Most people think beef ribs are not worth cooking unless you can invest in massive smokers and other barbecue equipment. However, the reality is that you can actually get delicious beef ribs even in a small home kitchen. The secret to getting perfect ribs every time is cooking them using the sous vide method.
Sous vide produces stellar ribs because it evenly heats the meat to a specific temperature and holds that temperature as long as you need it. This allows the connective tissue inside the ribs to melt, resulting in incredibly juicy and tender ribs.
Whether you're a long-time sous vide enthusiast or have never tried it before, our guide will walk you through the process in just a few simple, easy steps.
Table of Contents
- 1 Why You Should Sous Vide Beef Ribs?
- 2 Traditionally Cooked Beef Ribs vs Sous Vide Beef Ribs
- 3 What You Need to Sous Vide Your Beef Ribs
- 4 Picking the Best Ribs for Sous Vide
- 5 How to Pick the Best Flavors and Prepare Your Meat
- 6 The Step-by-Step Guide to Sous Vide Beef Ribs
- 7 Final Notes
Why You Should Sous Vide Beef Ribs?
If you have recently heard of sous vide method, then you should know that it is becoming very popular lately.
And if you are wondering why you should sous vide beef ribs, then here are a few benefits of cooking your meat with this method:
Benefits of Sous Vide Beef Ribs
Sous vide consists of slow cooking meat at a low temperature for hours, slowly brining it to the target temperature. The meat is packed in a vacuum sealing bag and is slowly cooked using hot water.
The sealed plastic bag makes sure that there is no risk of drying out the meat through the exposure to hot air and water and allows the meat to sit and cook on its own juices.
It is becoming very popular lately as it is one of the best methods for producing perfectly cooked and very tender meat.
Another benefit why many people like this cooking method is because it is a great set-it and forget-it form of cooking. When you use a grill or a smoker, you need to monitor the meat from time to time, requiring more dedication and you cannot go far away from the grill.
With sous vide cooking, you can completely leave the machine to do the work. You don’t need to do any basting, flipping or temperature monitor. Just put the meat in the vacuum sealed bags and let it cook.
Also, another benefit of sous vide is that the slow cooking at a specific temperature for a period of time slowly breaks down the connective tissues found in the beef grain. It depends on the cut but the meat turns into a tender piece if you cook at a specific temperature over the course of 24-36 hours.
Traditionally Cooked Beef Ribs vs Sous Vide Beef Ribs
Here are some of the main differences between sous vide beef ribs vs traditionally cooking them:
One of the main differences of sous vide beef ribs from traditionally cooking them is that Sous Vide cooking requires a little bit more time to cook.
It is very common to leave the beef ribs into sous vide machine submerged into water for 24-36 hours. While if you use a smoker or a grill, they can be ready for maybe half of that time or even less.
- Also Read: How Long to Smoke Ribs
Sous Vide is known for making the meat super tender and juicy. Cooking beef ribs in a sous vide machine will allow them to cook on their own juices, making super juicy and tender, much more than when are cooked via grilling.
Using a sous vide machine is almost impossible to dry out or burn the meat.
These machines cook them at a specific degree and is almost impossible to overcook them and as a result, dry them out.
What You Need to Sous Vide Your Beef Ribs
Of course the main thing you need is simply high-quality beef ribs. Keep in mind that they are a little bigger than pork ribs, so a full rack often just has around eight ribs. A general rule of thumb is to get 1 ½ pounds of beef ribs per person, though you might want a little more if your dinner guests are hungry!
There are all sorts of potential tasty flavors to add to your beef ribs, which we'll go over in a minute. However, the only essential one is just plain old salt. If you don't have time for exotic spices or fancy flavors, just beef ribs and salt alone will result in a delicious meal.
Now it's time to gather your sous vide cooker. You will need a watertight container large enough to hold all your ribs. Preferably get an insulated one to save energy during cooking. Vacuum sealed bags are helpful, but standard gallon sized ziploc bags also work.
You will also need sous vide equipment to hold water at the right temperature. Avoid any so-called "hacks" like just dumping hot water into a cooler. Because you're cooking the ribs for so long, you need something that actually holds the water at the right temperature.
Finally, make sure you have plenty of time. Depending on the temperature you set, it may take anywhere from 12 to 36 hours to finish your ribs.
Picking the Best Ribs for Sous Vide
Before purchasing beef ribs, you should know that there are several types of ribs to consider: Beef back ribs, spare ribs, short ribs & baby back ribs.
These are probably the most used ribs and are mostly referred as standard ribs. The cut name is highly depended from the area where you live or from the butcher you purchase them from.
Don’t be confused from various names as some butchers might call beef spare ribs as beef back ribs. Both these are the same cut, mostly known as standard beef ribs, taken from the mid section of the beef. These types of beef are more tender but they have less meat than the short ribs.
Short ribs are different from the spare ribs. They are cut by the shoulder of the animal and have more meat although the meat is tougher than the other types.
Baby back ribs come from pork and the difference the standard beef back ribs is only the animal. The recipe below can also be used to sous vide baby back ribs as well.
How to Pick the Best Flavors and Prepare Your Meat
When it comes to making ribs in a sous vide, preparation is half the battle. Doing a solid job of prep-work will ensure your ribs come out great. First of all, you need to remove the membrane from the back of the ribs if your butcher hasn't done it already. This ensures that the spices can penetrate deep into the meat on both sides.
Now it's time to talk flavors. The first and most essential seasoning is salt. Salt helps hold moisture inside of the meat, so it needs to be added before they are cooked. A dry rub tends to be better instead of doing any sort of wet-brining because wet-brining or marinating your ribs in advance can cause a slightly ham-like flavor and texture to develop.
If you're wanting barbecue style ribs, it is a good idea to add some liquid smoke. Brands like Wright's or Colgin provide classic smoky flavor without any strange chemical off-tastes. However, if you want to skip a barbecue flavor and go with something unique like teriyaki, the liquid smoke isn't necessary.
In addition to salt and smoke, what else should you add? A spice rub made of paprika, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and garlic powder is always a classic, tasty place to start. If you have any spice mixes you like or special family dry rubs, consider adding them. The hearty flavor of beef is delicious on its own, but it also stands up to stronger spices like oregano or red pepper.
- Also Read: Best Brisket Rub Recipes
The Step-by-Step Guide to Sous Vide Beef Ribs
Once you've got your flavors and setup figured out, sous vide beef ribs are impressively easy. All you need to do is follow these three steps!
Step 1: Season Your Meat and Seal It Up
Start by rubbing your dry rub along your beef ribs and placing them in a bag that can be vacuum sealed. Add a few drops of liquid smoke if desired and then get ready to close up the bags.
The easiest way to seal is a vacuum sealer and its accompanying plastic bags, though this requires getting some slightly pricey equipment. You can get the same effect with a ziplock bag and a little know-how.
Close the zip lock bag almost all the way, leaving an inch open at one end. Lower it into water, leaving the open part above water, and then seal the bag the rest of the way right before the water goes over the top. This pushes all the air out of the bag, resulting in a perfect vacuum seal.
Step 2: Sous Vide Your Ribs
Now go ahead and set up your sous vide. You'll need to pick a temperature that suits your cooking goals. The general rule of thumb is higher temperatures result in faster cooking but drier meat.
For the ultimately juicy experience, go with 145°F for 36 hours. To get a little more chew to your meat, set it to 165°F for 12 hours. Want something in the middle? Try 152 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours.
Once your water is at the desired temperature, go ahead and lower in your bag. Make sure all the meat itself is under water. If your bag is floating, check to make sure there's no air bubbles.
Floating can also happen because fattier beef ribs aren't very dense. You can weigh them down with a pot lid or table tennis balls.
Step 3: Sear the Exterior
Once time is up, all you have to do is sear your ribs to get that perfect crusty exterior. You can do this by placing them in the oven at 300 degrees for 20 minutes, or you can finish them by grilling them for 15 minutes.
If desired, brush a layer of barbecue sauce on the ribs before searing to get a sticky coating. You can also add a second spice rub at the end if you want to pack on flavor.
Step 4: Enjoy
Wait five minutes for the ribs to cool slightly, and then they're ready to eat! Slice them into individual strips along the edge of each bone. You can enjoy them on their own or pair them with classic sides like mac and cheese, potato salad, corn on the cob, or freshly baked rolls.
Ultimately, cooking sous vide ribs is as simple as seasoning your meat, sealing it, placing it in the water, waiting a few hours, and searing the exterior to finish it off. Our guide provides plenty of room for experimentation and customization. Feel free to play around with spices and try out different cooking times to find your favorite option. As long as you get high quality ribs, the end result is a tender, juicy interior with a rich, meaty taste!