In the world of copycat fast food chain recipes, my succulent Beef McRib Sandwich is the tastiest! The McRib is that elusive sandwich that, every year, is offered for a limited time only. “One last chance” to taste that smoky rack of boneless ribs on a hoagie bun inspires a frenzy.

For my recipe, succulent beef back ribs topped with dill pickles and pickled red onions taste way better than that bland BBQ pork concoction any time of year.

Post contributed by Nick Hill.
The beef ribs smoking on the grill.

Why You’ll Love the beef McRib Sandwich

If you love McRib season and still remember last year’s farewell tour, I get it. There’s no denying that this is one hell of an iconic sandwich! Boneless pork ribs smothered in a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce can definitely hit the spot, and especially with French fries and a Coke.

The bad news about the McRib is that the restaurant chain version of the sandwich is packed with preservatives. In my Beef McRib Sandwich recipe, I’ll guide you through crafting a healthier, more delicious version of this timeless classic. I promise it’s way better. And, the good news is that you can enjoy it with some homemade fries and an iced cold beer! 

If you love enjoying ribs between bread, you may also want to try the McRib Burger

The raw beef ribs about to get prepped for the Beef McRib Sandwich.

the beef MCRIB sandwich Ingredients 

  • Beef Back Ribs – The infamous fast-food chain makes the McRib with seasoned boneless pork shoulder. This copycat Beef McRib Sandwich recipe uses the bones and meat that come from underneath the ribeye. 
  • BBQ Rub – For the best seasoning to slather on the ribs, grab Derek Wolf’s flavor-packed Spiceology Rubs. 
  • Yellow Mustard – This classic condiment is the binder that helps the rub stick to the beef ribs. It also adds immeasurable depth to the flavor.  
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – If you love cooking and smoking ribs, always keep some ACV in your pantry staples. For this recipe, the vinegar helps tenderize the beef. 
  • BBQ Sauce – Make a killer homemade tangy BBQ sauce using Derek Wolf’s Ultimate Guinness BBQ Sauce recipe. Or, grab your favorite sauce online or at the grocery store. 
  • Rustic French Bread – The crusty exterior and soft, airy interior of French bread soaks up beef juices beautifully. In a pinch, feel free to use a hoagie-style bun.  
  • Sliced Dill Pickles – With so many different ways to pickle a cucumber, always choose the kind you love most. They lend just the right amount of crunch and tang to the sandwich. 
The assembled Beef McRib Sandwich complete with dill pickles and pickled onions with tasty baked beans and potato salad.

The Condiment

  • Red Onions – Red onions are milder compared to yellow or white onions. When thinly sliced and pickled in ACV, they are a heavenly addition to an already perfect sandwich. 
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – ACV is what helps pickle the onions and make them taste so tangy and good. 
  • Kosher Salt & Sugar – Don’t skip out on the salt and sugar in the pickled red onions recipe — the two ingredients help temper the sharpness of the vinegar and the red onions and bring out the best in every flavor. 

Using such simple ingredients, your favorite elusive saucy sandwich is easy to recreate. Your own backyard smoker is where the magic happens.  

how to Make the best beef McRib sandwich

So let’s get to it. Smoking beef back ribs really isn’t any different than smoking pork baby back ribs. If anything, they are more forgiving because there is more fat and connective tissue to render. This gives you a tender and juicy finished product. The key is starting with a rack that has plenty of meat and avoiding high heat while cooking.  

Pickle the Onions

The first step is to get the thinly sliced red onions into a Mason jar with the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Place in the fridge overnight or longer. 

Prep the Ribs

Next, while your smoker is preheating to 250 degrees F, it’s time to prep the beef ribs. On your cutting board, meat side down and bone side of the ribs up, take a sharp knife and score a long line perpendicular to the bones through the thick membrane about 1 inch away from the top. With the help of a dry paper towel, grab the white membrane and strip it away from the bones. 

Once you have removed the sinewy membrane below that 1-inch line, apply the yellow mustard and BBQ sauce binder to all sides of the ribs. Generously season with your favorite BBQ rub, preferably one that is sweet and peppery. Let the ribs rest for 15 to 20 minutes while your smoker finishes coming up to temp. 

Place Ribs in the Smoker

Once the smoker has reached temperature, place the ribs meat side up on the grate. Leave them uncovered inside the closed smoker for 2 hours without opening the lid to check on them. In hour three, you can spritz the ribs with a 50/50 mixture of ACV and water twice. 

​After 3 hours, place the ribs, meat side down, on a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil with your favorite BBQ sauce already layered on the bottom. Wrap the ribs tightly in the foil so that there’s no leaking. Place them back in the smoker for 2 more hours. 

​After 2 hours, unwrap the ribs while they are still in the smoker. Create a foil boat to preserve the juices while exposing the ribs. Using your tongs, flip the ribs over so that the bones are facing down. Baste with more BBQ sauce, close the smoker, and let them cook for one more hour. 

​By now, the meat should fall easily off the bone, which means it’s ready to become the perfect McRib Sandwich! Let it rest for another 20 minutes before you pull the beef off the bones completely, either with your clean hands, a fork, a paring knife, or any combo of the three.

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Sandwich Assembly

Assemble each sandwich with a layer of your favorite BBQ sauce on the bottom half of the toasted French bread loaf. Place a full boneless rack, beef ribs down, top with more sauce, a layer of dill pickles, and a generous helping of the pickled red onions. Cut the bread with a sharp knife into equal sandwiches and enjoy the best bite ever! 

how to source the Best Beef Ribs

For the meatiest ribs, contact your local butcher and request a rack cut just for you and to have them not “scoop” the bones. This will leave you with the right amount of meat to recreate this delectable sandwich. 

For more ways to cook with beef ribs, check out Gaucho Beef Ribs, Chipotle Black Pepper Smoked Beef Ribs and Smoked Jack Daniels Beef Ribs.

How to Store Leftovers & Reheat

When the beef sandwiches are cool, you can wrap them in plastic wrap or foil and place them in the fridge. Serve cold or gently reheat them by toasting the bread separately in the oven and reheating the ribs in the microwave or over the stovetop. 

What to Serve with the Beef McRib

This is a really good sandwich for serving on game day with some curly fries, onion rings, or coleslaw. It also goes great with sweet potato fries or a mixed green salad. 

What kind of wood should I use in my smoker?

You can use a wide variety of wood choices for your smoke profile for this Beef McRib Sandwich. Because you are stacking on condiments and BBQ sauce, it’s a good thing to get a little more smoke flavor than normal. I prefer pecan or oak for all my BBQ but mesquite, hickory, or any fruit wood is also a good choice.

What do I do if my smoker doesn’t hold the temperature?

If your temps dropped below 250 for a large portion of the cook, they may need more time to get the rib meat right. You can test the doneness by grabbing two of the bones and gently pulling them away from each other. You are looking for the meat to begin to easily pull away from the bone and for the meat to be very tender.

i don’t like onions, can I top the Beef McRib with something else?

Absolutely! If you’re not a fan of pickled onions, for another flavor twist top the sandwich with some fresh coleslaw.

What’s the history of the McRib?

The elusive McRib is the iconic sandwich that debuted for the first time in Kansas City back in 1981. After an initial flop thanks to the popularity of the new Chicken McNuggets, it took another 13 years before the BBQ pork sandwich took off. It was resurrected in honor of the release of the Flintstones movie with actor John Goodman as Fred Flintstone. 

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The beef ribs smoking on the grill.

Beef McRib Sandwich

Beef McRib Sandwich for the infamous sandwich, done right!
Author:Nick Hill
No ratings yet
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 15 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 People


  • 2 racks meaty beef back ribs
  • 3 Tbsp of your favorite BBQ rub
  • Yellow mustard
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 2 medium sized loafs rustic French bread
  • Sliced dill pickles

Pickled Red Onions

  • Pickled red onions
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ red onion cut into thin slices
  • 1 small Mason jar


  • Add the apple cider vinegar, sugar, and salt to the Mason jar. Shake until dissolved. Add the red onions cover and place in fridge overnight. Onions will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge. For a pop of red color, add a thin slice of red beet into the jar alongside the onions.
  • Recipe Instructions
  • Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees F. While it's preheating, prep your ribs. Place them on a cutting board meat side down. Take a sharp knife and score the membrane perpendicular to the bones 1” from the top. Using a paper towel, grab the membrane below the scoring mark and pull it all the way off. You should be left with a 1” strip of membrane at the top of the ribs.
  • Trim off any loose pieces of fat or meat before applying a thin layer of your yellow mustard binder to both sides of the ribs. Generously apply the BBQ rub to both sides of the ribs. Let sit for at least 15 minutes while your smoker finishes preheating to let the rub sweat and adhere to the meat.
  • Once your smoker is up to temp, place the ribs meat side up into your smoker. Leave them in the smoker for 2 hours without opening the lid. During the 3rd hour, spritz the ribs with a mixture of 50/50 apple cider vinegar and water twice.
  • After 3 hours, mix 5 parts BBQ sauce and 1 part apple cider vinegar and set aside. Lay out a double layer of heavy-duty tinfoil on a cutting board and pour a thin layer of BBQ sauce on the tin foil, remove the ribs from the smoker, and place each rack meat side down, on the BBQ sauce in the tin foil. Wrap very tightly to be sure it is completely sealed. Place the ribs back in the smoker for 2 hours.
  • After 2 hours, unwrap the ribs while they are sitting on the smoker grates. Create a boat with the foil to preserve the liquid inside while completely exposing the ribs. Flip the ribs over so the bones are facing down and spread a thin layer of the BBQ sauce over the meat with a basting brush. Close the smoker and let sit for one final hour.
  • Test the ribs for tenderness by gently pulling on two ribs to see if the meat starts to pull off the bone. Remove the ribs from the smoker to rest for 20 mins before removing the bones. To remove the bones, flip the ribs back to meat side down and gently pull each rib upward. You may need to use a pairing knife if any bits start to stick to the bone.
  • Assemble the sandwich by laying down a thin layer of BBQ sauce on the bottom half of your toasted French bread. Place the full boneless rack of beef ribs down, then top with more BBQ sauce, a layer of dill pickles and a generous helping of the pickled red onions.
  • Cut each loaf into 3 equal sandwiches and Enjoy!



Serving: 6g | Calories: 613kcal | Carbohydrates: 97g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 1756mg | Potassium: 633mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 308IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 177mg | Iron: 10mg

Nick Hill

Nick Hill is the owner and founder of Salt & Fire BBQ! He's the newest addition to our Over the Fire Cooking family and has some amazing recipes to share with all of us! For more on Nick, check him out on Instagram @saltfirebbq.

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