The Best Smoked Pork Ribs Ever Recipe – juicy, tender delicious restaurant quality smoked ribs at home are easier than you think! This is the best ever pork ribs recipe you can make at home.
Easy, tender, juicy, and finger-licking delicious smoked pork ribs are one of the best meals you can make for a summer picnic or party – they are everyone’s favorite feast, and are surprisingly simple to make with the right tips and tricks.
If you’ve ever wondered what goes into restaurant quality ribs at home on your smoker, you’re in luck – I’m going to share tons of tips and tricks to help you become a rib smoking pitmaster in no time with this recipe for the best smoked pork ribs ever.
This post is a bit long and is PACKED with information to help you make the best ribs – if you’re not interested, feel free to scroll to the bottom of the page to get to the recipe – but these tips are invaluable for making perfect ribs at home!
Some of the things we’re going to cover in this post are:
- Which Cut of Ribs to Buy
- How to Trim and Prep Ribs
- How to Season Ribs
- What Type of Wood Chips to Use For Smoked Ribs
- 3-2-1 Smoked Ribs Method
JUST TAKE ME TO THE BEST EVER SMOKED PORK RIBS RECIPE ALREADY!
If you’d rather skip my (very helpful, i think) tips and tricks, essential cooking info, and similar recipe ideas – and get straight to this deliciously easy Smoked Ribs Recipe – simply scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find the printable recipe card.
Which Cut of Ribs to Buy
Baby back ribs are a wonderful rib cut – and one of the most popular. (Not just because of a certain chain’s catchy baby back jingle…) Baby back ribs are taken from the muscle that runs along the back of the pig.
Baby backs are a meaty cut containing high-quality meat – perfect for a backyard BBQ.
Baby Back Ribs are leaner, more tender, and work great in the oven, too.
Spare ribs are ribs that are closer to the belly of the pig.
Spare ribs are not as meaty – in fact, that is why they are called “spare”, since the belly of the pig is primarily used for bacon, and spare ribs only keep a bit of their meat since they are cut so close to the bone.
Since spare ribs don’t have a lot of meat, they cook more quickly, and also do great in the oven as well as on the smoker.
St. Louis Style Ribs
St. Louis Style ribs are actually from the same cut as spare ribs- except St. Loius style ribs are trimmed to a uniform rectangle shape so they can cook evenly to perfection.
St. Louis style ribs have the skirt and the tip removed, which makes cooking time go faster, and prep easier.
Since St. Louis style ribs have the least amount of meat, they cook the fastest – and are also great in the oven.
While it’s not my favorite prep method, St. Louis style ribs can also be separated before cooking and cooked individually.
How to Trim and Prep Ribs
Ribs are one of my go-to picks for smoking because they don’t involve a ton of extra trimming and prep – though a little bit of work goes a long way to making perfect fall off the bone juicy ribs.
How To Remove Silver Skin From Ribs
Silver skin is the whitish, silvery membrane that runs along the back side of the ribs.
While it is not necessary to remove this membrane, it is very easy, and can help to make your ribs softer and easier to eat.
I prefer to always remove the silver skin from my ribs for the perfect juicy and tender ribs.
Removing silver skin can be a little tricky until you get the hang of it – and then it’s a breeze!
- Slide a small, rounded knife (not a sharp knife) under the silverskin anywhere along the rib rack, and pull up on the skin to loosen it.
- If it won’t pull up in one spot, simply try another.
- Lift and loosen the membrane or silver skin with the knife until it’s loose enough that you can grab it with your hands.
- Pull the silver skin off of the rack of ribs; it should peel away in one large sheet, but if it breaks – no worries- just use the knife to restart the easy process in another section of ribs.
How To Season Ribs
When you think of smoked ribs, people often see ribs dripping in sauce (which looks fabulous for commercials, but can absolutely drown out your pork rib flavor) – but these ribs are designed to be finger-licking fabulous either with no sauce, a crusted sauce-bark, or slathered in sauce – whatever you prefer!
We’re starting our knockout smoked rib recipe with a delicious rib rub, making them perfect for keto, paleo, or other low carb dieters to make low carb keto ribs – no sauce required – and will then add in tips to make super-saucy ribs from there!
The best BBQ smoked ribs have so much flavor out of the smoker they don’t even need sauce (of course, they also take sauce fabulously too.)
To do this, we will rub the ribs with a perfect blend of spices that pull out the pork’s naturally light and sweet flavor, and compliment the smoke without overpowering the meat.
When creating a rib rub, there is a lot of room for creativity – be sure to change up the spices you use and try out new things you like, but don’t skip rubbing your ribs before smoking for the absolute best rib flavor!
Juice and Butter Bath
In the middle of smoking ribs, when they are wrapped in foil, I like to give my ribs a little bit of a bath in some apple juice or apple cider, and butter.
This helps to create a juicy rib flavor and helps the meat become tender and soft and not dry out when wrapping to cook in foil.
When done properly, these steps can give you juicy and delicious ribs that don’t even need a sauce for moist, tender, and delicious meat – though they also serve as the perfect base to then top with your favorite sauce.
Create a Bark with BBQ Sauce
Creating a crunchy BBQ sauce bark is a beautiful thing – delicious slightly caramelized sauce that is more crunchy than drippy, sticky instead of wet, is heavenly on smoked pork ribs.
To get a crunchy BBQ sauce bark, follow these tips:
- When ribs are almost done smoking, unwrap from foil and brush a thin layer of sauce on, then let them continue to smoke until the sauce is “set” – or firm, sticky, and not wet.
- Sauce should not slide around when set.
- For an extra crunchy crust, repeat with another thin layer of sauce and cook for another 15 minutes until set again.
What Type of Wood To Smoke Ribs
Since pork is a light and slightly sweet meat, it can become easily overpowered with heavy smoke. Trust me – there IS such a thing as too much smoky flavor!
Picking the right kinds of wood chips can help get the perfect smoke flavor for smoking ribs without overpowering them.
In general, you’ll want to look for lighter woods or fruit woods for a lighter, cleaner flavor that won’t overpower your ribs and will taste “cleaner”.
Since we’re smoking ribs low and slow, there is so much time to pick up smoke flavor, a heavier smoky wood chip will overpower your pork ribs.
The Best Wood Chips To Smoke Ribs
Alternatively, when smoking ribs, there are some woods that are simply too overpowering and should be avoided for the best overall flavor.
The Worst Wood Chips to Smoke Ribs:
- Poison Oak
3-2-1 Smoked Ribs
Ribs, oddly enough, can be hugely controversial (since almost everyone has their own preferred method, and they tend to differ wildly) – and no method is more controversial than the 3-2-1 Ribs smoking method.
If you’ve heard of this trick before, but wanted to know what’s behind it, some people (myself included) tend to think this is an amazing shortcut to perfect, juicy ribs every time.
The 3-2-1 method is pretty easy and foolproof, and consists of 3 easy steps.
3-2-1 Rib Smoking Method
3 – Smoking
- Prepare and preheat your smoker to 225 degrees, using the wood chips of your choice (be sure to make note of the section above where I talk about wood choices.
- Trim any messy flaps from ribs, and remove the silver skin membrane.
- Pat ribs dry to remove any excess moisture.
- Prepare and mix your rib rub, coat ribs in rub well, and let come to room temperature.
- Place the ribs on the smoker and smoke for 3 hours.
2 – Wrapping
- Arrange large sheets of foil to wrap the ribs in.
- Add the ribs flesh side down, then cover with the cider, and butter mixture.
- Wrap the ribs tightly in foil and return to the smoker to smoke for another 2 hours.
1 – Finishing
- Remove the ribs from the foil and paint on the BBQ sauce (if desired).
- Return to the smoker until crunchy and set in – around 15 – 20 minutes.
- If you like very crunchy BBQ sauce bark, you can repeat this step.
- Remove from the smoker and rest for at least 10 minutes until separating and serving.
Other Delicious BBQ Dishes You’ll Love:
If you love these easy, delicious smoked ribs, be sure to check out some of my other favorite easy BBQ dishes that will knock your socks off!
Some you can even bake inside your house – when the weather is all wrong for cooking outside!
My Favorite Sides to Serve With Ribs:
Delicious and juicy smoked ribs are amazing on their own – but these easy sides will elevate your next BBQ with tons of flavor:
The Best Smoked Pork Ribs Recipe Ever
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- 1 tbsp ground black or white pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp Paprika sweet Hungarian paprinka
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp celery salt
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup apple juice or cider
- 4 tbsp of butter cubed
- 1 rack baby back ribs reduce cooktime if using spare or St. Louis Style ribs
Pre-soak wood chips in water for 1/2 hour.
Preheat wood chips in smoker to get to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove ribs from any packaging and pat dry.
Remove silver skin and trim off any excess sloppy bits from ribs.
Mix rub ingredients well, cover completely over ribs.
Let come to room temperature while wood begins to smoke and smoker comes to temperature.
Smoke ribs on smoker for 3 hours.
Lay out foil and lay ribs on top, adding butter, juice, and cider into foil and wrap ribs tightly in foil.
Cook in foil for 2 hours.
Open foil and baste ribs in cooking liquids, let set for 15 minutes.
Baste another 2-3 times with cooking liquids, letting the juices "set" each time, to form a crunchy bark.
When ribs are crunchy to your preference, remove and let rest at least 15 minutes before slicing or serving.
Baste a thin layer of your favorite BBQ sauce over ribs, and let set while they cook for about 15 minutes. Sauce will be sticky, not runny.
Repeat with another thin layer of sauce, letting set, up to 2 more times.
Let ribs rest at least 15 minutes before slicing or serving.