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Smoked Baby Back Ribs

Smoked Baby Back Ribs – perfect fall off the bone ribs with a modified 3-2-1 method that comes out perfect every time!  

Making tender, smoky, baby back ribs is one of our favorite meals to cook in the summer.  It has taken awhile to come up with the perfect method, so that they come out the same every time.  It is a tough job, someone has to do it, and I took on that job for you! 

When we can’t be outside smoking ribs, Instant Pot Country Style Ribs is probably our other favorite smoky tender pork dish to make. Or try Sous Vide Ribs that you can finish on the smoker (or grill or broiler) – so good!

The perfect baby back ribs every time

 

This recipe is for baby back ribs, but it works equally well for Spare Ribs or St. Louis Style Ribs.  So if that is what you have, no worries this will work great for both.  Most people like their ribs to be super tender and pretty much fall off the bone.  If you ever hear a professional at a barbecue competition talk, they will tell you that is not the case, technically they are supposed to stay on the bone and you have to actually cut the meat away. Still tender, but not actually all off the bone.

Which is great an all, but at my house I like them to fall off the bone.  And most people I talk to are the same way.  So that is how I make them.  If you want competition style ribs, you just cook them for less time.  The low and slow process of smoking breaks down the fats and connective tissue as it cooks and that is what makes them super tender.  So the longer you cook the more tender they will be.

Ribs directly on the smoker

What is the 3-2-1 Method?

This is a relatively common method of smoking ribs that is used for the home cook.  It refers to the time for smoking, wrapping in foil, and then smoking again. It is a great method when you are starting out and learning how your smoker works.  From here you can adjust times and the method some to get what works well for you.  

  • Smoke for 3 hours – place the ribs directly on the grates of the smoker and cook for 3 hours.  This will impart the smokey flavor and give that bark and smoke ring you are looking for and that smoked meat is known for. 
  • Wrap for 2 hours – wrap the ribs in foil and add a little bit of liquid to the foil wrap.  Then place them back on the smoker for 2 hours. 
  • Smoke for 1 hour – remove the foil and place the ribs back on the smoker.  You can brush with barbecue sauce during this last hour of cooking.

In our house we use more of a 3-2.5-1.5 method.  The extra 30 minutes for both the 2nd and the 3rd step really make the difference in having tender fall off the bone ribs.  I do find that it can also take a little longer if you have rather meaty ribs.  Some stores sell baby back ribs that have an inch of meat on top of the bone.  Those are going to take much longer in step 2 and 3 to become tender.  But this basic time and method works for the average ribs you find at most stores. 

Foil wrapping ribs with liquid

How to Make Smoked Baby Back Ribs

  1. Start by flipping the ribs so the meat side is down.  Use a butter knife get under the membrane that coats the bone side of the ribs.  Use a paper towel or something that helps you get a grip the membrane and pull to remove it.  
  2. Use your favorite dry rub and generously coat the ribs on both sides.  My favorite Dry Rub for Ribs is what we have in the pantry and use all the time.  Let the ribs sit out for at least 45 minutes while you get the smoker ready.
  3. Set up the smoker and start heating to 225 degrees.  We like to use apple or hickory chips.
  4. Add the ribs directly to the smoker and smoke for 3 hours.  
  5. Remove the ribs from the smoker and wrap in foil.  Add about 1/4 cup of liquid (per half rack) to the foil packet.  Water, apple juice, or beer all work well.  
  6. Place the foil wrapped ribs on the smoker and cook for 2 1/2 hours. 
  7. Remove the foil and place back on the smoker for an additional 1 1/2 hours.  You can brush with sauce during this step if desired.  
  8. To test doneness use a fork and see if the meat is tender.  If the ribs are done remove and serve with your favorite sauce.  You can continue to cook, checking every 30 minutes if they are not tender enough.
Smoked baby back ribs brushed with barbecue sauce

The goal is to smoke the ribs at about 225 degree F. That can be a little hard to maintain, so anywhere between 215-240 degrees is our range to keep the smoker at during the cooking time.  Ribs are the ultimate summer food in my opinion.  There is nothing better than spending a Saturday outside smoking ribs and enjoying the weather.  

What to Serve with Baby Back Ribs

Make baby back ribs on the smoker and brush with barbecue sauce

More Summer Grilling Dinner Recipes

baby back ribs on the smoker and covered in barbecue sauce
Yield: 4

Smoked Baby Back Ribs

Smoked Baby Back Ribs - perfect fall off the bone ribs with a modified 3-2-1 method that comes out perfect every time! 

Smoked Baby Back Ribs - perfect fall off the bone ribs with a modified 3-2-1 method that comes out perfect every time!  

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Additional Time 45 minutes
Total Time 6 hours 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 racks baby back ribs
  • 1/3 cup Dry Rubs for Ribs
  • 1 cup liquid (water, apple juice, beer)
  • Barbecue Sauce

Instructions

    1. Place the ribs so the meat side is down.  Use a butter knife get under the membrane that coats the bone side of the ribs.  Use a paper towel or something that helps you get a grip in the membrane and remove it.  
    2. Cut each rack of rib in half, so you have 4 half racks of ribs.
    3. Generously coat the ribs on both sides with the dry rub.  Let the ribs sit out for at least 45 minutes while the smoker is set up.
    4. Set up the smoker and set it to 225 degrees.  Use apple, hickory or your favorite wood chips.
    5. Add the ribs directly to the smoker, cover and smoke for 3 hours. 
    6. Remove the ribs from the smoker and wrap in foil.  Add about 1/4 cup of liquid (per half rack) to the foil packet. 
    7. Place the foil wrapped ribs on the smoker and cook for 2 1/2 hours. 
    8. Remove the foil and place back on the smoker for an additional 1 1/2 hours.  You can brush with sauce during this step if desired.  
    9. Remove ribs from the smoker and serve with your favorite sauce.

Notes

To test doneness use a fork and see if the meat is tender.  If the ribs are done remove and serve with your favorite sauce.  You can continue to cook, checking every 30 minutes if they are not tender enough.

Nutrition Information

Yield

4

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 636Total Fat 44gSaturated Fat 15gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 25gCholesterol 167mgSodium 516mgCarbohydrates 13gFiber 0gSugar 11gProtein 43g

Nutrition Disclaimer: All information presented on this site is intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information shared on dinnersdishesanddesserts.com should only be used as a general guideline.

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Erin S
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Suzy

Monday 8th of June 2020

Love how simple this recipe is! It's so tender and tasty too!

Cathy

Monday 8th of June 2020

Clearly I need a smoker... my family would love these!

Catalina

Monday 8th of June 2020

Love how tender these ribs look! I love ribs so much!

Beti | easyweeknightrecipes

Saturday 6th of June 2020

OH my, these baby back ribs are incredible! I bet they taste amazing!

katerina @ diethood.com

Saturday 6th of June 2020

My family would love these! They are perfect!

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