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Beef Short Ribs: Everything You Need to Know About One of My Favorite BBQ Cuts

Short ribs — They are beefy, moist, unctuous and full of flavor, as well as being relatively easy to cook and get right. Like brisket on a stick, they are absolutely delicious. Learn all about them in our look at this wonderful cut.

Written by:
| Reviewed by: Mark Jenner

Last Updated: January 22, 2024

smoked and sliced beef short ribs on a wooden cutting board.

Beef short ribs are a popular cut of meat taken from the chuck, plate, or rib areas of beef cattle. They consist of a short portion of the rib bone, which is overlain by meat which varies in thickness.

You’ve probably seen all sorts of ribs in recipes, stumbled across beef ribs, thought they looked incredible, and now find yourself asking, ‘What are short ribs?’

In this article, you’ll learn why they’re called short ribs, the different types, how they are butchered, along with details of where they come from on the cow. Then we will cover where the best place is to get some, how to prepare them for cooking, and of course our pointers on how to cook them to tender perfection.

Because slow-cooked or slow-smoked, barbecued or plain, big, or small, we just don’t care. We can’t get enough of beef short ribs, and you can’t either, that’s probably why you’re here?

This sharp short rib report is ready — let’s go.

Key Takeaways

  • Beef short ribs are a flavorful cut of meat with plenty of meat on the bone.
  • Short ribs are taken from the chuck primal of the cow, specifically from the serratus ventralis muscle in the chuck area.
  • Short ribs can be served in two styles: English cut or Flanken.
  • Short ribs can go by different names, including crosscut short rib, barbecue rib, braising rib, and kosher rib, depending on the cut and preparation.
  • Short ribs are known for their rich flavor, tender texture, and high fat content, which makes them perfect for slow cooking or smoking.
  • They are best cooked low and slow, either by smoking, braising, or a mix of the two.
  • Short ribs are typically barbecued in the Western world. Still, they are also popular in Chinese, Jewish, and Korean cooking.

My Experience With Beef Short Ribs: They are Truly One of My Favorites!

To say that I love beef short ribs would be an understatement! They are one of two cuts that, way back in 2005, got me into BBQ in the first place.

I was eating at a South American BBQ restaurant in London, UK, when I was served picanha steak that they had grilled on a long sword and sliced off portions at my table, along with low and slow-smoked beef short ribs. Both dishes blew my mind, leading to me wanting to explore barbecue to recreate these dishes.

Nearly 20 years later, beef short ribs are still one of my favorite dishes. They taste almost like brisket, cook in half the time, cost half as much, look impressive on the plate, and blow you away with their strong beefy flavor and buttery tenderness.

I regularly cook beef short ribs; it’s not only my favorite but my friends and family’s, too. If you haven’t, make sure to give them a try, as they are truly superb!

What are Beef Short Ribs?

Despite the name, traditional beef short ribs come up anything but short. They are probably the rib with the most meat on when compared with any other rack of ribs.

Served in two distinct styles; English cut or Flanken, short ribs can be taken from the chuck, plate, or rib areas of the cow. Containing a short portion of the rib bone surrounded by meat.

English cut is usually cut parallel to the bone, and it is anywhere between 4 and 6 inches in length. The Flanken cut is cut across multiple rib bones at around an inch thick, for both the bone and the slab of meat attached.

For other types of beef ribs, be sure to check out our extensive guides to all the different cuts of beef and the different types of ribs.

Here’s a quick overview video from Crowd Cow on the basics of beef short ribs:

Where Do Short Ribs Come from on the Cow?

 Diagram showing the chuck primal on a .

Funnily enough, not from the rib primal as would be expected. The best and most classic cut of beef short ribs comes from the chuck primal, which is where the ribs start.

Ribs 1 to 5 are located in the chuck primal, and it’s also where the serratus ventralis muscle starts. This muscle is the prime target for short ribs, thick, fatty, and full of flavor.

The serratus ventralis originates near the second rib, and although it covers most of the rib cage, it’s at its thickest in the chuck, primarily through ribs 2 to 5, which coincidentally are the best ones for short ribs.

Moving toward the rump, the serratus ventralis gets thinner and not as dense, so less meat and fat means less flavor. This muscle protracts and retracts the shoulder and flexes the neck when acting unilaterally.

It’s a busy muscle, so it is tough, full of connective tissue, and when render out over a low and slow cook is what makes the beef rib so melt in the mouth tender and moist.

Other Names for Beef Short Ribs

Although the chuck primal is best for beef short ribs, many shops and supermarkets class different beef rib cuts from the brisket, chuck, plate, and rib section as short ribs too. That way, they can sell cheaper versions.

We recommend sticking to the chuck ribs i you can. Just be sure to ask your butcher that they are from the chuck primal so that you get the most meat and flavor.

Short ribs can go by many names; here are the most common.

  • Crosscut short rib is known as ‘Flanken cut’, where they are cut across the bones. They can also be referred to as crosscut ribs, Hawaiian-style ribs, Jewish ribs, Korean-style ribs, or kosher ribs.
  • ‘English’ cut ribs cut between the bones may also go by the name barbecue ribs, braising ribs, or fancy cut ribs due to the thick slab of meat that sits atop the bone.

Flavor, Texture, Fat Content and Tenderness

four individually sliced beef short ribs on butcher pa.

Short ribs are full of flavor since they are effectively alternate layers of meat and fat. The muscle itself is a well-worked and tough cut, but cooked correctly it results in very tender meat with an easy chew.

When slow-cooked, the fat released will baste and moisten the meat as it cooks, making it fall off the bone with a really beefy flavor that is buttery and intense.

Coming from the chuck and rib intersection, the short rib has flavor characteristics of both — abundant marbling with a deep beefy flavor, making them a joyful comfort food.

Typical Uses

Beef ribs in the Western world are typically served barbecued and stand alone. Elsewhere, they have been a part of traditional meals for centuries, particularly popular in Chinese, Jewish, and Korean cooking.

The origins of the Flanken rib are Eastern European Jewish. The short rib is boiled in a rich broth with onions and herbs until tender and then served with grated horseradish on top.

Maui ribs are traditional Hawaiian fare. Flanken cut are usually marinated in soy sauce, brown sugar, and ginger, and then flash grilled instead of slow-cooked. A little firmer on the chew, but tasty, nonetheless.

Nutritional Information

NutritionAmount (Based on 3 oz Serving)% Daily Value (based
on 2000 calories/day)
Calories20410%
Saturated Fat6.9 g35%
Sodium63.8 mg3%
Protein14.6 g29%
Iron2 mg11%
Zinc6.1 mg55%

* Data collected from USDA approved myfooddata.com

Average Price

In terms of price per-pound, those cut from the lower plate primal are usually the cheapest. Followed by medium-priced from the brisket and the premium ribs from the chuck.

At the time of writing, the cost per-pound varies from $14.50 to $19 per lb. across online outlets.

Portion Size: How Many Short Ribs Per Person?

Four smoked beef short ribs, sliced on cutting board with kn.

For ease of reference, aim for around 12oz. of beef short rib uncooked per person if they accompany other meats and sides. If without hearty sides, aim for 1½ lb. per person, if they are to be the main event.

This might sound a lot, but they will shrink some 25%+ during cooking, and some of that weight is inedible bone.

But how many beef short ribs you serve per person depends on the size you buy. Some 1.5 lb. offerings will provide four ribs, whereas some gourmet offerings will only provide two supersized ribs.

How to Prepare Short Ribs for Grilling or Smoking

How you prepare beef short ribs will vary depending on what style you ask for.

The thick English cut doesn’t necessarily need any preparation. They can be placed straight in sauce, broth, or smothered in a good rub before smoking to perfection.

Flanken style ribs are usually sliced thinner at around 0.5-1 inch thick. If cooking Korean or Hawaiian style, they will need at least 24 hours in a marinade to get that authentic flavor before you flash fry them. Best done over an open flame, be wary of the fat and the flashback.

Neither rib cut should require any trimming, they’re usually ready to go. But f they do some with any brisket attached you must trim this off as it cooks differently to the rib meat underneath.

We of course recommend smoking beef short ribs for the best results, especially when finished in homemade barbecue sauce.

How to Cook Them on a Grill or Smoker

A rack of four smoked beef short ribs on a white cutting bo.

As you might have already picked up on, short ribs are best cooked low-n-slow by either smoking or braising. We favor smoking because of fire and flavor, but the best results come from using both techniques combined.

You can smoke with as little wood or as much as you like, plus you can add flavor with the choice of wood you use. Cherry, pear, whiskey oak, maple, hickory, mesquite, the list is endless.

Here’s our guide to a generic way to smoke your ribs to absolute perfection; the key is finishing them off by braising them. It keeps them moist and helps to break down the chewy collagen:

  1. Preheat your smoker to 225 °F and add your favored wood (we recommend a mix of oak and cherry).
  2. Remove your ribs from the fridge and then coat lightly in oil or yellow mustard as a binder, then cover them in your choice of dry rub.
  3. Place them into the smoker directly on the grate.
  4. At about the 4-hour mark, remove them from the smoker and place into a baking dish or aluminum tray along with a cup of beef stock, dark ale, or a strong beer, then wrap very tightly with foil.
  5. When the internal temperature of the meat between the bones reaches the sweet spot of 200 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit, remove, rest for 20 minutes plus and then serve.
  6. Stare at the ribs, mouth agog before tucking in and devouring.

My Beef Short Ribs Recipe

Close up of nice, moist beef ribs with a smoke ring and peppery rub crust.

My very own smoked then braised short rib recipe, they are cooked low n slow until the meat falls off the bone.

Beef short ribs are one of the cuts that got Mark Jenner, the owner of this site, obsessed with barbecue. So you know this recipe is going to be good.

Thanks to a simple black pepper, salt, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper rub, smoked for 4 hours and then braised in a dark beer for a further 3 hours or so — for a 7-hour total time — this recipe is rich and incredibly tender.

Get the recipe here: Easy smoked beef ribs.

Buying Short Ribs

Beef short ribs are available pretty much everywhere you go. They are popular, and excellent value for money with the range of quality and grades available.

If you aren’t fussy about what primal they come from, you will find them easily in supermarkets. If you want the classic cut, your best bet is to head to your local butcher or an online meat market. That way, you can confirm what cut of short rib they are and place your order, ensuring you get what you want.

Where to Buy Short Ribs Online

side view of a rack of beef short ribs showing the marbl.

Online meat markets and gourmet butchers will stock various quality cuts of meat, ranging from good, to great, to the sublime.

Once you hit the website, you’ll find plenty of choice with the origins and ethos of each meat detailed for your perusal, along with pictures of what you can expect. Simply place your order, and wait for their arrival on the doorstep.

Here are two online outlets that sell some of the best beef short ribs available:

Crowd Cow

Two photos of short ribs from Crowd Cow, one a full rack with salt and pepper, the second of individual, small wagyu short r.

Crowd Cow’s pasture-raised short ribs are big, meaty, full of delicious marbling, and are sure to please! They sell these short ribs as a whole complete rack, sliced across the bones Korean style, or as individual portions.

They also sell full-blood wagyu short ribs, which have insane marbling and are so rich and tasty, they are a luxury.

Check Price on Crowd Cow

Snake River Farms

Two photos of Snake River Farms short ribs, one full rack raw, and a man holding a single cooked short rib on the b.

Snake River Farms short ribs are 6 pounds of luscious, exquisite meat from their American Wagyu Black Grade Wagyu cross cattle line.

Because of their gigantic size and primeval look, these short ribs are one of their most unique products, frequently referred to as “dinosaur ribs.”

These ribs are heavily marbled, meaty, and extraordinarily tasty. Each box provides one 3-bone slab weighing about 6 lbs.

Check Price on Snake River Farms

Conclusion

Short of asking these short ribs to marry us, we feel we’ve made it abundantly clear how good they can be. Amazingly tender with plenty of meat per bite, these ribs deliver on every level.

They are fantastic smoked, braised, roasted, or quick grilled Korean style. They take well to a good marinade, a tasty rub, or even as plain as they come. So, we know you’ll love them as much as we do.

Prove us right — go get some, and then come back and tell us how they rocked your world in the comments below. We’ll meet you there.

Happy grilling!

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Written By: Emma Braby

Hey, I’m Emma Braby, a contributing author here at FoodFireFriends.

I like to write about current BBQ trends, juicy recipes and to let our readers into tricks and tips that I’ve learned along my BBQ journey.

I currently cook on a Kamado Joe Classic II and a Pro Q Smoker, and love nothing more than having my friends and family round at the weekend trying out my new tasty recipes.

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3 Comments

  1. Avatar for Jeffry Gase Jeffry Gase says:

    I work in the meat department and customers ask me about how to make them and where they come from on the cow….. Now I know super information
    Have a blessed day

  2. What would I buy if I’m looking for short ribs without the bone from the chuck primal?

    1. Avatar for Mark Jenner Mark Jenner says:

      Well, short ribs are from the chuck, but some people other ribs short ribs when they are not. So really, it is ribs from the chuck that you want.

      But some other ribs people mistakenly call short ribs for example, are ‘plate short ribs’ that come from the short plate (way less meaty than actual short ribs), and beef back ribs that come from the ‘rib sub-primal’ which are some of the last ribs that come from after the prime rib cut.