All About Beef: Beef Ribs!

Beef ribs are perfectly suited for slow barbecuing that tenderizes the meat and brings out its rich flavor.

Beef Ribs

Also indexed as: Back Ribs, Short Ribs

Beef ribs are perfectly suited for slow barbecuing that tenderizes the meat and brings out its rich flavor.

  • Varieties
  • Buying and storing
  • Availability
  • Preparation tips
  • Nutritional highlights

This flavorful cut is used primarily in barbecue. When German immigrants settled in Texas in the 1800s, they learned barbecue techniques from the Mexican locals, added some of their own ideas, and came up with their own brand of barbecue. Texas barbecue is based on beef ribs. Somewhat tough and fatty, beef ribs are perfectly suited for the long, slow cooking that tenderizes the meat and brings out its rich flavor.


Beef short ribs, cut from the flank, are tough and fatty but meaty. Beef back ribs come from the prime rib and usually consist of seven ribs with the meat attached. They are more tender but less meaty than short ribs.

Buying And Storing Tips

Look for beef ribs with a clear red color. Beef is normally a purplish-red color, but when exposed to oxygen it takes on a cherry-red hue known as the "bloom." While the exterior is bright red, the interior of the meat will retain the darker color. Vacuum-packed beef ribs also show this purplish color.

Packaged beef ribs should be cold and the package should show no punctures or tears; vacuum-packed beef should have its seal intact. The beef should be firm to the touch. Check the "sell-by" date and buy on or before that date.

Leave beef ribs in their original packaging and place them in the coldest part of the refrigerator, where they will keep three to four days. To freeze, wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil, freezer paper, or freezer bags. Beef ribs will keep 6 to 12 months in the freezer. Defrost in the refrigerator, allowing 12 to 24 hours depending on number of ribs. Cook as soon as possible after defrosting.


Beef ribs are available in most grocery stores.

Preparation, Uses, And Tips

To barbecue by the grill method, rub ribs with a spicy "dry rub," place in a sealable plastic bag, and refrigerate overnight. Prepare a low-heat barbecue (250°F and 130°C), place beef ribs on greased rack, and close the lid. Grill ribs until they are fork-tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, remove the lid and baste with barbecue sauce, turning several times.

To barbecue by the bake/grill method, heat oven to 350°F (180°C), place beef ribs in a shallow baking pan, and bake beef ribs until they are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, drain, and place on a heated barbecue directly over the heat source. Cook 15 minutes, basting with barbecue sauce and turning frequently.

To barbecue by the braise/broil method, place beef ribs in heavy pot on the stove, cover with water (add spices if desired), and simmer until tender, about 2 hours. Drain and place ribs on a broiler pan. Broil for 10 to 15 minutes, basting with barbecue sauce and turning often. To braise, heat a skillet and brown ribs on both sides over medium-high heat. Add cooking liquid and onions or spices if desired. Cook over low heat until the meat is fork-tender, about 2 hours. Save the stock to use for soup or broth.

Nutritional Highlights

Beef ribs, whole (fat trimmed to 1/4" [0.6cm]) broiled, 3 oz. (85.5g)
Calories: 306.1
Protein: 18.6g
Carbohydrate: 0.0g
Total Fat: 25.1g
Fiber: 0.0g

*Foods that are an "excellent source" of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value, based upon United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines. Foods that are a "good source" of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the USDA Recommended Daily Value. Nutritional information and daily nutritional guidelines may vary in different countries. Please consult the appropriate organization in your country for specific nutritional values and the recommended daily guidelines.

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