It’s not hard to figure out how to make great bbq ribs. Try these sticky, smokey BBQ St Louis ribs at home – you’ll probably eat a whole rack to yourself!
Barbecue ribs must be one of the most popular menu items ever to come off a smoker. Smokey, sweet, porky sticks of deliciousness that satisfy a primal urge to gnaw the meat straight off the bone. Good ribs will require sheet after sheet of paper towel to mop up extra sauce from your fingers and face. Heck, you may just need a bib as well.
I based my recipe on the 3-2-1 method, which calls for 3 hours of smoke, 2 in foil, and a final hour of unwrapped but sauced smoke exposure. I guess mine is actually more like 3-2-.15? I think 6 full hours can result in slightly overdone ribs, and that really the final step only needs enough time to “set” the barbecue sauce, which is usually only 10-15 minutes. All this takes place at 225f, and I recommend a remote thermometer for a more accurate reading of the temperature inside the cook chamber.
Many people think that “fall off the bone” is the hallmark of perfectly cooked ribs, in actual fact barbecue aficionados (and judges) consider this to be overcooked. A perfect rib should have a perfect bite mark, clean to the bone, with the rest of the meat still intact. But, I get it, some people just want them super soft and bone-free, so if you’re one of those people just leave the ribs on for the full final hour.
One final note – the BBQ sauce you choose to use will have an effect on the final appearance. A dark sauce with brown-ish hues will result in dark lacquer, whereas a lighter, orange/red sauce will lead to a more mahogany finish, and your choice of the rub will affect the final color, too.
This recipe calls for St Louis or Spare ribs. Baby Back ribs are much smaller with less meat and so will cook much faster. Also, we recommend using Applewood or a medium fruit blend of pellets depending on the type of smoker you have.
- 1 rack St Louis or Spare cut pork ribs
- Approx 1/2 cup of BBQ pork rub
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1/3 cup BBQ sauce or glaze
- Fire up your cooker/smoker to a temperature of 225 F, and get it to hold at that point.
- Prepare the ribs, and make sure to remove the membrane from the back of the bones. This is easiest to remove with a paper towel, just, lift one of the corners with the paper and pull – it should come off in one go. You can also trim away any excess fat or loose meat for a neater appearance.
- Pat ribs dry with another paper towel, and season generously with BBQ rub on both sides, then place in the smoker for approx 3 hours, making sure to monitor and maintain your 225 F temp without any major spikes or drops.
- Prepare two large squares of foil, one on top of the other, and place butter and brown sugar along the bottom. Remove ribs from the smoker and place the meat side down onto the sugar/butter. Wrap the parcel tightly and return it to the smoker for a further two hours.
- After two hours, carefully open the foil package (there may be quite a bit of liquid that has accumulated) and gently return the rack to the smoker, bone side down. If this is too difficult, you can simply unwrap the ribs and tuck the foil in at the sides, forming a “boat’ around the meat and leaving the tops of the ribs exposed.
- Using a brush, paint a generous amount of the BBQ sauce onto the meat side of the rack. Close the lid and smoke a further 15-20 minutes, which will allow the sauce or glaze to set. You should be able to lightly tug on the bones and feel little resistance. If you feel they could be more tender, leave in the smoker for up to an hour. Re-baste if desired.