Beef Short Ribs

To a particular contingency of BBQ enthusiasts the smoking of Beef Short Ribs are like the magnum opus of all things Q! If Beef Brisket is the Bachelors Degree of BBQ then Beef Short Ribs, Plate Ribs, Chuck Ribs…. Whatever you call them are the Master’s Degree. In short, these meaty mounds of pure uncut delicious smokiness are like the final dissertation one must take before officially earning the declaration of being a real Pitmaster!

What Are Short Ribs

Before we get into how it is that we prepare and smoke short ribs we must first have a decent understanding of exactly what they are as well as where they come from on the steer. Unlike baby back ribs and spare ribs which both come from a specific position on the hog, short ribs are cut from any of the areas under the brisket, chuck, rib loin or plate.

The short namesake simply implies that the ribs have been cut into a shorter portion of a really long set of bones. For this reason each section will have a slightly different flavor along with varying amounts of fat. The similarities in the different areas will allow for short ribs to be cooked in a consistent manner regardless of which cut it comes from.

Where To Find Short Ribs

Your best bet for sourcing the full plate short ribs that you see on TV is going to be your local butcher shop. The short ribs that you’ll find in most typical supermarkets are either going to be very short portions of a single bone, known as English Cut or they’ll be Flanken Style which is most suitable for Korean BBQ or more precisely Kalbi. Restaurant supply stores are another viable source if your local butcher doesn’t normally carry short ribs.

How To Smoke Short Ribs

Ribs serve the all too important function of protecting a nearly 2,000 pound steer. For that reason there is a ton of connective tissue contained within the short ribs that you and I have the luxury of enjoying. The best and only way to break down a ton of connective tissue is the render it out low and slow. Smoking Beef Short Ribs can quickly become a very long and drawn out process. For this reason it is often times a wise decision to spike the heat just a bit for Beef Short Ribs. Instead of sticking to the normal 225F format you may be better suited to cook more in the range of 250 and 275F. This will allow for the proper connective tissue breakdown but it won’t cost you a full day just to get to the good part.

Fighting The Stall

As that connective tissue begins to break down the stall occurs when the locked in water begins to evaporate. For the sake of time and tenderness I’m always in favor of wrapping ribs in either heavy duty aluminum foil or peach butcher paper. For anything beef I recommend only using peach further paper since it pours. This will allow a little bit of smoke to penetrate the wrap but not so much that the meat comes out over-smoked. Wrapping will also help speed the process along considerably.


Rack of Short Ribs
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Smofried BBQ Brisket Rub
Apple Juice


1. Similar to Beef Brisket, the first step to stellar short ribs is trimming. Trim away any and all large fatty areas from the top of the ribs. Be careful to only trim away fat and not the meat.

2. On the flip side is the membrane. I prefer to leave the membrane on as it will assist in holding the rib plate together during the later stages of the smoke.

3. Coat the Short Ribs with Extra Virgin Olive Oil before rubbing them with Smofried BBQ Brisket Rubs.

4. Heat your smoker to between 250 and 275F using a combination of lump charcoal and natural oak wood.

5. Once the smoker is up to temperature place the short ribs, bone-side down, directly on the grates.

6. Smoke the short ribs over indirect heat for 4 to 6 hours, spritzing with apple juice every hour.

7. At this point remove the short ribs from the smoker and wrap them in peach butcher paper before returning them to the smoker.

8. Continue to smoke the short ribs until the internal temperature is 200F.

9. Allow the short ribs to rest for at least 30 minutes, still enclosed in the peach butcher paper.

10. Once the short ribs are well rested cut them into single bone portions.

11. Serve the short ribs as whole pieces or pull the meat off the bone and hand shred.