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Smoked Beef Back Ribs

Smoked beef back ribs are tender, smoky, and rubbed with a brown sugar dry rub for a delicious treat. These ribs come from the same primal as prime rib and are full of beefy flavor.

We spend our first weekend at the lake last weekend, the weather was glorious, and it was probably the earliest weekend we've ever been to the lake lot.

On Saturday, we cooked hot dogs on our lake Traeger. They were so delicious, I needed to write a recipe for them to share the deliciousness.

And on Monday night, I cooked up smoked hot dogs for the recipe tutorial. My son looked at me and said "Really mom. Hot dogs again".

Apparently, his taste buds are more refined than mine. So today, I'm smoking him some "tender, juicy ribs" as he calls them.

This smoked beef back rib recipe is dedicated to Zen's buds.

Smoked beef back ribs, sliced and stacked.

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Tips + Tricks

No. 1 --> To easily remove the membrane use a butter knife in between 2 ribs. You only need to get the butter knife under the silver skin enough to get a finger underneath it. From there, use your fingers to slowly pull up the membrane until it's completely detached all the way across the rack, from there it's quite easy to pull up and remove it completely.

No. 2 --> Use a rimmed baking sheet when applying your rub. Thais simple step keeps you from cleaning rub out of every nook and cranny for the next 3 days!

No. 3 --> As with any smoked meat recipe, it's incredible important to cook to internal temperature and not time. I promise your ribs will not care when you planned to have dinner! Following an internal temperature guide will result in better results every.single.time.

A row of sliced smoked beef back ribs.

What Are Beef Back Ribs

Beef back ribs come from the primal cut called the rib. This primal is also home to ribeye steaks and prime rib. These ribs are simply the ribs cut off during the trimming of ribeyes and boneless prime rib roasts.

While these beef back ribs aren't as meaty as beef chuck or plate ribs, they come from an incredibly flavorful area of the animal and as a result have an incredibly beefy taste.

Beef back ribs are to cows what baby back ribs are to pigs.

Key Ingredients

Beef back ribs: Look for beef rubs with as much meat as possible between the bones. The beef should be a deep red and have nice fat marbling.

Dry rub: For these beef ribs, I like to use a brown sugar based rub filled with savory flavors; salt, pepper, garlic, and paprika. I've included my rub recipe in the printable recipe card below, but feel free to use your favorite beef rub on this cut.

Ingredients required for beef rib dry rub.

How To Smoke Beef Back Ribs

  1. Preheat smoker to 225f.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the rub by whisking the dark brown sugar, coarse ground black pepper, coarse kosher salt, paprika, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Remove the ribs from the packaging, and blot dry with a paper towel. Place them face down on a rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Use a rounded, dull knife to lift the membrane on the back of the ribs. Once you've got enough lifted, stick your fingers underneath and begin to stretch the membrane until it tears away from the backside of the rib bones. With a gentle, but firm hand, this should come off all in one piece.
  5. Spread a thin layer of rub on the back of the bones. Flip the ribs.
  6. Generously sprinkle rub all over the surface of the ribs, patting it in. Ensure you're getting both sides and the ends.
  7. Place the ribs on the preheated smoker and smoke at 225f for 2 hours.
  8. After 2 hours, give the ribs a good spritz with root beer every 45 - 60 minutes for another 2 hours.
  9. Once 4 hours of smoke time have elapsed, increase the temperature of your smoker to 300f and continue smoking the ribs, spritzing every 45-60 minutes, until they reach an internal temperature around 200f. This will likely take about an hour.
  10. Begin testing the meat by poking with your meat probe, it should slide in and out with almost no resistance. This can happen anywhere from 200-205f.
  11. Remove cooked ribs from the grill, wrap them in peach butcher's paper and a towel and allow them to rest for 20-30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Why Spritz?

Many people use a mop, I prefer to use a spray bottle - it's less clean up!

Spritzing during the cook adds a layer of flavor, and moisture. Smoke swirling in the barrel of your smoker is attracted to the moisture, and the spritz helps to increase the smoke flavor in your finished product.

Do I Need To Rest?

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 fibers relax and draw in some of that moisture. Resting gives you a much more tender and moist final product. It's worth it.

I wrap my beef ribs in a single layer of peach butcher's paper, then a towel. They will stay hot wrapped this way for at least 30 minutes on the counter.

What To Serve With Beef Back Ribs

Here are a couple of ideas! For some reason, every single time we have ribs we also have mac and cheese, in this house, that's a must!

Batch + Storage Information

Batch:

This recipe as written is for one rack of beef back ribs, but it can be easily scaled up!

I find one rack of ribs is the perfect portion of ribs for my family of four.

Storage:

If you've got leftover ribs, they can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Reheat your leftover beef back ribs by wrapping in foil and placing in the oven at 200f for about 20 minutes or until heated through. They can also be reheated in the air fryer, a few minutes at 300f usually heats them right up!

If you're like me and like to batch cook, these ribs can be prepared, smoked, cooled then vacuum sealed for later reheating in the sous vide!

Slicing beef back ribs.

Variations + Substitutions

  • Low Carb? Sub out the brown sugar for a low-carb brown sugar substitute and spritz with a 1:1 cup apple cider vinegar: water ratio.
  • Like it hot? Add a tablespoon of SRIRACHA POWDER to the rub!
  • Don't want to use root beer? Use apple juice, apple cider vinegar, Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, or whatever you feel like!

More Smoked Recipes To Try!

  • Smoker: Kevy and I purchased a TRAEGER TIMBERLINE 1300 in June 2019. Our life has changed! It's such a great machine - we've run thousands of pounds of pellets through it and would buy it again and again! Check out all the great SMOKED RECIPES we've developed.
  • Temperature Probe: I have and LOVE a MEATER+ MEAT PROBE. The probe itself is really brilliantly designed with a self-charging dock, a minimalistic probe, and really intuitive app.

LOVE THIS RECIPE?

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📖 Printable Recipe

Smoked beef back ribs, sliced and stacked.
Yield: 4 servings

Smoked Beef Back Ribs

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 10 minutes

Smoked beef back ribs are tender, smoky, and rubbed with a brown sugar dry rub for a delicious treat. These ribs come from the same primal as prime rib and are full of beefy flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 rack of beef back ribs
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 can of root beer

Instructions

  1. Preheat smoker to 225f.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the rub by whisking the dark brown sugar, coarse ground black pepper, coarse kosher salt, paprika, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Remove the ribs from the packaging, and blot dry. Place them face down on a rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Use a rounded, dull knife to lift the membrane on the back of the ribs. Once you've got enough lifted, stick your fingers underneath and begin to stretch the membrane until it tears away from the backside of the rib bones.
  5. Spread a thin layer of rub on the back of the bones. Flip the ribs.
  6. Generously sprinkle rub all over the surface of the ribs, patting it in. Ensure you're getting both sides and the ends.
  7. Place the ribs on the preheated smoker and smoke at 225f for 2 hours.
  8. After 2 hours, give the ribs a good spritz with root beer every 45 - 60 minutes for another 2 hours.
  9. Once 4 hours of smoke time have elapsed, increase the temperature of your smoker to 300f and continue smoking the ribs, spritzing every 45-60 minutes, until they reach an internal temperature around 200f. This will take about an hour.
  10. When the ribs reach 200f, begin testing the meat by poking with your meat probe, it should slide in and out with almost no resistance. This can happen anywhere from 200-205f.
  11. Remove cooked ribs from the grill, wrap them in peach butcher's paper and a towel and allow them to rest for 20-30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Notes

Batch:

This recipe as written is for one rack of beef back ribs, but it can be easily scaled up!

I find one rack of ribs is the perfect portion of ribs for my family of four.

Storage:

If you've got leftover ribs, they can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Reheat your leftover beef back ribs by wrapping in foil and placing in the oven at 200f for about 20 minutes or until heated through. They can also be reheated in the air fryer, a few minutes at 300f usually heats them right up!

If you're like me and like to batch cook, these ribs can be prepared, smoked, cooled then vacuum sealed for later reheating in the SOUS VIDE!

variations + substitutions

  • Low Carb? Sub out the brown sugar for a low-carb brown sugar substitute and spritz with a 1:1 cup apple cider vinegar: water ratio.
  • Like it hot? Add a tablespoon of SRIRACHA POWDER to the rub!
  • Don't want to use root beer? Use apple juice, apple cider vinegar, Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, or whatever you feel like!

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 167Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 831mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 1gSugar: 17gProtein: 8g

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