Top Ten Tips for Smoked Pork Ribs

Folded steel smoked ribs

Smoking pork ribs is a great place to start if you're new to smoking. They take a lot less time to cook then brisket or pork butts and ribs are just plain delicious. Whether you like st. Louis spare ribs or baby backs, pork ribs are one of the best parts of the pig. These 10 tips will help you up your game and smoke your next rack with confidence.

  1. Removing The Membrane- On the back of the ribs there is a thin membrane that won't break down no matter how long you cook your ribs. Use a paper towel and pinch a piece of the membrane and pull it away from the ribs. If you get a good piece you should be able to remove the membrane in one pull. The first few times you do this it can be a pain but you'll get better after a few racks.
  2. Trimming The Ribs- Now this may not be for a competition but its still important to trim away any large pieces of fat. Run your fingers along the ribs for pieces of bone or cartilage that need to be removed. The ribs shouldnt have any misshapen gashes or hunks of meat that will burn.
  3. Prepping the Ribs-When seasoning the ribs most cooks use a binder to help the rub attach to the meat. Mustard or oil are the two most common binders. Use just enough to give the ribs a nice even coat.
  4. Dry Rub- After the binder is on it's time to season with your favorite dry rub. Always taste the dry rub before seasoning the ribs to decide how much to use and what the flavor profile is. If the dry rub is extra spicy you may want to go easy on it or combine it with a sweet rub. If the rub is a little bland you may want to add additional salt. Also think about how the rub is going to work with your bbq sauce if you're using one. Do the flavors match up?
  5. Seasoning the Ribs- Always season the bone side of the ribs first. Because of the curve of the ribs you won't brush off any of the rub when flipping them over. Next season the meat side. Shake your dry rub from at least 12 inches above the ribs so that the dry rub spreads out evenly. After you season, let the ribs sit for at least 15 minutes so the meat can absorb the rub.
  6. Smoker Temperature-Set your smoker and let it come up to temp. We recommend a smoking temp between 225-250 degrees F. Smoke the ribs for about 3 hours. Give the ribs a spritz of apple juice or cooking spray to keep the meat moist.
  7. Wrapping the Ribs- This is an optional step. If you are a purist and like a thick bark on your ribs you can skip this step and continue to smoke until the ribs are tender. If you do wrap you will lose a little bit of the bark texture but have a more tender rib in a shorter amount of time. Add a few pats of butter and brown sugar or honey to the ribs before wrapping in aluminum foil. Be sure to use heavy duty foil.
  8. Checking for Tenderness- the easiest way to tell if the ribs are tender is to use a toothpick and poke the ribs in between the bones. If the meat feels tight then wrap back up in foil and cook for another 30 minutes. As far as temperature the ribs will become tender somewhere around 205 degrees F.
  9. Saucing the Ribs- Once the ribs are tender It's time to sauce. Lightly brush the sauce on the ribs and let it sit for 15 minutes to tack up and adhere to the ribs. You can repeat this process multiple times to achieve the deep mahogany color you're looking for.
  10. Slicing the Ribs- The easiest way to slice the ribs is bone side up so you can see where the bones are and what direction the bones are pointed. Some racks will have straight bones and some will have a slight slant.


folded steel smoked ribs

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