How To Cook Beef Ribs

The key to great grilled ribs of beef is to cook them slow. This makes them tender and full of flavor. Barbecuing them to perfection can take up to 5 hours. We’ll show you this “low and slow” method and also how to cook ribs of beef on the grill in just 1 hour. You should plan on 1 lbs/0.5 kilos per person.

Preparing Your Beef Ribs

Beef rib recipes are tough, so preparing beef ribs ahead of time with a marinade, rub or brine and refrigerating 6 – 24 hours before grilling will really help to tenderize the meat. Take them out of the fridge an hour before grilling to bring everything to room temperature.

First, you want to remove the membrane so that your barbecue rib rub and sauce are sure to seep down into the meat.

To remove the membrane use a sharp knife at one end of the rib rack and cut away the membrane from the meat. It’s slippery, so use a paper towel to get a grip on the membrane and then pull it off the rest of the way.

Marinate – Tenderize Your Beef Ribs

Next – tenderize your ribs. Here are 2 ways to tenderize your ribs ahead of time.

1) Dry Rub Recipe:

  • Rack of beef short, baby back, or spare ribs
  • Rib Rub (store bought, or homemade)
  • Olive oil

Refrigerate 6-24 hours. Remove from fridge 1 hour before grilling.

2) Brine Recipe:
Another option for tenderizing ribs of beef is to brine them first. This is especially important, if you are going to grill them fast rather than “low and slow”. Brining can make the difference between tough and chewy or tender and succulent grilled beef ribs. It’s easy to do:

Completely submerge ribs in the following solution:

  • 1 gallon/ 3.75 liters of water
  • 3/4 cup sea salt (or 1/2 cup table salt)
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Refrigerate 6-24 hours. Remove from fridge 1 hour before grilling.

How to Grill BBQ Beef Ribs – Low and Slow Method

2. If you marinated everything ahead of time, as suggested, then use a meat cleaver or sharp knife to shorten the rack of ribs by splitting it in half.

If you didn’t marinate, lightly spray rib racks with apple cider vinegar. This will tenderize the meat and open up its pores so that your bbq spices and sauce will soak in thoroughly.

Coat ribs generously with barbecue rub and cover with olive oil. For easier handling, use a meat cleaver or sharp knife to shorten the rack of ribs by splitting it in half.

3. Prepare your grill for high heat (500 degrees F) by filling a charcoal chimney starter completely full. Once pre-burned, pour coals onto one side of the grill.

Grilling Tip:
For this “low and slow” beef rib recipe, plan on going through about 1 1/2 chimneys of charcoal (lasts up to 5 hours).

4. Clean grate.

5. Barbeque ribs over direct heat, uncovered, for about 2 – 3 minutes per side. This will sear the ribs to seal in flavor and moisture. Now move the ribs to indirect heat (the other side of your grill where there are no coals) and stack them on top of each other.

Grilling Tip:
Stacking your bbq ribs helps to keep them moist while grilling and naturally bastes them in their own juices.

6. Add a handful of wood chips to the coals. Place a grill thermometer on the grate or through one of the vents in the lid. Cover the grill and adjust the vents until the internal grill temperature reaches 225 – 275 degrees F.

Grilling Tip:
Temperature is extremely important when it comes to the grilling in a beef rib recipe. Don’t guess, use a thermometer. You want to keep the temperature as constant as possible, between 225 – 275 degrees F.

You can maintain the right temperature by checking your grill thermometer frequently, adding charcoal as necessary, and adjusting the grill vents accordingly: opening them up will increase cooking temperature while closing them decreases it.

When adding coal, NEVER use unburned coal! Always pre-burn them first in a charcoal chimney.

7. Continue grilling ribs, covered, for about 3 – 5 hours depending on the amount of ribs you’re grilling. Every 30 minutes, apply mopping sauce (see options under ingredients) and restack ribs so the bottom ones are on the top and the top ones are on the bottom. They are done when and instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the ribs registers about 155 degrees F.

If you’re using wood chips in your beef rib recipe, throw a handful of chips in as necessary (about every hour).

Grilling Tip:
You only want to use enough wood chips so you can see some light smoke escaping through the vents. You don’t want thick smoke pouring out or you will ruin the ribs with an overly-smoked flavor.

Wrapping the wood chips in aluminum foil with some holes poked in the bottom will prevent them from burning down too quickly but still lend your bbq ribs that great smokey flavor.

8. The last 15 minutes of grilling, use a basting brush to apply your favorite BBQ sauce to the ribs. You don’t want to do this step any sooner because the BBQ sauce will burn.

9. Just before removing your ribs from the grill, brush on some more bbq sauce and place them over direct heat. Grill each side to caramelize the bbq sauce and add a little char to the edges. Now comes the best part, eating your perfectly grilled bbq ribs with family and friends.

Mopping Sauce
The process of keeping the ribs moist over the long grilling period is called “mopping”. To do this, periodically spray them with liquid (apple juice, beer, water). And/or brush on a basting sauce.

A popular mopping technique is to place the ribs on the upper rack of your grill with a drip pan on the lower rack filled with liquid (apple juice, beer, etc.)

If you lack an upper rack on your grill, you can place a mini-rack on top of a drip pan. Just make sure it’s big enough to hold your ribs.

This way you can use the drippings from the ribs to baste them with their own juices during the grilling process, and the steam from the liquid in the drip pan helps keep everything moist.

Even if you don’t use the drip-method for basting, a drip pan is a good idea, regardless, because beef ribs have a lot of fat which causes flare-ups on the grill.

Grilling BBQ Beef Ribs –  Quick Grilling Method

“Low and Slow” is not always the way to go, especially if you’re pressed for time. Here is a way to speed up the cooking process but still turn out moist and tender grilled beef ribs.

1. Cooking beef ribs fast can make them tough instead of tender. To compensate for this, prepare them ahead of time with a marinade or rub and refrigerate 6 – 24 hours before grilling. This will tenderize the meat and make-up for less time on the grill.

2. Follow steps 1 – 5 under low and slow method.

The only exception to steps 1 – 5 is that you don’t have to use a charcoal chimney because one round of coals is plenty for this quick method.

3. Instead of a grill temperature of 225 – 275 degrees F, adjust vents to maintain a temperature of 300 – 325 degrees F.

4. Follow steps 7 – 9 under low and slow method.

The only difference here is that the grilling time is 2 hours instead of 5. If you want to cook beef ribs in 1 hour then maintain a grilling temperature of 350 degrees F; it also helps to wrap them in foil. They are done when and instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the ribs registers about 155 degrees F.

Now if you use this quick grill method for cooking your beef ribs recipes, your meat won’t have that same deep, rich, smokey flavor that the low and slow method provides but they will still be moist, tender, and mighty tasty!



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