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Bison Fail


Fire Starter
Joined Jan 13, 2021
Got ahold of some Bison racks and decided to do a 3-1-1. Memphis rub, removed silver skin. They looked and smelled great. The problem is that since they are so lean there wasn’t a lot of meat on the ribs. There was pretty much no fat so the ribs were really tough and hard to pull off the bone. The meat tasted good but just too tough to pull, almost annoying. I have one more rack. I think I’ll do 2hrs of smoke and then 2hrs wrapped and call it. All help is appreciated!




Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
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Joined Jan 18, 2020
Couple hours of low heat and smoke, then wrap and bring the IT up to 200*. You will be rewarded.

kilo charlie

Master of the Pit
Joined Sep 25, 2017
Good job trying something new! Hopefully someone has the right solution to bison ribs!


Meat Mopper
SMF Premier Member
Joined Jul 7, 2017
I think this is probably a situation where you need to set aside the 321 or 311 formula and rely heavily on your temp probes and instant-read thermometer. I'm wondering if a brine might've helped get some moisture into those ribs? Unusual for ribs, but if there's enough meat on them maybe an injection even? I've never had any experience with smoking bison so I'm just spitballing ideas here...


Master of the Pit
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Joined Dec 1, 2019
With bison ribs, goat ribs and lamb ribs, you really need to put yourself into an 'old school' barbecue frame of mind and pay attention to all of your senses. You are correct in that bison is lean, so I do remove the membrane, and silver skin is the only thing I trim. I can eat around little pockets of fat. An oil based marinade (even if you use Wish Bone Italian) as a base will help keep things moist. A basting liquid (also with oil) works wonders. I use low pit temps, around 250° and the best way I can describe the cook is low-temp grilling. I prefer a raised grate so I'm cooking about 8" above a low fire, and I turn often. You are building color and flavor and poking the meat with a toothpick or bamboo skewer to judge tenderness. A wrapped step can help, add some butter and broth, but be careful not to make them too tender.

As you found out 3 hours was way too long. Wrap for 20 or 30 minutes once you get some good color, then pay attention to your probing. I might go 1 hour, basting several times.... then wrap for 30 minutes, then return to the pit and continue basting until they finish up... maybe another 30 minutes or an hour. Bottom line is, when they look good, smell good and feel good.... they are done. Here is a photo from the small end.


Legendary Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Joined Oct 17, 2016
if I was attempting Bison ribs or some other super lean meat, I'd try the following methods.
Dry brine
Injectable with phosphate

Now pick a method
1) Quick sear followed by braising
2)Low temp smoke for 2 hours followed by braising
3) Sous vide followed by a quick sear

And it's funny that on my vacation I was contemplating Buffalo ribs and many other cuts when this guy stuck his head in my car window.



Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
Joined Dec 30, 2016
I know it's not a smoked option but when I have lean wild pork ribs I simply season, cover with foil, and steam them in the oven until they get tender'ish and then finish them on the grill!

I'm sure you could take a similar approach if wanting to smoke them then finish on the grill.
Honestly with all the effort involved and 3 different cooking devices, etc. I would skip the smoking or I would make a foil pouch with holes and burning chips or pellets in it as I grilled the ribs. That's just me though :)

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