Are you craving meaty, delicious, tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs? Smoking ribs isn’t hard; we’ll show you how to smoke ribs – the best BBQ ribs you’ll ever eat – and in a few hours, you can roll up your sleeves and dig into a meal of smoked goodness!

Rack of ribs sliced and piled in a serving platter garnished with parsley and baked beans on the side.

Got yourself a grill and want to master ribs? We’re here to help with down-and-dirty tips, tricks, and a tried-and-true method for making show-stopping ribs. This method is a perfect beginner smoked ribs recipe, but it’s also great for anyone who just wants a tried-and-true, no-fuss method for smoking ribs. 

Starting with a flavor-packed dry rub, these are the best damn finger-licking ribs on the block – pass the napkins and let’s get started!

Raw rack of ribs on a tray with spices in a bowl ready to be seasoned.


Knowing how to smoke ribs on a grill starts by knowing what equipment and ingredients you’ll need. To make this easy smoked ribs recipe, you’ll need:

  • A grill – With a tight-fitting lid.
  • Foil pan – You’ll fill this with water.
  • Wood chips – To give your ribs the perfect smoky flavor.
  • Ribs – We use baby back ribs or St. Louis style ribs, but all types of ribs will work. 
  • Dry rub – Use your favorite dry rub for pork ribs in a smoker.
  • Apple cider vinegar and a spray bottle – For spritzing (more on that below).
  • BBQ sauce – Use your favorite bbq sauce. Pick something a bit spicy, a bit sweet.
  • Rib rack – Not essential, but this clever contraption can help the ribs get maximum smoke for maximum flavor.
Ribs rubbed in a spice blend.


We love using meaty baby back ribs, but the larger St. Louis style ribs work well, too. Smoked baby back ribs vs. smoked St. Louis ribs – what’s the difference? Baby backs are shorter, smaller ribs cut from the upper ribs (where the ribs meet the spine) and have nothing to do with baby pigs. St. Louis ribs are meatier, larger ribs and are cut from closer to the belly. 

Baby back ribs can be more tender, but they’re both tender and delicious when you’re cooking the ribs low and slow like this. 

Spare ribs are a cut of meat that comes from the lower part of a pig’s ribcage. They are taken from the belly side and have meat between the bones. Spare ribs are known for their meatiness and are often used in recipes like smoked pork spare ribs

The choice is yours – pick your ribs, and let’s get cooking!

Ribs in racks on a masterbuilt gravity smoker.


The best wood for smoking ribs comes down to what type of smoke flavor you want to infuse into your ribs. For example, bolder wood, like mesquite wood, can give your ribs a Texan flair. On the other hand, milder woods like oak can give your ribs a mild smoky flavor.

Another great wood for smoking ribs is hickory wood. Hickory wood imparts a strong, rich, and slightly sweet flavor into ribs when used for smoking, like these hickory smoked pork ribs and Memphis style spare ribs

Beginner Dry Rub Smoked Pork Ribs | Kita Roberts


For smoking spare ribs, we love a bold and assertive rub that’s got a good balance of spice and sweetness. Make your own or use a bought blend – it’ll all work! If you want a convenient pre-made mix in a jar that always wins, try Girls Can Grill Pork Rub!


First, pat your ribs dry with paper towels and trim the ribs to remove the membrane. To remove the membrane, cut a corner of it away from the ribs, grab the membrane with a paper towel, and pull it away from the ribs. With a bit of muscle, it’ll pull away.

Rub the ribs in a heavy coating of the spice mixture, then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and let them rest in the fridge for one hour.

Preheat your grill for indirect heat and arrange a small aluminum pan with a bit of water in it off on the side of the grill over the grate. 

Get your wood chips ready for smoking. If you’ve never done that before, wander over to this article and read about how to use wood chips on a gas grill. 

Arrange the ribs over indirect heat, cover them, and cook them for 45 minutes when the grill is ready.

Spritz the ribs with a light coating of vinegar, close the grill again, and continue to cook, spritzing as needed, for 3 hours.

After the ribs are done cooking, baste the ribs in sauce and fire over high heat to get a nice sear. Remove quickly, rest for 5 minutes, then slice and serve.

Above shot of a platter filled with dry rubbed smoked ribs, corn bread, beans, and fries.


The process is the same as above, except you’ll fire up the grill to get it to temperature, set the wood chips in place, and then turn down enough burners so that the ribs aren’t over direct heat. Then, follow the rest of the steps above!


The 3-2-1 method for smoking ribs is a straightforward technique that ensures tender, flavorful results. Here’s how it works:

  1. 3 Hours of Smoking: Begin by seasoning your ribs and letting them smoke on the grill for the initial three hours. This allows the meat to absorb the smoky flavor and start cooking.
  2. 2 Hours of Wrapping: After the first three hours, wrap the ribs in heavy-duty aluminum foil to keep them moist. This step helps to tenderize the meat further. You can add a bit of liquid, like apple juice or your favorite marinade, to enhance the flavors.
  3. 1 Hour of Unwrapping: In the final hour, unwrap the ribs and return them to the grill. This step allows the exterior to firm up and develop a nice crust. It’s the finishing touch to achieve that perfect balance of tenderness and a caramelized outer layer.

We use this method in our Traeger 3-2-1 ribs to get perfectly delicious ribs every time!


While this recipe is the foolproof way to make ribs, you can totally play around with other flavors to get your desired result. Some great options are adding brown sugar to the rub or using apple juice in place of apple cider vinegar, like in these smoked pork loin ribs.

We also love using Worcestershire sauce to add a kick of umami flavor to our ribs, like in these vertical smoked ribs. You can even experiment with different types of smoking wood to get a unique, smoky flavor that takes your ribs to the next level. 


Spritzing ribs is an important part of smoking pork ribs. We like to spritz the ribs every 45 minutes or so; this keeps them moist but also allows for the sugars in the apple cider vinegar to caramelize on the top of the ribs, giving them that prized flavor-packed coating. 

Raw baby back ribs rubbed with spices on grill grates.

Girl Carnivore Expert Recipe Tips

  • Cook on indirect heat. Indirect heat is perfect for the low and slow cooking process to get super tender meat. The pork will quickly dry out and burn if you cook on direct heat.
  • Sear quickly. Fire the pork ribs over high heat to get the sear, but move them off quickly. If you leave them on too long, the sugars in the BBQ sauce will caramelize and burn very fast.
  • Let it rest. After the pork ribs are done cooking, let them rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing into them to allow the juices to redistribute into the meat. If you cut them too soon, the moisture will just seep out, and you’ll end up with dry meat.
  • How long to smoke spare ribs? Give yourself some time – the best ribs are never rushed! We cook to ‘temp not time’ that means you want to cook your ribs to 195 – 200 degrees F for the perfect doneness.

What to serve with Smoked Ribs

You can slice the pork off the bone and serve it next to any of your favorite side dishes! Try it with roasted brussels sprouts, classic coleslaw, summer scallop and crab pasta, pickles, beef tallow furikake fries, or mashed potatoes

Leftovers & Reheating

Leftover smoked pork ribs will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months. To reheat, thaw in the fridge if frozen, then microwave or warm on the stove until heated through.

More Smoking Recipes

Now that you have everything you need to make bone tender ribs, it’s time to get smoking! With these quick tips, you’ll become the grill master you always wanted to be. If you try any of these tips, let us know which ones were the most helpful down below! 

How To Smoke Ribs

5 from 36 votes
Prep: 1 hour 20 minutes
Cook: 3 hours 30 minutes
Resting Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 8
Beginner Dry Rub Smoked Pork Ribs | Kita Roberts
These ribs are perfect for every level griller because they don't rely on a tested homemade spice blend, basting for hours, or careful maintenance. Really, the only additional equipment you may want to have is a rib rack to stand them up. And that's not even a must.


  • 4 lbs pork ribs about 2 racks of baby backs or St. Louis Style
  • 1 cup spice blend of choice use something with a hint of heat and a hint of sweet for a classic hit
  • Additional salt if needed for the blend
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce if desired


Prep the ribs

  • Prep your ribs by removing from the packages, patting dry and arranging on a clean flat work surface.
    4 lbs pork ribs
  • Work carefully to remove the membrane along the back of the ribs, if it hasn't already been trimmed for you.
  • Rub the ribs in a heavy coating of the spice mixture, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for one hour.
    1 cup spice blend of choice


  • Preheat your grill for indirect heat by lighting the burner on one side to high, and the others to low. Set the grill to maintain a heat around 225/250 degrees F.
  • Arrange a small aluminum pan with a bit of water in it off on to the side of the grill over the grate.
  • When the grill is ready, arrange the ribs, bone side down (or in a rib rack) over the indirect heat.
  • Close the lid and let grill for 45 minutes.


  • Spritz the ribs quickly with a light coasting of the apple cider vinegar and close the grill again.
    1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Allow the ribs to continue cooking, spritzing as you feel needed, for a total of 3 hours.

Sauce the ribs

  • Remove the ribs from the grill and arrange on a large bakign sheet. Brush the ribs with barbece sauce
    2 cups barbecue sauce
  • Increase the medium-high and fire off the ribs over high heat to get a nice sear – but move quick – as any sugars in that sauce will caramelize quickly and burn!

Rest & Serve

  • Rest the ribs for 5 minutes before slicing between the bone and meat to serve.


Add the flavor of real wood smoke to your gas grill by wrapping wood chips in foil and placing them over the direct heat. They can be replaced every 45 minutes, but do not really do much good after the first batch.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 647kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 127mg | Sodium: 872mg | Potassium: 945mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 663IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 522mg | Iron: 13mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, barbeque
Author: Kita Roberts

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Recipe FAQs

What temperature do you cook pork ribs in a smoker?

You’ll want to set the grill to maintain a heat of around 225-250 degrees F. This is the perfect temperature to allow the ribs time to become ultra-tender without drying out.

How long does it take to smoke ribs?

You will smoke the pork ribs for an initial 3 hours, low and slow. The low temperature allows the tough connective tissues to break down, resulting in super tender ribs. After that, you’ll take a couple of minutes to sear the pork ribs over high heat to give them that nice crust. We recommend using a meat thermometer to verify that the internal temperature is a minimum of 145 degrees F before serving!

How to tell if ribs are done?

You can’t rely on a meat thermometer – pork is safe to eat at 145 degrees F, but at that temperature, they’ll still be tough and chewy. Instead, look for a dark mahogany color, and when cooked, the ribs will pull away from the tips of the rib bones by about ½ to ¾ of an inch. You can also use a long toothpick or skewer – insert it in between 2 of the middle bones. It should go through with very little resistance.

What type of grill is best for smoking ribs?

You can use a pellet grill, charcoal grill, gas grill, or even a drum smoker. For ribs we love our kettle grill or pellet grill. Check out our best grills if you’re looking for which to buy.

Pin for how to smoke ribs.

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Well, Hey, Y’all.

Kita is a multi-talented individual, boasting numerous accomplishments such as being an award-winning recipe developer, world-traveled professional photographer, and journalist. As the lead creative force behind Girl Carnivore®, she is widely recognized as an authority on all things meat.


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Recipe Rating


  1. Kita, I love your page, it always has some interesting ideas for me to try. I get both the email and the Facebook posts to make sure I don’t miss anything. But, I’m not sure on this recipe though. Is “total of 3 hours” a typo?

    I have grilled and smoked a lot of ribs. My current way of doing St Louis Style spare ribs takes 3.5 – 4 hours at 275*. I am just not sure ribs cooked at 225* for for only three hours would be done enough. Now, my family and friends like them tender (not fall off the bone, but close), but this just seems like it might be on the verge of not quite cooked.

    Just making sure as I don’t want a typo to steer any of your fans wrong…

  2. I want that grill!! And these ribs. Your photos make me want to dive right in.

    I’m loving the warmer weather. Nothing beats hanging out on the deck while you cook.