Smokey BBQ Beef Rib Soft Tacos

Serves 4

A big plate of ribs and an array of punchy Texmex sides to stuff into soft home-made flour tortillas is the ultimate dinner in our household. It’s a little messy, incredibly tasty and super straight-forward to cook.

In order to make these, you just need to be a little organised, with the ribs taking a total of about 6 hours to cook, plus a little prep time. The ribs are first spiced, cooked for 5 hours, then basted with a vinegar and Dijon mixture and finally coated with a smokey BBQ sauce to finish them off. The layers of spice, vinegar, mustard and sweet, smokey sauce make them complex and unforgettable. They are so juicy and tender, it’s quite hard to stop eating.

I’ve combined the ribs with a simple lime pickled onion that is quickly put together, an instant avocado/chilli guacamole and fresh coriander. You can add in any other sides you love, maybe a grilled corn salsa, sour cream or a sprinkling of Manchego cheese.

TIPS – When buying beef ribs, choose ones that are meaty, with a good level of marbling. This fat will render out of the ribs while they are cooking and leave behind very juicy, tender meat. Allow a day to prepare the ribs. You can marinade them in the spice rub the day before if it helps. For the final basting with a smokey BBQ sauce, choose your own favourite or make yourself. We love the authentic flavoured ‘J.L. Jardines – Mesquite barbeque sauce’ which is sometimes stocked in our local butcher. It can also be bought online. There is a huge array of different and delicious store-bought sauces on offer, even in supermarkets, these days. We love our home-made flour tortillas but you can also just use good store-bought flour tortillas. You can prepare the ribs by trimming off the membrane on the bone side of each rib but being a rustic dish, it really isn’t necessary. The meat will be shredded and placed into tortillas anyway.

WINE MATCH – Big, smokey beef ribs can handle a big and bold wine, such as a Syrah or Malbec. With a sweet, smokey sauce, you can also go with off-dry whites that are forward in a little fruit and residual sugar. A Pinot Gris with rich, spicy tropical fruit, or a Rose` with a berry finish would each work well.


Smokey BBQ Beef Ribs

2 kg beef ribs

1 bottle bought smokey BBQ sauce (can also be home-made – see notes)

Spice Rub

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp chipotle chilli powder

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp sweet paprika

Mustard Glaze

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons water

To Serve

Soft Flour Tortillas

Fresh coriander leaves

Lime Pickled Onions

1 small red onion, sliced finely

juice 1 lime

1 tablespoon vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

3 tsp sugar

Avocado & Chilli Guacamole

2 avocados

1 long red chilli

juice 1 lime

1/2 tsp salt

freshly cracked black pepper


Smokey BBQ Beef ribs

  1. Mix together all the spice rub ingredients in a bowl. Place the beef ribs in a bowl and sprinkle the spice mix all over each rib, ensuring they are completely coated. You can leave them to marinate overnight, or cook straight away.
  2. Arrange the ribs in a single layer in a large roasting tray. Cover with a lid, or tightly with alfoil, then place in a 150 degree Celsius oven for 5 hours.
  3. Meanwhile prepare the mustard glaze by mixing together all the ingredients with a fork.
  4. After 5 hours, take the ribs out of the oven and uncover. Brush the mustard glaze over the top of the ribs. Return to the oven for 10 minutes. Repeat this process two more times, basting every 10 minutes for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven. Carefully drain out all of the fat that has rendered at the bottom of the roasting pan. (You may need to carefully remove the ribs before your do this, then place them all back in.)
  6. For the final 30 minutes, baste the ribs with the bought smokey BBQ sauce, every 10 minutes and continue to roast, uncovered.
  7. The beef ribs are done when they are browned, sticky, meltingly tender and full of flavour.

Lime Pickled Onions

  1. Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl and allow them to rest for at least 30 minutes, at room temperature, before serving.
  2. Keep, covered, in the fridge for up to a couple of days.

Avocado & Chilli Guacamole

  1. Mix together the avocado, chilli and lime juice, mashing with a fork to form a rustic mix.
  2. Taste and season well with salt and pepper, then serve immediately.

To serve

  • Serve a big bowl of the beef ribs with two forks for guests to shred the meat off the bone and onto their plates. Serve bowls of the pickled onions, guacamole, fresh coriander and a big plate of warmed flour tortillas. Allow everyone to assemble their own tortillas and don’t forget the napkins for hands ;).