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How to: smoked beef ribs on a pellet grill

These smoky ribs are a feast for all of your senses, and well worth the wait.

  • 4 beef plate short ribs
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • ½ cup yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup beef seasoning blend or Magic Dust
  • Optional: beer, vinegar, or water for spritzing
  • Optional: Mike Mills Magic Dust
  • ½ cup paprika
  • ¼ cup kosher salt, finely ground
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup powdered mustard
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • ¼ cup ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup granulated garlic
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • Prep time: 12 hours
  • Cook time: 8 hours
  • Servings: 4

You don’t need all your senses to know that good barbecue is something special.

When it comes to smoked beef ribs, you may sense that it’s not just the sight, taste, and smell that you’re judging the ribs on. It’s the sound. That mmm… sound you make when you bite in. If it causes your eyes to close so you can savor its uniquely smoked beef taste, you’re in for a sensory experience with every bite.

Pitmaster Aaron Franklin of Franklin’s Barbecue in Austin says smoked beef ribs are his personal favorite. He loves barbecue beef ribs because they’re such a decadent and flavorful cut. His restaurant only serves them once a week, and you’ve got to be there early to get your hands on one. Ready to cook the smoky ribs that make one of the world’s best pitmasters lick his lips?

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. 1

    Prep your ribs properly.

    Wash the ribs and pat dry. Begin a dry brine by sprinkling the ribs evenly on all sides with kosher salt. Then place the ribs on a wire rack with a baking sheet underneath, and put the ribs in the refrigerator uncovered for 12-24 hours. This gives the salt time to work its way into the meat.
  2. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator, wash away any salt from the dry-brine, and pat them dry. Then combine the mustard and Worcestershire sauce, and slather the ribs on all sides with the mixture.
  3. 2

    Fire up the pellet grill.

    Preheat your pellet grill to 275°F. A pellet cooker delivers consistent temperature control, perfect for smoked beef ribs. You can’t go wrong with Kingsford® Charcoal blend of 100% natural hardwood pellets.
  4. 3

    How to season beef ribs.

  5. Season the ribs with your favorite beef rub, and don’t be stingy. I recommend making pitmaster Mike Mills’ famous Magic Dust. The recipe is included above, but feel free to adjust salt level to suit your needs.
  6. 4

    Start smoking.

  7. When your pellet grill is ready, start smoking the ribs. After the first 5 hours, you can start to spritz if you like, giving them a spray every 30–45 minutes for the next 3 hours. Of course, every cut of meat cooks differently and times may vary.
  8. Continue to cook the ribs until they reach an internal temperature of 195°F. The meat should pull back significantly from the bone. It should also look absolutely delicious.
  9. 5

    Choose your chew.

  10. Decision time. If you like some chew to your ribs, allow the meat to rest for 30-45 minutes covered with foil, then serve.
  11. But if you prefer your ribs fall-off-the-bone tender, return them to the smoker, and continue cooking until the meat reaches 203°F–205°F. You’ll be able to insert a toothpick or skewer like a hot knife through butter.
  12. 6

    Rest, serve and enjoy.

  13. Allow the meat to rest for 30-45 minutes. Then serve up and eat up, no sauce necessary.

Season your beef ribs right.

Don’t be stingy when seasoning your ribs. This is a large hunk of meat and it requires a good amount of seasoning.

There are many amazing beef rib rubs and seasonings you can buy, but if you’d like to make your own, try pitmaster Mike Mills’ famous Magic Dust recipe above.

Mills was a restaurateur and an award-winning pitmaster. Affectionately known in barbecue circles as “The Legend,” Mills shared barbecue with thousands from 17th Street Barbecue in Murphysboro, IL.

In 2007, Bon Appétit magazine named Mills’ ribs the best in the USA. Although Mills passed away in late 2020, his Magic Dust lives on, paying respect to a true barbecue legend.

A word on salt.

Salt is a necessary ingredient for this recipe. If you use the dry-brine salting method, you may want to consider using less salt in your Magic Dust or choosing a store-bought rub with less salt.

How do I make smoked beef ribs?

Smoked beef ribs are one of those dishes that requires few elements to be delicious. Starting with a well-seasoned beef rib of good quality gives you a head start, but patience is really a component to consider when smoking beef ribs.

Beef ribs take time to cook. Kingsford’s all-natural hardwood pellets burn efficiently, assuring you that, over time, the food will cook at a consistent temperature, bringing the perfect amount of smoke flavor along.

At what temperature should I smoke beef ribs?

Beef ribs should be smoked at 275°F on a pellet grill. Because beef ribs are cooked for many hours at 275°F, they will take on the perfect amount of smoky flavor. If you need to postpone dinner, cooking at a lower temperature like 225°F will still get the job done but it’s arguable if the longer cook is time well spent.

What wood should I use to smoke beef ribs?

For beef ribs, you can’t really go wrong with Kingsford® Signature Pellets. Mesquite, cherrywood, and oak are all exceptional pellet choices for beef ribs, and these three flavors are center stage in this amazing blend.

How long should I smoke beef ribs?

At 275°F, beef ribs take about 8-9 hours to smoke on the pellet grill. Of course, every cut of meat cooks differently and times vary based on how large the ribs are.

One benefit of cooking ribs on a pellet grill is consistency. Kingsford wood pellets are designed to keep the temperature of your pellet grill where you set it and bring the right amount of smoke flavor to your dish. This is a real benefit of the pellet grill over other methods where the temperature is inconsistent and can fluctuate over time.

How do I smoke beef ribs on a pellet grill?

Fortunately for us, smoking beef ribs on a pellet grill is easier than most would imagine. The two most important things you need are plenty of seasoning and plenty of patience.

Because it takes about as long as a typical work day to smoke beef ribs, it’s sometimes hard to wait to enjoy them. The delicious aromas that come from your smoker over the course of the day can be irresistible, but the reward for your patience is arguably one of the most decadent dishes you can make in a smoker.

Beef ribs are an intricate blend of proteins, fats, and connective tissues. The meat is well marbled and, when cooked slowly, it easily pulls away from the bone with a soft bite that melts in your mouth.

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