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How To Smoke Classic Backyard BBQ Ribs

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  • Author: Kenyatta
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours 45 minutes
  • Category: Pork
  • Method: Low & Slow
  • Cuisine: BBQ


If you fancy yourself as a true backyard pitmaster, you must have a go-to recipe for baby back and spare ribs in your arsenal. Your recipe must yield ribs that are flavorful, smokey and tender. All of these elements can be achieved if you follow a few core steps with a smoker that can hold temperatures between 225 – 275 degrees. Read on and I’ll show how easy it is wow your family with a true BBQ favorite.


Units Scale
  • 2 racks of baby back or spare ribs
  • Your favorite rub for ribs (my current favorite is a combination of Meat Church Dia De La Fajita BBQ rub and Meat Church Honey Bacon BBQ rub
  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar or water for spritzing
  • 1 stick of butter
  • Honey or brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of apple juice
  • 2 sheets of aluminum foil for each rack of ribs


1) Get your smoker up to temperature, between 225 – 275 degrees. Apple, peach and cherry wood pairs well with ribs. Use hickory for bolder smoke flavor. 

2) While waiting for the smoker to get up to temperature, prepare the ribs. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs or score the membrane with a sharp knife. I like to form a tick-tack-toe pattern. 

3) Apply a light coat of the rub to the back of the ribs. Let the rub and ribs sweat in your refrigerator for 20 minutes. 

4) After 20 minutes, flip the ribs over and apply a heavier coat of rub to the meat side. 

5) When your smoker reaches 240 – 250, it’s time to put the ribs on. Even if you plan on smoking at 225, get your smoker a little bit hotter because the temperature will drop will put the ribs on. If you’re smoking with an offset smoker, also pay attention to the quality of the smoke exiting the smoke stack. Wait until the smoke is clean / barely visible before putting the ribs on. A dirty smoke, especially at the beginning of your cook, will add a bitter flavor to your meat. Put the ribs on the smoker, meat side up. 

6) Around 90 minutes to 2 hours into the cook, spritz the ribs with apple cider vinegar or water.

7) Smoke the ribs until they develop a nice mahogany color. At this point, you’re almost ready to wrap the ribs.  Before you wrap, touch the top of the ribs with your finger. You want the rub to settle before wrapping. If the rub comes off of the ribs like wet paint, then the rub has not yet set. You should be able to touch the ribs and have very little rub come off. 

8) After the rub has settled (around 2 – 2 1/2 hours into the cook), the ribs are ready to be tenderized and to receive another layer of flavor. For each rack, take 2 sheets of aluminum foil that are long enough to tightly wrap the ribs. Place pats of butter horizontally along the middle of the foil. Drizzle the center of the foil with honey or sprinkle with brown sugar. Place the ribs meat side down on top of the butter and honey/sugar. Crinkle the sides of the foil to form a boat around the ribs. Then pour 1/4 cup of apple juice on top of each rack of ribs. 

9) Return the ribs to the smoker for 1 hour. 

10) Carefully open the foil to allow the steam out. The ribs should be incredibly tender and they should be around 190 degrees internal. You can either remove the ribs from the smoker or return them to the smoker for 15 – 30 minutes to firm them up some. The longer the ribs are back on the smoker, the firmer they will be. 

Optional: You can sauce the ribs at this stage. Paint the sauce on and leave the ribs on the smoker for 15 minutes. 

11) Remove the ribs from the smoker and let them rest for 5 – 10 minutes before slicing between the bones. 

That’s it! Now you’re the BBQ hero! 

St Louis Spare Ribs

St Louis Spare Rib with Oakland Dust

St Louis Rib with Meat Church rubs

St Louis Spare Rib with smoke ring


Remember, you’re not cooking to time. Use visual cues to let you know when to move on to the next step in the process. Your times may vary based on your smoker and the average temperature.