How Many Beef Ribs Per Person (& Cooking For A Crowd)

When there are beef ribs on the menu you and I both know there’s not going to be leftovers.

But you know why there’s never any left? Because the serving size is so hard to get right!

Cooking beef ribs for any large crowd can be quite a task. The most important thing to get right: cooking enough to feed everyone comfortably. No one goes hungry.

Here’s exactly how many beef ribs to serve per person, and some vital expert tips for cooking beef ribs for large crowds, events, or gatherings.

Now we ain’t going to jump into serving sizes willy-nilly. After all, it all comes down to what type of beef ribs you’re serving, as it’s pretty clear that some have more meat on them than others.

So, before determining the amount of ribs you’re going to prepare, make sure you firm up your choice of either beef short ribs or beef back ribs.

Short Ribs

Your beef short rib is the classic barbecue beef rib. It’s extremely fatty, has plenty of connective tissue, and can become oh-so juicy with a little tender love and care.

Beef short ribs can come from both the plate or chuck primal, and can either be butchered into individual ribs, known as Flanken-style short ribs, or as a 3-4 boned rack, known as English-style short ribs.

Flanken-style short ribs are cut into 1-inch wide slices with individual bones, suiting hot and fast grilling, whereas English-style leaves the rack intact, ideal for slow cooking or smoking.

There’s also the infamous cross-cut short rib too.

Back Ribs

As the name suggests, beef back ribs come from the back of the steer, just behind the shoulders. 

These bad boys slightly resemble a classic rack of pork ribs too, often being left as a whole rack running 7 rib bones long. Of course, you can find individually cut back ribs too.

Back ribs are typically much leaner than short ribs, having a lot less marbling and connective tissue.

Although back ribs can be grilled pretty well, I still personally smoke them as my preference (but to be fair I tend to smoke everything I can).

How Many Beef Ribs To Serve Per Person

As soon as you know what type of beef ribs you’re going to serve and you’ve confirmed the number of mouths you need to feed it’s time to get prepped.

Naturally, there’s no hard and fast rule to follow for the perfect serving size, as it comes down to the event, your guests’ appetite, time of day, etc.

However, we’re going to give you a rule of thumb of how many beef ribs to serve per person that will fit 95% of circumstances:

  • If you’re serving beef short ribs: 1-2 short ribs per person (approximately ¾ of a pound raw weight).
  • If you’re serving beef back ribs: 3-5 back ribs per person (approximately 1 pound raw weight).

Preparing Beef Ribs For A Crowd

Now you’ve worked out the portions required to feed all your guests, it’s time to make all the other preparations, some more obvious than others.

Here’s what we’ve learned from our experience preparing beef ribs for a crowd.

Choosing The Perfect Beef Ribs

The perfect feast starts with the perfect raw products. 

Well, ya’ll don’t need to get handfed A5 Waygu gold-plated beef ribs, but you’ll want to look for beef ribs that are well-marbled with fat and have a good amount of meat on them. A distinct bright red color also indicated freshness too.

You can’t beat beef ribs from a proper butcher, but Costco beef ribs go pretty hard too.

Get Some Napkins!

Honestly, no matter how you’ve cooked and served your beef ribs, things are likely to get messy.

After all, they’re kind of made to be eaten with your hands!

Don’t forget to provide plenty of napkins, at least have enough in your household to cover 2-3 per guest, just in case.

Seasoning Beef Ribs

Beef ribs are incredibly rich and savory by nature. Naturally, they take on seasoning really really well. 

Don’t skimp on the dry rub or spice blends, as they’ll add complexity to the flavor (particularly if you’re smoking or roasting them), without overpowering the natural richness of the beef.

Go hunnids with that flavor, son.

Cooking Beef Ribs For A Crowd

There’s a big difference between cooking one rack of ribs, cooking five racks of ribs, and cooking ten or more racks of ribs.

Besides the sheer amount of space it takes in an oven or smoker to actually cook all of these ribs for everyone, there are some vital strategies that can make the whole process that much more manageable when cooking for a larger crowd. 

Here’s what you should do when cooking beef ribs for a crowd, whether you’re smoking them, oven roasting them, or grilling beef back ribs.

Smoking Beef Ribs For A Crowd (Our Favorite)

Smoking beef ribs is our personal favorite, even when we need to cook em’ for a crowd.

Of course, you’re going to need a large enough smoker if you’re cooking for 20+ people, which is the only draw-back if you’re needing to feed a large group.

Otherwise, simply get your smoker to 225°F, add your favorite wood chips, chunks, or pellet (we love cherry or hickory for beef ribs), and let them smoke. 

You can opt to spritz every 2 hours, but generally beef ribs have enough fat in them to remain moist themselves,

Once they probe like butter (usually around 195°F) they’re ready for a short 30-minute rest, carve up, and serve.

Although smoking short ribs guarantees an incredible result, smoking back ribs can be equally as rewarding.

Oven Roasting Beef Ribs

If you’re looking for a reliable, convenient, and foolproof method for cooking your beef ribs, then it’s time to oven-roast.

Really though, simply place your ribs on a roasting pan or oven dish, bone side down, and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Cook for between 6-8 hours at 175°F, or until they’ve reached your desired tenderness.

For an epic result, you can unwrap your beef ribs, baste them in your favorite mop sauce, and let them cook uncovered for the last 30 minutes of the cook.

Even in a standard-size conventional oven, you should be able to cook beef ribs for at least ~20 people or so, making use of the multiple racks available, and evenly spreading your beef ribs around.

Grilling Beef Ribs (Back Ribs)

Now I’m not suggesting you try grilling a fat rack of beef short ribs, no no. But, grilling individual back ribs hot and fast can make for a delicious, charred-grilled, tender morsel that puts a bit of a twist on typical back ribs.

I recommend cooking them over indirect heat first before giving them a minute on each side over hot, direct heat.

If you’ve got the capacity to add wood chips or chunks for a subtle smokiness then I highly recommend this too.

Best Side Dishes For Beef Ribs (Our Top 10)

Although we’re not suggesting it’s even possible to make a side dish that would outshine beef ribs, there are some foods that seem to complement beef ribs exceptionally well.

Our favorites are:

  1. Baked beans
  2. Mac & cheese
  3. Potato salad
  4. Coleslaw
  5. Cornbread
  6. Green salad
  7. Sweet potato fries
  8. Broccoli salad
  9. Fried pickles
  10. Corn fritters

Pick 2-3 of your favorites, serve em’ alongside your beef ribs, happy days ahead.

That’s A Wrap

Don’t be the guy (or gal) who serves insufficient amounts of beef ribs. Really, it’s not a pretty look. 

I’d much rather see everyone rubbing their bellies with a huge smile on their dial than asking if there are extras.

To make sure everyone’s going to have their fill, serve 1-2 beef short ribs per person (about ¾ of a pound) or 3-5 beef back ribs per person (about 1 pound).

Don’t skimp on the napkins, cause you know it’s going to get messy. Although your beef ribs should be the star, pair them with 2-3 complementary sides. 

Viola, happy guests.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *