Tender and delicious, these Smoked BBQ Ribs are pure perfection and fall off the bone.
BBQ ribs are a summer classic. Whether you make your ribs on the grill or the smoker, people look forward to eating ribs. But when it comes to smoking ribs, people get EXCITED! And they should. Smoked meat has the most amazing flavor and this smoked ribs recipe is no exception. Let’s walk through how to make perfect and tender fall off the bone ribs!
Do I need to use a spice rub when smoking ribs?
Do you NEED to use a rub on your ribs if you are using BBQ sauce? Not necessarily. But can you? YES! And you should! It comes down to personal preference. I recommend using a rub on ribs because spice rubs really help bring out the flavor. When I’m eating ribs, I want the taste of smokiness and spiciness in every single bite. While you can get this flavor from the BBQ sauce you use and the smoker, the rub helps intensify the flavor.
Here’s the ingredients I use in my rub. All these rub ingredients are gluten free.
- Smoked Paprika
- Brown Sugar
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Black Pepper
- Dry Mustard
- Chili Powder
Paprika vs. Smoked Paprika
There is a difference between Paprika and Smoked Paprika and it makes all the taste difference in the world. Regular paprika is just crushed dried chilies. Smoked paprika uses chilies that are smoke-dried and then crushed. There’s actually a lot to paprika. Pepperscale explains in depth here so check it out because this information comes in handy when creating spice rubs.
Types of Smokers
There are a lot of smokers to choose from out there so let’s talk about a few of my favorite.
- Gas Smokers – I have a Smoke Hollow 38202G 38-Inch 2-Door Propane Gas Smoker. This is a gas smoker that runs off of a propane tank. I’m in love with my gas smoker mainly because of the ease. It’s so easy to smoke anything in my vertical gas smoker. Gas smokers are also really affordable and they are easy to clean.
- Pellet Smokers – This type of smoker is more versatile. You can roast, grill, smoke and even bake using a pellet smoker. The pellet smoker also comes in multiple sizes. My friend has a pellet smoker and loves it. She doesn’t have to babysit this smoker.
- Charcoal Smokers – Old school favorite right here. I find charcoal smokers to be a pain because regulating the heat in the charcoal is hard. But the flavor you get from a charcoal smoker is incomparable.
Prepping the Smoker
If you’re not familiar with smoking food and how to prepare the smoker, here’s some things you’ll need to do:
- Prepare the water pan
- Get the chips/chunks ready
- Preheat the smoker
I go into detail on how to prepare the smoker in my Applewood Smoked Chicken recipe. Check it out here on Step 4 – Preparing the Smoker.
How to Make Smoked BBQ Ribs – 3 2 1 Method
If you want perfectly tender fall off the bone kind of ribs, use the 3 2 1 method. This is the best way to smoke ribs. If you’re smoking baby back ribs, use the 2 2 1 method. This is the best way to smoke baby back ribs. This method entails smoking ribs for 3 hours, wrapping in aluminum foil with liquid for 2 hours, and then saucing the ribs and smoking them directly on the rack for the final 1 hour.
Let’s jump into how to smoke ribs.
- First, rinse each slab of ribs under cool water. This will help get rid of any small bones that may be lingering on the surface of the ribs.
- Next, make sure you remove the membrane under the ribs. A lot of butchers will do this for you, but if not just take a butter knife and slide it under the membrane. Lift the membrane and remove. If there is excess fat on your ribs, trim it off.
- Take the rub and massage it on both the front and back of the ribs. I like my ribs covered in rub.
- Now, place each slab of ribs on a rack in the smoker bone side down. Lather on the BBQ sauce and smoke slow and low on 225 degrees for 3 hours. If you’re smoking baby back ribs, remove the ribs after 2 hours. If you smoke them longer than the 2 hours, they’ll overcook and dry out.
- After the alloted time is up, open the smoker and take a look at those smoked pork ribs. Fight the temptation to pull them off the smoker and take a bite because they are not done smoking yet.
- It’s time to remove the ribs from the smoker and wrap them. Go ahead and add another layer of BBQ sauce on the ribs.
- Grab the aluminum foil and wrap each slab of ribs individually and tightly. The tighter the better.
- Place the aluminum wrapped slabs of ribs back in the smoker bone side up and smoke for two hours.
- After 2 hours more of smoking the ribs, remove the aluminum foil packet and unwrap.
- Add another layer of BBQ sauce, place the ribs back on the smoker bone side down for one more hour.
After the ribs are done smoking, open the smoker and look at your perfectly smoked saucy ribs. Remove them from the smoker and let them rest for 5-10 minutes. It’s now time to eat these smoked BBQ ribs.
The meat should be falling off the bone.
Smoked BBQ Ribs – Tips
- 3 2 1 Ribs vs. 2 2 1 Ribs – There are different types of ribs and depending on the type of ribs you’re smoking depends on the method you should use. The 3 2 1 method is really good when smoking Spare Ribs, St. Louis cut, and Rib Tips. If you’re smoking baby back ribs, use the 2 2 1 method. Baby back ribs take less time to cook. They are more tender and will dry out and overcook if use the 3 2 1 method.
- Rub Flavors – When it comes to making a good rub, you need a variety of different spices. That’s why my rub recipe is so amazing…tons of variety. And if you’re looking for more of a mustard taste, just sprinkle more directly on the ribs.
- Where should I buy ribs? – I love buying my ribs from my local butcher, but Costco and Sam’s Club also has great quality. And you can often catch ribs on sale at your local grocer, especially around the holidays.
- How long do I smoke ribs? – If you’re smoking baby back ribs, 5 hours. If you’re smoking any other type of ribs, smoke for 6 hours. Refer to the 3 2 1 method and the 2 2 1 method I mention above.
- Temperature to smoke ribs – The secret to smoking ribs is slow and low. So what temp do you use for smoking ribs? Keep the smoker at 225 degrees fahrenheit.
- What type of wood chunks should I use to smoke ribs? Hickory, Apple, or Cherry wood tastes amazing when smoking ribs.
Can I make these ribs in the oven?
YES! Turn the oven to 275 degrees fahrenheit. Massage the rub into the ribs and baste on the BBQ sauce. Wrap the ribs tightly in aluminum foil and bake for 3 hours, unless you are making baby back ribs. You will back baby back ribs for 2 hours
Open the foil and brush more BBQ sauce on the ribs. Set the oven to broil and broil for 5 minutes. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Smoked BBQ ribs are seriously one of my favorite foods. They are perfect for barbecues and family get togethers. If you’re looking for an amazing Memorial Day, July 4th, or Labor Day smoker recipe, you’ll love these smoked BBQ ribs.
More Smoker Recipes
If you’re spending the time and effort to smoke these ribs, why not throw on a couple of side dishes that will perfectly pair?
- Smoked Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
- Smoked Macaroni and Cheese
- Smoker Baked Beans with Bacon
- Garlic and Herb Smoked Potatoes
Enjoy smoking these amazing recipes, my friends!
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Tender and delicious, these saucy Smoked BBQ Ribs are pure perfection and fall off the bone. Step by step instructions on how to smoke ribs using the 321 and 221 method.
Rinse each slab of ribs under cool water. Ensure the membrane under the ribs has been removed. If there is excess fat on your ribs, trim it off.
Take the rub ingredients and mix well. Massage on both the front and back of the ribs.
After the smoker is prepared and pre-heated, place each slab of ribs on a rack in the smoker bone side down. Lather on the BBQ sauce and smoke slow and low on 225 degrees for 3 hours.
NOTE: If you're smoking baby back ribs, remove the ribs after 2 hours.
After the alloted time is up, take the slab of ribs out of the smoker and place them on a large piece of aluminum foil.
Add another layer of BBQ sauce on the ribs.
Wrap each slab of ribs individually and tightly in aluminum foil. Place the aluminum wrapped slab of ribs back in the smoker bone side up and smoke for two hours.
After 2 hours more of smoking the ribs, remove the aluminum foil packet and unwrap.
Add another layer of BBQ sauce, place the ribs back on the smoker bone side down for one more hour.
Remove the ribs from the smoker and let them rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.