Tender Slow-Grilled Beef Ribs

Tender Slow-Grilled Beef Ribs on a white platter

The Spruce Eats / Qi Ai

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 3 hrs
Marinate: 2 hrs
Total: 5 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 3 to 4 servings
Yield: 8 to 10 ribs
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
1688 Calories
134g Fat
2g Carbs
105g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 1688
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 134g 172%
Saturated Fat 52g 260%
Cholesterol 381mg 127%
Sodium 1246mg 54%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 105g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 66mg 5%
Iron 12mg 64%
Potassium 1499mg 32%
*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.)

Although not as popular as pork ribs, beef ribs are a great alternative and cook similarly to a rack of pork ribs. The secret to mouthwatering beef ribs is to cook them low and slow over indirect heat; this not only makes them tender and very flavorful, but it helps prevent them from drying out.

A good marinade will also help create fall-off-the-bone meat, and this very simple one adds flavor from garlic, thyme, red wine, and soy sauce. Some people wonder if you need to boil ribs before grilling, wrap them in foil during grilling, or follow other barbecue rib-related tips, but none of these steps are necessary for this easy and effective recipe.

There are two cuts of beef ribs: back ribs and short ribs. For this recipe, you want to use back ribs, as short ribs (with the bone) benefit from a different cooking method, such as braising. As a bonus, back ribs are also less expensive.

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"The beef back ribs were delicious! The temperature gauge was fairly consistent at 250 F. It took about 2 1/2 to 3 hours to get the rib meat to 165 F. 4 pounds gave me about 10 ribs. Back ribs aren't very meaty, so you might want to plan on 1 1/2 pounds per person." —Diana Rattray

grilled beef back ribs/tester image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For Marinade

  • 1/2 cup dry red wine

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce, more for serving, optional

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced

For the Ribs

  • 4 pounds beef back ribs

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Tender Slow-Grilled Beef Ribs ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Qi Ai

  2. In a medium bowl, combine the wine, soy sauce, vegetable oil, barbecue sauce, if using, thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic. Mix well.

    Marinade in a bowl with a metal whisk and beef ribs on a plate

    The Spruce Eats / Qi Ai

  3. Place the ribs in a shallow, non-metal baking dish and pour the marinade over them. Make sure the ribs are evenly coated.

    Ribs and marinade in a white baking dish

    The Spruce Eats / Qi Ai

  4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours.

    Bring the ribs to room temperature before grilling.

    Ribs and marinade in a baking dish, covered with plastic wrap

    The Spruce Eats / Qi Ai

  5. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for indirect heat. Adjust the heat on the active burner to 250 F. When the grill is hot, remove the ribs from marinade and place on the cool side of the grill to cook indirectly. Discard the marinade. Close the lid and cook until the ribs are tender, turning every 15 minutes, about 3 hours depending on meatiness of the ribs.

    Beef ribs cooking on a grill

    The Spruce Eats / Qi Ai

  6. You can apply barbecue sauce during the last 15 minutes of cook time if you like. Make sure to keep a close eye on the ribs so they don't burn.

    Beef ribs brushed with barbecue sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Qi Ai

  7. Once ribs reach an internal temperature of 165 F (make sure to check several ribs), remove from heat and serve.

    Tender Slow-Grilled Beef Ribs on the grill, with a thermometer

    The Spruce Eats / Qi Ai

Recipe Tips

  • Beef back ribs are what's left after the butcher removes a ribeye roast or steaks from the bones, so there is some meat in between the ribs, but not a lot. Plan on about 1 1/2 pounds per person (adult).
  • If your beef back ribs are still connected, you should remove the membrane from the underside of the rack. Start a corner with a knife and use a paper towel to grip the loose corner. The membrane should come off easily.
  • If you don't see beef ribs in the meat section of your supermarket, ask the butcher, who may have a rack of frozen or fresh beef ribs that can be cut up.
  • When grilling, use a drip pan under the grill grates to prevent flare-ups because beef ribs have a lot of fat that will burn quickly. Keep an eye on the ribs and move them around the grill if flare-ups occur.

How to Store and Freeze Beef Ribs

  • Beef ribs will keep well in the fridge, wrapped in foil, for 3 to 4 days.
  • To freeze, wrap them in foil and transfer to an airtight freezer bag for up to 3 months.

What's the Difference Between Beef Back Ribs and Short Ribs?

  • These two parts of the cow cook very differently from each other. The back ribs remain when the boneless rib-eye steaks and roasts are removed, so they will taste very much like steak. They cook similarly to a rack of pork ribs.
  • The short rib is from a part of the cow's ribs called the plate, which makes up only about 13 percent of the entire rack of ribs. It does have more meat than the back ribs and is, therefore, a more expensive cut. Short ribs benefit from a cooking method that includes some kind of liquid; if you want to grill them, it is best to buy boneless.