DJ Foodielow-carb, low carb, sugar free, sugar-free, gluten-free, gluten free, primal, paleo

Smoked Cocoa-Ancho Beef Ribs

Prep: 10 min | Cook: 6 hrs | Total: 12 hrs 10 min | Servings:4


Smoked Cocoa-Ancho Beef Ribs
Smoked Cocoa-Ancho Beef Ribs
Smoked Cocoa-Ancho Beef Ribs
Near the beginning of this blog, I decided to try a very low carb (often called a "zero carb") way of eating. I wanted to create some interesting dishes and thought long and hard about what to do. This idea was born from spice blends that you'll find in the Mexican Mole's. It's an interesting blend of spices, chilies and ... chocolate! It's really quite excellent!

These are often found pre-sliced and sliced through and against the bones. Look for really meaty pieces with a nice marbling. In Mexico, I was only able to find full racks. It's the same cut and preparation, just ... a different look. Don't be alarmed if your ribs look different than mine. (I prefer it cut against the bone, however)

Ultimately, this has a slightly more complex flavor if you smoke it first, but the entire recipe can be done in an oven. Low and slow ... the end result is WONDERFUL!

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IngredientsCaloriesFatProteinCarbsFiberSA'sNet Carbs
5 lbs. (2270g)  beef short ribs, membrane removed87958203250000
2 tbsp (12g)  ancho pepper, powdered33.72.961.446.122.6403.48
2 tbsp (10.75g)  unsweetened cocoa powder24.
1 each (35g)  chipotle pepper, packed in adobo20.514301
2 tsp (4g)  cinnamon, ground9.
1 tsp (2g)  coriander seed, ground5.
1/2 tsp (1g)  cloves, ground3.
1 tbsp (6g)  fresh cracked black pepper16014202
1 1/2 tbsp (27g)  table salt0000000
1 tbsp (6g)  fresh orange zest (peel)5.820.061.5.6600.84
1 each (86g)  orange, juiced39019009
4 each (12g)  garlic cloves16004004
1/2 bunch (50g)  cilantro, washed and stems removed11.
Totals (of 4 Servings):8980.61824.58g333.18g41.69g16.68g0g25.01g
Per Serving:2245.15206.15g83.3g10.42g4.17g0g6.25g *


  1. Sometimes the beef ribs will have a fairly thick membrane on the underside of the ribs. This is extremely tough when eaten, and also lessens the flavor impact from the spices. If there is a membrane, remove it. This is best done by prying a butter knife between the membrane and the bones, at one end of the bone (or full rack, if it's come in this fashion). Once you've pried a piece of the membrane lose from the bone, use a towel to grab onto it. Slowly, but consistently and deliberately, pull the membrane off of the bone. It SHOULD come off in one big sheet. If it does not, simply repeat this step, until all the membrane has been removed.
  2. Place the remaining ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Coat the ribs with the spice paste and allow to marinate for 6 to 12 hours.
  4. Pre-heat an oven or a smoker, to 225°F.
  5. Place the ribs on a rack, bone side down, in the oven or smoker and cook for approximately 4 hours.
  6. After 4 hours, wrap the ribs in foil, or in a foil covered baking pan and continue to cook for a further hour or two. Cook until the meat is tender and recedes from the bones.

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* Learn More: More about this recipe and nutrition ...


I made these over the weekend and they are awesome! Came out really tender with great flavor on the ribs.  I used maple wood chips to help mellow out the spiciness of the rub.  Sauce was not necessary, but we did make a whole30 approved bbq sauce that enhanced the flavor even more!  

 Jeff  1/30/2017


Let me know how they turn out, Susie!

 DJ  8/2/2014


DJ, thanks for the answer, yes it does help! To be fair I'm going to cook them anyway as calories aren't my main marker for anything when it comes to food consumption. I'm very interested in nutritional breakdown though so I always read those bits within your blog (as well as the lovely recipes and the tales of how they came to be). Thanks

 Susie  8/2/2014


Susie ... I seriously doubt it. This one is a bit of a pickle. I get the information from the USDA, but ... the more I mine that data, the more I see errors and inconsistencies all throughout our entire nutritional landscape. It's actually pretty interesting! In any event, in this case ... because I do adhere to those numbers ... these are the numbers. However, when they calculated the nutrition for these ... did they include the bone in the counts? Did they include the fat that melts out, as it cooks? My suspicion is that these are no more caloric than a standard piece of beef, but that somehow ... the bones were included in the calculations. It's the best theory I've got. Once these cook, a SIGNIFICANT amount of fat melts and renders out of them, dropping the calorie content ... and ... hopefully the bones go to your dogs. This is one of those rare instances where ... I think the counts are wrong, but ... I can't prove it. All I can do is theorize. I hope this helps! :)

 DJ  8/1/2014


Just wondering if that's really 2245.15 calories per serving? Just seems like an awful lot for a single serving of a food....

 Susie  8/1/2014


Hi DJ, would these work by doing them in a slow cooker?

 Glenys  1/6/2014


Awesome, Sharon! Thank you for reporting back. I'm glad it worked out! Yeah ... good ribs don't really need sauce. The sauce is really just a mask ...

 DJ  3/29/2013


This seasoning is really really good! Even on pork, it turned out mouth watering good! A great alternative to regular barbecue. No need for sauce with this. Lots of flavor!

 Sharon  3/25/2013


Perfectly! Cooking them Monday. Will let you know how it turns out. Thanks for your help!

 Sharon  3/23/2013


Hi Sharon. I think it would, however, I would cut the total amount of spices in half, and probably cut the cocoa in half, again. So, cut all ingredients in half, except the cocoa, which you will only use 1/2 tablespoon of. This would all be for about 5 lbs. of pork ribs. I hope that math makes sense ...

 DJ  3/23/2013


I bought some pork loin baby back ribs on sale the other day. Would this spice combination work on pork?

 Sharon  3/23/2013


Thank you, Buttoni! :) Let me know if you make them. I'd love to hear how they turn out. This recipe seems to have taken on a life of its own. In looking through traffic patterns and what not, this recipe is in the top 3. I've seen it posted elsewhere, etc. The weird part is ... as popular as it seems to be, I'm unaware of anyone else actually having MADE it. Beef ribs can be tricky (tough to "dry and stringy ... quickly). I'm always curious to see the results. YOU are an awesome cook. I'd love to see what you think!

 DJ  1/20/2013


Man, those sound (and look) amazing, DJ! I've got to try these!

 buttoni  1/19/2013