If there were ever an easy way to impress others with your grilling skills, it’s these tender short ribs. (And, as you know, The One and I need as much help at the grill as the Weber.)

What I love about this recipe is that its technique is similar to our favorite incredibly tender, oven-roasted baby back ribs recipe. Just slather, roast, and grill. The only way this could be less hands-off is to buy cooked ribs. Truly.

In addition to the superb rub is the bourbon barbecue sauce. I mean–come on! Bourbon barbecue sauce. It’s everything thing you want from a sauce. Trust me when I say make a double (or triple) batch and freeze it. You’ll want to add it to ribs, chicken, burgers, chops–you name it.

And pair them with creamy red potato salad or corn on the cob slathered with chipotle butter for the ultimate finger-licking, sweet-tea-fueled summer meal.

david caricature

Why Our Testers Loved This

The testers adored everything about these ribs, from the tender meat to the smoky rub to the tangy homemade barbecue sauce. They loved that they were easy to make and could be prepared in advance and finished on the grill just before serving.

After trying this recipe, Deb Lynch declared that she “might become a grilling convert because this made tender and sticky ribs with a nice smoky flavor that totally delighted me and my tasters.”

What You’ll Need to Make This

Ingredients for grilled beef short ribs--vinegar, oil, sugar, spices, onion, chile, garlic, passata, mustard, maple syrup, bourbon, and short ribs.
  • Beef short ribs–Look for ribs that are all about the same size so that they are cooked through and tender in the same amount of time. Be sure to purchase individual short ribs, not “flanken-style” short ribs, which are cut through the bone into thin strips. While equally delicious, they’re best suited to quick grilling recipes, such as these kimchi tacos.
  • Red chile–You can use any type of red chile that you like here. Fresno and red jalapeño peppers are commonly available and pack a mild punch, but if you prefer a spicy sauce, try using a Thai chile pepper.
  • Pureed tomatoes–This is available in the supermarket as passata (Italian strained tomatoes) or canned tomato puree. If you can’t find either, empty a can of tomatoes into your blender and blitz until smooth.
  • Bourbon–Use a bourbon that has a flavor you enjoy.

How to Make This Recipe

A person mixing up a marinade and spreading it on a baking dish of short ribs.
  1. Combine the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Arrange the ribs in a single layer in a baking dish and rub the spice blend all over. Cover and chill for 2 hours.
Onions being sautéed in a saucepan and chile added to the pan.
  1. To make the bbq sauce, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened.
  2. Stir in the garlic and chile. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring often.
Liquid being added to a pan of tomato sauce and the sauce simmering on a burner.
  1. Pour in the remaining bbq sauce ingredients and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce is reduced and thickened.
Cooked short ribs in a baking dish and a person basting short ribs with barbecue sauce.
  1. Heat the oven to 300°F. Uncover the ribs and bake until tender.
  2. Heat a grill to medium-high. Arrange the ribs on the grill and brush with the sauce.
  3. Grill the ribs until they are charred and sticky, basting regularly. Serve with any remaining sauce on the side.

Common Questions

Can I make these without a grill?

Yes. If you don’t have a grill or the weather isn’t cooperating, you can coat your ribs with bbq sauce and set them under the broiler, about 6 inches from the element. Broil until charred and sticky, 3 to 4 minutes per side, flipping and basting with the sauce once during broiling.

What should I serve with these?

The author of this recipe intended for these sticky beef ribs to be served with a tangy apple slaw, and our testers agreed that it’s a perfect match. A creamy coleslaw or classic potato salad would also be excellent side dishes.

How can I make these ribs without the bourbon?

If you’d like to make these ribs with a bbq sauce that doesn’t contain alcohol, I recommend trying this chipotle maple barbecue sauce. The flavors are similar to the sauce in this recipe.

Helpful Tips

Helpful Tips

  • Line your baking dish with foil for easy cleanup.
  • To get ahead, bake the ribs up to a day in advance, then finish on the grill just before serving.
  • Make a double batch of sauce. You’ll want to keep extra sauce on hand for dousing on grilled chicken, spice-rubbed pork chops, and more.
  • This recipe is suitable for gluten-free and dairy-free diets.
Two cooked short ribs on a plate with a shot of bourbon in the background and a fork and knife on the side.

More Great Short Rib Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

Four grilled short ribs in a stack on a white background.

Grilled Beef Short Ribs with Bourbon BBQ Sauce

5 / 4 votes
Tender grilled beef short ribs are smothered with tangy bourbon barbecue sauce to make this showstopping meal.
David Leite
CourseEntree
CuisineAmerican
Servings4 servings
Calories1124 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time5 hours

Ingredients 

For the spice rub

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for the grill
  • 4 1/2 pounds beef short ribs, cut between bones into single ribs

For the bourbon BBQ sauce

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 red chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soft brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup pureed tomatoes (passata)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions 

Make the spice rub

  • Combine the rub ingredients in a small bowl and massage it into the short ribs to thoroughly coat them. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Make the bourbon BBQ sauce

  • While the ribs are cooking, warm the oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and chile and cook for 4 minutes more.
  • Pour in the vinegar, sugar, pureed tomatoes, lemon juice, maple syrup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and bourbon. Stir to combine.
  • Bring the sauce mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until thickened, 20 to 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then set the sauce aside to cool.

Cook the ribs

  • Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C)
  • Arrange the ribs on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Finish the ribs

  • Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and lighly coat with oil.
  • Place the ribs on the grill and brush with bbq sauce. Cook, turing and basting regularly until a charred, sticky crust forms, 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Serve with any remaining bbq sauce.

Notes

    1. Easy clean-up–Line your baking dish with foil for easier cleanup.
    2. Make ahead–Bake the ribs up to a day in advance, then finish on the grill just before serving.
    3. Make extra sauce–Make a double batch of sauce. You’ll want to keep extra sauce on hand for dousing on grilled chicken, spice-rubbed pork chops, and more.
    4. Dietary–This recipe is suitable for gluten-free and dairy-free diets.
  1.  
  1.  
The Backyard BBQ Bible Cookbook

Adapted From

The Backyard BBQ Bible

Buy On Amazon

Nutrition

Serving: 1 portionCalories: 1124 kcalCarbohydrates: 44 gProtein: 73 gFat: 67 gSaturated Fat: 20 gMonounsaturated Fat: 37 gCholesterol: 220 mgSodium: 1621 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 34 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2022 Oscar Smith. Photos © 2023 Angie Zoobkoff. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Several grilled beef short ribs, coated with bbq sauce on a grill.

I think this is an excellent recipe for those who don’t have a smoker (or if it’s raining or you just want an easy BBQ). The smoky rub does a great job of making these grilled short ribs taste like they were in the smoker all day.

The bourbon BBQ sauce might be the star of the show. Oh my, I will use this on all types of meats!

The sauce directions were spot on for sauce just thick enough and way better than any you could buy. Slightly sweet, a little spicy, and a hint of bourbon in the background is just wonderful. It’s sweet enough to create a nice char on the grill and makes plenty to have extra at serving time.

You had me at bourbon! These grilled short ribs are a great recipe for a summer cookout or picnic. You can prep and bake the ribs ahead of time and throw them on the grill when you’re ready to eat.

I served it with a minty green bean salad that I made earlier in the day, so it made dinner time much easier. A nice cabbage slaw would be great, too!

The ribs were tender after cooking them in the oven for two and a half hours, although next time, I think I would just cook them for two hours in the oven to preserve more of the juices.

The bourbon barbecue sauce is wonderful! I basted the ribs liberally with it and also served some on the side. One change I would make would be to leave out (or reduce) the lemon juice. When I tasted the barbecue sauce after cooking it for 15 minutes, I thought it was a bit too tart, so I added a little more bourbon and cooked it for another 10 minutes, and this made it just right for my taste.

I had a decent amount left over and it would be great on pork, or even chicken thighs.

A couple of tips: First, when purchasing the ribs try to get them mostly the same size. I got some larger, meatier pieces and some pieces that were more bone than meat, and they were a bit overdone. Also, do yourself a favor and cover the baking sheet with foil to make clean-up easier.

I’m not a “queen of the grill.” I most appreciate BBQ when someone else takes the helm. However, I might become a grilling convert because this made tender and sticky ribs with a deep smoky flavor that delighted me and my tasters.

I didn’t think it was necessary to add oil to the rub. My ribs were fatty enough to stay moist during baking and grilling without it. I would try using the spice blend as a dry rub next time.

I thought the bourbon BBQ sauce was very sweet when tasted alone, but it nicely complemented the finished ribs. I plan to keep this recipe in the “make it again” file!

This homemade bourbon barbecue sauce is SO tangy and luscious and would work on any rib that’s on sale, so grab extra. The onion (I used a sweet yellow) didn’t break down completely but provided a piquant texture that made this looser sauce so wonderfully different from other thicker, smoother, and sweeter versions.




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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