Smoking Ribs

Smoking Ribs

Let’s talk about the different types of ribs first.

Baby Back:  This is a small rib and usually quite tender. Great for grilling, but not as good for smoking.

Spare Rib:  These have a lot of flavor and a lot of fat. Work fine in a smoker but you do have an awful lot of fat that will render out.

Loin Back These are my personal favorite for use in the smoker. A very nice mix of meat and fat. You can buy these at Sam’s Club in a cryovac package.

Prepare the ribs:

Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. There are several ways to do this, but I use a pliars to grip the membrane and the back of a spoon to separate the membrane. Doesn’t take very long once you get a feel for it.

Thoroughly rub down the ribs on all sides with your dry rub, being sure to cover the entire rib. Place the ribs in a large pan. Cover and place in the refrigerator or cooler overnight.



Prepare the smoker:

Start with no more than 3 ounces of wood in your wood box.

I personally prefer a mix of 2/3 apple to 1/3 pecan. Be sure you have foil lined the bottom of the smoker and poked a hole for the drain. Also cover the top of the wood box with foil. I use three layers on the wood box and also the bottom as it makes cleanup much easier. Set your smoker to 225 to 250 degrees.  Load the smoker Place your ribs in the smoker, being sure to leave 1 inch of space around the entire rib  Check to be sure the wood is in place, the temperature is set, foil is in place, wood box is properly seated, thermometer is buried in the thickest part of the rib and not touching a bone. Latch the door and turn on your smoker.

The cook:

Do NOT open the door until your ribs have reached 160 degrees internally.  At 160 degrees, I’ll start basting my ribs with a good basting sauce and every ½ hour after that until the ribs are done.  The ribs are cooked @ 160, but not tender.  They are done when the rack bends and nearly breaks apart when held at one end.  The meat will have pulled back from the bone about ½ to 1 inch.  It’s important to cook them until the fat renders out.  This is what makes them tender and flavorful. Your final temperature will be 180 to 190. The cook usually takes about 7 hours.

Presentation :

I like to do one final baste just before I serve them. This will give your ribs a wonderful mahogany color with a nice sheen.  Serve on a bed of greens for a nice color contrast.


  • Type of wood
  • How much wood
  • Type of rub
  • How much rub
  • Oven set times and Temps
  • Outside ambient temperature
  • Rain or humidity
  • How many times did you baste
  • How long did they take to reach 160
  • How long did they take to reach your desired doneness
  • What was the internal temperature
  • How did they taste
  • Would you change anything

Copyright: David R. Naas 2007


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