The Best BBQ Smoked Pork Ribs

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These falls of the bone BBQ smoked tender pork ribs are incredibly rich and will keep you coming back for more. These are our favorite for picnics and cookouts!

pork rib in sauce with a silicone brush
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lovely fall off the bone ribs on a black surface with sauce in the background with sauce in a mug and a silicone brush.

The Best BBQ Smoked Pork Ribs Ever

BBQ smoked pork ribs are a quintessential staple of American barbecue, celebrated for their deep, rich flavors and tender texture. This dish begins with the careful selection of the ribs, often baby back or spare ribs, known for their meaty and succulent characteristics. The ribs are typically seasoned with a blend of spices — commonly a dry rub that can range from sweet to spicy, depending on regional preferences or personal taste. This spice blend imparts a robust flavor to the meat. The real magic, however, happens during the slow smoking process, where the ribs are cooked at low temperatures over wood chips or charcoal for several hours. This method infuses the meat with a distinctive smoky flavor while breaking down the collagen, resulting in exceptionally tender and juicy ribs.

The art of smoking ribs also involves a meticulous cooking process, where maintaining a consistent temperature in the smoker is crucial to achieve the perfect tenderness. Some pitmasters wrap the ribs in foil partway through the cooking process — a technique known as the ‘Texas crutch’ — to lock in moisture and speed up cooking time. Once the ribs are near completion, they are often glazed with a barbecue sauce, which caramelizes under the heat, adding a sticky, sweet layer that complements the smoky taste of the meat. The final product is a rack of ribs with a beautifully charred exterior, a pink smoke ring just beneath the surface, and meat that effortlessly pulls away from the bone, offering a flavor-packed, satisfying bite. BBQ smoked pork ribs aren’t just food; they’re a celebration of tradition and flavor, often enjoyed at family gatherings, outdoor parties, or in the coziness of a backyard.

lovely fall off the bone ribs on a black surface with sauce in the background with sauce in a mug and a silicone brush in the foreground

How to make BBQ Smoked Pork Ribs

To make this recipe, you’ll need:

  • Pork ribs pork is high in fat and flavor so make sure you trim any extra fat.
  • Charcoal and wood for smoking – I like to smoke with oak, pecan, fruit wood, or mesquite, use lump charcoal.
  • Rub seasonings – for this I use garlic powder, onion powder, season salt, ground pepper, paprika, chili powder, cumin, celery salt, cinnamon, cardamom. You can add or omit spices as you choose. 
  • Beer – I like to use a hoppy beer but use whatever you like. 
  • Apple cider vinegar – vinegar adds an acidic bite that helps tenderize the meat and add a nice bite to the sauce.
lovely fall off the bone ribs on a black surface with sauce in the background with sauce in a mug and a silicone brush.

Once you have assembled the ingredients, we will use the following method

Prep the meat. Remove the pork from packaging, rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Mix the spices for the rub. Apply 3/4 of the rub to the pork ribs and refrigerate overnight. Set the other rub aside for the mop sauce.

Prep for smoking. Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Prep the smoker to about 250 degrees. Mix the remaining dry run with the beer and apple cider vinegar for the mop sauce.

Smoke. Set the ribs on the smoker and mop with the mop sauce using a silicone brush every 40 minutes or so. Rotate the meat every hour to ensure they get heated evenly. It should take about 4 to 5 hours for the meat to come to 195 degrees.

Let meat rest. Remove the rubs from the oven and let rest for about 30 minutes to let the juice settle. Enjoy!

pork rib in sauce with a silicone brush

Tips and Tricks to perfect BBQ Smoked Pork Ribs

Achieving perfect BBQ smoked pork ribs involves a blend of technique, timing, and seasoning. Here are some tips and tricks to help you master the art:

Don’t use lighter fluid or compressed charcoal briquettes.  I find that they leave a petroleum taste on the meat. 

I like to use a silicone basting brush for mopping. The inexpensive fiber brushes that are commonly sold at big-box stores begin to come apart quickly and, in my experience, often shed bristles on the meat. 

Selecting the Ribs: Choose ribs with a good amount of meat and a little fat for flavor. Baby back ribs are a popular choice due to their tenderness.

Prepping the Ribs: Remove the membrane on the back of the ribs for better flavor absorption and a more tender bite. Use a paper towel for grip to make it easier to pull off.

Seasoning: Apply a dry rub generously on both sides of the ribs. The rub can range from sweet to spicy based on your preference. Let the ribs sit with the rub for at least an hour before cooking.

Low and Slow Cooking: True BBQ flavor comes from slow cooking at low temperatures. Aim for a smoker temperature around 225°F to 250°F.

Wood Choice: Use wood chips or chunks like hickory, oak, apple, or cherry for smoking. Each wood type imparts a different flavor.

Moisture Control: Keep a water pan in the smoker to maintain humidity, ensuring the ribs don’t dry out.

Wrapping the Ribs: After a few hours of smoking, wrap the ribs in aluminum foil or butcher paper with some liquid (like apple juice, beer, or cider vinegar) to steam and tenderize them.

Checking for Doneness: Ribs are done when the meat pulls back from the bone about half an inch, and the ribs bend easily but don’t fall apart when lifted.

Applying BBQ Sauce: If you like your ribs with sauce, apply it in the last 30 minutes of cooking to prevent burning.

Resting the Meat: Allow the ribs to rest for a bit after removing them from the smoker. This step helps the juices redistribute for a more tender and flavorful rib.

Temperature Monitoring: Use a meat thermometer to avoid overcooking. The ideal internal temperature for ribs is around 195°F to 205°F.

Patience is Key: Good ribs take time. Rushing the process can result in less tender meat.

Experimenting with Flavors: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different rubs, woods, and sauces to find your perfect combination.

Practice Makes Perfect: Each smoker is different, and it may take a few tries to get your technique down. Keep practicing and adjusting as needed.

FAQs

Should I pre-boil my ribs?

Some people love to boil ribs and I am a fan sometimes. It is nice if you want fall of the bone ribs but don’t smoke them very long since they will already be cooked.

Can I use different meat?

Yes, you can use beef ribs for this recipe with very similar results.

lovely fall off the bone ribs on a black surface with sauce in the background. and a silicone brush.

What to serve with BBQ Smoked Pork Ribs

BBQ smoked pork ribs, with their rich and smoky flavor, pair wonderfully with a variety of side dishes. Here’s a list of what to enjoy with them:

Coleslaw: A classic side, its crispness and tangy flavor provide a refreshing contrast to the smoky ribs.

Cornbread: Sweet and buttery, cornbread complements the savory taste of the ribs.

Baked Beans: A hearty side that matches well with the deep, smoky flavors of the ribs.

Grilled Corn on the Cob: Sweet corn with a bit of char adds a delightful texture and taste.

Potato Salad: Creamy and tangy, it’s a perfect balance to the rich ribs.

Macaroni and Cheese: A creamy, cheesy side that’s always a crowd-pleaser.

Collard Greens: Slow-cooked with bacon or smoked turkey for a soulful touch.

Roasted Vegetables: Like asparagus, bell peppers, or zucchini for a lighter option.

Corn on the Cob: Grilled or boiled for a sweet, juicy complement.

Sweet Potato Fries: Their sweetness contrasts nicely with the savory ribs.

Garlic Bread: Crispy and aromatic, perfect for mopping up any leftover sauce.

Apple Sauce: Its sweetness and slight tang pair well with the smoky meat.

Watermelon Slices: For a refreshing, juicy, and sweet end to the meal.

Pickles and Jalapeños: Add a nice crunch and a bit of heat.

Green Salad: A simple green salad with a vinaigrette dressing to cut through the richness.

Check out some of our favorite BBQ sides here:

Try our other amazing BBQ recipes here!

lovely fall off the bone ribs on a black surface with sauce in the background.

The Best Dry Smoked Pork Ribs Ever Recipe

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BBQ smoked pork ribs served with BBQ sauce on a plate.
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The Best BBQ Smoked Pork Ribs

BBQ smoked pork ribs are a succulent and flavorful dish, characterized by their tender meat which falls off the bone, infused with a smoky richness and glazed with a tangy, sweet barbecue sauce.
Course BBQ
Cuisine American
Keyword bbq pork ribs, pork ribs, ribs, smoked pork ribs, smoked ribs
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Additional Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 5 hours 15 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 850kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell

Ingredients

  • 8 lb pork ribs
  • lump charcoal
  • wood for smoking oak, pecan, fruit wood, or mesquite
  • 2 TBSP garlic powder
  • 2 TBSP onion powder
  • 2 TBSP season salt
  • 2 TBSP ground pepper
  • 3 TBSP paprika
  • 3 TBSP chili powder
  • 2 TBSP cumin
  • 2 TBSP celery salt
  • 2 TBSP cinnamon
  • 2 TBSP cardamom
  • 8 oz beer
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  • Mix the salt and spices together in a bowl.
  • Remove pork from packaging, rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Trim off excess fat and score skin at this point. You do want to keep about 1/4” of fat on the top called the fat cap. As your meat slowly cooks, this will melt and keep the meat moist.
  • Apply 3/4 of the rub massaging the meat slightly, refrigerate overnight. Put the other 1/4 of the rub aside. Soak wood chips or blocks overnight in water.
  • Next morning remove meat from refrigerator and let come to room temperature for about an hour.
  • Prepare lump charcoal in smoker using newspaper and charcoal chimney.
  • While the coals come to temperature (you are aiming for 250F), combine any remaining rub with the apple cider vinegar and beer to create the mop sauce.
  • When coals are glowing and grey, add the ribs to the smoker. Keep the meat as far from the fire as possible. If you have a barrel smoker with a fire box, keep on the opposite side of the grill surface from the fire box. If you have a conventional smoker or Weber-style kettle grill, build small fire on one side of kettle and keep meat on the other side.
  • Add handful of wet wood chips/block to fire. Cover and let cook approximately 4 or 5 hours.
  • You’ll need to check the meat every 40 minutes and mop the meat with the mop sauce.
  • Rotate your meat every hour to ensure that all sides get even exposure to the heat and smoke. This is particularly important if you’re using a conventional kettle grill for your smoking.
  • Use an outdoor temperature probe to track the internal temperature of your meat. After several hours, your meat may “stall” around 150F. I usually keep smoking mine. You can wrap it in foil with a cup of mop to finish. It should take 4 to 5 hours to cook.
  • You’re shooting for your meat to get to 195F. Remove from the grill, wrap in foil and let rest about 30 minutes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 850kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 65g | Fat: 94g | Saturated Fat: 28g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 42g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 318mg | Sodium: 2117mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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1 Comment

  1. Nick says:

    5 stars
    Sweet and Spicy Ribs are tough to beat. Thanks for sharing your husband’s recipe. I’m definitely going to try these out soon.