Smoked BBQ Ribs
About the Recipe
Sticky-sweet and smoky ribs are one of summer’s greatest pleasures. Take advantage of the long holiday weekend to slow-smoke dry-rubbed baby backs on your charcoal grill.
Backyard grill smoking requires a few steps but you don’t need any special equipment. With just a bag of wood chips and your grill, you can easily make the some of the best smoked ribs you’ve ever eaten.
1 quart wood chips (hickory, apple or cherry - can also combine)
For the Rub: Use Stoysich Ultimate Seasoning or make your own:
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 racks baby back pork ribs (about four pounds)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup bbq sauce (optional)
Soak the wood chips. Place the wood chips in a large bowl, and top with water. Place a small plate over the chips to weight them down. Soak the chips for at least an hour or overnight.
Make the spice rub. Stir the brown sugar, salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and cayenne together in a small bowl. Or use Stoysich Ultimate.
Season the ribs. Brush the ribs on all sides with the mustard. Sprinkle the spice rub all over the ribs, including the ends, and gently rub it in.
Make a foil boat for the wood chips. Drain the wood chips. Tear off a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil that's about 11x17-inches. Make a foil boat by rolling the edges up to be roughly the size an 8x8-inch pan (or make it smaller to accommodate the size of your grill). Place 1 cup of the soaked wood chips in the boat.
Prepare the grill for smoking. For a gas grill: Remove the grill grates. If there are two burners, place the foil boat on one of the burners. If there are three or more, place the packet on the middle burner. Replace the grill grates. Light the burner under the foil boat and keep the other burners off. Cover and heat for 20 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a grill temperature of 300ºF, usually medium heat.
For a charcoal grill: Remove the grill grates. Light a full chimney of charcoal and arrange the coals on one side of the grill. Place the foil boat directly on the coals. Replace the grill grates. Cover and let the chips get smokey, about 15 minutes.
Smoke the ribs for 2 hours. Set the ribs, bone side down, on the grill grates that are not directly above the heat or smoke. For smaller grills, a rib rack or an inverted roasting rack can help hold the ribs upright in a tight space. Cover and grill the ribs, checking the smoke and temperature every 30 minutes and moving the ribs if needed to avoid flare ups. Add more wood chips 1 cup at a time as needed to maintain a low, even smoke. The ribs are done smoking when the exterior is beginning to brown, some fat is rendering out, and the ribs are cooked (but not tender), about 2 hours.If you’re smoking with charcoal, you’ll need to light at least one more chimney of charcoal and add it to the grill about halfway through cooking. If you plan to finish cooking your ribs in the oven, preheat it to 250ºF during the last 30 minutes of smoking.
Cover the ribs and cook for 2 hours. After 2 hours of smoking, the ribs will have taken on as much smoke as they’ll need but they won’t be tender yet. Wrap each rack of ribs completely in heavy-duty foil. Continue cooking on the grill, maintaining a low heat between 250 to 300ºF. Or, place the wrapped ribs directly on a rack in the 250ºF oven and place a baking pan on a lower rack to catch any drips. Cook until the racks easily bend in the middle when picked up with tongs but don’t break (an internal temperature between 185 to 190ºF), about 2 hours.
Grill the ribs over high heat and sauce. This optional last step is for those of us who love sticky ribs. Unwrap the ribs. Turn the grill up to medium-high heat and place the ribs, meaty side down, directly on the grill for 5 minutes. Flip and brush with the sauce. Grill until the sauce is thickened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes more. If you went to charcoal grill route for smoking or you don't want to use the grill again, you can also do this step in the oven at 375 degrees, about 10 minutes of baking will do the trick.
Slice and serve the ribs. Let the ribs rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes. Use a sharp knife to cut between the bones to create single rib servings. Serve with additional sauce as desired.
How Do You Know When Smoked Ribs Are Done?
Perfectly cooked ribs shouldn’t be falling off the bone — that’s an indication they’ve cooked too long. You can use a thermometer to check that they hold a temperature over 190°F for more than one hour, or you can use this easy test. Slide a pair of tongs under the middle of the rack and pick the ribs up gently so they create a rainbow shape. If the middle of the rainbow bends and the bark of the ribs cracks, your ribs are ready for saucing.
Finishing your cooked ribs really is as simple as sticking them back on the grill over high heat and basting them with sauce. If you went the charcoal grill route for smoking or you don’t want to use the grill again, you can also do this step in the oven at 375 degrees. The nice thing is that you can do all the cooking in advance and even cool and store your ribs, and then reheat them with sauce and the hot heat of the grill when you’re ready to serve.