Beef Rib Marinade

Uncooked beef ribs in marinade in a baking dish

The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Marinate: 12 hrs
Total: 12 hrs 5 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 1 cup
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
216 Calories
17g Fat
8g Carbs
8g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 216
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 30mg 10%
Sodium 819mg 36%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 2mg 8%
Calcium 10mg 1%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 132mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

When cooking ribs, you can choose to add flavor with a marinade or a dry rub—or both. This marinade recipe adds a lot of flavor to beef ribs, and the acid from the lemon juice and vinegar keeps the meat nice and tender as it cooks. Marinating also allows the meat to hold more liquid so the ribs won't dry out, whether you are grilling or smoking them. Plan on marinating the ribs for at least 12 hours or overnight for the best flavor.

Offering a combination of sweet and spicy, this recipe includes honey as well as cayenne pepper. If you prefer a milder flavor, feel free to leave out the cayenne. While perfect for ribs, this mixture can also be used on flat steaks like skirt steak, flat-iron, hanger, and flank steak. The marinating time for steaks would be 4 to 6 hours.


  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 3 tablespoons honey

  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 tablespoon sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional

  • 1 rack beef ribs

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for beef rib marinade recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  2. Mix together the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, honey, garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne (if using) in a small mixing bowl.

    Marinade ingredients stirred to a smooth mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  3. Place the ribs in a container large enough to lay them flat. Pour the marinade over the ribs, coating them completely. Make sure to turn the rack of ribs a couple of times so it is coated with the marinade on all sides. Cover the container with plastic wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours before cooking.

    Beef rib marinade poured over beef ribs in a baking pan

    The Spruce Eats / Cara Cormack

  4. Prepare a smoker or grill. Remove the ribs from the marinade and cook according to the smoker instructions or your favorite rib recipe.


  • The container you use for marinating should not be made of metal as the acids in the marinade can react with the material. Use a plastic or glass container or a large ziplock bag (discard the bag after using it).
  • Be sure to keep the ribs in the refrigerator while they are marinating; do not leave them out at room temperature or outdoor temperatures. If you are taking them to a cookout, be sure to keep them in an ice chest until you are ready to cook.
  • While the ribs are cooking, you can turn any remaining marinade into a baste for the ribs. If the ribs had marinated in it, you will need to boil the marinade first; place it in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before basting.

How to Store

If you are making the marinade ahead of time, or have any leftover, store the beef rib marinade in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days after preparation.