Bison Ribs 101: Your Guide to Grilling, Smoking or Roasting Perfect Ribs Every time

Aug 22, 2023Jackson Hole Buffalo Meat Co.


Not sure how to cook your Bison ribs? We've got you covered, For more than 75 years, the Jackson Hole Buffalo Meat Co. has been specializing in only the finest Bison meat products and we've learned a thing or two about cooking it to perfection. To achieve mouthwatering, tender and juicy bison ribs every time, follow our expert tips and techniques. You can check out all our Rib recipes here



  1. Opt for Two-Zone Grilling: Prepare your grill for two-zone grilling  by situating the coals or burners on one side, leaving the other side without direct heat. This setup allows for searing the ribs over high heat and then gently cooking them on the cooler side. It minimizes flare-ups and ensures precise cooking control.

  2. Sear First, Cook Slowly Later: Begin by searing the bison ribs over high heat on the hot side of the grill. This step forms a delectable crust and locks in the juices. Once all sides are seared to perfection, transfer the ribs to the cooler side and continue cooking indirectly. This slow-cooking approach guarantees tender, juicy ribs without any risk of drying them out.

  3. Keep the Lid Closed: Resist the urge to frequently open and flip the ribs while grilling. By keeping the lid closed as much as possible, you maintain a consistent temperature and smoke level, resulting in enhanced flavor and tenderness.

  4. Employ a Meat Thermometer: Given the leanness of bison ribs, they can cook faster compared to pork or beef ribs. To avoid overcooking, make use of a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature. The ideal target range for bison ribs is approximately 145°F to 160°F (63°C to 71°C) for a medium-rare to medium doneness. If you are new to using a meat thermometer or aren't sure you're doing it right, Check out this article on Mastering the Meat Thermometer.

  5. Allow Resting Time: Once the ribs reach the desired temperature, remove them from the grill and let them rest for around 5 minutes before serving. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring a more flavorsome and juicy dining experience.


  1. Trim Excess Fat: Prior to smoking, remove any surplus fat from the bison ribs. Trimming excess fat helps prevent flare-ups and ensures more even cooking.

  2. Apply Dry Rub: Add flavor and enhance the taste of the meat by applying a dry rub to the ribs. You can use a store-bought rub or create your own by combining your favorite herbs, spices, and seasonings. Make sure to generously coat all sides of the ribs with the rub. Allow the ribs to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight to let the flavors penetrate the meat.

  3. Low and Slow: Smoking bison ribs requires a low and slow cooking method. Set your smoker to a temperature between 225°F to 250°F (107°C to 121°C). This gradual cooking process tenderizes the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful outcome.

  4. Use Complementary Wood Chips: Hickory and oak are excellent choices, adding a rich and smoky taste that complements the natural flavor of the meat.

  5. Monitor Internal Temperature: Smoking times can vary depending on rib size and smoker temperature. It's essential to keep an eye on the internal temperature of the ribs using a meat thermometer. For fall-off-the-bone tenderness, the ideal temperature for bison ribs is around 195°F (91°C).

  6. Allow Resting Period: Once the ribs reach the desired temperature, take them out of the smoker and let them rest for about 10 to 15 minutes. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in juicier and more flavorful ribs.


  1. Seasoning As with grilling, keep the seasoning simple to allow the natural flavor of the bison ribs to shine. Season the ribs with salt, pepper, and your preferred herbs and spices. You can use a dry rub or marinate the ribs overnight in the refrigerator if you prefer a stronger flavor.
  2. Foil Wrap or Baking Dish: To retain moisture and tenderness, consider using a foil wrap or a baking dish to bake the bison ribs. If using foil, wrap the ribs tightly to create a sealed pouch that traps steam and keeps the ribs moist during cooking. If using a baking dish, cover it with aluminum foil to create a similar effect.
  3. Low and Slow: Bake the bison ribs at a low temperature to ensure tender results. Set the oven to around 275°F to 300°F (135°C to 150°C). This slow and gentle cooking method helps break down the connective tissues in the ribs, resulting in tender meat. Use a Meat Thermometer: Bison ribs can vary in thickness, so it's essential to monitor the internal temperature to avoid overcooking. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the ribs without touching the bone. The target temperature for bison ribs is around 145°F to 160°F (63°C to 71°C) for medium-rare to medium doneness.
  4. Baste or Mop: During the baking process, consider basting or mopping the ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce or a mixture of broth and melted butter. Basting adds extra flavor and moisture to the ribs, enhancing their taste and keeping them juicy.
  5. Resting Period: Once the ribs reach the desired temperature, remove them from the oven and let them rest for about 5 to 10 minutes. Resting allows the juices to redistribute within the meat, resulting in more tender and flavorful ribs.
  6. Optional Broiling: For a final touch, you can brush the ribs with BBQ sauce and finish them under the broiler for a few minutes to caramelize the sauce and create a slightly crispy exterior. Be careful not to let them burn, as the sugars in the sauce can easily char.


  1. Preheat the Sous Vide Bath: Fill a large pot or container with water and attach your sous vide immersion circulator. Set the sous vide bath to your desired temperature. For bison ribs, a temperature range of 140°F to 155°F (60°C to 68°C) works well, depending on your preferred level of doneness (more time at a lower temperature for a medium-rare result, or less time at a higher temperature for a medium to medium-well result).

  2. Season the Ribs: Generously season the bison ribs with your chosen dry rub or seasoning. Ensure that the seasoning covers the ribs evenly.

  3. Bagging the Ribs: Place the seasoned bison ribs in a vacuum-sealer bag or a resealable freezer bag if you don't have a vacuum sealer. If using a freezer bag, use the water displacement method to remove air from the bag. Partially seal the bag, leaving a small opening. Slowly lower the bag into the water bath, allowing the pressure to push the air out of the bag. Once most of the air is out, seal the bag completely.

  4. Cooking: Gently submerge the sealed bags with the bison ribs into the preheated sous vide bath. Ensure that the ribs are fully submerged in the water. Cook the ribs at the chosen temperature for 24 to 48 hours. Longer cooking times result in more tender ribs.

  5. Finishing the Ribs: After the sous vide cooking time has elapsed, carefully remove the bags from the water bath. If you have a grill or broiler, you can finish the ribs by searing them briefly on high heat to develop a flavorful crust. Alternatively, you can use a kitchen torch to achieve a similar result.

    1. Prepare the Bison Ribs Rinse the bison ribs under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels. Season the ribs generously with salt and pepper on all sides.

    2. Sear the Ribs (Optional) Set the Instant Pot to "Saute" mode and add the olive oil. bOnce the oil is hot, sear the bison ribs on all sides until they are browned. This step is optional but can enhance the flavor of the ribs

    3. Pressure Cook: Pour the beef or bison broth into the Instant Pot, deglazing the bottom to ensure no bits are stuck. Add the bison ribs to the pot. Close the Instant Pot lid and set the valve to the sealing position. Select the "Pressure Cook" or "Manual" setting and set the timer for 45-60 minutes on high pressure, depending on the thickness of the ribs.

    4. Natural Release: Once the cooking time is complete, allow the Instant Pot to naturally release pressure for 10-15 minutes. Then, carefully perform a quick release by turning the valve to the venting position to release any remaining pressure.

    5. Finish and Serve: Carefully open the Instant Pot lid and remove the bison ribs. Optionally, brush the ribs with barbecue sauce for added flavor. you can broil the ribs at this point to get the sauce nice and sticky. Serve the bison ribs hot with your favorite side dishes, such as mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, or coleslaw.

    Remember that practice makes perfect. Feel free to adjust ingredients and keep trying new flavors until you find YOUR perfect ribs! 

    If you need some inspiration, check out all our Rib recipes here

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