Want crazy good smoked ribs? Hang them. Yep, hang them in a drum smoker for the best flavor and perfect bite every time. No lie, even the neighbors are gunna come knocking for this one. 

These Easy Vertical Smoked Ribs are a fool-proof recipe that takes just a few minutes to prep! These ribs are smoked to tender perfection, then smothered in homemade spicy bourbon BBQ sauce! 

Vertical smokers, also known as drum smokers or barrels smokers, are about as old school as it gets (before we dig a pit and lay leaves over our meat.) 

They are simplicity at its best which has made them one of my favorite ways to smoke anything! I find that hanging the meat is the perfect way to get that amazing smoke ring and tons of flavor without sacrificing moisture or mouthfeel! 

Vertical smokers are also one of the best way to cook ribs! Hanging ribs removes the need to maneuver around the heat source or pull and wrap the meat. They are easy to hang, quick to cook, and so incredibly delicious! 

Ingredients Needed

For the Ribs

  • Pork Back Ribs – you’ll need 2 racks of pork back ribs with the membrane removed.
  • Sweet and Spicy Seasoning Blend – I recommend using the one with low sugar to avoid burning.

For the Spicy Bourbon BBQ Sauce

  • Oil – I use olive oil as the base for the BBQ sauce.
  • Onion – be sure to mince the onion pretty small so it incorporates well into the sauce.
  • Seasonings – we’re using a blend of salt, pepper, mustard powder, and chili powder.
  • Ketchup, Tomato Paste, Worcestershire Sauce, Apple Cider Vinegar, Brown Sugar, and Bourbon – creates a sweet, tangy, warm base for the bourbon BBQ sauce. 

How to Smoke Ribs

Start by patting the ribs dry and removing the membrane. Season well with the spice blend, then cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

When you’re ready to smoke, prep the drum smoker for 225º-250ºF. Add the wood chunks and coals to the bottom, then hang the ribs with the hook slide between the second bone and then from the meat hooks in the smoker. 

Close the smoker, and smoke the ribs for 2.5 hours. 

While the ribs are smoking, make the BBQ sauce. First, heat oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and sauté until browning. Add the mustard and chili powder, and stir to coat the onions. 

Mix in the ketchup, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar. Stir to combine, then add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved.

Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the bourbon, and cook until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. 

When the ribs are done smoking, remove Uthe from the smoker, then add fuel for direct grilling. Baste the ribs in the BBQ sauce, place meat-side down over the fire, and cook for 5-7 minutes, rotating as needed.

Cool for 10 minutes, then slice and serve!

How Long Do Ribs Take in a Vertical Smoker?

The key is meat that is soft but still has a good bite to it. For me, this texture is usually achieved in roughly 2.5 hours. However, the time will depend on your smoker. You’ll know the ribs are done when the meat is pulling back from the bone without much resistance. 


  • Use good quality wood chunks. The wood is what produces the smoke ring and gives the meat that delicious smoked flavor. Use the good stuff! 
  • Don’t hang too low. Make sure that the ribs aren’t too long for your smoker. If they’re touching the heat source, the meat can burn. If they are too long, you can cut the racks in half or use two hooks and form a U shape with the ribs. 
  • Leave the lid closed. Once the ribs are smoking, open the lid as little as possible. Every time you open it, smoke escapes and the temp fluctuates. This can affect flavor and texture!
  • Grill after smoking. This step is optional but does give the outside of the ribs a delicious caramelized flavor and crispy texture.

Serving Suggestions

Serve these vertical smoked ribs with any of your favorite sides! I love my roasted BBQ Glazed Smoked Brussels Sprouts, cheesy mashed potatoes, smoked potato salad, or mac and cheese

How to Store

Leftover smoked ribs will last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw in the fridge if frozen then warm in the oven at 250ºF until heated through. 

More Smoking Inspiration

If you’ve tried my Easy Vertical Smoked Ribs Recipe or any other recipe on GirlCarnivore.com please don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know where you found it in the comments below. I get inspired by your feedback and comments! You can also FOLLOW ME on Instagram @girlcarnivore as well as on  Twitter and Facebook.

Easy Vertical Smoked Ribs

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 3 hours 10 minutes
Cook: 3 hours
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total: 6 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 4
Crazy easy vertical smoked ribs – aka the only way you will ever want to smoke your ribs again. Promise


For the Ribs

  • 2 racks pork back ribs membrane removed
  • 1 cup sweet and spicy seasoning blend always go for one with low sugar to avoid burning

For the spicy bourbon barbecue sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ cup bourbon


For the ribs: 

  • Prep the ribs by patting them dry and removing the membrane. Cover liberally with seasoning blend, patting with your hands to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours. 
  • When ready to smoke: Prep your drum smoker for a temp between 225 – 250. When the grill is holding temp, set up your area to add wood chunks and the ribs without having to run back and forth opening the lid unnecessarily. 
  • Add the Western wood chunks to the coals at the bottom. 
  • Hang the ribs, with the hook slide between the second bone and then from the meat hooks in the smoker. 
  • Close the smoker and adjust the dampers, watching the temperature to maintain a temp between 225 and 250.
  • Allow the ribs to smoke for about 2 ½ hours. The ribs are ready when the ends of the bones are showing and the meat pulls from the bone without much resistance. (We don’t want it too soft, but a good bite here is key). 

Meanwhile, make the barbecue sauce: 

  • In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil to coat the pan. 
  • Saute the onion 5 minutes, until just browning.
  • Add the mustard and chili powder, stirring to coat the onions, cooking 30 seconds. 
  • Add the ketchup, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and cider vinegar and stir to combine. 
  • Add the brown sugar and stir until completely dissolved. 
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the bourbon. 
  • Cook, whisking occasionally until the sauce has thickened. 
  • Season with salt and pepper as desired. 

When the ribs are done smoking: 

  • Carefully with heat resistant gloves or the hook tool, remove the ribs from the smoker. 
  • Add fuel for direct grilling. 
  • Baste the ribs in barbecue sauce and place, meat side down over the fire to crisp the sauce up. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, rotating as needed. 
  • Allow the ribs to cool for 10 minutes before cutting between the bones and serving. 



Serving: 1g | Calories: 222kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 12611mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 12g
Course: Grilling Recipes
Cuisine: American
Author: Kita Roberts

Bookmark this recipe now!

Categories: , , , ,

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.


Signup and get free recipes sent to your inbox every week!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
5 from 3 votes (3 ratings without comment)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. A very versatile dish that the kids and the hubby are so obsessed about. I will show this to him and might have an idea to make one.

  2. It is indeed a lovely place to explore, Such great captures I must say that and your description is lovely and the food looks really good.

  3. This is a mouthwatering post as you had me at ribs! I love ribs and have printed out your recipe to give it a try. Your finished product looks amazing and cannot wait to try for myself.

  4. I don’t know what to say except OMG!!! I am so gonna try to make this, I love smoked ribs, love them. Thanks a lot.

  5. These smoked ribs look delicious. It’s great to know these little details that make all the difference in the taste of food.

  6. I love ribs and thanks for your secret recipes here. I always thought it hard to make and I guess I am wrong.

    1. I can do better! I have a video for ya, it’s just been struggling to upload for some reason. Should be good to go now. Thanks for the comment.