Barbecued Beef Back Ribs

These barbecued beef back ribs are easy to make. Just coat with a sweetly spicy rub and then slooooooowly cook them to tender terrificness. Here’s how to make them.

Barbecued Beef Back Ribs

These barbecued beef back ribs are tender and meaty and slightly spicy and they’re gonna make you the envy of the neighborhood.  Originally published August 30, 2010.Renee Schettler Rossi

What Are 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 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 according to the technique below, it’s tremendously magnificent meat. Beef back ribs typically come in 4- to 6-rib chunks. You’ll need at least 2 to 3 ribs per person.

Barbecued Beef Back Ribs

  • Quick Glance
  • (6)
  • 40 M
  • 4 H, 35 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 6 reviews
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  • For the rub
  • For the ribs


Make the rub
Combine all 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
Peel the membrane off the back side of the ribs and discard it. (It tends to be sort of slippery. If you have a hard time getting a grip, try grabbing it with a paper towel and see if that helps.) Season the ribs liberally on both sides with some of the rub.
Prepare the grill for cooking over indirect heat at 250° F (121°C) using oak or hickory wood. Place the ribs, meaty side up, directly on the grill grate. Cook for 2 1/2 hours. Flip the ribs and cook for 30 minutes more.
Place a double layer of some big sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil next to the grill and place the ribs on the foil, meaty-side up. Wrap up the ribs, sealing the package tightly. Place the foil-wrapped ribs on the grill for 1 hour. (Wrapping the ribs in foil is essential to get them tender so do not omit this step. If you’re the adventurous type, add a half cup of strongly brewed coffee to the foil package when you wrap the ribs.)
Transfer the foil-wrapped ribs to a platter. Increase the temperature of the grill to 400°F (204°C). Remove the ribs from the foil, place them on the grill grate, and brush with the barbecue sauce. Cook for 5 to 15 minutes, depending on how charred you like your ribs. Flip the ribs, brush with the sauce again, and cook for another 5 to 15 minutes.
Place the ribs on a platter and serve with additional barbecue sauce, preferably warm, on the side.
Print RecipeBuy the Ribs, Chops, Steaks, & Wings cookbook

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Recipe Testers Reviews

Recipes like these barbecued beef back ribs come down to the rub and the cooking technique, and these do not disappoint in either department. There is a lot of waiting time, but low and slow allows the flavor 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. 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.


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  1. 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!

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!!

  5. 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!

    1. 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…

  6. 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 =}

    1. 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?

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

  7. 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!!!!

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

  8. 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.

      1. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

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