Barbecued Beef Back Ribs

Beef back ribs are the bones that the rib roast or rib-eye steaks come off of and they typically don’t have much meat on them. You’ll often see them in abundance around Christmas and New Year’s when people are buying a lot of rib roasts. They’re usually pretty cheap, and that’s a good thing because, like I said, there just isn’t much meat on them. And the meat needs a lot of cooking to make it tender. But when it’s cooked right, it’s really good meat, so it’s worth the effort. Wrapping the ribs in foil is essential to get them tender. If you’re the adventurous type, add a half cup of strongly brewed coffee to the package when you wrap the ribs. I think you’ll find it to be a pleasant surprise. Beef back ribs typically come in 4- to 6-bone pieces. You’ll need at least a pound of meat (2 to 3 ribs) per person.–Ray Lampe

LC Meat Per Person Note

Um, 2 to 3 ribs per person? That sounds like a fairly conservative estimate to us. We know we’d need quite a lot more than that, and we think you may, too.

Barbecued Beef Back Ribs Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 40 M
  • 4 H, 35 M
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • For the rib rub #99
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar, such as Sugar In The Raw
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup salt, depending on your tolerance for the stuff
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • For the ribs
  • 5 pounds beef back ribs
  • 2 cups your favorite barbecue sauce

Directions

  • For the rib rub #99
  • 1. Combine all of the ingredients. Mix well and take a taste. If it needs more salt, shake some in. The rub can be stored in an airtight container for up to several weeks. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
  • Prepare the ribs
  • 2. Peel the membrane off the back side of the ribs and discard it. (It tends to be sort of slippery. Try grabbing it with a paper towel and see if that helps.) Season the ribs liberally on both sides with some of the rib rub.
  • 3. Prepare the grill for cooking over indirect heat at 250° F (121°C) using oak or hickory wood for flavor. Place the ribs, meaty-side up, directly on the cooking grate. Cook for 2 1/2 hours. Flip the ribs and cook for 30 more minutes.
  • 4. Place a double layer of big sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil next to the grill and place the ribs on it, meaty-side up. Wrap up the ribs, sealing the package tightly. Return the ribs to the grill for 1 hour.
  • 5. Transfer the packet of ribs to a platter. Raise the temp of the grill to 400°F (204°C) . Remove the ribs from the foil and return to the cooking grate. Brush with the sauce. Cook for 15 minutes. Flip the ribs, and brush with the sauce again. Repeat once more.
  • 6. Place the ribs on a platter and serve with additional barbecue sauce, preferably warm, on the side.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Dan Kraan

Aug 30, 2010

Recipes like this come down to the rub and the cooking technique, and these Barbecue Beef Back Ribs do not disappoint in either department. There is a lot of waiting time, but low and slow allows the flavour of the rub to permeate the ribs, doing wonders for the texture of the meat. The only problem I have with this recipe is the amount of grilling at the end. That extra hour of basting with BBQ sauce was way too long for my ribs. About 20 minutes, turning every five minutes, was plenty.

Instead of basting with the sauce, I warmed it up over low heat and served it on the side. That way, I could regulate how much or little to put on the ribs. I also tried the ribs without the sauce to see the difference, and found the rub is good enough that you don’t need any sauce. And if you do use a barbecue sauce, be sure that it’s low in salt, as the rub already has enough salt in it.

Comments
Comments
  1. cedar chest says:

    Barbecued Beef Back Ribs is one of my favorite dishes. I really love how it tastes and I also love different kinds of sauce that can be pair with that dish.

    • David Leite says:

      If you make this version, write us and tell us what you think.

    • Leah says:

      I loved the rub, and the ribs turned out great. Some of the best I’ve had in recent years.

      • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

        Terrific, Leah! It’s perplexing, isn’t it, just how tricky it is to find a really reliable rub? Let us know if you try it on steak or chops or chicken or any such thing…

  2. Kath says:

    @Dan Kraan: Thanks for your comment that the sauce isn’t necessary. I was wondering that as I was reading the recipe.

  3. embee says:

    Re: the quote “And the meat needs a lot of cooking to make it tender” – this is absolutely untrue! These beef ribs make a great, quick meal.

    These bones come from the prime rib. Low & slow is one option, but hot and fast is another viable preparation technique. (Think rib steak.) Each of these methods provides its own particular charms, since the eating qualities are quite different.

    Just season as desired and throw the bones on a very hot grill. A few minutes per side gets you a crusty, rare, and tender result. Since ribs prepared this way are very rich, most people can’t eat more than about three (though YMMV*—by a lot).

    *Your mileage may vary.—ed.

  4. Kath says:

    I didn’t exactly make this recipe because I changed things a bit. I used a rub that I already had on hand. I started the ribs on my gas grill. Halfway through, I ran out of propane, so I finished them in the oven. I skipped the sauce. We really enjoyed the ribs and I’ll definitely make them again.

    • David Leite says:

      Ah, the definition of a great recipe: It can handle endless variations and tweaks and still come out a winner.

  5. Carolle says:

    I made this with just the dry rub and it was delicious..I really like the dry coriander flavour with the beef. The second time I tried it I did baste the ribs with a root beer barbecue sauce I made. Thank you very much.

  6. Becky says:

    Hi David,

    I’ve only ever done ribs once and they were awful. I’m going to try your recipe today if you respond in time. My concern is the grilling. Our grill does not have a temp gauge and it cooks things unevenly. Should I opt to put it in the oven at that temp and then cook the last hour on the grill? I’m just afraid I’ll dry them out with my grill. I really want them to turn out.

    • David Leite says:

      Becky, if you feel more secure in cooking them in oven, do. I’ve done that often, and they come out great. (And maybe get a new grill!)

      • Becky says:

        My husband says there is a temp gauge on the grill and that it does cook warmer in the back than the front. Any suggestions?

  7. Martha Henderson says:

    I made these ribs exactly to the recipe and they were absolutely amazing. The cook time is perfect. If you follow the recipe you will not be disappointed!!!!

    • Lindsay Myers says:

      It’s wonderful to hear your success story, Martha. Thank you. So glad the recipe worked out perfectly!

  8. john blaze says:

    Ribs came out rich, juicy, tender and amazing with no sauce. Get u some!

    • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

      Well put like that, John, I may have to get me some right now! So glad that you enjoyed the recipe.

  9. Justin says:

    Cooking them up for a second time tonight. I have to say they were delicious the first time and i’m excited to make them again. Great Recipe =}

    • Julie Dreyfoos, LC Production Manager says:

      Hey Justin, so glad to hear that you like these ribs, they are some of my favorites as well (and my family’s), always nice to have a recipe that you can go back to a second and third time. What did you serve them with?

  10. Samantha says:

    You said for the adventurous to add ½ cup coffee to the foil packet. Is that ground or brewed coffee?

  11. Samantha says:

    I have never made ribs before and I have been wanting to try but since I have no outdoor grill my only option was to make them in the oven. Not a good idea since it was so hot this summer and I didn’t want to heat up the whole house! I bought a Sharper Image Superwave Oven recently and I have been trying all kinds of recipes with great results. I came across some beef back ribs that were on sale the other day (3 rib rack for $3.00!) an decided this was my opportunity to feed my rib craving!

    Yours was the first recipe I saw online. I had everything for the rub except the cayanne pepper and the coriander seed. I toasted the whole allspice and cumin seeds and then ground them. I applied the rub to the ribs and put in fridge for 8 hrs.

    Since the Superwave oven cooks much faster I adjusted the cooking times. They went in for 1 hr then I flipped it and cooked it for 30 min. more. At this point it looked ready to eat but I wanted to see what effect the brewed coffee would have on the ribs so I put the ribs on the foil meat side down and poured the coffee over it. I made the packet and cooked for 15 min more. I didn’t flip it over. It was definately ready now!

    I took the ribs out and placed them on my dinner plate. The coffee turned into a wonderful syrup and I just poured that over the ribs, no BBQ sauce needed! It was delish! At first I thought that the amount of allspice called for wouldn’t add much for flavor but it did! It was just a hint of exotic flavor without claiming to be a from a specific cuisine. So yummy! I have to try it again so I can work on the cooking times. It was on the verge of going dry but was still edible. Next time I will try 45-15-15 min. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      You are very welcome, Samantha. But we’re the ones who want to thank you for the play-by-play in terms of adapting the recipe! So glad that it worked so well for you. And yes, that’s quite the steal that you got on those ribs. For what it’s worth, here’s another recipe for ribs that’s mostly for the oven…could easily be tweaked to be completely grill-free with a quick pass under the broiler at the end to crisp a few ends and edges…http://leitesculinaria.com/38758/recipes-baby-back-ribs.html.

  12. Vanessa Mohd Shariff says:

    This recipe is excellent!! My husband and I really enjoyed it!! I followed the recipe, but made a bit of a change in the procedure. I rubbed the ingredients on the ribs and cooked them under pressure for 25 mins, then I rubbed the ribs with commercial bbq sauce, covered them in foil, and oven-cooked them for 30 mins so the spices are all inside the meat, which is soft and juicy inside and crispy outside. :)) Thanks for this wonderful recipe!!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Lovely to hear it, Vanessa. And lovely to hear your pressure-cooker shortcut, too. Many thanks for sharing it, we’re sorta drooling over how that must’ve imbued the beef with the spices.

  13. pitmaster says:

    Get some wood of your choice, I’d rather go with a wood that is going to hold the flavor of the wood. And put your babyback on for about 4 hr with a nice smoke.

  14. Corbin says:

    i am currently in the process of cooking these but made a slight tweak to the recipe. i did the dry rub and let it sit for 12 hours in the fridge and cut out the smoking section because of the fact i live an hour away from anyplace that would sell wood chips (i live in no where land closest Walmart is 1.5 hours away). Anyways we are going to see how they turn out in a just few moments.

  15. Michelle says:

    Making these now, very excited! I usually make these wrapped in foil in the oven at 220 for 5 hours, then broil them with sauce, but now that we have a grill, I wanted to try them this way. I used my own rub recipe, but the cooking technique in this recipe, and so far it’s working amazingly!

    One thing, I have found that beef back ribs have plenty of meat, the trick is to purchase them freshly cut from the butcher when they cut their rib eyes. I’m sure you know this, but for many readers, NEVER, EVER buy them frozen…just not worth it. They scrape the meat from between the bones and it is nowhere near as tasty as freshly cut ribs!

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Michelle, now I’m on pins and needles. You need to let me know what you think. Dan Kraan, our Community Moderator and grill tester supreme, loved these. And thanks for the head’s up about the fresh ribs. It’s good to be reminded.

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