how to cook elk ribs

Cooking elk ribs is similar to cooking other types of ribs, such as pork or beef ribs, but elk meat has a leaner and gamey flavor. Here’s a basic recipe for cooking elk ribs using a slow-cooking method:


  • Elk ribs (the quantity depends on your needs)
  • Dry rub or marinade of your choice
  • Barbecue sauce (optional)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Baking sheet or roasting pan
  • Oven or smoker
  • Wood chips (if using a smoker)


  1. Prepare the Elk Ribs:
    • If your elk ribs are frozen, make sure to thaw them in the refrigerator before cooking. Trim any excess fat or connective tissue from the ribs.
  2. Apply the Dry Rub or Marinade:
    • Season the elk ribs with your choice of dry rub or marinade. You can use a store-bought rub or make your own with spices like paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Apply the rub generously to both sides of the ribs, massaging it into the meat.
  3. Marinate (Optional):
    • If using a marinade, place the seasoned elk ribs in a large resealable plastic bag or a shallow dish. Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours, or ideally overnight, to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat.
  4. Preheat Your Oven or Smoker:
    • If using an oven, preheat it to 275°F (135°C).
    • If using a smoker, preheat it to 225-250°F (107-121°C). Make sure to soak wood chips (like hickory or applewood) for about 30 minutes before using them in your smoker.
  5. Prepare for Slow Cooking:
    • Line a baking sheet or roasting pan with aluminum foil. Place a wire rack on top of it. This setup will catch any drippings and make cleanup easier.
  6. Slow Cook the Elk Ribs:
    • Place the seasoned elk ribs on the wire rack, bone side down. This allows for better heat circulation.
    • If using a smoker, add the soaked wood chips to create smoke. Place the ribs in the smoker.
  7. Cook Low and Slow:
    • Slow-cook the elk ribs in the preheated oven or smoker for approximately 3 to 4 hours. The cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the ribs, so it’s essential to monitor the internal temperature.
  8. Check Internal Temperature:
    • Using a meat thermometer, check the internal temperature of the ribs. Elk meat is lean and can dry out if overcooked. Aim for an internal temperature of around 160-165°F (71-74°C) for medium-rare to medium.
  9. Optional Basting (With Barbecue Sauce):
    • If desired, during the last 30 minutes of cooking, you can brush the ribs with barbecue sauce for added flavor. Repeat the basting a few times, allowing the sauce to caramelize.
  10. Rest and Serve:
    • Once the elk ribs reach your desired level of doneness and have a nice bark, remove them from the oven or smoker. Let them rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
  11. Serve and Enjoy:
    • Slice the elk ribs between the bones and serve them with your favorite sides like coleslaw, cornbread, or baked beans.

Elk ribs are lean and flavorful, but they can become tough if overcooked. Slow-cooking at a low temperature helps retain their tenderness and enhances their natural gamey flavor. Adjust the cooking time and seasoning to your preferences for a delicious elk rib experience.

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