Initially, I was more used to buying pork ribs often so I was surprised when I first knew that there are different types of beef ribs that I can specify to the butcher.
Beef ribs are great as they give a meaty taste and are always a crowd favorite when we have a barbecue in my backyard.
There are different types of beef ribs, so this post aims to explain how they differ from their pork counterparts, their distinct characteristics, and how to cook them.
There is a very simple recipe on this post that will make the best beef ribs to impress the guests who come to your next barbecue this coming weekend!
Aside from the steaks, burgers, and sausages, there will now be an amazing addition to the barbecues in your backyard with the most amazing ribs.
Difference Between Beef And Pork Ribs
While some people can easily differentiate beef ribs from different types of pork ribs by looking at the meat, some of us might need a much deeper inspection, so here are what differentiates the two.
The most obvious difference is the size of the ribs. Beef ribs are much larger than pork ribs because cows are much bigger than pigs.
Even after the beef ribs are cut and trimmed, it is still larger than pork ribs, and the bones will be longer, and the overall size of the rack of ribs will be gigantic compared to pork ribs.
Pork ribs are fattier than beef ribs. One of the most common factors to look for when buying any cut of beef is to look for a cut with a proper marbling.
If that is to be compared to pork ribs, there is not much to look for as there is usually a thick slab of fat on the pork ribs.
On the other hand, beef ribs do not have that much fat cap on the meat and will usually have small lines of fat and collagen between the meat instead of the fat sitting on top of the meat.
The advantage of pork ribs here is that they are more tender than beef ribs because of the higher fat content.
There is a distinct difference between pork and beef when it comes to flavor. Beef releases a more distinct flavor and has a stronger umami flavor than pork.
This can be observed with beef ribs as well as they produce a more protein-based flavor while pork ribs create the flavor from the fats and seasonings.
Different Types Of Beef Ribs
Plate Short Ribs
Plate short ribs, sometimes called loaded beef ribs, are the favorite of pitmasters because of the high lean meat content and less fat than chuck short ribs.
They are the beefiest and largest cut of ribs from the cow and they come off tender and tasty. Most smokehouses cook this cut of beef ribs in the smoker to make it truly tender.
The plate short ribs are taken from the middle rib cage specifically the 6th, 7th, and 8th rib. The 9th rib is removed from the plate short ribs because it has a lot of fats.
Since the fats are cut off right before the 8th rib, the plate short ribs have a really tasty flavor. There is just the right amount of marbling so plate short ribs hardly dry out when cooked.
Chuck Short Ribs
The chuck short ribs are easier to find than plate short ribs, but they have a similar meat content, and the distinct difference is that the chuck short ribs have smaller bones.
Chuck short ribs have a decent amount of fat, so they are easy to cook up to when it almost slides off the bone.
The small bone in the chuck short ribs makes the meat appear bigger, so it is also popular for smokehouses. There is usually a 1 to 2-inch thick meat on the chuck short ribs.
Beef Back Ribs
Beef back ribs are found near the cow’s backbone, just like baby-back ribs, and just like baby-back ribs in pork, they do not contain as much meat compared to chuck and plate short ribs.
However, the meat that remains in the back ribs is perhaps the most tender among the three because it is where the rib eye and prime cut of meat are removed.
They have a slightly curved shape and the meat is in between the bones so they take a shorter prep time and when cooked right, will have a very tender and juicy result just like rib-eye steaks.
Cutting Types For Beef Ribs
These are the lesser-known cuts of beef ribs or those not included in the three primary types of beef ribs.
This is a style of cutting the ribs rather than a part of the cow. The bones are cut across instead of parallel to the bone, leaving a thinner cut of meat, about half an inch thick.
This is done usually between the brisket and the flank steak. It contains a hard FATTY part which makes it great for grilling.
English cut is the most common cut where there is a short rack of ribs about 3 inches wide and 8 inches long. Butchers also often leave a thick layer of fat and membrane on the cut.
The membrane should be removed before cooking so both the seasoning and heat can easily penetrate the meat and cook it perfectly.
Asking the butcher for an untrimmed cut requires removing the fat cap from the English cut, and it contains both short and plate ribs.
The untrimmed cut is where the butcher removes the thick layer of fat on top of the rack of ribs and leaves only the meaty layer on the bones.
Riblets are very short cuts of ribs that are only a couple of inches long. They can easily become tender when cooked since there is not much meat.
They are great in soups and braising methods to add a rich flavor to the broth. A slow cooker is also a great appliance to cook riblets in.
As the name suggests, this is where the butcher removes the bone from the ribs. You are left with a long and thick layer of meat but without the “ribs” or bones.
How To Cook Beef Ribs
Beef Ribs In Barbecue Sauce Recipe
6 pieces of short ribs (300 to 350 grams each)
2 teaspoons of paprika
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon of mustard powder
Half a teaspoon each of cumin powder and black pepper
A whole bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce
Preheat the oven to 320 degrees Fahrenheit. While waiting for the oven to preheat, mix all the rub ingredients (excluding ribs and barbecue sauce) in a bowl large enough to fit one rib.
Place each rib in the bowl and then coat them with the rub. Shake off any excess.
Pour the barbecue sauce into a baking pan and then mix in 2 cups of water. Place the ribs in the pan with the sauce meat side up. (It’s okay if the sauce does not completely cover the bones)
Cover the baking pan with its cover or tightly with foil. Bake for 3 and a half hours.
Remove the ribs from the oven, remove the foil cover, and spoon the sauce onto a small bowl.
Bake uncovered for another 30 minutes. Check if the ribs are tender by prying them with two forks.
The ribs should be ready once tender and the coating has caramelized or is sticky. Serve on a platter with the sauce that has been mixed.
Beef Ribs Recipe on a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker
Tips on hOw to cook Beef Ribs
The recipe above is a very general one that can be used on any type of ribs mentioned above but these tips are how each beef rib can be cooked to get the best results.
1. Beef ribs should give the best result if cooked low and slow or smoked.
The meat needs to be tenderized so cooking them at high temperatures will not be effective.
High temperatures will only sear the outer parts of the beef and will leave the insides tough.
2. Plate short ribs are best when cooked low and slow just like brisket.
Smoking them is also great but cooking the plate short ribs in the oven will also trick.
There is no need to overseason plate short ribs as they are already tasty.
A simple seasoning of salt and pepper is enough to accentuate the flavors of the ribs.
3. Chuck short ribs are perfect for marinating. This is the common cut of beef that is served in thin slices in Korean barbecues.
They can also be cooked low and slow/smoked. I prefer them to cut into really thin slices and cook at searing temperatures as this method leaves a beefy flavor.
4. Beef back ribs are best cooked on the grill with indirect cooking. They can cook easily so they do not need to be cooked low and slow like the plate short and chuck short ribs.
Beef back ribs have flavorful meat, so they do well with barbecue sauce.
What Temperature Should Beef Ribs Be Cooked To?
Beef ribs should be cooked until they reach an internal temperature of at least 203 degrees Fahrenheit, and this is pretty high compared to poultry and some cuts of pork.
That is why some cuts of beef ribs like the plate short ribs and chuck short ribs take a lot of time to cook.
The beef ribs should be tender and ready to be served at this temperature.
How Long To Cook Beef Ribs?
Cooking beef ribs usually takes 3 to 4 hours in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
That amount of time and heat will tenderize the beef ribs enough to almost fall off the bone. If the goal is for the meat to slide off the bone, they need to be cooked longer.
At lower temperatures, the beef ribs need to be cooked longer. Smoked beef ribs cooked at 225 degrees Fahrenheit will take about 8 hours.
Which Type Of Beef Ribs Are The Best?
I love the plate short ribs because they contain the most meat-to-bone ratio. They also offer a flavorful finish that blends well with almost any sauce when cooked right.
When it comes to tenderness, the beef back ribs are the best choice because of the lean meat they contain like baby-back ribs.
While the beef back ribs do not contain as much meat as the short ribs, they are still the most tender option when cooked right.
This is a matter of preference, but choosing between the most tender and the most meat for these types of beef ribs is great.
Note that the plate short ribs can also be cooked into a very tender finish in the smoker or oven to get both tenderness and great flavor in one cut of beef ribs.
Are Beef Ribs FATTY?
Contrary to popular belief, beef ribs are FATTY. Yes, they contain a decent amount of protein and lean meat but they are also really fatty.
When compared to its pork counterpart, beef ribs are fattier. The fat on pork ribs is mostly on the outside and can be trimmed off.
On the other side, beef ribs have lines of fat in between meat that melts when cooked. However, this is also what gives the beef ribs a lot of meaty and umami flavors.
The key is to make sure that they are cooked so that the fats become juices and tenderize the lean meat in the beef ribs.
Cooking beef ribs perfectly takes time and practice. They do not need to be rushed or the fats and cartilage in the meat will not melt resulting in a tough and unpleasant barbecue session in the backyard.