How to Brine Beef Ribs for Maximum Flavor and Tenderness

Beef ribs can be a delicious treat when cooked properly, but they can easily end up dry and tough if you don’t take the right steps. One of the best ways to help ensure juicy, flavorful beef ribs is to brine them before cooking. Brining is the process of soaking meat in a seasoned saltwater solution, which helps infuse flavor and retain moisture. While brining is especially useful for leaner cuts of meat, it can also provide great benefits when cooking fattier ribs. In this detailed guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about how to brine beef ribs to get perfect results every time.

Why Brine Beef Ribs?

There are a few key reasons why taking the extra time to brine your beef ribs is worth the effort

  • Retains Moisture – The salt in the brine helps the meat retain moisture resulting in juicier ribs after cooking. The brine essentially re-seasons the meat.

  • Infuses Flavor – Not only does the salt penetrate deep into the meat, but aromatics like spices, herbs, sugar, and citrus can also infuse the ribs with more complex flavors.

  • Tenderizes – The salt helps break down muscle fibers, making the ribs more tender and easier to bite into. This is especially helpful for the tougher connective tissue in beef ribs.

  • Enhances Browning – The sugars and salt help achieve better browning and caramelization during cooking for more flavor development.

For best results, I recommend brining beef ribs for at least 4 hours, but ideally 12-24 hours if you have the time. The longer ribs sit in the brine, the more the benefits are amplified.

How to Make a Brine for Beef Ribs

Brining beef ribs is simple – it just requires salt, water, and time. But to take it up a notch, you can add other flavorings. Here is a basic brine formula:

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar or cane sugar
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Herbs like thyme, rosemary, bay leaves

Combine the water, salt, sugar, and whole spices in a very large container or pot. Stir vigorously to help dissolve the salt and sugar. Taste the brine – it should taste lightly salty, not overly salty. Add the beef ribs and add more water if needed to completely submerge them. Cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hours, flipping the ribs halfway through.

You can tweak this basic 1:1 ratio of salt to sugar to suit your tastes. More salt for a stronger brining effect, more sugar for greater browning. Spices, garlic, citrus zest, or herbs add nice layers of flavor. Keep tasting and adjusting until you like the overall flavor profile of the brine.

Selecting the Best Beef Ribs for Brining

The best beef ribs for brining are plate ribs, also called short ribs. Look for racks of meaty ribs approximately 5-7 inches long without too much connective tissue between the bones. Well-marbled ribs with nice fat distribution will be most flavorful and tender after brining and cooking.

Boneless beef ribs are not ideal for brining because the salt cannot penetrate as effectively without the bone. Other bone-in rib options like back ribs or chuck short ribs will also benefit from brining, just keep an eye on cook times.

How to Dry Brine Beef Ribs

A dry brine is a quick alternative to a full overnight wet brine. Simply coat the ribs all over with a salt-sugar rub, let rest for 1-2 hours, then rinse off any excess cure and pat the ribs dry before cooking.

To make a basic dry brine, combine:

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

The salt will draw out moisture from the ribs then break down muscle fibers to allow reabsorption of the salty liquid. This helps tenderize while adding flavor right to the surface.

Step-By-Step Brining Method

Follow this simple step-by-step method for flawlessly brined beef ribs every time:

  1. Mix the brine – Combine 1 gallon water, 1 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup brown sugar, peppercorns, garlic, and any other flavorings in a very large container. Stir vigorously until the salt and sugar fully dissolve.

  2. Submerge the ribs – Place the ribs in the container and add more water if needed to completely cover. Weight down with a plate if ribs try to float.

  3. Refrigerate – Cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hours, flipping ribs halfway through brining.

  4. Remove from brine – Take ribs out of the brine and rinse under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels.

  5. Apply rub – Coat ribs all over with your favorite barbecue dry rub, pressing rub into the meat.

  6. Rest – Let ribs rest for about 30 minutes to form a tacky surface (“pellicle”) before smoking or grilling.

  7. Cook as desired – Smoke low and slow at 225-250°F until tender and juicy!

And that’s it – perfectly brined, seasoned and ready to cook for maximum flavor, moisture and tenderness. Let the brine work its magic!

How to Smoke Brined Beef Ribs

Low and slow smoking is ideal for cooking brined beef ribs to tender, fall-off-the-bone perfection. Follow these tips:

  • Temp: Maintain a steady smoker temp between 225-250°F.

  • Wood: Use a milder wood like oak or pecan to complement the beef.

  • Time: Expect at least 5-6 hours for smoked beef plate ribs, up to 8-10 pounds for huge dino ribs.

  • Wrap: Wrap in butcher paper or foil when the ribs hit 160°F internal temp. This steams the ribs to enhance tenderness.

  • Finish temp: Cook until probing tender and the bones wiggle easily, around 203°F internal temp.

  • Rest: Let rest for 15-30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Don’t be afraid to play with different wood smoke flavors, rubs, and sauces to customize your ideal beef rib recipe.

How to Grill Brined Beef Ribs

You can also grill brined beef ribs for a more intense charcoal-fired flavor. Use indirect heat and these tips:

  • Temp: Maintain grill temp of 250-275°F, higher for a pellet grill.

  • Time: Grill for 3-4 hours until tender, basting with sauce in the last 30 minutes.

  • Flip and rotate: Flip ribs every 30 minutes for even cooking. Rotate to avoid hot spots.

  • Wrap: Wrap in foil on a tray with beef broth or apple juice to steam if ribs start drying out.

  • Char: Unwrap and grill another 5-10 minutes to char the outside.

  • Rest: Let rest 10-15 minutes before cutting into individual ribs for serving.

Top Tips for Brined Beef Ribs

  • Chill the brine before adding ribs so it stays cold during brining.

  • Weigh down ribs with a plate to keep fully submerged.

  • Rinse off ribs then pat very dry after brining for best smoke penetration.

  • Apply a flavorful barbecue rub right before smoking.

  • Use wood chunks for milder smoke flavor that won’t overpower.

  • Spray with apple juice or broth if looking dried out during smoking.

  • Wrap at 160°F internal temp to power through the stall.

  • Cook to around 203°F for fall-off-the-bone texture.

  • Let ribs rest before slicing or the bones may slip right out.

Brined Beef Ribs Recipe

This recipe produces incredibly juicy, beefy, smoky ribs every time. The overnight brine guarantees perfect results.


  • 1 gallon water
  • 3⁄4 cup kosher salt
  • 1⁄2 cup brown sugar
  • 8 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 lbs beef plate ribs


  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano


  1. Combine brine ingredients and stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Add ribs and refrigerate 12-24 hours.

  2. Remove ribs from brine, rinse, and pat very dry. Coat ribs all over with rub.

  3. Smoke at 225-250°F for 5-6 hours until tender, wrapping at 160°F in butcher paper.

  4. Rest for 15 minutes before slicing into individual ribs and serving.

Get Perfectly Juicy, Beefy Ribs Every Time

Taking the extra step to brine your beef ribs is guaranteed to reward you with the most flavorful, juicy ribs imaginable after smoking or grilling. While it does require some advance planning, the wait is well worth it. The simple salt and sugar brine solution helps season the meat while tenderizing and retaining moisture.

Brining Beef Ribs


Should beef ribs be brined?

We like to dry brine our beef ribs. Just as we would with any BBQ meat, dry brine beef ribs a few hours before cooking, preferably overnight or even longer. We use the standard amount of ½ teaspoon coarse Kosher salt per pound of meat or half that when using table salt (1/4 tsp per pound of meat).

Should you soak ribs in brine?

Brining is the key to this process. Brining basically super-moisturizes the meat. The salt and sugar in the solution denatures the protein, allowing it to hold moisture during the cooking process. The pink salt is there to kill any nasty bacteria that may have snuck in to the party.

What is the best way to brine beef?

Directions. Stir warm water, coffee, kosher salt, onion soup mix, onion, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce in a 16-quart stock pot until salt and onion soup mix has dissolved. Lay roast in the brine and cover pot; refrigerate at least 8 hours. Turn roast over at least twice during brining.

How much salt to dry brine beef ribs?

Sprinkle 1/2 tsp kosher salt (or 1/4 tsp table salt) per pound of meat. Ribs, only on top, other meats both sides. Let set for 2-3 hours in fridge or cold room.

How do you make a smoked rib brine?

To create a smoked rib brine, combine 4 parts water with one part brown sugar. Add plenty of Kosher salt, black pepper, and any seasonings you want to infuse into the meat such as garlic powder, onion powder, or paprika. Soak the ribs (membranes removed) in the mixture overnight. Then pat dry before smoking as usual.

Can You Dry Brine ribs?

Congratulations! You’ve successfully dry brined your ribs, and now your taste buds are in for a treat. The process of dry brining has allowed your ribs to absorb the flavors and seasonings, resulting in tender and juicy meat with a crispy exterior.

How do you brine a roast?

In a 5-gallon container, combine the brining solution with the ice water or the ice water and apple cider. Add the roast. Cover and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours. Remove the roast from the brine, rinse thoroughly with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Season the roast with pepper.

How do you make a smoked rib steak kosher?

Add plenty of Kosher salt, black pepper, and any seasonings you want to infuse into the meat such as garlic powder, onion powder, or paprika. Soak the ribs (membranes removed) in the mixture overnight. Then pat dry before smoking as usual. A delicious smoked rib brine brings out the best in your rack of ribs.

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