If you lived with me like my wife Jill does, you would know that the lost treasure I am always searching for is perfectly smoked ribs. Its how I judge BBQ restaurants that I visit and whether they are worth going back to and it is something I strive to replicate at home. So far, my favorite ribs are served at Smokey D’s here in Des Moines and Kansas City Joe’s BBQ (previously named Oklahoma Joe’s) in Missouri. With that in mind, I have tried many different rubs, cook temperatures, and cooking methods to achieve my dream ribs. These might not be my final version, but they are getting close. So, I want to share my favorite ribs I make at home. Give these a shot and let me know how they turn out…
These ribs are tender with a nice bark that packs a lot of flavor without being overwhelming. The rub is simple and the cooking process is simple too, which I love for the ability to repeat on a consistent basis. I am using a Large Big Green Egg for this smoke, so keep in mind that other smokers can change cooking time, etc. Here is the basic rundown….
- Purchase a fresh rack (or more!) of St. Louis Spare Ribs. The important part is FRESH! Here in Des Moines, Whole Foods has the best spare ribs I can find. They are expensive, but worth every penny. To expect good results…. buy the best meat you can find.
- Trim any extra fat or pork that looks flappy off the ribs. For a good overview of St. Louis style spare ribs, check out this article on seriouseats.com One note: I have not been removing the membrane on the back of the ribs for higher temperature cooks. It is barely noticeable and I think it keeps the ribs moist during the cook.
- Sprinkle both sides generously with the simple 4 ingredient rub
- Smoke the ribs meat side up for 5 hrs at 275 degrees. Using lump charcoal as your heat source, add one chunk of fruit wood to start your smoke. Then add one more chunk of wood after 1 hour of smoking. Then rely on the charcoal to provide the rest of the smoke flavor.
- Starting at the 1.5 hour mark, spray the ribs generously every 30-45 minutes with the apple cider vinegar and water solution. Open the lid and spray quickly, to avoid a lot of heat loss.
- Check the ribs starting at 4.5 hrs for tenderness. Depending on how thick your ribs are, they may take less time or a little more. When you pick up the ribs at the halfway point with BBQ tongs, the ribs should bend easily and the bark should start to tear a little bit as they bend.
- Spray the ribs one last time before you pull them off and let them rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing
My Favorite Smoked Ribs
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Coarse Ground Pepper - one step finer than cracked
- 1 Tablespoon Ancho Chile Powder
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
Mop Mixture to Spray on Ribs
- 1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 3/4 Cup Water
- 2 Slabs of St. Louis Style Ribs get fresh ribs from the counter - NOT the ribs wrapped in plastic and previously frozen!
- Setup your smoker for 275 F, indirect cooking
- Mix up the rib rub
Mix up the Rib Mop Spray in a food safe spray bottle
- Rinse and dry your ribs
- Trim any excess fat and loose flappy pork from the ribs
Season both sides of the ribs with the rub. Approximately 1.5 tablespoons per large meaty rack of ribs. Less if your ribs are on the thinner side.
Add one chunk of fruit wood to the smoker and place ribs on smoker meat side up for 5 hrs, dependent on thickness of ribs.
- At the 1 hr mark add 1 more chunk of fruit wood.
- At the 1.5 hour mark, spray the ribs with the Rib Mop Spray. Repeat every 30-45 minutes until the ribs have been smoking 4.5 hours.
Check for the ribs every 30 minutes at the 4.5 hour mark to see if they are done, continuing to spray the ribs with the Rib Mop Spray. You know your ribs area ready to take off when.... you pick up the ribs with tongs, the ribs should bend easily at the halfway point and the bark should start to crack slightly as the ribs bend.
- Spray one last time and pull from the smoker to rest for 5-10 minutes.
Flip over the ribs meat side down to cut between the bones more easily.
- Flip back over and serve with your favorite BBQ sauce