The Very Best Texas-Style Beef Short Ribs Recipe

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There is no need now to journey to the Lone Star State for indulging in some Texas-style barbecue. Few dishes can match the superior taste of the Texas-style beef short ribs recipe. You might think that making this classic gourmet BBQ within the comfort of your home is too good to be true.

The good news is that it is completely true. With this step-by-step guide to Texas-style ribs, you can learn the art of smoking beef ribs for that melt-in-your-mouth tenderness and unmatched flavor. You can master one of the most relished barbecue items to make your next barbecue party a roaring success. The delightful taste will leave your guests hungry for more.

Be sure to add this must-have recipe to your repertoire of BBQ recipes.

Extra-large, slow-smoked beef ribs rubbed with BBQ sauce to perfection is every barbecue connoisseur’s dream. If you are a barbecue lover, there is always room for some of these appetizing delights, no matter how full you are. It’s hard to stop yourself from having more once you get started.

The popularity of Texas beef ribs is not just limited to the US. Barbecue adventurers and diehard foodies from the world over converge onto the sleepy little town of Taylor, TX (that is no more than 15,000 strong). They travel so far just for that highly-coveted morsel of the legendary Texan barbecue. This epicurean delight is worthy of royalty. Imagine barbecue so good that it lures food aficionados from the far reaches of this planet.

It should come as no surprise that ribs are tremendously popular in both eastern and western cuisine. Several French restaurants have made a name for themselves with their recipe that calls for braising short ribs for hours in flavor-rich liquid. There is hardly any Korean restaurant that does not serve the much-loved kalbi – marinated slices of beef ribs.

While there are some excellent short rib recipes out there Texas-style ribs are in a league of their own. Smoke flavored short ribs are the signature barbecue meal of Texas.

You too can get started with the necessary equipment– and the extraordinary recipe mentioned herein! You will then be serving delightful Texas-style short ribs to friends and family that are as good as any fine barbecue restaurant. You just need a decent pellet grill, a reliable meat thermometer, and barbecue rub. You are then ready to grill.

This recipe can serve up to 8 people. The prep time is just 25 minutes to trim the ribs and apply the BBQ rub. For the best flavor and buttery tenderness, you should dry salt the ribs for up to 24 hours. The results will vindicate your forbearance, so don’t try to curtail the dry brining process. You can’t rush art, and culinary art is no exception to this rule.

As for the pellet smoking duration, it can be as little as 5 hours and may extend to 10 hours. It all depends on factors such as the size of the ribs.

Don’t forget to serve this meal with ice-cool Texan beer. You will also learn to make a side dish that is good enough to be served on its own.

How to Prepare the Short Ribs

You will need 4-5 pounds of beef short ribs – these should be Certified Angus Beef, Wagyu, USDA Prime, or the USDA Choice.  

Smoked beef ribs are also known in the butchery parlance as ‘beef short ribs.’ This happens to be a misnomer. Make no mistake about it. These ribs are anything but short. How long are they? At least 6 inches long and about an inch in thickness. These delectable rib racks can pack up to one and a half pounds of flavor-packed meat.

Back ribs originate from the prime rib roast, which is an expensive and highly sought-after cut. Very little meat remains when the rib bones are taken out. Most of the meat goes towards steaks and rib roasts.

However, the story is different between the bones. There is plenty of tasty meat in these parts. Back ribs are often available in racks that are up to 8 ribs wide, with each rib measuring a mammoth 8 inches. Although you can cook the rack whole, for reasons mentioned above, it is better to split it into smaller sections. There is just one thing that you need to be careful about. Make sure that you don’t overcook the ribs since the meat can easily lose its moisture to become as dry as the bone to which it is attached.   

Before smoking, you have to remove not just the fat but also the tenacious silverskin from the ribs. You have to remove it all, or else the rub and salt will not penetrate the ribs. You do not have to cut away the membrane from the bone sides that are exposed. The meat will fall out if you remove it. So, let it remain where it is. If the bones were not separated, you should cut them into single or double pieces of ribs.

Of course, it is possible to cook the entire thing as one mega rib rack, but such an approach is ill-advised. To begin with, the cooking time will be a lot longer. Another issue is that it will have a less exposed surface area. A single slab of ribs will, therefore, soak up less barbecue rub. This means less flavor and a smaller area of that fantastic pellet smoked bark.

How to Dry Brine Beef Ribs

For the best results, apply a generous layer of salt to the ribs up to 24 hours before grilling. This process is called dry brining. The salt here plays two crucial roles. First, salt is an exceptionally good flavor enhancer when used in the right quantity. Second, it tenderizes the rib meat while it rests. During the tenderizing process, it seeps into the surface to impart a great flavor. In case you did not know, Argentineans have an aptitude for grilling the best barbecue using salt as the only seasoning.

You need to apply about half a teaspoon of kosher salt to every pound of meat. Initially, the surface will be encrusted with tiny salt crystals. However, over the next few hours, the meat will absorb the salt so that you get a uniform surface at the end of the dry brining process.  

How to Smoke Texas-Style Beef Short Ribs

Before grilling the ribs, you should apply some water to the rib surface so that the BBQ sauce clings firmly to it. Use the rub recipe mentioned below.

Fire up your pellet grill with the thermostat set to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is hot enough to banish bacteria, but it does not eliminate the moisture that would result in tough meat that tastes like leather.

Place the ribs in the pellet grill for indirect heat and smoke. The bone side should be facing downwards. For the wood pellets, you can try out the oak variety since it is much used in texas. It has a fairly mild and subtle flavor. Other types of wood will work best. Probably the best of the lot is cherry.  

For How Long Should You Smoke the Ribs?

The smoking duration depends upon the thickness of the cut. Thicker pieces will take a longer time. Here is a guideline that shows how long typical thicknesses will take to reach 203 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • One inch thick slab will take 5 hours
  • The 1.5-inch thick layer will be ready in 7 hours
  • The 2-inch thick rib meat will need 10 hours

Despite the misplaced advice that you hear to the contrary, resist the urge to wrap the ribs in butcher paper unless you want to turn them into pot roast.  

As far as the sauce is concerned, you should eschew it to make truly authentic Texan style beef ribs. The sweet taste of the tomato does not compliment the smoke flavor too well. The secret rub and dark crust of smoky goodness are more than enough for a fantastic taste. There is no need to overdo things. Sometimes it is best to keep things simple.

You can serve the ribs as soon as they come off the pellet grill. You do not need to keep them in the beer cooler as so many folks do in the belief that it will develop the flavor. It makes almost no difference and is therefore not worth the effort.

If the bones are not too thick and the meat itself is thin, then you can finish smoking in just over 3 hours.  

Details of the Smoking Process

Beef short ribs are a good choice for this recipe since they have more meat compared to beef back ribs. They are also much better than pork ribs since they have a better flavor and more fat and meat. That being said, beef short ribs can also be tougher since they also have more connective tissue. But it does not have to be this way. You can cook tender beef short ribs with the right smoking technique.

You can smoke these shorties at low temperatures so that the fat melts. The protein will not misbehave at this temperature to become dry and tasteless. You should also ensure that you cook your ribs well so that they are very well done. With enough cooking duration and smoke level, the exterior will sport a strongly charred look. The surface is not incinerated. It just has a pitch-black covering of smoke along with the dark layer of meat. If you stick to the set temperature, the inside will be tender, moist and succulent.

Short ribs are plentiful in connective tissue and fat content. When undercooked, the fat will appear waxy and soft. When the fat begins melting, the bulk of it simply drips off. The rest that remains, however, works its magic on the muscle tissue. This process is responsible for the rich and strong flavor.

The connective tissue is collagen. It melts at around 165 degrees to give a gelatinous appearance. Soft and waxy collagen will beef up the flavor – if you don’t mind the pun.  

The Target Temperature

Texan style roasting is the key to this recipe. The goal behind this roasting technique is to heat the ribs enough to just melt the fat and collagen. Your target is a meat temperature of 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Your Texan style beef short ribs will be ready at this point.

When the meat reaches this temperature, spice rub and pellet smoke infuse a scrumptious flavor. This is in addition to the collagen, which enhances the flavor as described.

One dependable food probe that you should always keep in handy for your beef short ribs or any other barbecue recipe for that matter is the OXO Thermocouple Thermometer. This heat measuring instrument is the gold standard even among the very best thermometers in the market. This probe is the ideal package for slow smoking on pellet grills. If you are into pellet grilling, then you simply can’t do without it.  

Here is something that aspiring home-based grill chefs would love to hear. The most expensive grill restaurants have to cook at higher temperatures to quickly serve the long waiting line. They often smoke at 275 and even as high as 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Your pellet grill, on the other hand, will go up to just 225 degrees for true low and slow smoking. The meat should not go higher than 205 degrees. The ribs will be much more tender and there will be a stronger smoke flavor.

In other words, you are going to smoke out the restaurants and beat them at their own game. This is just about every grill enthusiast’s fantasy and it’s going to turn into a reality for you very soon if you put your mind into it.

Texas-Style Beef Short Ribs Rub Recipe

It is simple to make a delicious rub that will impart a wonderful flavor to your beef short ribs. The preparation time is just a few minutes and the ingredients are easily available.

  • Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder or chipotle
  • 2 teaspoons ancho powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar (granulated)
  • 3 tablespoons grounded black pepper

Put all ingredients inside a bowl and mix them well. Store it in an airtight container. The rub will expire after about one year.    

Apply the rub evenly on the ribs just before they go into the pellet grill. Mix the rub onto the meat after wetting the surface of the ribs. The logic behind the water layer is that most of the ingredients in the rub are water-soluble. It is this rub that, along with the pellet smoke, will become part of the beautiful tar-black layer that speaks volumes about its exotic taste.

Smoke Flavored Mac and Cheese

Prepare a hearty and delicious side dish based on your favorite comfort food to turn your barbecue into a complete meal. A carbohydrate-rich side dish will do wonders to balance and amplify the wonderful protein flavor of your short beef ribs.  You can enthrall your guests with a side dish that is nearly as good, if not better, than the main barbecue itself.

Mac and cheese are amazing on their own, but the smoked version is indescribably good.


  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped parsely
  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups Colby cheese (grated)
  • 2 cups cheddar (grated)
  • 2 cups of milk
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs

First, keep cooked pasta at hand. Melt the butter under medium heat in a saucepan. Add flour into the molten butter and whisk the mixture till it becomes smooth. Now add the milk slowly. Keep stirring gently so that the mixture is uniform.

Reduce the heat to a low level. Add pepper, salt, and cheese into the pan. Keep stirring till the cheese melts. Pour the cooked pasta into the saucepan so that it is fully covered in the cheesy sauce.

Mix Panko breadcrumbs with the molten butter in a small bowl.    

Apply cooking spray into a casserole dish to coat its cooking surface. Add mac and cheese into the casserole dish. Put the breadcrumb mixture on top.

Smoke the mac and cheese in a pellet grill for around 40 minutes at 350 degrees. The surface should be golden and bubbly.

Bottom Line

Whether it’s your family, friend or neighbors, there is no one who you cannot win over with the best Texas-style beef short ribs recipe. Your friends and family will be left imploring for more. The only thing you will regret is not having learned this recipe earlier. You will fondly remember this as a key milestone in your quest to discover the most delicious BBQ.

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