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Root Beer Smoked Beef Ribs

A smoked beef ribs recipe that perfect for a celebration or just because. Your family will love the hint of root beer, and the sweet and smokey bark on these beef chuck ribs!

July 13th.

On July 13th of 2018, I was fortunate enough to have major, life-changing surgery. At 29 years old, I was given a second chance at life, and this family, well, we will forever celebrate that day. 

This year, on our inaugural July 13th celebration we settled on root beer smoked beef ribs, crashed potatoes, and a beautiful evening spent on the deck. 

This recipe is dedicated to celebrating second chances. 

Two ribs side by side on a baking sheet, one is bone side down showing the smoked bark and the other is cut side up showing the smoke ring and tender beef meat.

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To Smoke or not to smoke:

We totally splurged on a Traeger this year. Kevin LOVES cooking, and I'm always down for a new adventure. We absolutely adore our new toy.

Since we brought home the smoker, we've cooked on it non-stop.

Without exaggeration, our propane grill has been turned on exactly one time since we brought home the MacDaddy of Traegers.

When we were shopping, the reasonable side of us came out:

  • you already have a propane grill, you don't need a smoker too.
  • we really don't need the biggest one they make.
  • why don't we buy a reasonably-priced smoker to make sure we like it first.

More smoked recipes to love!

Ribs on a baking sheet, the one on the end is on its side, cut side up showing the smoke ring and tender beef inside.

Guess what?

We did not listen to anything reasonable. We straight up bought the largest most expensive Traeger on the market. The Timberline 1300.

Two kids hands reaching into the frame, each grabbing a rib off a cookie sheet.
"Traeger Goodness" is Good-KID approved!

Beef Chuck Ribs

Beef chuck ribs are located under the cow's neck and consist of rib 2-5. in our experience, they've always come from our butcher in a rack of 4 bones.

The chuck rib is a rectangular slab of well-marbled muscle that when cooked low and slow delivers an incredibly tender and flavourful dish. The chuck ribs are generally not as meat-heavy as the plate ribs, which works out great for portions. Our family of 4 can eat 3 smoked beef ribs and have one leftover for late-night snackin'!

You may need to see your butcher for this cut, as they can be hard to find in a complete rack at the supermarket. While you can often find cut short ribs, it's very difficult to locate a rack.

Two smoked chuck ribs laying on their cut side, showing a bright red smoke ring and the tender beef flesh.

Tips + Tricks

USE a rimmed baking sheet when applying your rub. That simple step keeps you from cleaning the glitter of the culinary world out of every crevice you can find on your counter for the next three days.

MIX up your rub fresh. This one might be a lie, but I always feel like rub is worth the few minutes it takes to make because it's fresher.

DARK brown sugar is where it's at. You need the moist, molasses brown sugar action to create a nice bark on your meat.

GIVE yourself lots of time. Smoked meat doesn't give a shite when you planned to have dinner! You're much better off to remove the meat from the smoker a few hours early and let it rest in a warm cooler than to run later.

USE a sharp knife, we use a boning knife like this, to score the backside of the ribs in a crosshatch pattern.

The back side of the beef chuck ribs showing the membrane has been scored in a cross hatch pattern before applying rub and smoking.

How to smoke beef ribs

There are no real complicated steps to this recipe. Just time and patience!

  1. If the butcher hasn't done so yet, remove the tough fat and silverskin from the top-side of meat.
  2. Use a knife to score a crosshatch pattern on the back of the rib plate
  3. Apply rub - either cook right away or dry brine overnight. We prefer the overnight dry brine.
  4. Preheat smoker to 225f.
  5. Cook ribs until an internal temperature of ~160f - spritzing with root beer every 45 minutes to an hour. Wrap with peach butcher paper, if desired.
  6. Continue cooking till ribs hit an internal temperature of ~203f.
  7. Remove from smoker, wrap tightly in a towel and place in a warm cooler to rest for at least 1 hour.
A right hand sprinkling rub on a slab of ribs on a cookie sheet while the left hand helps get the rub on the vertical sides.

Do I need to rest smoked beef ribs?

YES. Don't skip this step.

As meat cooks, the muscle tendons tighten up and squeeze out a lot of moisture. When you take the meat away from the heat source the fibres relax and draw in some of that moisture. Resting gives you a much more tender and moist final product.

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Two root beer smoked beef ribs.
Yield: 4

Smoked Root Beer Ribs

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 7 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

FOR THE RIB RUB:

  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt, or smoked salt
  • 1 tbsp pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp cumin

FOR THE RIBS:

  • 1 rack of beef chuck ribs, cleaned of silverskin and fat trimmed to ¼”

FOR THE SPRITZ:

  • 1/2 can root beer

FOR THE STEAM BOWL:

  • 1/2 can root beer

Instructions

  1. Start your smoker according to manufacturer’s instructions, and set to 225F.
  2. Combine all ingredients for the rub into a large bowl, set aside. 
  3. If your ribs are not completely trimmed, take a moment to clean off as much silverskin as you can, and also trim the fat to as close to 1/4 inch as you can. 
  4. Flip the ribs so that the meat is facing downwards, and using a sharp knife, score the backside of the ribs
  5. Flip the ribs right-side up, and sprinkle the rub evenly across the surface. 
  6. Hold your non-dominant hand along the side of the ribs, and sprinkle the rub along the sides as well, using your hand to press the rub into the beef. 
  7. Insert your temperature probe into the thickest part of your rack of ribs, being careful to avoid the bone. Set aside. 
  8. Add half of a can of rootbeer to your spray bottle, and the other half to an oven-safe dish - we often use tinfoil loaf pans. 
  9. Once your smoker has reached temperature, take the ribs and the steam bowl out to the smoker. Place both directly on the grates. 
  10. Spritz your ribs with root beer every 45-60 minutes. If you notice the root beer in the steam bowl running low, you can top it off with a little bit of water.
  11. Once the ribs reach 160F internal temperature, give them one last spritz and dump remaining rootbeer into the steam bowl.
  12. Wrap the ribs with peach butcher’s paper. 
  13. Return the ribs to the smoker, and increase the temperature of the smoker to 250F and cook ribs until they reach an internal temperature of ~200F. 
  14. Once the ribs reach ~203F, pull them from the smoker, wrap them into a towel, and place into a cooler to keep warm, and rest, for at least 1 hour.
  15. After the meat has rested for a minimum of 1 hour, open them up, cut between the ribs to serve, and enjoy!

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 181Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 1933mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 1gSugar: 23gProtein: 10g

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Root beer smoked ribs pinterest graphic.

Close up of the smoked pulled pork and two stainless steel forks.
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Jordan

Tuesday 9th of March 2021

What wood do you recommend for this recipe?

Ally

Tuesday 9th of March 2021

Hey Jordan,

I generally run Lumberjack Competition blend which is maple, hickory, and cherry. It's pretty universal so that's what is in my hopper 9 times out of 10!

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