribs, slowly smoked until tender and rich and incredibly delicious.
This is what I request every year for Mother’s Day because it’s my favorite meal in the world.
Once upon a time I was a pseudo-vegetarian. It wasn’t until we bought our first smoker that I came around to the meat side. Shortly after that I had my meat epiphany at a restaurant in Honolulu called Chef Mavro (I LOOOOOVE this place!). It was a single cut of meat that did it for me — braised beef short ribs. The meat was so tender it melted in my mouth like butter. I promised if we could learn to cook meat like that I’d convert back to the dark side!
I’ve been a convert ever since, and this cut of meat is why.
Smoked Beef Short Ribs – The Cut
The beef short ribs we are cooking here are typically smaller cuts (around 3 inches of bone) and meaty; and that’s likely how you will see them in the butcher case. Buying Prime, Choice, or even Wagyu cuts for marbling is key so that you get that flavor that makes them magical. We love using Snake River Farms and Double R Ranch for our beef short ribs. It is worth getting them online or through local retailers that sell higher quality cuts.
Types of Beef Ribs
You will commonly see two types of beef ribs.
- Back Ribs – These are among the 13 ribs that run direct from the spine and have the meat between the bones and comprised of the chuck ribs (first 5 ribs) and back ribs (the next 7).
- Short or Plate Ribs – These are similar to pork spare ribs, flat and have the meat on top of the plate. They run toward the lower part of the ribs.
You can see our plate rib recipe and how to smoke here. When buying short ribs, try to select rib cuts that are equal in size so they cook evenly.
How to Prep Beef Short Ribs
I like to trim the silver skin off of the top of the short ribs. This is not fat, it will not render and can be tough and chewy, so use a sharp filet or boning knife to gently remove the silver skin.
You’ll see a thin membrane that, when removed, will expose that gorgeous beef that will pull that smoke in. Unlike pork ribs, you don’t need to take the membrane off the bone side. Leave it there so it can hold that beef on the ribs.
Beef Rib Rub
Coat the ribs in olive oil. The oil will allow the rub to stick to the ribs. Then generously season with a kosher salt, coarse black pepper, and granulated garlic. This is also known as the SPG beef rub. You can do this the day before or just before you smoke it. If you season the day before, it will allow a slight dry brine to occur for more flavor.
How to Smoke Beef Short Ribs
I’ve found that a lower temperature, like 225 or 250 degrees and using a fruit wood or oak is key. That way you complement the beef flavor and not over power it. It’ll also take hours to cook, like five hours or more depending on how thick the meat is.
While the beef ribs are cooking I like to spray with an apple cider vinegar and apple juice spritz. The acidic flavor really complements the beef. After the first hour of cooking I spritz every 30 minutes or so. So be prepared for spending time around your cooker and being sure you have good beer to pass the time; or the wine you may use for the bath. 😉
The Finish – Braising
I wrap when I see the color I am looking for (a rich, red, mahogany sheen), then letting the meat baste in its own juices and getting that collagen to cook out. This will usually happen at around the 3 hour mark. You can also add the meat into a beef broth/wine bath for moisture and flavor as well. I like a combination of broth and wine for flavor.
It’s really about what flavor you want. But in the end, what you want to do is get the beef time on smoke for a few hours, and then finish the cook by getting the internal temperature of the beef ribs to over 200 degrees (between 200-205 is the sweet spot). This is when that fat and collagen all melt away, and the texture of the short ribs is soft like butter and melts in your mouth. It’ll be super tender, but not spongy.
How Long to Cook Beef Short Ribs
Beef short ribs are done when the internal temperature of the ribs reaches around 200 – 205 degrees Fahrenheit using an instant read thermometer like a Thermoworks MK4 Thermapen.
- At 225 degrees F plan on 6 hours of total time.
- If smoking at 250 degrees plan on 5 hours of total time.
The larger/heavier the ribs, the longer they will take.
The probe should insert like you are putting into room temperature butter. Once the texture is there, it’s ready to pull the ribs and serve with your favorite side like mashed potatoes or a parsnip puree.
So very very good!
Other Rib Recipes for the Smoker
- Smoked Beef Plate Ribs
- Smoked Beef Short Ribs in a Wine Braise
- 3-2-1 Pork Spare Ribs
- Baby Back Pork Ribs
You’ve got an incredibly tender texture from the meat, and a lovely smoky infusion. Much of the fat has rendered out, but what you are left with is juicy, melt-in-your-mouth meat. We also let the meat braise in a shallow bath of wine for awhile, picking up some of those concentrated fruity flavors, but not as long as a traditional oven roasted wine braise. For this I’m looking for a red wine that a somewhat rich and velvety texture, with medium to low tannins and deep fruity flavors (not ripe or overly sweet). I want something full-bodied, but not overly intense, and I want some acid to refresh the palate.
We’ve made this several times, with several preparations (including transferring the meat to a richer braise with vegetables and wine, and serving over polenta with blue cheese), and also what we have here, which is simply prepared over some grilled greens. Both were spot on with Cabernet Sauvignon. But I would avoid an overly tannic wine, like, say, a young Napa Cabernet. Turn to other regions like Sonoma, Chile, or those from Washington State.
Other Options: Sangiovese can also work nicely with its stewy, herbal, and smoky notes. Rhone reds will also offer some lovely savory notes to match the meat. I’m also curious to try it with a moderately rich Syrah.
Check out our Video for our Wine Braised Smoked Beef Short Ribs here!
This post was originally published in May of 2015 and updated in August of 2020 adding more details to the recipe, details on the time as well as temperature.
Smoked Beef Short Rib Recipe
Smoked Beef Short Ribs
- 2 ½ pounds (or six large) beef short ribs
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoon beef rub, (or equal parts salt and fresh ground pepper)
For the Spritz
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup apple juice
- Combine in a food safe spray bottle
For the Bath (Optional)
- 1 cup red wine, like Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec, something you would drink
- 1 cup beef broth
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons dry rub, or simple salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- Preheat smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit (we used cherry wood).
- Trim excess fat and membrane off of the ribs, coat in olive oil and your rub. Be sure to get all sides of the beef.
- Place beef on the smoker for about 3 hours, until the color is mahogany and a nice crust has set. After the first hour during the smoke period, start spraying the meat every 30 minutes with your spritz until you wrap.
- At the 3 hour mark, place in a baking dish along with your bath ingredients and then cover with foil for about two hours (like pictured above). You are looking for an internal temperature of 200 degrees.
- Serve when the beef is tender and almost falling off the bone. If they appear rubbery or spongy, they are not quite cooked through yet, so keep going until it reaches 200 – 205 degrees or until an instant read thermometer inserts into the meat like it's room temperature butter.
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