Written by David on 14/12/2023

Beef Ribs 101: Understanding the Different Cuts and How to Choose Them

Are you ready to sink your teeth into the world of beef ribs? What started out as an idea to create a simple guide on the different types of beef ribs here in Australia turned into quite a journey across the world

This definitive guide will be your trusted companion, from understanding the different types of beef ribs to mastering the art of cooking them, we’ve got you covered.

We’ll also walk you through some of the different cooking methods, ensuring that you have all the knowledge you need to create delicious and safe meals.

So grab your apron and get ready to become a beef rib connoisseur with this comprehensive guide.

Types of Beef Ribs in Australia

Here in Australia, you can find two main types of beef ribs: short ribs and back ribs. Short ribs are taken from the chuck or plate primal cuts, while back ribs are obtained from the loin primal cut.

Here are the common variations of beef ribs:

Plate Short Ribs

Big, meaty and tender, perfect for the BBQ (often found in Texas BBQ). These are the most common type of short rib, taken from below the brisket. The fat content of plate short ribs helps to retain moisture without drying out the meat, especially when smoking.

Chuck Short Ribs:

As you can probably guess, these ribs are cut from the chuck area, located at the shoulder of the cow. This section is a tougher area, and the ribs are consequently a bit tougher than plate short ribs. Suitable for smoking or slow BBQ.

Back Ribs:

These ribs come from the loin primal cut and are shorter and wider than plate short ribs. They have less meat than plate or chuck ribs but are more tender due to their location in the loin primal cut. Suitable for quicker cooking methods and for use in soups and stews.

In addition to these main types, there are other variations of beef ribs, such as the English cut and flanken cut, which are not commonly found in Australian grocery stores.

English Cut

Cut between the ribs to separate them, resulting in a thick piece of meat sitting on top of the bones, suitable for braising or in a slow cooker. To create the English cut, butchers sever the ribs and leave a thick piece of meat sitting atop the bones. You can purchase English-cut short ribs in racks of four bones or as individual pieces. English-cut short ribs are the perfect cut for smoking delicious BBQ.

Types of English Style Short Ribs
There are three types of the English style short ribs:

Trimmed English Short Rib Cut: To create the trimmed English short rib cut, butchers remove the exterior fat cover and much of the latissimus dorsi muscle (aka the prime rib cut).

Lean English Short Rib Cut: The lean English short rib cut is the same as the trimmed style, but the butcher removes more of the fat layer.

Riblets: Riblets are a type of English cut where the butcher slices the bones into individual pieces and then cuts short, 1-2-inch-long sticks topped with a thick round of meat.
Boneless English Short Rib Cut: you can purchase English-style ribs as boneless slabs between 1-2“ thick and roughly 8” long. To create the boneless cut, butchers remove both the bones and the intercostal meat.

Flanken Cut: A thinner cut that goes across the bones (instead of between the bones), suitable for grilling or barbecuing. Flanken-style short ribs have a half-inch thick strip of meat that runs across four to five bones. It is the ideal cut for Korean Kalbi-style short ribs.

Flanken Cut Ribs
Beef Ribs 101: Understanding the Different Cuts and How to Choose Them 3

What about Boneless Beef Short Ribs

Boneless beef short ribs are a cut of beef that comes from the chuck section of the cow. They are called “short ribs” because they are cut from the rib section of the cow, but they are shorter than traditional beef ribs. Boneless beef short ribs are cut from the same section as traditional short ribs, but the bones have been removed. This makes them easier to cook and eat, as well as more versatile in the kitchen. Boneless beef short ribs are often used in slow-cooking recipes, such as stews, braises, and roasts, as they become very tender and flavorful when cooked low and slow

Boneless Beef Short Rib
Beef Ribs 101: Understanding the Different Cuts and How to Choose Them 4

What is the difference between flanken cut and asado cut

The flanken cut and the asado cut are two different styles of cutting beef ribs. The flanken cut is a thin cut, about 1/2-inch thick, that goes across the bones so that each slice contains a few pieces of bone. This cut is popular for Korean barbecue, specifically for kalbi-style ribs.

On the other hand, the asado cut, also known as “Tira de Asado,” is a thick cut popular in Argentina and is the highlight of the traditional Asado or BBQ. It is a cross-cut rib that is grilled bone side down on low heat until three-quarters cooked through, then flipped over on a hotter grill and served medium well. The flanken cut is thinner and suitable for quick cooking methods, while the asado cut is thicker and suited for grilling or barbecuing

Quality Indicators for Beef Ribs

When evaluating the quality of beef ribs, look for indicators such as marbling, tenderness, and freshness. Marbling refers to the small streaks of fat within the meat, which enhances the flavor and juiciness of the ribs. Look for ribs with a good amount of marbling throughout. Tenderness is crucial for a pleasurable eating experience, so choose ribs that aren’t too tough or chewy. Freshness is a key factor in ensuring food safety. Check for bright red color and avoid any ribs that have a strong odor or are slimy to the touch.

To ensure safety, it’s recommended to purchase beef ribs from reputable sources that follow proper handling and storage practices. It’s also important to cook beef ribs to the appropriate internal temperature to kill any potential harmful bacteria. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that the ribs reach a minimum internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) for medium-rare, 160°F (71°C) for medium, or 170°F (77°C) for well-done.

How are beef ribs supposed to be cooked?

To properly cook beef ribs, you can use a variety of methods to bring out their delicious flavors and tenderize the meat. Whether you choose to BBQ/, smoke, bake, roast or braise your beef ribs, always make sure to follow the proper cooking techniques and temperature guidelines to ensure a safe and delicious meal.

When it comes to safety, it’s important to handle raw beef ribs properly to avoid any contamination. Always make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling the ribs. Additionally, it’s crucial to cook the ribs to the right internal temperature to ensure they’re safe to eat.

The recommended temperature for beef ribs is 63°C for medium-rare, 71°C for medium, and 77°C for well-done. This will help eliminate any potential bacteria and ensure that the meat is cooked to a safe level.

To cook beef short ribs, you can follow these general guidelines:
Preparation: Preheat the oven to 163°C or the BBQ/smoker for indirect cooking at 110°C. Season the ribs with your favorite rub or a simple mix of salt and pepper.
Braising in the Oven: Place the short ribs in a roasting dish, bone side down. Cover the dish tightly with foil and cook for about 3 hours, or until very tender. This slow cooking method will help render the fat and connective tissues, resulting in juicy and flavorful meat

Smoking on the BBQ: Set up the BBQ for indirect cooking at 110°C/225°F, add wood for smoking, and smoke the ribs for 3-4 hours. This method enhances the rich, beefy flavor of the short ribs

Monitoring Temperature: When using the oven or BBQ, monitor the internal temperature of the ribs. They are ready when the internal temperature reaches 200-205°F (93-96°C), and a toothpick slides in between the ribs with no resistance

Resting: After cooking, allow the ribs to rest for a few minutes before serving to let the juices redistribute for a more flavorful and tender result


So now that you’ve journeyed through the world of beef ribs, you’re armed with the knowledge to become a beef rib expert. Whether you’re grilling up some succulent back ribs or enjoying the tender delights of chuck short ribs, there’s a cut for every meat lover.

Remember, the key to a mouthwatering experience lies in the cooking method you choose. So fire up that grill, gather your ingredients, and let your taste buds embark on a flavor-filled adventure.

Article written by David

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