Smoked Beef Chuck Riblets

I have been seeing 2-3 pound packages of beef chuck riblets at Walmart and a few other stores and was curious how they would turn out on the smoker.

Beef Riblets are essentially beef chuck short ribs that have had most of the meat cut off.  I suspect that the “Riblets” are what is left over after the meat cutters make boneless chuck short ribs.

While there isn’t much meat of the riblets, what meat is there is pretty tasty and they cook much faster than you might expect.

Beef Chuck Riblets

Let me show you how I smoked these riblets and point you to another couple of resources in case you want to learn more.

Prepare the Beef Riblets for the Smoker

Start by flipping the riblets over and removing any hard fat and the membrane from the back of the ribs.

If you are having a hard time getting the membrane off the try using a butter knife to pry a section loose and then use a paper towel to grab it pull it off.

Remove the membrane

Once the membrane has been removed it is time to season the ribs with a dry rub.

You can use a binder such as yellow mustard, olive oil, etc to help the rub adhere if you want but I skipped that step this time. I was planning on going pretty light with the rub so a binder wasn’t really needed.

You can season the ribs with a brisket rub, a simple salt and pepper rub or something in between like the rub I used that is given below.

Dry Rub for Beef Ribs

  • 3 tbls salt
  • 1 tbls black pepper
  • 1 tbls chili powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp granulated onion

I went with a light dusting of the dry rub.  I was testing out the Royal Oak Charcoal Pellets on this cook and was more concerned with seeing how much smoke flavor the pellets would give than trying to maximize flavor from the rub.

Seasoned Beef Riblets

Smoke the Beef Riblets at 225F

I set my pellet grill to 225F for this cook and planned on smoking the riblets for 3 hours, then either start spritzing with a coffee/Worcestershire mix or wrapping in foil.

I had planned my cook based upon:

This thread over at the Amazing Ribs Pitmaster Club where it took the riblets four hours at 250F to finish.

This video from Tom Horseman where the ribs were smoked for three hours at 220F and then wrapped in foil and smoked another two hours at 275F.

Given those two “Time and Temperature” benchmarks you can imaging my surprise when I peeked at the ribs after 2.5 hours and discovered that they were completely done!

You know that the ribs are done when all three of the following conditions are met:

  • The meat has significantly pulled back from the bone.
  • The ribs have an internal temperature of at least 200F.
  • The thermometer easily slides through the meat with no resistance.

These ribs had reached a temperature of 214F in just 2.5 hours!

Beef Ribs are Done

I took the riblets off the pit and moved them to an area with better lighting for this next picture.  And, yes, before I pulled them from the smoker I confirmed that the thermometer slid through the meat with little resistance.

I would say that qualifies as significant pullback of the meat from the bone!

Meat Pull Back From Bone

So why did these beef riblets cook so much faster than the other cooks I researched?

I suspect that the biggest factor in how long it takes to smoke beef riblets is how much meat is present.  Right out of the package these riblets had a lot of bone showing (shiners) and the actual meat content was not that significant.

Don’t get me wrong, there was enough meat on these riblets to make a meal, and they were extremely tasty, but I definitely paid for more bone than meat when I bought these.

Smoked Beef Chuck Riblets

What Would I Do Different Next Time?

I will probably put these on my smoker again sometime soon.  I love that the riblets are a quick and easy cook that come out delicious.

The three things I will do different next time to add more flavor are:

  • Use more dry rub.
  • Use a smoke tube with hickory pellets for more smoke flavor.
  • Baste with a Hot and Spicy barbecue sauce after two hours.

The thing I will take advantage of next time is that I will put the riblets on the smoker at the same time I start smoking a pork butt or brisket.  Since the riblets will get done way faster than these larger cuts they will get served for lunch or as a Cook’s Treat when nobody is looking!

Smoked Beef Chuck Riblets

Smoked Beef Riblets

A package of Beef Chuck Riblets is seasoned with a simple dry rub and then smoked at 225F until meltingly tender.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 2
Calories 430 kcal


  • 1 package Beef Chuck Riblets about 2.5 lbs
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp granulated onion


  • Combine the dry rub ingredients and mix well.
  • Remove any hard fat and the membrane from the back of the ribs.
  • Season the riblets with the dry rub.
  • Set your pellet grill to 225F using wood pellets of your choice (hickory is nice).
  • Smoke the riblets for 2.5 hours and start checking for doneness.
  • The riblets are done when they hit an internal temperature of at least 200F, the meat has significantly pulled back from the bone and the meat is probe tender.


The biggest factor that will determine how long it takes your riblets to finish cooking is how much meat is present.
The meat content of the riblets is extremely variable between packages.  While mine only took 2.5 hours to finish cooking yours may take an extra hour or two.
Keyword Smoked Beef Riblets