Extremely hands off, foolproof way to cook beef ribs – slow cooked in the oven in a homemade BBQ Sauce braising liquid until the meat is fall apart and ridiculously juicy inside, and the outside is bronzed and sticky. Also known as short ribs, these are a prized cut for slow cooking!
BONUS: this all happens in one pan, it’s 100% perfect for make ahead and freezing, and makes its own barbecue sauce (and it might be the best you ever have in your life!).
Slow cooked BBQ Beef Ribs
Beef ribs are the king of all beef cuts for slow cooking (pretty sure I said that in my Beef Short Ribs in Red Wine Sauce too). They are juicier than brisket and chuck (there’s always a few lean-ish patches, that’s just the way that cut is). Beef Cheeks come close, but ribs have one big thing going for them that cheeks do not:
I don’t know what it is about fall apart meat on a bone, but it gets me every time. Hence my ever increasing collection of lamb shank recipes. And pork ribs. And now it seems I’ve moved onto beef ribs!
If you’re new to beef ribs, this is an excellent way to introduce them into your life, and I’ll wager that they’ll become a regular fixture. The sweet-savoury flavour of the BBQ Sauce is a perfect match with the beefy flavour of ribs.
And it’s virtually a foolproof recipe – you just need to ensure it’s cooked long enough so the beef becomes like THIS:
BBQ Beef Ribs Rub
Here’s what you need for the Rub. There’s quite a few substitutions possible so don’t fret if you don’t have every item:
Beef ribs do come in a variety of cuts, but I’m using the most common cut (here in Australia) which is also called beef short ribs. It’s a chunky rectangle block, cut with individual bones and are very meaty.
They shrink about 30% so try to get big meaty ones. But if you can only get small ones ~250g/8oz, that’s still ok!
Beef rib RACK: sometimes you see beef ribs in rack form. They typically have less meat on them. They will work great in this recipe too – see recipe card for directions. However, make sure you do NOT use the rib racks that come vac packed – these have been brined and will be too salty (read ingredients, if it has anything in it other than beef, then it’s brined ie salt injected).
Beef alternative cuts: beef cheeks and chuck (cut into baseball size chunks) will both work really great here. For brisket, use the Barbecue Beef Brisket recipe.
- Brown sugar – sub white
- Garlic powder – 1 tsp minced garlic (using press) per 1 tsp powder
- Onion powder – garlic powder
- Mustard powder – dijon or standard mustard
If subbing fresh garlic or mustard spread, then rub those wet ingredients on first before pressing into dry rub.
Beef Ribs braising liquid / homemade BBQ sauce
And here’s what you need for the homemade BBQ Sauce which doubles as the braising liquid for the beef ribs (so it absorbs flavour as it slow cooks which is why we don’t need to marinate these ribs):
- Ketchup is the primary flavour base for homemade barbecue sauce. You’ll find it in all my barbecue sauce flavoured recipes, including this (easy!) midweek Baked BBQ Chicken, BBQ Pork Ribs, Pulled Pork with BBQ Sauce and slow cooked brisket with BBQ Sauce. Sub with Aussie Tomato Sauce – it’s almost as good;
- Cider vinegar – the tang in homemade barbecue sauce. Sub with white wine vinegar, sherry or Champagne vinegar OR 1/3 cup normal white vinegar;
- Brown sugar – barbecue sauce is sweet. If you don’t like sweet, you can cut it back.
- Garlic – I really like using fresh but powder is fine too;
- Onion powder – sub garlic powder;
- Mustard powder – sub with dijon or normal yellow mustard (not hot English mustard! Unless you WANT the heat!)
- Worcestershire Sauce – savoury element. Soy sauce (all purpose or light) is an acceptable sub (it won’t make it Asiany);
- Cayenne – for a hum of warmth. This is not overly spicy. If you’re concerned, start with less and you can adjust right at the end. If you like it hot, start with the recipe amount then add hot sauce at the end.
How to make BBQ Beef Ribs
Dead easy – everything goes into the pan, then you slow cook it in a moderate oven until the meat is fall apart tender. It’s fabulously foolproof because there’s a big window before the meat will start to dry out from overcooking – I’ve left it in 1 1/2 hours too long and it was STILL juicy!
Here’s a close up look at the homemade Barbecue Sauce you end up with in the pan. The beauty of this method of cooking is that the juices from the ribs mix in with the sauce, so you’re essentially making it with the ultimate money-can’t-buy beef stock!
ANOTHER PRO TIP: For a posh restaurant experience, strain the sauce to make it silky smooth. I do this for VIPs only.
In the recipe video, I make this entirely in the oven, including the caramelisation at the end. But if it were warmer weather, I would have finished it on the BBQ! I’ve included directions for grilling in the recipe.
What to serve with BBQ Beef Ribs
As promised, I’m going to offer up a couple of different options for how to serve beef ribs – rustic, finger lickin’ barbecue style OR elegant fine dining style (and yep, beef ribs certainly appear on the menu of fine dining restaurants, prized for the juicy qualities and because it CAN be plated up elegantly):
Rustic Finger Lickin’ Good Barbecue Sides
I don’t know what it is about sides with mayo based dressings, but they just go so well with anything glazed with barbecue sauce!
Elegant sides, fine dining style
Whichever way you go, it will be a hit. I know it, you know it! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Beef Ribs with Barbecue Sauce – slow cooked short ribs!
BONUS: this all happens in one pan, it’s 100% perfect for make ahead and freezing, and makes its own barbecue sauce (and it might be the best you ever have in your life because it’s made with the rib juices!).
- 6 x 300 – 350g / 10 – 12 oz beef ribs (aka beef short ribs) (Note 1), patted dry
- 1 tbsp brown sugar (sub white)
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder (sub 1 tsp fresh garlic)
- 1 tsp onion powder (sub garlic powder)
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 3/4 tsp mustard powder (Note 2)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves , minced (sub 2 tsp powder)
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (Note 2 subs)
- 1 1/2 cups ketchup , or Aussie tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup brown sugar , loosely packed (ie don’t pack it tight)(sub white)
- 2 tsp EACH black pepper, onion powder, mustard powder (Note 2)
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to taste re: spiciness)
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (sub soy sauce)
- 2 cups water
- Parsley or chives , chopped
Preheat oven to 160°C/320°F (all oven types).
Mix Rub in a small bowl large, enough to fit one rib.
Press beef ribs into the rub, coating all sides. Shake off excess.
Mix Barbecue Sauce ingredients, except water, in a baking pan. Then mix in water.
Place ribs in sauce, turning to coat. Arrange meat side down in the sauce, bone side exposed (sauce won’t cover completely, that’s ok).
Cover tightly with foil or lid, bake 3 1/2 hours.
Remove from oven, remove foil. Turn ribs (some may have fall over, that’s ok, just turn them). Spoon over sauce.
Bake 30 minutes uncovered, spooning over sauce again halfway through, until surface is caramelised and sticky. Check to ensure ribs are tender – pry a bit apart using two forks. (If not, cover and return to oven, but after 4 hrs they certainly should be!)
Remove ribs onto serving plate (use a spoon as meat will barely be attached to bone, if at all). Mix sauce to bring together. Serve with ribs!
Share platter (rustic!): Serve ribs on a platter for people to help themselves with some sauce on it, and some sauce on the side for people to help themselves.
Individual posh restaurant style: place rib on plate, spoon over sauce (see note about straining option). Garnish.
See in post for side options (both rustic and posh!).
They shrink about 30% so try to get big meaty ones. But if you can only get small ones ~250g/8oz, that’s still ok!
Beef ribs racks (less meaty, bones not separated) – use anywhere between 1.5 – 2.5kg / 3- 5lb (this recipe requires a minimum amount of braising liquid and it makes tons of sauce, more than needed for the beef ribs). Oven time will vary depending on meatiness, but for average racks, I’d say 2.5 hrs covered, 30 min uncovered (but check at 1.5 hrs). You may need to scale up the Rub slightly (more surface area)
ALTERNATIVE MEATS: Beef cheeks (easily 2kg/4lb, beef chuck cut into baseball size chunks (2kg/4lb). For both these, check at 2 hrs, total oven time ~3 hrs. For brisket, use the Barbecue Beef Brisket recipe. For pork ribs, use this recipe and for chicken, use this recipe.
DO NOT buy beef ribs that come in a vac pack where the ingredients label has salt or any other ingredient other than beef (these are brined so they’re salty, so this will come out too salty). If you’re desperateand brined beef is all you can get, leave a comment below and I’ll tell you how to adjust the recipe.
2. Ingredient subs:
- Mustard powder – dijon or yellow mustard
- Cider vinegar – white wine vinegar, sherry or Champagne vinegar OR 1/3 cup normal white vinegar.
If subbing fresh garlic or mustard spread in the rub, then rub those wet ingredients on first before pressing into dry rub.
3. Sauce adjustments – in the perfect world (like in the video!), it is the perfect thickness for serving straight out of the oven. In reality, ovens vary, roasting pan heat retentions vary, rib sizes vary, hence evaporation rate varies. If need be, add a splash of boiling water to thin out. If too thin (doubt it), pop back into oven. Taste and add salt if needed, or a hit of hot sauce if you want more spice.
Strain it for silky smooth for VIP (optional!)
4. Other cook methods:
- Stove – 2.5 hours on low simmer, lid on (handle with care when removing)
- Slow cooker – 8 hrs on low, 5 hrs on high, then transfer to oven to caramelise 30 min uncovered, per recipe.
- Pressure cooker – 1 hr on high, follow slow cooker directions above. Depressurise naturally for 10 min, then release valve.
- Instant Pot – Follow slow cooker directions above but do the searing in your Instant Pot. Cook using slow cooker or pressure cooker function using above times.
Finish on GRILL! This is an excellent wow-factor grilling recipe. Cook it per recipe fully covered until it’s fall apart tender (check with 2 forks). Then spoon over sauce, keep covered and transfer beef into a container, and sauce in another ie. do not do the uncovered roasting step. Once fully cool, refrigerate. On the day of, microwave beef to heat through – we only grill to caramelise the outside and get subtle smokey flavour. Baste with warmed sauce, then grill 3 minutes on each side on medium, basting lots, until you get a wickedly good caramelised sauce with charred bits. SO GOOD!
5. Meat will be literally falling off the bone so don’t expect the meat to be clinging to the bone once meat is tender. In fancy restaurants, they sometimes reconstruct it so it looks like it’s still attached, but it’s not. If meat is tender, it cannot be attached to bone!
6. Storage – gets better with time, excellent low-effort make ahead option. Cool, refrigerate in sauce (or separate sauce if you strained it for posh-style). Keeps 5 days in fridge. The either reheat in microwave (I do this, for most moist steamy outcome), or oven (180°C/350°F covered for 20 min until meat is hot and tender all the way through, then uncovered to recaramelise surface if needed, I find it’s not required).
Freezer – 3 months in airtight container. Thaw then reheat using one of above options (do not try to microwave or heat from frozen). It freezes 100% perfectly.
7. Nutrition per beef rib, assuming all sauce is consumed (there will likely be sauce leftover. See in post for what to do with it )
Life of Dozer
This calendar was a gift. And I was secretly extra thrilled because I thought it might be borderline too crazy-dog-lady to make one myself.
So I keep my fingers crossed every year on my birthday and Christmas that someone will give me a Dozer calendar. Eight years in, and I’ve never had to!! Someone always comes through!