How Many Beef Ribs Per Person – Guide To Cooking For A Crowd

When it comes to hosting a gathering, one of the most challenging parts can be ensuring there’s enough food for everyone. And if you’re thinking of serving beef ribs, the question of “how many ribs per person?” becomes the most important. 

The Basics 

Different Types

Beef ribs come in a variety of cuts, each with its own unique characteristics. The two primary types are short ribs and back ribs.  Short ribs are meatier and come from the lower portion of the rib cage, while back ribs are leaner and come from the upper rib section.


The general rule of thumb is to account for 1/2 to 1 pound of beef ribs per person. However, this can vary based on the specific cut of rib and the appetites of your guests.  For meatier short ribs, you might lean towards the higher end of that range, while for leaner back ribs, the lower end might suffice.

Factors Influencing Quantity

One Person Beef Ribs Portion

The Type of Event

The nature of your event can greatly influence how much food you’ll need. For a casual backyard barbecue, guests might be more inclined to eat heartily and indulge in seconds.  On the other hand, at a formal dinner, they might consume less due to the presence of multiple courses.

Side Dishes

The sides and accompaniments you serve alongside your beef ribs can also impact the quantity of ribs you’ll need.  If you’re serving a variety of heavy sides like mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, or cornbread, guests might eat fewer ribs. Lighter sides might mean they’ll eat more of the main dish.

Tips for Cooking for a Crowd

Beef Ribs Preparations for Cooking

Preparation is Key

When cooking for a large group, preparation is everything. Make sure you have all your ingredients ready and your cooking equipment in order.  Consider marinating your ribs a day in advance to save time on the day of the event and to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat more deeply.

Serving and Presentation

Presentation can make a huge difference in how your food is received. Consider serving your ribs on a large platter, garnished with fresh herbs or citrus slices.  This not only makes the dish more appealing but can also make them taste better, ensuring guests can have the best experience.

Seasoning and Marinating

Beef Ribs Seasoning

Choosing the Right Flavors

The beauty of beef ribs lies in their versatility. They can be seasoned and marinated in a plethora of ways, from a simple salt and pepper rub to a complex marinade with herbs, spices, and sauces. 

When cooking for a crowd, it’s essential to strike a balance. Opt for flavors that are universally loved, like garlic, onion, rosemary, and thyme. If you’re feeling adventurous, consider offering two flavor profiles to cater to diverse palates.

Marinating Time 

The longer you marinate beef ribs, the deeper the flavors will penetrate, enhancing the overall taste. For best results, marinate your ribs for at least 4-6 hours. However, if you can let them sit overnight in the refrigerator, that’s even better. 

Remember to bring the ribs to room temperature before cooking, as this ensures even cooking and a juicier result.

Serving Suggestions

Beef Ribs Recipe

Wine and Beverage

A successful meal isn’t just about the food; it’s also about the drinks that accompany it. For beef ribs, red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot will go perfectly with the rich flavors of the meat. 

If your crowd isn’t into wine, consider craft beers, especially those with a smoky or caramel undertone. Non-alcoholic options like iced tea, lemonade, or flavored sparkling water can also be refreshing.

Dessert Ideas

After indulging in the savory goodness of beef ribs, a light dessert can be a perfect way to end the meal. Consider serving fruit-based desserts like a berry compote, lemon sorbet, or a classic apple pie. 

If you want to stick to the barbecue theme, grilled pineapples or peaches with a drizzle of honey can be a delightful treat.

Choose the Right Cooking Technique

Beef Ribs Right Cooking Technique

What is the Right Method? Beef ribs can be cooked using various methods, each imparting its own unique flavor and texture to the meat. The most popular methods include grilling, smoking, braising, and oven roasting. Smoking is among the top choices for most people. You can add smoked chicken to the menu as well. In that case, preventing rubbery skin is essential. 

Grilling offers a charred exterior and smoky flavor, while braising ensures the ribs are tender and infused with the flavors of the braising liquid. Understand the preferences of your crowd and choose a method that aligns with the desired outcome.

Monitoring Temperature

One of the secrets to perfectly cooked beef ribs is maintaining and monitoring the right temperature. If you’re grilling or smoking, consider investing in a good meat thermometer

For medium-rare ribs, aim for an internal temperature of about 130°F (54°C), and for medium, around 140°F (60°C). Remember, the ribs will continue to cook a bit after they’re removed from the heat due to residual heat, so factor that in.

Be Aware of Potential Dietary Restrictions

One Person Beef Ribs Portion

Being Inclusive

It is common for individuals to have dietary restrictions or preferences, such as gluten-free, keto, or paleo. While beef ribs are inherently gluten-free and low-carb, the sauces and marinades you use might not be. 

Always check the labels and, if possible, prepare a separate batch with a simple seasoning for those with restrictions.


While the main focus is on beef ribs, you can always consider some alternative protein option for those who might not consume beef.  Chicken, fish, or even a plant-based meat can be a great addition to the menu.

This ensures that every guest, regardless of their dietary choices, can enjoy in the main event.

What About the Leftovers?

Beef Ribs Leftovers Storage Tips

Storage Tips

If you find yourself with leftover beef ribs, it’s essential to store them properly to enjoy them later. Allow the ribs to cool to room temperature, then transfer them to airtight containers or wrap them in aluminum foil. Stored in the refrigerator, they can last for 3-4 days.


Leftover beef ribs can be repurposed into various dishes. Consider shredding the meat and using it for sandwiches, tacos, or even a beef rib salad.  Besides that, the meat can be chopped and added to soups or stews, giving them a rich and hearty flavor.


What are the main differences between short ribs and back ribs?

Short ribs are meatier and are sourced from the lower portion of the rib cage. In contrast, back ribs are leaner and come from the upper rib section.

Can I substitute beef ribs with pork ribs for my event?

Yes, you can substitute beef ribs with pork ribs. However, pork ribs are generally leaner and may require a different cooking time and method. It’s essential to adjust the seasoning and marinating time accordingly.

Are beef ribs suitable for slow cooking or crockpot methods?

Slow cooking or using a crockpot can result in incredibly tender beef ribs, as the prolonged cooking time allows the meat fibers to break down slowly, enhancing its flavors.

How can I make beef ribs healthier or reduce the fat content?

To make beef ribs healthier, you can trim any visible fat before cooking. Additionally, slow-cooking methods can allow fat to render out, and the excess can be skimmed off before serving. Choosing leaner cuts or pairing the ribs with lighter side dishes can also help balance the meal.


When serving beef ribs to a crowd, it’s crucial to determine the right quantity. Preparation and presentation are essential when cooking for a crowd, and the ribs can be seasoned and marinated in various ways. In that matter, you should consider both yours and the preferences of the guests.