We know beef brisket gets most of the love, but smoked beef short ribs might be our favorite smoked beef dish! This easy-to-follow recipe will help you fall in love with smoked beef short ribs just like us!
Keep reading to learn more about short ribs, why we recommend smoking them, and a step-by-step walk-through of making smoked beef short ribs.
If you don’t need all of the information, scroll down to the ingredients and get cooking. Here we go!
What are beef short ribs?
Short ribs are a cut of beef that come from the area around the chuck (front shoulder) and rib portion of an animal. They have a short portion of rib bone (thus the name short rib!) and the surrounding meat. Short ribs have a ton of flavor but also a good amount of fat and connective tissue.
Short ribs are a cut that need to be cooked low and slow to make them tender and yummy. Cooking methods such as braising are most commonly used for short ribs, but they are also terrific when they’re cooked on a smoker!
Short ribs can come in multiple variations:
- Short Rib Plate – this is a 4 -5 bone portion of the entire length of a short rib with all of the meat attached to it. We use short rib plates for this recipe.
- English Cut Short Ribs – these are the traditional cut you’ll see for braised short ribs. These are small cubes of meat with a portion of bone on top.
- BBQ / Galbi / Korean Cut Short Ribs – these are thin cuts of short rib that have several portions of bone plus a small amount of meat. Popular in Korean BBQ, these can be cooked quickly on a grill.
- Boneless Short Ribs – these are most popular in foodservice banquets and are pieces of meat without any bone. They are not common in retail settings due to their high cost.
Why should I smoke short ribs instead of brisket?
We started this recipe saying that we think smoked beef short ribs may be our favorite smoked beef. We know that may be controversial, but we’re not the only ones that feel that way. In his cookbook, James Beard award-winning BBQ chef Aaron Franklin says:
“If I had to name my own personal favorite cut of barbecue, it would probably be beef ribs. They are the richest and the most decadent, succulent, and flavorful cut of beef you can put on a smoker. That’s also why I don’t eat them much – too rich, too hedonistic…they’re a special treat”
Well said, Aaron! We hope his words convince you to try smoked beef short ribs, but we’d also like to add that you can buy smaller portions of short ribs, which is a huge benefit compared to buying a 13-pound beef brisket.
If you want to read Aaron’s full recipe for Smoked Beef Short Ribs, we highly recommend purchasing his Franklin Barbecue cookbook. It’s easy to read and has tons of smoking tips, techniques and recipes.
Please note that if you make a purchase using the links on this page, we may get a small commission for them. Thanks for the support!
Preparing the Smoked Beef Short Ribs – What to Buy & How to Season
As we stated above, there are a number of different types of short ribs you can purchase. For this smoked beef short ribs, you want to purchase a full plate of short ribs. A plate will look something like what you see above and have 3 – 5 bones, and weigh about 3 pounds.
There are many ways to season beef short ribs for smoking, but we like to stick with a traditional salt-pepper-garlic rub and yellow mustard slather. The slather helps the seasoning and smoke adhere to the beef, and the seasoning perfectly complements the beef flavor.
If you prefer a spicier flavor, we suggest using Sriracha sauce for the slather and then using one of these ideas to spice up your rub:
- Use your favorite spicy rub instead of the salt-pepper-garlic rub.
- Add cayenne pepper to the salt-pepper-garlic rub.
- Grate some of these spicy and flavorful chile flakes from Flatiron Pepper Company on top of your short ribs.
We also love this Chinese-inspired Five-Spice Short Ribs recipe from Meatwave as a flavorful departure from our typical American smoked meat palate!
Setting Up your Smoker – Wood Choices & Temperature
Smoking beef short ribs is similar to smoking brisket in terms of your smoker setup. Here’s what we recommend:
- Make sure you are cooking with indirect heat.
- We recommend using heavily flavored wood for smoke such as oak, hickory, or pecan. We like to use a chunk of oak and a chunk of pecan.
- Our preferred smoking temperature is 250ºF. We know many people prefer 225ºF, but we like the shorter cooking time that happens at 250ºF.
- We always put a water pan in our smoker to create a humid cooking environment. This helps eliminate moisture loss and cooks the meat more evenly.
Cooking Smoked Beef Short Ribs – Time & Temperature Guidelines
Smoking is a fairly straightforward process, and you mostly just want to leave the meat alone! When we smoke meat, we make sure we cook to temperature, and times will vary. In our experience, it will take about 4 – 4.5 hours to smoke these ribs to our desired temperature of 200ºF.
For this reason, we recommend using a remote temperature monitor to keep track of the short ribs’ temperature as they’re smoking without having to keep opening the smoker. This simple model is great, or this model syncs with your smartphone!
We place the ribs bone side down on the smoker and let the fat on the top of the short ribs cook down over the beef as it smokes. If you feel the bottom of the ribs are getting burnt, you can flip the ribs halfway through the smoking process.
We recommend spritzing the beef with apple cider vinegar, beer, or water while it cooks. This helps smoke adhere to the meat and keeps the smoked beef short ribs nice and juicy!
Finally, due to the short cooking time, it is not necessary to tent beef short ribs in butcher paper or foil like you would a brisket.
Finishing the Smoked Beef Short Ribs – Resting Time & Slicing
Maybe the most important step in cooking smoked beef short ribs is to make sure to let them rest before you slice them!
Once your ribs are cooked to 200ºF, remove them from your grill and place them on a cutting board. Cover them in foil and let them rest for 30 minutes before slicing.
Resting your meat allows the muscle fibers inside the beef to relax and redistribute the juice evenly throughout the meat. If you cut too soon, the juices will be lost to your cutting board instead of staying in your beef. We don’t want that!
Once your smoked beef short ribs have rested, there are two different ways we recommend slicing them:
- Leave the meat on the bone, and take a long slice between each bone like you see in our picture. Serve an entire bone’s worth of meat per person. This looks super cool!
- Stand the ribs up on end and slice down the ribs, removing the meat from the bones to make boneless smoked short ribs. Cut small slices or shred the meat to serve smaller portions.
Serving Your Short Ribs – Side Dish Suggestions
We recommend serving traditional barbecue side dishes with your smoked beef short ribs. Try side dishes such as:
- Baked Beans
- Mac & Cheese
- Potato Salad
We also like to have pickles, pickled jalapeños, and sliced white onions to munch on with our smoked beef short ribs. Add a little bit of tangy crunch to go with the juicy, tender, indulgent beef provides a nice balance to the dish.
You can also serve barbecue sauce on the side of these ribs if you like, but we don’t think any sauce is needed for these ribs. They are your ribs though, so you can serve them how you like!
Do you have other short rib recipes?
Of course we do!
Here are our best short rib recipes:
Hopefully, all of your questions are answered, and you feel fully prepared to make some amazing easy smoked beef short ribs! If you have feedback or more questions, leave us a comment below and we’ll get back to you.
Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you soon at Lake Geneva Country Meats!
- 2 piece LGCM Beef Short Ribs (full plates – see above notes)
- Yellow Mustard
- 1/4 cup Kosher Salt
- 2 Tbsp Black Pepper
- 1 Tbsp Garlic Powder (or granulated garlic)
- Apple Cider Vinegar (for spritzing)
Set your smoker to cook at 250ºF with indirect heat, oak, hickory, or pecan wood, and add a water pan to your smoker to create a humid cooking environment. We discuss the smoking setup in more detail above.
Combine the salt, pepper, and garlic to create a rub. Spread a thin layer of yellow mustard over all surfaces of the short ribs and then generously season the ribs rib the rub.
Place the ribs meat side up on your smoker and let cook at 250ºF for about 4 – 4.5 hours until the meat reaches 200ºF. Use a remote temperature probe to monitor the ribs temperature and spritz at the 2, 3, and 4 hour marks of the cook time with apple cider vinegar.
When the ribs reach 200ºF, remove from the smoker, place on a cutting board, cover with aluminum foil, and let rest for 30 minutes. After resting, slice as described above and serve. Enjoy your smoked beef short ribs!