Smoky Sweet Barbecue Beef Short Ribs Recipe

The best recipes are those that require relatively little effort but yield the most crave-worthy results. These smoky sweet barbecue beef short ribs — courtesy of recipe developer Julie Kinnaird – have just that effect. Cooked low and slow and flavored with both a dry rub and a rich, sticky sauce, these ribs are fall-apart delicious. This type of rib is taken from the chuck cut of the cow, near where the shoulder begins. They are quite meaty with enough fat to keep them moist, yet best prepared with a slow cooking technique to make them fully tender. The oven does most of the work for you in this recipe.

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The sweetness in the barbecue sauce comes from a combination of blueberry jam, brown sugar, and sweet Thai chili sauce which adds a bit of ginger and heat. Chipotles in adobo and smoked paprika infuse the sauce with smoky depth while apple cider vinegar adds tartness for balance. As the ribs bake, they absorb the sauce and all of that intense flavor. A final lacquer with the remaining smoky sweet sauce leaves the meat with a beautifully caramelized crust. 

Gather the smoky sweet barbecue beef short ribs ingredients

This recipe starts with boneless beef short ribs, trimmed of excess fat and connective tissue (which can toughen during cooking). The ribs are rubbed with a mix of smoked paprika, chili powder, kosher salt, and garlic. This will infuse them with flavor before adding the barbecue sauce. For the sauce, you will need light brown sugar, blueberry jam, sweet Thai chili sauce, canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and whole grain mustard along with a little more smoked paprika.

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Step 1: Make the dry rub

In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, chili powder, kosher salt, and minced garlic.

Step 2: Oil a baking dish

Oil the inside of a 13x9-inch baking dish.

Step 3: Sprinkle ribs with dry rub

Arrange the short ribs in an even layer in the pan and sprinkle with half of the spice rub.

Step 4: Coat all surfaces of the ribs with the dry rub

Turn the ribs and sprinkle on the remainder. Use your hands to coat all surfaces of the meat with the rub (wear gloves if desired).

Step 5: Cover pan with foil

Cover pan tightly with foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Let ribs sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.

Step 6: Preheat oven

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Step 7: Add sauce ingredients to blender

While the oven preheats, combine the remaining ingredients in a blender to make the barbecue sauce.

Step 8: Process sauce

Process until smooth (about 30 seconds).

Step 9: Remove foil from pan

Remove foil from pan.

Step 10: Coat the ribs with sauce

Coat the ribs with 1/3 of the barbecue sauce, then turn over and pour another 1/3 over the ribs.

Step 11: Bake the ribs

Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 3 hours.

Step 12: Remove ribs from oven

Remove the pan from the oven and uncover.

Step 13: Ladle off excess liquid

Flip the ribs and remove some of the excess fat and liquid from the pan so that there is only a small amount left at the bottom.

Step 14: Coat ribs with remaining sauce

Coat the ribs with the remaining barbecue sauce.

Step 15: Finish baking the short ribs

Return the pan to the oven, uncovered, and bake for 15 minutes longer, or until the sauce is bubbling.

Step 16: Serve the short ribs

Serve the smoky sweet barbecue short ribs immediately with your favorite sides.

How should you serve smoky sweet barbecue beef short ribs?

These smoky sweet barbecue beef short ribs will undoubtedly be the main attraction of the meal, but easily pair with any of your favorite BBQ sides, from potatoes to macaroni and cheese. Be sure to plan ahead for marinating time with the dry rub. This spice combo really infuses the meat with flavor, but it needs time to absorb into the tissues — preferably 24 hours. 

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If you want to bake the ribs ahead as well, remove them from the oven about 20 minutes early and keep them tightly wrapped in foil. The meat will continue to cook a bit as it rests, but the ribs can be placed back in the 325 F oven uncovered for 10-15 minutes to finish cooking and give the smoky sweet sauce time to caramelize. The ribs are delicious with a balance of sides including salads or slaw, roasted vegetables, and perhaps some deviled eggs.

What can I use instead of blueberry jam?

Kinnaird enjoys the tart, slightly woodsy flavor of blueberry jam because it pairs seamlessly with the smoky flavors of the paprika, chipotles in adobo sauce, and Worcestershire sauce in these smoky sweet beef short ribs. That being said, she fully endorses other berry jams including lingonberry, blackberry, or raspberry that also have a deep color and slightly tart quality. 

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Ideally, you want to use a seedless jam in this recipe as even a high-speed blender will not process out the grainy texture of the seeds. Different fruit vinegars could also be substituted for apple cider vinegar, such as pomegranate or plum. The objective is to keep the sauce in a nice dark berry or stone fruit flavor profile that can hold up to the smoky ingredients as well as the richness of the beef short ribs. Smoky plus sweet is the ultimate barbecue sauce flavor duo!

Smoky Sweet Barbecue Beef Short Ribs Recipe

5 (30 ratings)

Cooked low and slow and flavored with both a dry rub and a rich, sticky sauce, these smoky sweet barbecue beef short ribs are fall-apart delicious.

Prep Time
15
minutes
Cook Time
3.25
hours
servings
4
Servings
Smoky sweet barbecue beef short ribs on platter
Total time: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 3 pounds boneless beef short ribs, cut into 4-inch lengths
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ⅓ cup blueberry jam
  • ⅓ cup sweet Thai chili sauce
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce (canned variety)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, chili powder, kosher salt, and minced garlic.
  2. Oil the inside of a 13x9-inch baking dish.
  3. Arrange the short ribs in an even layer in the pan and sprinkle with half of the spice rub.
  4. Turn the ribs and sprinkle on the remainder. Use your hands to coat all surfaces of the meat with the rub (wear gloves if desired).
  5. Cover pan tightly with foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Let ribs sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
  6. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  7. While the oven preheats, combine the remaining ingredients in a blender to make the barbecue sauce.
  8. Process until smooth (about 30 seconds).
  9. Remove foil from pan.
  10. Coat the ribs with ⅓ of the barbecue sauce, then turn over and pour another ⅓ over the ribs.
  11. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 3 hours.
  12. Remove the pan from the oven and uncover.
  13. Flip the ribs and remove some of the excess fat and liquid from the pan so that there is only a small amount left at the bottom.
  14. Coat the ribs with the remaining barbecue sauce.
  15. Return the pan to the oven, uncovered, and bake for 15 minutes longer, or until the sauce is bubbling.
  16. Serve the smoky sweet barbecue short ribs immediately with your favorite sides.

Nutrition

Calories per Serving 1,015
Total Fat 65.4 g
Saturated Fat 27.8 g
Trans Fat 3.8 g
Cholesterol 248.3 mg
Total Carbohydrates 47.3 g
Dietary Fiber 2.8 g
Total Sugars 36.2 g
Sodium 1,637.1 mg
Protein 60.9 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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