With this 24 hour recipe, sous vide beef back ribs – also known as spare ribs – become remarkably tender and fall-off-the-bone.
These bbq sous vide ribs are very juicy and flavorful because they can’t be overcooked (the sous vide machine cooks them to a precise temperature without drying them out).
In the winter, we slather on bbq sauce and bake sous vide ribs. Let’s get started!
BENEFITS OF SOUS VIDE BEEF RIBS
Sous vide slow-cooks meat for hours at a low temperature, gradually bringing it to our target temperature.
The meat is vacuum-packed in plastic to avoid drying out due to hot air exposure, and instead allows the meat to cook in its own juices.
It’s one of the best methods for getting perfectly cooked, tender meat.
It’s also a great hands-off cooking method. While barbecue smoking allows us to leave meat cooking for hours, it is still necessary to monitor it on a regular basis.
We can almost completely leave the water bath to do its thing with sous vide cooking.
There is no basting. There is no flipping. I’m just cooking. It’s a no-brainer if you’re as lazy as I am.
In the case of beef, it slowly breaks down the connective tissue found in the meat over the course of 24-36 hours (yes, really!).
HOW ARE SOUS VIDE RIBS DIFFERENT FROM TRADITIONALLY COOKED RIBS?
Sous vide is a method of slow cooking in which food is cooked in a bag immersed in hot water.
A sous vide machine, such as the one I use in this Anova recipe, keeps the water at a precise temperature.
Cooking irresistible, juicy, fall-off-the-bone spare ribs with a sous vide machine is ridiculously simple.
Unlike ribs cooked in the oven or on the grill, these ribs are prepped and then don’t need to be touched again until they’re finished.
That means no basting or checking the ribs along the way. They are, for the most part, hands-off!
WHAT’S THE BEST CUT OF BEEF FOR SOUS VIDE RIBS?
We’ll be using beef back ribs for this recipe. These are sometimes confused with beef spare ribs, but don’t be alarmed if this is what your butcher hands you: beef spare ribs will work just fine in this recipe as well.
Back ribs are the most popular cut of beef ribs, and for good reason. While there is less meat on back ribs than on short ribs, the meat is extremely tender.
It’s ideal for long-term slow cooking methods such as sous vide! Don’t forget to try our smoked beef back ribs recipe to see how it turns out with low and slow cooking.
SOUS VIDE BEEF RIBS MEAL PREP IDEAS
In my house, this is a regular bulk-prep main dish. Beef spare ribs are cheap and easy to find in bulk.
I like to buy a large slab of beef ribs from Costco and cut it into smaller portions. I season, vacuum seal, and freeze them in batches to sous vide later within a day or two.
When we’re in the mood for ribs, I’ll buy a large pack of 2 or 4 sets of ribs and cut them up into smaller portions to sous vide.
I season them differently sometimes, but I love these with BBQ seasonings, so that’s a popular choice in my house! Frozen sous vide spare ribs keep in the freezer for a few months.
HOW TO COOK FROZEN SOUS VIDE BEEF RIBS
Defrost the spare ribs for 12+ hours before placing them in the sous vide bath to save time.
One of my favorite ways to use the convenience of sous vide cooking is to cook ribs from frozen.
This means that you can buy meat in bulk, vacuum seal it with seasonings, and then sous vide beef ribs it from frozen.
To cook frozen ribs sous vide, add 1 hour to the total cooking time.
HOW TO REMOVE THE MEMBRANE FROM BEEF RIBS
Unless your butcher has already removed it, a thin layer of skin or membrane (also known as silver skin) should be visible across the top of the beef rack.
While some argue for keeping it, I am a firm believer in getting rid of it.
It can prevent heat and flavors from penetrating the meat’s flesh, and it can become rubbery when cooked.
Removing it is similar to removing membrane from pork ribs, though you may find that the skin on beef back is much more difficult to remove.
Slide a blunt knife under the skin to remove it. Get some purchase on it with a paper towel and slowly pull it away.
It might come out all at once, but don’t worry if it doesn’t. It’s okay to peel it off in pieces.
SOUS VIDE BEEF RIBS TEMPERATURE
Because back ribs aren’t particularly meaty, we want to cook them at a low temperature to achieve the tender and juicy finish we desire.
I’ve done low temperatures before with sous vide beef, as we did with our sous vide tri-tip. It’s what produces the best results and extracts the most flavor from the beef.
We’ll cook them at 150°F (65°C) until they’re medium-rare. Set your sous vide to 165°F (71°C) if you prefer something more medium.
SEASONINGS AND SAUCES
When seasoning sous vide meat recipes, salt is your friend, especially before adding the meat to the vacuum seal bag.
There are several ways to flavor sous vide beef ribs before, during, and after cooking. In this recipe,
I’ll show you exactly how to sous vide beef ribs. Here’s a quick rundown.
Before vacuum sealing, season sous vide ribs with a simple salt and pepper seasoning, or use any dry BBQ rub.
Broil sous vide beef ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce to finish. This sampler pairs well with Red Duck Sauce’s Smoked Applewood Molasses BBQ Sauce from Portland, OR.
Serve with a sauce made from the sous vide cooking process’s leftover juice.
In a pan on the stove, reduce the juice and thicken it with butter and BBQ sauce. Specifics can be found in the recipe.
TASTY TIPS AND NOTES
- In the bag, cook sous vide ribs in a flat layer. If you’re making a large batch of ribs, vacuum seal multiple bags.
- Wrap leftover sous vide ribs in plastic wrap or tin foil and store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- Serve the ribs with a bourbon cocktail to go with them.
- By using different BBQ sauces, you can change up the flavors. Try Smoked Applewood Molasses BBQ Sauce from Red Duck, a Portland, OR-based company.
Frequently Asked Questions
The ribs will take 24-36 hours to cook at 135°F. The longer you cook the ribs, the more tender they will become.
If you’re unfamiliar with the 3 2 1 method, it’s a rib smoking technique in which you smoke the ribs for 3 hours, then wrap and smoke for another 2 hours, and finally smoke for 1 hour with sauce on the ribs. This method is suitable for all types of ribs, including beef.
The meat should be extremely tender on the inside. Alternatively, take an internal temperature reading: the ribs are done when the temperature reaches 203°F. Allow at least 30 minutes for them to rest before serving. The beef ribs are served on the bone and are ideal for sharing.
Short ribs are a classic “must make” sous vide dish that can really show off the uniqueness of sous vide food. The traditional sous vide method is to cook them at 131°F (55°C) for 36 to 72 hours.