Grab some napkins because these Dry Rubbed Smoked Baby Back Ribs are saucy, meaty, and fall-off-the-bone tender. We tested this recipe until it was perfect, and if you’re a fan of meaty ribs, you’ll love it too. Fire up that smoker and chow down on these amazing ribs today!
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Smoking ribs is a labor of love and can’t be rushed. Grab a cold drink, invite some friends over for the feast, and be the envy of the neighborhood as they smell these amazing ribs while they cook low and slow until perfect.
To make the best-smoked ribs, you need to start with good-quality ribs. I love using a rack of baby back ribs because they are meatier and more tender. There are few things better than these smoke-infused dry-rubbed ribs.
Next to the ribs, the rub is the most important part of this recipe. I’ve pulled out all the stops, using big and bold but still well-balanced flavors in this rub. It is perfect for pork and enhances its natural sweetness. Go bold or go home, right?
The Cut: What are Baby Back Ribs?
There are back ribs, side ribs, St. Louis ribs, spare ribs, rib tips… so many types of ribs! Ribs can be cut a variety of ways, and they all have different names. Don’t worry, baby back ribs don’t come from piglets.
They’re called baby back ribs because they have smaller bones and are cut from higher up on the pig, where the ribs attach to the backbone. I love them when grilling because the thickness allows the meat to stay tender and always produces a great bite without having the bones shine through.
Ingredients For This Dry Rubbed Smoked Baby Back Ribs Recipe
You don’t need many ingredients for this pork ribs recipe. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Baby Back Ribs – Pick the meatiest baby back pork ribs with the smallest bones (you’ll need 2).
- Mustard – No need to be fancy; good ol’ yellow mustard will work just fine.
- GirlsCanGrill PK Pork Rub – Start with the best to make the best and it’s hard to beat GirlsCanGrill’s award winning blends! You can use your favorite bbq rub or blends but we avoid any with lots of brown sugar because it can burn.
- Sasquatch BBQ Erubtion Rub – The flavors in this rub are incredible and it just amps up the PK rub.
- Salt – We use kosher salt when cooking. You need a fair bit of salt to season meaty ribs.
- Barbecue sauce – Use your favorite sauce. We love our homemade keto bbq sauce.
How To Smoke Ribs
- To make this ribs recipe, prepare the ribs for the spice rub by patting them dry with a paper towel and cutting away any loose bits of fat. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. You can do this by cutting away a small section of it by sliding a butter knife under the thin membrane and pulling it up. Then, grabbing the membrane with a paper towel and pulling it off and away from the ribs.
- Next, make the smoked ribs rub. Mix the PK Pork Rub and Erubtion with salt in a small bowl.
- Rub the ribs with the mustard – Make sure to rub both sides of the ribs. Using plastic gloves with this step is recommended.
- Sprinkle baby back ribs rub evenly on both the fronts and backs, including the bone side of the ribs, of both racks of ribs. Wrap the ribs in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 4-8 hours.
- Don’t be impatient! If you want ribs with maximum flavor, they need this time to absorb all the yumminess from the rub. Here’s an idea: rub the ribs and wrap them the day before you’re going to smoke them.
- Prep your barrel smoker and bring it to 275-300 degrees F with the charcoal stacked to one side of the smoker. This rib method is faster with a higher temperature.
- Use these nifty hanging hooks to smoke your ribs. Hanging ribs ensures they have smoke circulating all around them. Get them ready while your smoker comes up to temp. Then, hang the ribs according to your smoker’s directions on the cooler side of the grill.
- Add some wood chunks to the smoker for added flavor, then close the lid.
- Check the ribs after an hour, then again every 30-45 minutes after that. It’s OK to peek! You’ll need to cook ribs for about 2 1/2-3 hours for fall of the bones tender ribs.
- During the last 15 minutes of cooking, remove the ribs from the cooker and put the grill grate back into the barrel. Brush the ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce and return to the cooker to let the sauce set.
- Perfectly tender meat will be about 195-205 degrees. Use a digital meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the ribs to make sure they’re tender.
- When done, remove the delicious ribs and tent them with aluminum foil and let them rest for 5 minutes. Pass the BBQ sauce and napkins, and let the feast begin!
Girl carnivore Expert RECIPE TIPS
- We tested Jack Daniels Barrel Chunks when smoking these ribs. Made from whisky aging barrels, they added a nice smoke flavor to the ribs. Alternatively, hickory wood chips will work.
- Don’t guess if your ribs are done! Sure, you can do the wiggle and jiggle test (jiggle a rib bone around to see how lose it is), but the best way to tell if your ribs are tender is to use a digital meat thermometer. Remember, ribs should be 195-205 degrees.
- Dry rub and wrap your ribs the night before or early in the morning to give them plenty of time to soak up all the rub flavor.
- We run this recipe on our drum-style smoker (the Pit Barrel Smoker), but this great recipe works on a 2-zone fire in a charcoal grill or a pellet grill as well.
WHAT to serve WITH SMOKED RIBS
Pass around some creamy coleslaw and dill pickles with your feast! The pickles cut through the richness of the smoky ribs, and coleslaw is a must-have with any smoked meal.
We keep it pretty keto here, and we served a radish salad as a substitute for potato salad with these.
You can also pair ribs with any number of salads or opt for this Smoked Jalapeno Mac and Cheese.
If you shop at a butcher shop, ask the butcher for meaty racks with smaller bones. You don’t want to pay for excess bone. You’re after the meat!
If you’re buying pork ribs from your grocery store, the same rules apply, look for the best ribs that have an even layer of meat and fat across the bones. The meat should be pink, with a smooth and moist appearance. Avoid ribs with excessive fat or with bones that are exposed (also known as “shiners”).
Including the time they spend in the fridge, this rib recipe will take 7-11 hours total. Just smoking is usually 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remember, cook times will vary with your smoker, weather, and outside elements. Smoking baby back ribs isn’t quick, but the results are so, so worth it!
The 3-2-1 method is a popular approach for smoking ribs, where you smoke the ribs unwrapped for 3 hours, then wrap them in heavy-duty aluminum foil with some liquid (e.g., apple juice) and cook for another 2 hours, and finally, unwrap and cook for an additional hour to set the sauce. Wrapping in foil can make the ribs more tender, but it may also steam them and reduce the smoky flavor.
Fruitwoods like apple, cherry, or peach are popular choices, as they impart a mild, sweet flavor to the ribs. Hickory and oak are also good options, providing a stronger, more robust smoky flavor.
If using a pellet smoker, consider trying charcoal pellets for more added grilled flavor.
Sure, you can go all caveman on the ribs and just tear into the baby backs, but for more civilized diners, place ribs on a clean work surface and use a sharp knife to cut through sections of tender ribs, cutting close to the bone. You can serve individual ribs or cut them in sections of 2, 3, 4, or more.
You sure can! Make a double batch (if there’s room in your smoker) and freeze the other two racks for another meal! Just wrap them up tightly (I wrap them in foil and then pop them into a zipper-topped freezer bag) and freeze them for up to 3 months.
Better yet, turn leftovers into bbq hash!
Dry Rubbed Smoked Baby Back Ribs
Prep the Ribs:
- Pat the ribs dry and trim and loose pieces or fat2 racks Baby Back Ribs
- Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs.
- Rub the ribs with mustard1 tablespoon mustard
- Mix the PK rub and Erubtion with salt in a small bowl4 tablespoon Christie Vanovers PK Pork Rub, 2 tablespoon Sasquatch BBQ Erubtion Rub, 1 tablespoon salt
- Sprinkle evenly on the front and back of both racks of ribs
- Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in fridge 4 to 8 hours.
Preheat the grill & smoke the ribs
- Prep your barrel smoker for a temp of 275-300 degrees with your charcoal stacked to one side of the smoker.
- Allow the grill to come to temp while you secure the ribs with the hanging hooks, about 2 ribs down.
- Add wood chunks to the barrel smoker for added flavor.
- Hang the ribs according to your barrel smokers directions on the cooler side of the grill.
- Return the lid
- Check the ribs after 1 hours and then every 30 to 45 minutes after that.
- The baby back ribs will cook in about 2 ½ to 3 hours.
Baste ribs in BBQ Sauce
- In the last 15 minutes of cooking, carefully remove the ribs from the cooker. Add the grill grate to the barrel.
- Brush the ribs with bbq sauce and return to the cooker to let the sauce set.
- Temp the ribs to make sure they are cooked through to 195 – 205 degrees F.
- Remove from heat, tent with foil and rest 5 minutes.
- Carefully run your blade along the rib bones to slice off portions or individual ribs and serve with additional bbq sauce if desired.