What's the Best Way to Smoke Ribs?
There are so many ways to smoke Pork Ribs, but my favorite way is the good old fashioned dry rubbed and slow smoked method, with a little spritzing. These No Wrap Rec Tec Ribs are going to steal the show at your next backyard BBQ. This recipe is a great way to get tender fall off the bone ribs that are not overdone and steamed from being wrapped in foil. The flavor of the rub, the smoke, and the meaty ribs are more intense and flavorful, in my opinion when they are smoked throughout the process.
You can use any smoker you have for this no wrap rib recipe, but the smokers I have used for this recipe are The Big Green Egg & The Rec Tec 700 Pellet Grill. The method is the same for both, but the time it takes to smoke the ribs always varies, depending on the smoker and the ribs you pick out at the butcher.
What are the Best Pork Ribs to use on a smoker?
My favorite ribs for smoking are the St. Louis cut Spare Ribs. They are nice and meaty with a good amount of fat that will melt down within the ribs as they smoking, making for the perfect bite after 5-6 hours of low and slow smoking. I prefer them to baby back ribs, as they are more uniform and cook more evenly over the entire length of the rib.
For this particular cook, I am using the Rec Tec 700 Pellet Smoker, which is a premium pellet smoker that has a nice consistent temperature controller. I even liked the smoker enough to build a Custom Grill Table for it. Definitely use whatever smoker you currently have to experiment and achieve similar results.
How to Setup your Smoker for No-Wrap Pork Ribs
- Set the temperature at 250°F and setup the smoker for indirect cooking
- Place a water pan below your meat if you smoker allows, or place a pan of water to the side of your smoker, away from the chimney. This will help keep moisture in the cooking chamber.
- Choose a fruit wood or hardwood combination of your choice. I like the following woods for ribs: Cherry, Apple, Pecan, Oak, and Hickory. I often use Oak & Cherry together. The Cherry will give you a nice smoke ring.
How to Trim and Season your St. Louis Ribs
- Remove the silver skin on the back of the ribs. Rinse and dry the ribs first to make them easier to handle. Then slide a butter knife between a rib bone and the membrane to separate the silver skin from the meat. Pull away with a paper towel to grip it, and repeat if necessary.
- Season evenly on all sides with a rib rub of your choice, or use my favorite homemade Slightly Spicy Rib Rub found below… you will love this one!
Slightly Spicy Rib Rub Recipe
- 1 Tablespoon Coarse Sea Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Celery Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Ancho Chile Powder
- 1 Tablespoon HOT Smoked Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Granulated Garlic / Garlic Powder
Hot Honey Rib Glaze
- 1 Cup Mike’s Hot Honey
- 1/2 Cup Pittston Tomato Ketchup or Other Ketchup
- 1/4 Cup Hoisin Sauce
- 1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
Add more vinegar to thin the sauce, or more honey to thicken after mixing.
Slow Smoking the Ribs without Wrapping
Below is the process I use to smoke perfect now wrap ribs almost every single time. Practice once or twice on your smoker, and you can dial in your own process.
- Smoke the Ribs for 2 hours meat side up
- At the 2 hour mark start spritzing the ribs with a liquid of your choice. My favorites are 75% water and 25% apple cider vinegar or just use Coors Light Beer with a splash of apple juice.
- Spritz the Ribs every 30-45 minutes.
- Rotate the ribs every few hours to eliminate any hot spot variations on the smoker
- Check the Ribs for the “Bend” Test starting around 5 hours. If the meat bends and the bark cracks when you pick them up with tongs, then it is time to sauce the ribs with the glaze.
- Glaze the ribs and put them back on the smoker for 20-30 minutes.
- Pull the ribs off and let them rest for 20 minutes unwrapped
- Slice and serve!
Give this a try and definitely share this recipe if you love it! You may also enjoy these other rib recipes and methods I have on my site: