How to Smoke Beef Ribs

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I absolutely LOVE beef short ribs. Up until recently, I've botched my attempts to figure out how to smoke beef ribs in the traditional Texas smokehouse style. Mission finally accomplished! These AMAZING BBQ beef ribs can be done in under 3 hours!

Stepping up the Beef Rib Game with Traeger

How to smoke beef ribs on a traeger pro 780

I have absolutely LOVED beef short ribs ever since I was a little boy. There was always something both fun and delicious about eating your dinner like a caveman and then throwing the scraps to your dog to make their day as well.

After growing up, however, I found that figuring out how to smoke beef ribs was not an easy endeavor. My attempts ended in many burned or dry racks practically wasted. My journey learning how to smoke beef ribs slowly improved and took a huge turn for the better after I got into TRAEGER (specifically, the Traeger Pro 780).

It Starts with the Butcher

Buying the best beef ribs to be smoked on a traeger smoker 2

I honestly used to think you could just go to the grocery store, pick up any ribs and be good to go. Nope. Turns out, there's a big difference between pork ribs and beef short ribs. Since we're focusing on bbq beef ribs, here are a few quick tips:

  • If you can, ask the butcher at the grocery store to remove the membrane from the bone side before bringing your ribs home.
  • Select a rib with just a bit of fat on the meat side. You don't want too much or they'll be a floppy, gross mess unless you trim it at home and. You want just enough to keep them moist during smoking and to hold the flavor.
  • Short ribs are the preferred choice because of the large hunk of meat on top of the bone. Back ribs are where Prime Rib is removed, so if you buy back ribs you'll find that most remaining meat is stuck in between the bones. They are smaller and cook faster, so figuring out how to smoke beef ribs is a different kind of art depending on what sort of rib you buy.

Adding Flavor to Beef Ribs

How to apply dry rub to beef ribs for traeger smoker 1

After you remove the membrane from the bone side (also called the silver skin), it's time to season the ribs with dry rub. You can use black pepper, kosher salt, or just jump straight to a beef rub if you'd like. Since I am making this as simple as possible and I'm sharing my version of how to smoke beef ribs for a beginner, I'm going to use the widely-available Traeger Rubs.

First, I like a light dusting across the bone side. Then, on the meat side I like a liberal or generous amount of beef rub to cover every single inch of the ribs, even the sides.

Traeger Rub Options

Smoking beef ribs with traeger dry rubs

Traeger makes smoking easy for everyone by providing a plethora of smoking options. For this project, I decided to make TWO sets of beef ribs, each with a different flavor. The first is a Traeger Coffee Rub, and the second is the Traeger Beef Rub.

The coffee rub is actually really good but a totally different direction than Chelsea's Coffee Beef Roast which is done on the stove.

I like to apply the rubs in the morning and refrigerate until cooking at night. If you don't want to wait that long, try to get the rub on 30 minutes before smoking to let the salt and other flavors seep in.

Keeping Meat Moist

Smoking beef ribs with traeger bbq sauce

I have dried out way more meat than I care to mention. Fortunately, it's ALL part of the learning process. What I've learned is to apply the BBQ sauce after the first round of smoking to lock in the moisture and add flavor.

How to Smoke Beef Ribs is all about Time and Care

How to smoke beef ribs with traeger sweet heat sauce

This is where I like to keep things as simple as possible. We start out putting the ribs (dry rub only, bone side down) on the smoker after we preheat to 220 degrees. After one hour on the smoker, I quickly glaze the meat side of the ribs with the Traeger Sauce that I found best goes with each dry rub (Traeger Que/Coffee Rub and Sweet Heat/Beef Rub). Then, I continue to smoke at 220 degrees for another hour.

After the second hour has elapsed, add one more coat of sauce to glaze and crank up the heat to 375 degrees. Once at 375, continue to smoke for 8 more minutes to allow the sugar in the sauce to caramelize and the fat to cook perfectly. Then remove, and let rest for 5 minutes before eating.

Monitor the Meat

How to smoke beef ribs with traeger que sauce

The best part of getting a smoker like the Traeger Pro 780 is that it comes with a Bluetooth app that helps monitor and adjust the cooking process.

In my opinion, due to the two hours of smoking before the caramelization period, the ribs don't need to have their internal temperature checked (they're pretty thin anyway) and you wont need an instant read thermometer. You also won't need butcher paper for this recipe.

How to Enjoy Smoked Beef Ribs

The best home made beef ribs with traeger pro 780

There you have it! That is how to smoke beef ribs the easy way.

Two different flavor profiles, 15 perfect ribs, one happy family.

Two young boys enjoy the best smoked beef ribs from traeger pro 780 smoker

Now, of course, you might need a paper towel or two. Or a garden hose. As a father of four boys, we go shirts off and garden hose. It's a win-win all around. There have definitely been times that Chelsea's suggested we bust out the pressure washer, and I think she's missing our laundry shed something fierce on rib day. It may be time for us to install another outdoor laundry room.

Anyway, that's how to smoke beef ribs!

How to Smoke Beef Ribs

How to smoke beef ribs with traeger que sauce

This mouthwatering recipe is the perfect place to start if you're a beginner trying to figure out how to smoke beef ribs.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 8 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 43 minutes


  • 1/4 cup dry rub
  • 1/2 BBQ sauce
  • Rack of ribs


    1. Apply dry rub to both sides of ribs.
    2. Preheat smoker to 220 degrees.
    3. Place ribs bone down for 1 hour.
    4. Glaze ribs with BBQ sauce of choice.
    5. Smoke at 220 for another hour.
    6. Glaze ribs with BBQ sauce a second time.
    7. Increase temperature to 375 degrees. Smoke at 375 degrees for 8 minutes.
    8. Remove and let sit for 5 minutes.
    9. Enjoy like a barbarian.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 39Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 52mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 2g

Has your family figured out how to smoke beef ribs? Do you have your own style?


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