Smoked Beef Short Ribs

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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.

Smoked Beef Short Ribs on a plate with mashed potatoes
Short ribs will retract from the bone as they smoke.
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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.

Smoked Beef Short ribs on a sheet pan.

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 short ribs. 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.

Beef short ribs with the silver skin still on.
Remove the silver skin as this is not fat.

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.

A closeup of the marbling on raw meat.
Once the silver skin is removed, it’s time to season.

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.

Placing aluminum foil over a glass pan to keep the moisture inside the pan.

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.

Beef Short Ribs Braising in a glass dish
Flipping upside down keeps the meaty side in the liquid.

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

Wine Pairing

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

4.47 from 129 votes

Smoked Beef Short Ribs

Recipe for smoked beef short ribs and tips and tricks for getting that melt-in-your-mouth tender meat.
Prep: 45 minutes
Cook: 5 hours
Total: 5 hours 45 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
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Ingredients 

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

Cooking time will vary based on size of your short ribs. Plan on 5-7 hours of cook time.

Nutrition

Calories: 608kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 123mg | Sodium: 459mg | Potassium: 1073mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 179IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 112mg | Iron: 8mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 45 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: barbecue, bbq
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 608
Keyword: how to smoke beef short ribs, short ribs on the smoker, Smoked beef short ribs, smoked beef short ribs recipe
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About Mary


I'm Mary, a wine/food/travel writer, Certified Sommelier, mom of twins, former vegetarian turned BBQ fanatic, runner, founder of Vindulge, and author of Fire + Wine cookbook. Thanks for stopping by!

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86 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I found this recipe in 2021 when I wanted to do something special for Father’s Day and they were such a hit it has been a yearly tradition ever since. These short ribs on their own bring 15 dads and family members to our house who used to spend 100’s of dollars booking a restaurant reservation to eat out. I am coming back to this again this year because I am going to the butcher this week and realized that I never commented despite it being such a staple. I follow the directions to the T every year and every time they come out so DANG good. It is the one time a year I have my husband fire up the smoker for me and it is never a dissapointment!

    1. Brittany, thank you sooo much for taking the time to share this. It’s an amazing story and I hope it continues to bring your family joy!!!!!

    1. Yes, you can smoke the short ribs first and cool down and then finish with the braise the next day.

  2. I am wondering if the braising bath liquid should be heated first before putting the meat in it. Wouldn’t this save time with the cook? Probably don’t want it to boil, but simmer??

    1. You can but the reality is that you’re putting hot short ribs in the braising liquid and back into a hot smoker. The overall time for it to heat up is minimal. But you can warm up up to a low simmer if you like. I am not sure that it really will save any time.

  3. 5 stars
    Just made these short ribs for Mother’s Day weekend. They were a hit with amazing flavor, texture and presentation. I like the braised method with your bath ingredients.I am hooked on these now so they will be a regular smoke for me.

  4. Wondering if smoking the ribs the day before then cooling them in the fridge and brazing them the following day would hinder the process, flavor, and overall end result? I’m planning an evening dinner with friends after work so I would have to split up the total cook time into two sessions.

    1. You can definitely do that. If you smoke them the day before take them all the way until they are done. I would also wrap them and let them rest in a cooler (no ice) for an hour. Then when done, I would remove them from the rib bones. Depending on how you want to eat them you can shred it up or slice it up. Then refrigerate. When reheating, I would reheat in aluminum foil, with a touch of apple cider vinegar in an oven at 300 degrees F completely sealed. The ACV will steam and help keep them moist.

  5. Will the bath be enough liquid for a reduction/gravy to finish with over mashed potatoes, or should I double the liquid?

    1. There should be enough left over for a gravy. You can always add more stock or wine to the braising liquid as you reduce it too.

    1. Ron typically no. Although at 3 hours you see the bones starting to protrude which is the best indicator. They typically will have an internal temperature between 160 and 170 degrees F.

  6. 3 stars
    I followed the recipe. But after smoking for 7 hours and still only 168 internal temp,, I pulled the ribs and transferred to the Ninja Foodi to finish in the pressure cooker setting (for 30 minutes). They came out great as this is a good recipe. I think the time just isn’t accurate. I would make again because they were really good.

    1. Paul thanks for sharing. at 7 hours 168 seems very low. Curious were they cut much larger? Or was your temp accurate? You may want to check because we have made this so many times and I wonder if your thermometer may be off or if you ran a lower temp in the cooker?