How to Smoke Ribs: Not the Overcooked 321 Method

Great! You bought a smoker. Now you are googling how to make smoked pork ribs. You stumble upon one of the thousand recipes for 3-2-1 Smoked Ribs. You follow the recipe step by step and make an “ok” rack of ribs where the meat “falls off the bone”. Congratulations. You just overcooked another rack of ribs like everyone else, including myself when I first started. 

If you’ve ever gone to a BBQ competition and had the Pitmasters ribs, you will quickly notice something. The ribs are individually cut and the meat actually stays on the bone until you bite it off with your teeth. Now remember your 3-2-1 ribs and how gravity removed the meat from the bones for you. That’s not what you want. AmazingRibs.com BBQ legend Meathead feels quite strongly about 321 ribs as well.  

The 3-2-1 method makes you smoke the ribs for 3 hours, then wrap the ribs in foil and cook for 2 hours followed by one hour of cooking unwrapped and coated in bbq sauce. It’s simple but not the best way to smoke ribs. 

The way we do ribs at AngryBBQ isn’t completely different from 3-2-1 ribs, but we tweak the steps slightly to get you as close to competition ribs without making the process too hard. You could call this 3-0.75-0.5 ribs. I reduce the cooking time in the foil by 1.25 hours. 2 hours in foil will turn your ribs into mush.  I also believe cooking the ribs for an hour after the foil cook is too long and dries out your ribs. 

So enough ranting, let’s get to it. I’m basing this recipe on pork ribs. You can get Side Ribs/St. Louis or Baby Back Ribs. Back Ribs are typically more tender, leaner and the most popular, which means you can find them easily. Spare ribs have more connective tissue, fat and are larger, which means they will take a little longer to cook. I’m using Back Ribs for this recipe but you can use Side Ribs if you desire. 

Smoked Ribs

Ingredients

  • 2 Racks of Baby Back Ribs
  • 6 TBSP Melted Honey (Get Real Honey from a Local Honey Farm)
  • 3 TBSP Melted Butter
  • Your Favorite Rib Rub
  • Your Favorite BBQ Sauce

Gear:

Time:

  • Prep Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Smoking/Cooking Time: 4 hours 
  • Resting Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 6 hours 30 minutes

Instructions:

  • Rinse the ribs in cold water and pad dry. 
  • Trim any excess fat or connective tissue. Only leave what you want to eat. 
Trimming Excess Fat off Ribs
Trimming Excess Fat off ribs
  • On the bone side of the ribs, remove the membrane. A quick trick is using a piece of paper towel to help grip the membrane. Once you get a good grip of the membrane, simply pull until it is completely removed.  
  • Once the ribs are prepped, I apply my favorite rub generously. Make sure to cover all the sides and edges of the ribs. 
Prepped Ribs
  • Cover the ribs and keep in the fridge for 2 hours or more. 
  • Remove the ribs from the fridge and allow to warm slightly on the counter. 
  • Fire up the smoker to 225F. I use Pecan or Cherry, when smoking ribs. 
  • Once the smoker is at proper temp, place the ribs on the grill meat side up.
Ribs on the Grill
  • Now you can pretty much wait for the three hours to pass or some fanatics prefer to spritz their ribs every 30-45 minutes with a 50/50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and water. I personally quit doing this, because I never noticed a difference. 
  • After three hours, remove the ribs and place each rack meat side up on a large piece of Heavy Duty tin foil. 
  • Brush melted butter over the tops of the ribs then followed by brushing the melted honey. You can spritz the ribs for extra moisture.
  • Flip the racks around so the bone side is facing up. Brush with melted butter and melted honey. 
  • Leave the racks bone side up and wrap the ribs tightly. Place back on the smoker bone side up for 45-60 minutes. Keep the temp at 225F.  
  • Remove the ribs from the foil and place back on the grill. 
  • Brush the ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce. Cook for approximately 30-45 more minutes. 
  • Check for doneness by using your grill tongs and pickup up the ribs and give them a slight bounce. If the meat starts to slightly split, the ribs are done. 
  • Remove from the smoker and cover in foil. Let rest for 10 minutes. 
  • Be a professional and take a sharp knife (I use a Henkel Serrated Bread Knife) and cut each rib individually. You’ll notice how the ribs don’t fall apart as you cut. Also look for that beautiful pink smoke ring. 
Cutting Smoked Ribs
  • Serve and enjoy. You just got a lot closer to competition ribs.
Cut Smoked Ribs
Smoked Ribs
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Smoked Pork Back Ribs

If you’ve ever gone to a BBQ competition and had the Pitmasters ribs, you will quickly notice something. The ribs are individually cut and the meat actually stays on the bone, until you bite it off with your teeth. Follow this recipe, and serve competition worthy ribs right at home!
Prep Time2 hrs 15 mins
Cook Time4 hrs 15 mins
Resting Time15 mins
Total Time6 hrs 45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to smoke ribs, not 321 ribs, smoked baby back ribs, Smoked Pork Ribs
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 674kcal

Equipment

  • smoker
  • Smoking Wood (we prefer pecan or cherry)
  • Paper Towel
  • Cutting Board
  • Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil
  • Grill Basting Brush
  • Sharp Knife
  • Grill Tongs
  • Spritzer with 50/50 Water and Apple Cider Vinegar

Ingredients

  • 2 Racks Baby Back Pork Ribs
  • 2 TBSP Melted Honey Real honey from a local honey farm is best!
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • Your favorite rib rub
  • Your favorite BBQ Sauce Mike likes Angry BBQ's homemade BBQ sauce, Jannah likes Kansas City style!

Instructions

  • Rinse the ribs in cold water and pad dry. 
    Trim any excess fat or connective tissue. Only leave what you want to eat. 
    Trimming Excess Fat off Ribs
  • On the bone side of the ribs, remove the membrane. A quick trick is using a piece of paper towel to help grip the membrane. Once you get a good grip of the membrane, simply pull until it is completely removed.
  • Once the ribs are prepped, I apply my favorite rub generously. Make sure to cover all the sides and edges of the ribs.
    Cover the ribs and keep in the fridge for 2 hours or more. 
    Prepped Ribs
  • Remove the ribs from the fridge and allow to warm slightly on the counter. Fire up the smoker to 225F. I use Pecan or Cherry, when smoking ribs. 
  • Once the smoker is at proper temp, place the ribs on the grill meat side up.
    Ribs on the Grill
  • Now you can pretty much wait for the three hours to pass or some fanatics prefer to spritz their ribs every 30-45 minutes with a 50/50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and water. I personally quit doing this, because I never noticed a difference. After three hours, remove the ribs and place each rack meat side up on a large piece of Heavy Duty tin foil. 
    spritzing the ribs with apple cider vinegar & water
  • Brush melted butter over the tops of the ribs then followed by brushing the melted honey. You can spritz the ribs for extra moisture at this time. Flip the racks around so the bone side is facing up. Brush with melted butter and melted honey. 
    Adding honey to ribs
  • Leave the racks bone side up and wrap the ribs tightly. Place back on the smoker bone side up for 45-60 minutes. Keep the temp at 225F.
    Wrapping ribs bone side up
  • Remove the ribs from the foil and place back on the grill. Brush the ribs with your favorite bbq sauce. Cook for approximately 30-45 more minutes. 
    BBQ sauce added to ribs
  • Check for doneness by using your grill tongs and pickup up the ribs and give them a slight bounce. If the meat starts to slightly split, the ribs are done.
    Remove from the smoker and cover in foil. Let rest for 10 minutes. 
    Finished Ribs
  • Be a professional and take a sharp knife (I use a Henkel Serrated Bread Knife) and cut each rib individually. You’ll notice how the ribs don’t fall apart as you cut. Also look for that beautiful pink smoke ring. 

Nutrition

Calories: 674kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 54g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 197mg | Sodium: 259mg | Potassium: 715mg | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 81IU | Calcium: 101mg | Iron: 2mg

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