Barbecue Beef Ribs

These barbecue beef ribs are easy to make in the oven or the grill. They take minimal effort yet taste like they were slowly tended on the pit all day.

Barbecue Beef Ribs

Barbecue beef ribs such as these tend to be infallibly rich and exceptionally tender. The only thing they could conceivably be accused of lacking is robustness, which is a typical trade-off in terms of cuts of beef—tough cuts tend to be remarkably robust in taste while the supple cuts that make you go wobbly in the knees seem to be just a touch bereft of beefiness. Which means beef ribs benefit from the added depth and complexity of some sort of barbecue sauce, explains author Nolan Ryan. The masterful and mellifluous barbecue sauce that you want to slather on these barbecue beef ribs melds sweet brown sugar with spicy cayenne with smooth bourbon. The ribs themselves are easy as can be, taking minimal effort yet tasting as if they were slowly tended all day on the pit. Originally published August 12, 2015.Renee Schettler Rosi

Barbecue Beef Ribs

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 1 D, 3 H
  • Serves 4 to 6
5/5 - 1 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the The Nolan Ryan Beef & Barbecue Cookbook cookbook

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  • For the barbecue beef ribs
  • 1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 4 pounds beef ribs
  • For the barbecue sauce
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped (1/3 to 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce of your choice
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • Prepare the barbecue beef ribs
  • 1. Mix all the seasonings in a small bowl. Rub the mixture over both sides of the beef ribs. Place the ribs in a roasting pan, cover with foil, and stash it in the fridge overnight.
  • 2. Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C).
  • 3. Take the pan of ribs out of the fridge, uncover, and add enough water to the roasting pan to cover the ribs. Tightly cover the pan with the foil again and slide the pan back in the oven. Cook the ribs for 1 1/2 hours. Uncover the ribs and spoon the liquid in the roasting pan over the ribs. Cover the pan with the foil again, put the ribs back in the oven, cover, and cook for 1 to 2 more hours, depending on just how tender you like your ribs.
  • Make the barbecue sauce
  • 4. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in the bourbon and simmer until the liquid has almost completely evaporated, 2 to 5 minutes.
  • 5. Stir in the barbecue sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, honey, mustard, and cayenne and gently simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
  • Finish the barbecue beef ribs
  • 6. If using the grill, preheat it to medium and lightly oil the grill grates. Remove the ribs from the oven and pour off the liquid. Baste the ribs with 2 cups barbecue sauce. Using tongs, transfer the ribs to the grill (working in batches, if necessary) and cook for 10 minutes, turning once. This will ensure that the ribs have a nice crust and smoke-infused flavor.

    If using the oven, crank it up to 400°F (204°C). Remove the ribs from the oven, pour off the liquid, and return the ribs to the pan. Baste the ribs with 2 cups barbecue sauce. Slide the pan in the oven for 10 minutes, turning the ribs once.
  • 7. Pile the ribs on a platter and dump the remaining barbecue sauce in a bowl and pass it on the side.

Recipe Testers Reviews

We really enjoyed these barbecue beef ribs. The barbecue sauce is really delicious—just the right balance of sweetness and spice. I used dark brown sugar in both the spice rub and the barbecue sauce. It added a nice element of richness, although I believe light brown sugar would work just as well. For the barbecue sauce, I used Jack Daniels Hickory Brown Sugar Barbecue sauce, which is what I had in my pantry. My only regret is that the portions were a little small. More realistically, this recipe will serve 6 very nicely.

I really enjoyed making this barbecue beef ribs recipe. When one thinks of preparing ribs, it usually entails a long process that can takes hours and hours. I was pleasantly surprised with this recipe because it required minimal effort and yielded ribs that tasted like they were cooked slowly all day on a barbecue pit. The meat was so tender that it was falling off the bones. The spice was just right and provided a nice flavor. And not to mention this spice blend is easy enough to commit to to memory for when you want to impress your friends! The barbecue sauce was also very good with just enough heat. It was just the right consistency, just sweet enough, just sticky enough, and made a little extra for dipping. I kept my ribs in for approximately another hour. For the rub I used light brown sugar and for the sauce I used dark brown. The weather didn’t permit me to use the grill so I had to finish the ribs in a 400°F oven. Still came out perfect! And for the sauce name, how about "Bangin' Sweet Bourbon Barbecue Sauce”?

We loved almost everything about these barbecue beef ribs. The rub was delicious and made enough to rub down 4 pounds beef back ribs generously, with enough left over to rub down a 3-pound pork roast as well. I allowed the ribs to marinate overnight with the rub. The barbecue sauce was easy enough to pull together as the ribs were slow cooking. I checked the ribs after 1 1/2 hours in the oven and pulled them out, as they were tender to the point of falling off the bone. I saw no point in basting them, as they were covered in the pan with foil and were quite moist, although I did turn them over in the juices. I used a dark brown sugar and a plain barbecue sauce. I found that it took closer to 5 minutes to cook off the alcohol for the sauce. As it was -30°F outside, I chose (wisely) to finish these in a 400°F oven. They were tender, moist, and full of flavor. A big hit all around. The only thing I didn't like was my choice of rib. They were somewhat awkward to eat. Next time I’ll choose an English-style short rib or side rib that'll be easier to eat. I bet the barbecue sauce would be tasty on a flank or skirt steak too. I think a new name for it could be Super Yummy Bourbon Barbecue Sauce. By the way, the rub was delicious on the pork roast, too.

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