In this article, we answer a question many of our readers ask, for how long should I smoke ribs? I will use my preferred cooking temperature of 250 degrees to illustrate my point. For smoking ribs, I recommend cooking at 250 or 275 degrees.
How long will it take to Smoke ribs at 250 or 275 degrees?
The answer is simple, it will take about one hour and 30 minutes per pound of meat. So if you have a three pound rack of ribs and want to smoke at 250 degrees it will take roughly about four hours and 30 minutes.
So as you can see slow smoking ribs is a slow process. If you choose to to smoke the ribs at 275 degrees you will only reduce cooking time to about an hour per pound. So for example, if you are smoking a 3 pound rack of ribs you are looking at a total cooking time of about 3 hours.
I do not recommend smoking ribs at temperatures higher than 275 degrees for two main reasons. First, sugar in BBQ rubs and sauces can caramelize and “char” the meat.
The reality is that the amount of time required to smoke a rack of ribs depends on a number of variables, therefore it is essential to acknowledge this fact. When the internal temperature of the ribs hits 190 to 195 degrees, they are cooked. Try not to over cook them as the meat can dry.
Slow-smoking Spare Ribs Like a Pro
Few things in life can compare or come close to the flavor of a rack of perfectly smoked barbecue ribs.
In this article, we are going to teach you how to smoke ribs at 250 degrees to perfection. Our 250-degree rib smoking technique will help you cook tender, smoky, moist ribs. This recipe and technique work well for cooking spare or smoking baby back ribs.
We all know you have scorched a few racks of ribs, so sit tight, grab a beer and read on. We are about to show you how it is done!
popular pork rib cuts, Baby Back and Spare Ribs
We released an article explaining every pork cut in detail to educate you on the various pork cuts, how they differ in taste and texture, and what cuts work best for grilling, smoking, or braising.
Our Intro to Pork Cuts is an excellent guide to learning which pork cuts are best for smoking, grilling, stewing, or braising recipes.
What Are Baby Back Ribs?
Baby Back Ribs are also known as Pork Back Ribs: This popular pork cut is one of my favorites to throw on a BBQ grill. Pork back ribs ( baby back ribs ) are not as meaty as country-style ribs, but baby back ribs are still juicy, tasteful, and require less time to cook. Baby back ribs are obtained from the bottom of the pig’s ribs. Baby Back Ribs have less meat than spare ribs but also less fat.
What Are Spare Ribs?
Spare ribs are extracted from the pork belly and this pork cut has a higher percentage of fat.
Spare ribs are an excellent choice for slow-smoking grilling. Spare ribs come from the ends of the baby back ribs, making them a bit larger and usually containing cartilage. When these ribs are trimmed, they are also known as St. Louis Cut Spare Ribs. These rib cuts are meatier and fattier.
What To Consider When Buying Ribs
- If your goal is to smoke the most delicious and tender ribs, then a fresh cut is crucial. A fresh rack of ribs will have a nice pink tone and good marbling; marbling will affect flavor. Fresh ribs should be pink in color with marbling all around. When smoking baby backs, we want the marbling to be dense to get lots of flavor in each bite. Baby backs are a meaty cut with high-quality meat ideal for a backyard barbecue.
- Slabs with good marbling will be more flavorful and juicier than leaner cuts. Also, leaner cuts will not tenderize as well as fattier rib cuts.
- Whenever I want a good quality pork rib cut and want the convenience of having it delivered to my doorsteps, I use Snake River Farms. Snake River Farms offers good quality meat cuts, and I like the convenience of having quality meat delivered to my front door.
- Whenever I want good smoked ribs, I order a rack from Snake River Farms.
Preparing Ribs – Removing the Membrane and Trimming
Preparing ribs can take a few extra minutes and some dislike the process but preparing the ribs and taking the time to cut and trim the fat, the membrane, and loose tips will improve the way the ribs cook and the end result will be much better.
Should you remove the membrane from the ribs?
Yes, you should and need to remove the membrane ( silver skin ) from the ribs for the best results and flavor. The membrane doesn’t cook well or taste good. Without it, the ribs will be more flavorful and tender.
The membrane is often referred to as the silver skin and some butchers will remove the silver skin for you. You may also use a sharp knife to cut a tiny section of the silver skin. Using a paper towel, grab the corner of the silver skin and carefully take away the silver skin in one pull.
Smoked ribs cooked with the membrane on will not taste as good. The silver skin is almost like a thin plastic film that prevents heat and smoke from penetrating the ribs and has a bitter taste.
Another step to preparing your ribs for the smoker is trimming. You need to trim excess fat. Trim any pieces of fat “hanging” or large “chunks” of fat.
Remove any extra fat from the meat side of the ribs. Trimming excess fat will help smoke penetrate the ribs thoroughly and improve flavor. Excess fat can also burn and ruin the taste of your ribs.
Lastly, you need to season the ribs.
When seasoning your pork ribs, I recommend keeping things simple. A nice dry rub of salt and paper will do just fine, but you are always welcome to try your own seasoning and add your own twist.
I have tried rubs with anything from mustard to paprika. They all work and taste good. Just keep in mind that sugar can caramelize during the smoking process, so be sure to keep an eye on the cooking temperature.
Besides making your own rub, you can also choose to purchase well-known pork rib rubs such as Ultimate Dry Rub from BBQ Bros or Jack Daniels BBQ Pork Rub.
I like pork rubs with a good balance of both sugar and savory. Brown sugar helps with caramelization while smoking the ribs, and the savory adds extra flavor.
You might also be interested in our article on BBQ Rib Rub Guide
Again, we all have our taste preferences. Some people prefer Memphis-style BBQ, while others love Texas or Carolina’s style. This rib recipe and technique works well with whatever rub or seasoning you choose.
Let’s Smoke Some bBQ ribs
How To Smoke Baby Back or Spare Ribs – smoking baby back ribs, The Cook.
Smoking pork ribs is not as tricky as smoking briskets, but one still has to follow a few steps to achieve a good result.
The steps below will help you smoke flavorful, tender ribs in a smoker grill.
If you want to learn more about smoker grills, we wrote an excellent article on the best smoker grills for beginners and another article on the best propane smokers.
What temp to smoke ribs?
If you are wondering at what temp to smoke ribs, we prefer smoking ribs at 250 F degrees. Always preheat your smoker, then set your smoker to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you use a Green Egg or Primo Kamado grill, you can also set your kamado grill to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. However, be very careful not to let your kamado’s temperature get above 250 degrees.
Kamados are very efficient, and if the internal grill temperature rises above our favored 250-degree recommendation, you will end with tough pork ribs.
Smoking baby back ribs are all about constant temperature. To get fall off the bone ribs, low and slow smoking at a constant temperature is key.
Pro Tip: Try to remove the ribs from the refrigerator about 45 minutes before smoking them, so they get closer to room temperature. A cold rack of ribs will not cook as fast or as evenly.
Now that your smoker grill is at temp, place ribs in the smoker. So, how long to smoke pork ribs? You will cook the ribs for about two hours ( 2 hours ) or about an hour to an hour and a half per pound.
During the 2 hours of cooking, check the ribs once or twice to ensure they are cooking well, not drying or burning. I like to spray the ribs with apple cider juice to add juicy rib flavor and keep the ribs moist.
You can modify the cooking time based on your taste and preferences. Also, keep in mind that a small rack of baby back ribs will not need the full 2 hours. Smoking baby back ribs will require less time.
You want to see some coloring, and the ribs should start looking cooked before moving to step number two. Always use a meat temperature probe to monitor the ribs’ internal temp and know when the ribs are done.
Place the ribs in the smoker bone side down. Placing the ribs done side down will help protect the meat and stay moist.
Pro Tip: During the initial 2 hours of the cook, you can make a mix of 1/4 cooking oil and 3/4 apple cider vinegar, pour it in a spray bottle and apply small mists of this mix to the ribs. This homemade bbq meat cocktail will add good flavor and help tenderize the ribs. Shake the bottle and spray the ribs down every 45 minutes or so.
Should I wrap my ribs in aluminum foil when smoking?
Smoking ribs at the appropriate temperature is important, but this step is where the magic happens. We like to see the ribs reach an internal temperature of around 160 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit before wrapping the ribs in foil.
Wrapping the ribs will help add more flavor and tenderize the ribs. Remove the ribs from the smoker and wrap them in a sheet of aluminum foil.
In an interview conducted by The Texas Monthly with Aaron Franklin, he explains that using aluminum foil “gets things steamy” and is best used for pork butts and ribs. So yes, wrap the ribs!
Make sure you create a nice sealed and tight wrap. I usually add apple juice to the ribs during the wrap, but others add butter and honey to add additional flavors and help braise the ribs in the foil. Apple juice will add great flavor and help tenderize the meat and achieve that fall off the bone texture.
Place the ribs back in the smoker for about an additional hour and thirty minutes.
Unwrap the ribs:
After about one hour and thirty minutes, unwrap the ribs, inspect and if the rack looks good, apply your favorite BBQ sauce and place the rack back in the smoker grill for about 30 more minutes. The additional time in the smoker will conscientiously cure the barbecue sauce onto the meat.
Is pretty safe to assume the ribs will be done after hours in the smoker, but why guess and ruin hours of work. Don’t fly blind; use a temperature probe to make sure the ribs are cooked well. You don’t need anything fancy; a simple meat temperature problem from Amazon will do just fine.
Since we have allowed the ribs to cook low and slow, the ribs should be very tender and easy to probe. We usually look for a final temperature of around 205 to 210 degrees Fahrenheit. The bones should not just fall out, but the meat should feel tender. Use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the ribs.
Coat ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce and remove them from the grill.
Let It Rest:
Remove the ribs from the smoker, let the ribs rest for about 10 to 15 minutes and then get ready to eat!
This is a great method to smoke baby back ribs. We wrote an article on popular methods for smoking ribs.
Use a good knife and cut between each rib bone. I find it simpler to slice the ribs the bone side up. You can also add more of your favorite sauce to your smoked pork ribs and enjoy.
Meat temperature notes: When cooking any type of meat, please make sure you follow USDA Meat’s recommended temperature. Here is a chart you can use.
Here is a meat temperature chart you can use as a reference when grilling and smoking meats.
Smoke baby back ribs temp
According to the USDA, Pork is considered cooked when its internal temperature is 145 degrees. However, the ribs’ collagen will start to gelatinize at about 165 degrees Fahrenheit when smoking ribs.
So, to get the ribs’ texture right, continue cooking until their internal temperature reaches around 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the ribs are done.
One Last Word
Smoked pork is a delicious BBQ dish, but more importantly, enjoy the cooking process, have fun, and enjoy outdoor cooking with your friends and family.
Enjoy Life, Get Grilling!