BBQ Pork Ribs Recipe

Preparation & Cooking Time:


Thanks to Sucklebusters for this one.

By: The BBQ Buddha

So you want to smoke some ribs this weekend? 

You have a twin pack of ribs from the local grocery, the smoker, and wood chunks but you are at a loss as to what to do next? 

To make matters worse there are so many options out there that everyone and their brother want to tell you about: 2-2-1, 3-2-1, fall off the bone, competition style etc. It can be overwhelming and in the end you will most likely settle for burgers or steak as that is what you know how to cook best. 

Here are some tips, tricks, and most importantly knowledge so you can cook the best ribs in your neighborhood. The most important thing to remember is there is no right way to cook ribs! The key to great ribs is patience and observation. 

Step 1 – Rib Selection 

There are 3 basic types of ribs: 

1.Baby back ribs: which are smaller and easier to cook 

2.Spare ribs: which are the ribs closest to the belly of the pig which makes them meatier but longer to cook 

3.St. Louis style ribs: which are spare ribs but the breastbone and cartilage cut away. When done properly the rack of ribs will have an even rectangular shape. Most grocers or local butchers will have St. Louis cut spare ribs at the ready for you so you don’t have to cut them yourself. 

Step 2 – Meat Prep 

Once you have the ribs home and unpacked here is how you prep them: 

1.Remove the skirt from the rack of ribs: a.Flip the rack of ribs over to the bone side and look for a thick cut of meat that runs across the membrane covering the bones. b.That thick cut is called the skirt and will make the ribs thicker thus cooking slower if you do not remove it. (Tip: I usually save the skirt and cook it along with the ribs for a tasty treat later). 

2.Remove the membrane the rack of ribs (or not): remove the membrane

a.The dirty secret is: you can remove the membrane or leave it on. 

b.If you are cooking for a KCBS BBQ Competition you must always remove the membrane. But assuming you are just trying to get a good set of ribs cooked for the family you can leave it on and no one will notice. 

c.Removing the membrane removes the barrier between the smoke and the meat allowing more flavor to penetrate the ribs. That’s it. 

d.To remove the membrane look for a corner and slip your knife (or finger) underneath to get a space between the ribs and the membrane. 

e.Now grip it with a paper towel and pull evenly to get the membrane off in one piece. 

f.It can be frustrating getting the membrane off in one piece so be patient and keep working it. 

3.Apply the rub: Check out some rubs here

a.Rinse the ribs under cool water and dry them off lightly with paper towels. Keep a little moisture on the surface of the ribs to help when you sprinkle the rub on. Doing so will help the rub stick to the ribs evenly. 

b.Make sure to apply the rub right after you trim and clean the ribs while the smoker is coming up to temp and the smoke is settling in nicely. You do not need to do it the night before as doing so may dry brine the ribs giving the meat a salty, country ham flavor and texture.

Step 3 – Set up the smoker 

This example uses a Large Big Green Egg for the smoker. The techniques convey to whichever smoker you have at home. 

1.Light the lump charcoal: 

a.Fill the firebox with lump charcoal 

b.Keep the lid and front draft door open 

c.Light the charcoal near the front draft door as that will help light the coals during the long cook 

d.Keep the lid open and the front draft door open for 10 minute to allow the coals to light 

2.Add the wood: 

a.After 10 minutes add 3 -4 chunks of wood (hickory works well with ribs) 

b. Do not soak the wood before adding it to the firebox as wet wood gives off a funny smell when burned and that is not the flavor you want on your ribs 

c.Close the top of the Big Green Egg or Grill 

d.Wait up to 30 minutes for the smoke to turn from white thick smoke to a thin blue smoke and the temperature to stabilize to 200° ? 

Step 4 – Cook the Ribs 

Depending on the ribs you selected (i.e. Baby Back, Spare, St. Louis) the times described below will vary. Typically the Baby Backs will take 30-60 minutes less than Spare ribs. 

1.Place the ribs in to the smoker on a rib rack so the front and back of the ribs are exposed equally to the smoke 

2. Cook the ribs for 3 hours at 200° 

3. After 3 hours wrap the ribs in foil with a small amount of apple juice in the foil pouch 

4.Bump the temp up to 250° by opening the vents a little more to allow air flow 

5. Place the ribs back in the smoker for an hour 

6.Pull the ribs out of the foil and place back in the smoker for another hour at 250° 

7.Now check the ribs to see if they are done: 

a. Pick the slab up at one end with tongs and letting the other end bend, if the ribs bend and form a slight crack in the meat - they are done!

b. Another good test is to see the rib meat pulled back off the tips of the bones 

8.When ready take the ribs off the smoker and cover them with BBQ Sauce (glaze) 

9.Bump the temp of your smoker up to 300° and put the ribs back in for 15-30 minutes to form the crust 

10.Pull the ribs off the smoker, dust with BBQ rub, and apply more BBQ Sauce, slice and serve. ENJOY!