Smoked Pork Ribs are insanely easy to make! This recipe takes time, sure, but it's mostly hands-off time that you can spend enjoying the sunny weather on the deck or making tasty side dishes 😋 I have experimented with ribs over the years and Smoked Pork Ribs is by far the best way to make Pork Ribs!
How to make Smoked Ribs
- Pat Dry and Remove the Membrane
- Make a Dry Rub (or use a store-bought one) and Apply to both sides of the rib
- Preheat Smoker
- Smoke Ribs for 3 Hours
- Wrap the ribs in tinfoil with seasoning added
- Cook for 2 hours
- Remove from wrap and rest OR sauce and put back on the grill for another hour.
What is the best way to smoke ribs?
There are things you should never discuss; religion, politics and what the best way to smoke ribs is. HAHA. There are some varying opinions on this. A lot of pros don't even agree or stick to the same method either. There is debate on how long to let the seasoning sit before smoking, how long to smoke the ribs for, if you should do a wrap or not and how high of an internal temperature is best ETC.
Let me tell you why I think this way is the best:
This method is called the 3-2-1 method. It is easy and straightforward forward and logical. I find the best things in life always are. This method yields perfectly smoked, juicy, well-seasoned ribs. You can alter the "bite" of the rib within the last hour or two of cooking so it works for any preference too. Want the ribs on the bone - cook less, want the ribs to fall off - cook more.
Perfect Bite: 180°F
Fall off the Bone: 195°F-205°F
Pellet Smoker Ribs Vs Traeger Smoked Ribs
Pellett Smokers and Traeger Smoked ribs are the same things. Traeger is just a brand of a pellet smoker. Other big brands include PitBoss, Black Earth, Weber, and Camp Chef among others.
Oven Cooked Ribs vs Smoked Ribs
In the Summer of 2021, I took these two methods and put them head to head. I wanted to see how much of a difference the smoker made compared to oven ribs. You can watch a story about it on my Instagram page. In summary, the oven smoked ribs weren't as juicy and didn't have as much flavour running through the meat. The flavour was all on the surface thanks to the rub and the wrap. If you don't have a smoker, I would recommend boiling the ribs in seasoning first and then finishing them on the BBQ or under the broiler in the oven. Below is a side by side of Oven vs smoked Pork Ribs. Hard to tell the difference, hey?
FAQ About Smoking Pork Ribs
Lightwoods and Fruit Trees pair best with pork. Maple, Apple, Cherry, Peach and Pecan.
Roughly 6 hours. The first 3 hours infuse the smoke flavour, while the remaining 3 are for bringing up to the desired temperature.
This is the method used in this recipe! Smoke as normal for the first three hours, followed by two hours of cooking the ribs wrapped in foil, and finally, one more hour unwrapped.
It depends on what YOU classify as overcooked. To get a rib that has the meat stay on the bone, you only need to cook to an internal temperature of 165°F. This is a common standard in BBQ competitions. If you want ribs that fall off the bone you can cook them to 190-205°F. This is a preference for many people and would not be considered overcooked by them.
Minimum 30 minutes. Maximum 12 hours.
You can flip them every hour if you want to. I personally have never noticed a distinguishable difference in the smoke ring by doing so vs leaving them alone.
If you want to cook ribs quickly you would need to smoke them first for at least 15 mins and then wrap them and crank up the heat to 400°F until the internal desired temp is reached. The most tender ribs are cooked low and slow though, so I wouldn't recommend this method unless you have run out of time.
You could have cooked them at too high a temp and too quickly. or you could consider 180°F ribs tough. If you want fall-off-the-bone ribs; cook to 195-205°F internal temp.
What to serve with Smoked Pork Ribs:
- Chili Lime Southern Fried Corn
- Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
- Sweet Chili Coconut Slaw
- Classic Cabbage Coleslaw
Smoked Pork Ribs
- 1 Pellet Smoker
- 1 Digital Temperature Probe
- 8 Feat Aluminum Foil for the wrap
- 2 Racks Pork Ribs Baby Back or St. Louis Style
Pork Rib Rub
- 4 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
- 4 Tablespoons Paprika
- 1 Tablespoon Coffee Grounds Optional
- 1 Teaspoon Cumin
- 1 Teaspoon Tablesalt
- ¼ Teaspoon Onion Powder
- ¼ Teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ¼ Cup Ketchup
- 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
- ½ Cup Brown Sugar Divided
- ¼ Cup Honey Divided
- ½ Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes Divided
- 2 ounces Spiced Rum Divided
- 1 Cup BBQ Sauce Divided, Optional
- Set Pellet Grill to 180°F. Let it preheat for 15 minutes.
- Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. In my experience, ribs bought from the store have their membrane still attached where as ribs purchased from a local butcher have theirs removed. It's not necessary to remove the membrane, but it is preferred as it doesn't break down while cooking and is hard to chew.To remove the membrane: Flip the rib so its bone side up. In the middle of the rack, work the tip of a butter knife in between the membrane and bone. Once you are able to separate the membrane from the bone enough to get your finger under it, use a paper towel to get a firm grip then tear the membrane off.
- Use paper towel to remove excess moisture from the ribs.
- Mix together the ketchup and vinegar. Brush on both sides of the ribs.
- Mix your dry rub ingredients and then apply generously to both sides of the racks.
Smoke the Ribs
- Place racks on the grill, meat side up. Close the lid and smoke for 3 hours. at 180°F. at the end of this, you will be at 130°F If you reach 130°F before 3 hours has elapsed, you can take the ribs off the grill and move to step 2.
Wrap the Ribs
- Remove the ribs from the Smoker.
- Increase smoker temperature to 225°F
- Layout 4 pieces of aluminum foil. Each piece should be about 2 feet long. (a few inches longer than each rack of rib on either side of it.
- for each rack: overlap the two pieces of foil so half of the foil is touching the other. Sprinkle the brown sugar, honey and red pepper flakes evenly over the foil where the rib rack will lay. Place Rib on top of this, meat side down, and seal the foil up. first lengthwise and on one end. Before sealing the final end, tip the ribs up and pour the shot of rum in (if using) then seal that end.The easiest way to seal foil is by folding it together. If you just scrunch it, you're likely to tear it or not completely seal it and then you will have a leak and then you will be sad.
- Place the ribs on the now 225°F Grill. Meat side down. Insert a Temperature Probe into the wrapped ribs. just poke through the tinfoil and feel before inserting the probe that you are aiming for in between two bones.
- Grill for 2 Hours. If you want Ribs to stay on the bone but be done you can cook them to an internal temperature of 180°F If you want them to fall off the bone you can cook them to an internal temperature of 195°F. If your ribs are reaching your desired internal temperature quicker than the 2 hours you can pull them off the grill and sauce them and put them back on and remove them at desired final temp. You can also choose not to add bbq sauce at the end. It's not entirely necessary as the wrap acts as a sauce.Perfect Bite: 180°FFall off the Bone: 195°F-205°F
- Unwrap the ribs and brush BBQ sauce on both sides. Discard the Foil.
- Place the ribs directly on the grill and cook for 30 minutes - 1 hour more. Until the sauce has tacked up.