The Best Smoked Baby Back Ribs

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Smoked Baby Back Ribs

We are so excited to show you how to make the best smoked ribs using baby back ribs. Cooking ribs in a smoker is easy to do and it allows you to enjoy perfect smoked ribs that make your mouth water and will have you coming back for more! 

Smoked Baby Back Ribs whole rack on the smoker

Best Way to Smoke Ribs

There are different ways you can smoke baby back ribs, but we are excited to show you what we think is the best way to make smoked baby back ribs and have them turn out fabulous. 

First let’s begin by increasing your knowledge of choosing good baby back ribs to smoke, then showing you step-by-step instructions on how you can smoke baby back ribs. Finally, we will give you tips and tricks for making amazing smoked baby back ribs. 

As a bonus, we will also show you how you can prepare smoked baby back ribs on the grill, or bake them in your oven. You don’t want to miss out on anything that follows! 

Amazing Baby Back Ribs

Although experts may say it’s not proper for baby back ribs to be falling off the bone, this is in fact how many people enjoy their ribs. However, the great thing about smoking your own ribs is that you get to prepare them exactly how you like. Below we will tell you some different things to watch for in order to make your ribs exactly how you want them.

What are Baby Back Ribs

Did you know that there is quite a difference between baby back ribs and spareribs? Baby back ribs are from a pig, and are smaller and more tender than spare ribs. This particular cut of ribs comes from a pig’s loin area and is known for being small but tender portions of meat. 

What Is the Difference Between Baby Back Ribs and Pork Spare Ribs?

Spare ribs come from the bottom portion of a pig’s rib cage or, the belly area. Although both baby back and spare ribs are from a pig, spare ribs are larger, and may not be quite as tender, as baby back ribs. Baby back ribs are small, and cut from the loin area of a pig. 

Main Differences between Baby Back Ribs and Spare Ribs:

  1. Baby back ribs come from the loin area of a pig whereas spare ribs come from the belly. Baby back ribs are smaller, and spareribs are larger. 
  2. Baby back ribs are known for being more tender than spare ribs.
  3. Typically, baby back ribs contain more meat than spareribs do. Spareribs tend to be a combination of meat and fat.  
  4. Spare ribs are also known for taking longer to cook than baby back ribs typically do. On average, baby back ribs cook faster than spare ribs. 
Smoked Baby Back Ribs piece cut out

Smoked Baby Back Ribs – An Easy Guide

What to Look For When Buying Ribs

Meatiness. Check to make sure that the rack of ribs contains enough meat and is not all bone.

Freshness. Also, look over the rib rack to ensure they are a nice pink color and do not contain any gray or even really light pink. Ideally, you want to find a nice pink rack of baby back ribs to smoke. 

Marbling. Finally, look at the rack of ribs for the marbling of meat and fat. Avoid purchasing a rack of ribs that has huge chunks of fat, instead, you want the fat in the meat to be nicely marbled or spread throughout the rack of ribs. 

Preparing Ribs

Now that you know what to look for when you are buying ribs, look at the different steps you can follow to prepare your ribs for smoking. First, start with removing the silver membrane.

Remove the Silver Membrane

The silver membrane is the piece of membrane or see-through strand that goes along the underside of your ribs. Before you begin cooking your ribs, you’ll want to remove this membrane. 

Rib Seasoning

To season your ribs, we recommend using a rubber made from the following ingredients. You can also rub your ribs with Dijon mustard or our favorite is grape jelly. Add one of these to your ribs before adding your dry rub seasoning.

Dry Rub Ingredients:

Brown sugar

Course sea salt

Pepper

Paprika

Onion powder

Garlic powder

Best Wood for Smoking Baby Back Ribs

What kind of wood should be used when smoking baby back pork ribs? Keep in mind that the kind of wood you use to smoke your meat will impact the overall flavor of your meat. So it’s a good idea to choose something that goes well with pork. 

We recommend using one of the following types of wood when smoking baby back ribs. 

Applewood

Cherry 

Hickory

Oak

Now let’s jump into the details of how to smoke ribs in a smoker. Check out the directions below for step-by-step instructions on how to smoke a rack of ribs! 

How To Smoke Baby Back Ribs

Preheat your smoker to 225°F

Next, take a rack of ribs, and remove the membrane from the back. Discard the membrane.

Brush the entire outside of your ribs with grape jelly. 

In a small bowl combine dry rub ingredients. Sprinkle your dry rub over the entire outside of your rack of ribs. Be sure to cover both the top and the bottom of your rack. 

Place the ribs directly on your smoker rack and smoke them for approximately three hours.

After three hours have passed, take a large sheet of aluminum foil, and place your ribs on top of the foil. Pull the sides of the foil up, add a can of Coke, Dr. Pepper, or one cup of water and 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar if you wish to avoid using pop, and sprinkle with brown sugar. 

Seal your aluminum foil and place the meat side down back on your smoker. Smoke for an additional two hours. 

After the additional two hours have passed open the aluminum foil and place your rack of ribs meat side up on the smoker. 

Brush the top of your ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce. Smoke the ribs one final time for an additional one hour. 

When your ribs are done, the bone should be showing prominently from your ribs. You should also be able to target the bone and have the meat completely fall off of your ribs. 

The internal temperature for your ribs should be at least 145°F, however, in order to achieve the fall-off the bone kind of ribs, the internal temperature of your ribs will be between 205°F and 210°F. 

We recommend that your meat to be falling off the bone in order to enjoy the best smoked baby back ribs, however, if you don’t like the meat falling off the bone, then you do not have to smoke them quite as long. 

Remove your ribs from the smoker and allow them to rest before serving. Rest your ribs for approximately 10 to 15 minutes then serve and enjoy your delicious smoked baby back ribs!

Smoked Baby Back Ribs close up on smoker

How Long to Smoke Baby Back Ribs

How long to smoke ribs may vary, however it usually is between four and six hours.

When smoking your ribs at 225°F it will typically take around 5 to 6 hours for them to be deliciously done.

When smoking your baby back ribs at 250°F, it may take less time, between four and five hours for your smoked baby back ribs to be done. 

3 2 1 Ribs

Using the 3 2 1 ribs method is a great way to remember the cooking times. This allows you to make sure your smoked baby back ribs are falling off the bone, and taste amazing. What is the 3-2-1 method for ribs?

3: Three is the recommended three hours of smoking you’re prepared baby back ribs directly on your smoker great. 

2: Two is the recommended two hours of time for wrapping your ribs in aluminum foil with your choice of liquid, and smoking wrapped in the foil.  

1: One is one hour of smoking time after they have been brushed with barbecue sauce and allowed to finish smoking and caramelized. By the end of this section of smoking time, they should be ready to enjoy! 

3-2-1 Ribs Temperature

One important thing to note is that when using the 321 method for making smoked baby back ribs, it’s important that you smoke your ribs at 225°F for the 321 Ribs Temp times to work.

Smoking ribs 321 is an easy way to remember the ideal time and steps for smoking baby back ribs. Although this does not work as exact time measurements for every occasion, it’s a great rule of thumb to follow. 

Expert Tips

Cook to color and feel, not time

If all else fails, and you’re not sure when your ribs are ready, look at the color, texture, and feel of your rack of ribs. Keep in mind that how long to smoke pork ribs may vary, the smoking time outlined above may vary depending on the size of your ribs, the outside temperature where you are smoking, as well as the particular smoker you are using.

Although these time frames are good to use as a reference, you may need to adjust them so that your specific ribs are done, and not necessarily the time clock met. 

To tell if your ribs are done, the color of your ribs should be a brownish reddish color from the smoke. You should also be able to tell because the phone will be prominently sticking out from your rack of ribs, and the meat should be falling apart once the bone is removed. 

You should be able to remove a bone without any meat sticking to it to have the lovely falling apart rack of ribs. Be sure you run your ribs through these tests in order to tell that it is fully cooked and not just using the time reference as your only guide.  

Smoked Baby Back Ribs close up on plate

The Mustard Trick

You can use mustard to help brine your rack of ribs if desired. Dijon mustard is a particular favorite to brush on the outside of your ribs before adding your dry rub. However, our favorite secret ingredient is using grape jelly and then adding the dry rub. Grape jelly adds a bit of sweetness that you will otherwise not taste as prominently in your smoked baby back pork ribs. 

Recipe Variations

Alternate Seasoning Options

We have recommended that you use a mixture of brown sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika as our traditional smoked baby back ribs dry rub. However, if you want to aim for other flavors, than the traditional, ones when making your smoked baby back ribs, you can try mixing things up and using lemon and rosemary, to replace your traditional rub.

Smoked Ribs with Apple Juice

A recipe we have recommended using a can of Coca-Cola, or a can of Dr Pepper pop. However, you can also use a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar. Another favorite is to use apple juice to moisten your ribs when they are wrapped in aluminum foil. If you’re looking for healthier, lower sugar content, using apple juice is a great alternative for delicious smoked ribs. 

Baby Back Ribs in the Oven

Another way to smoke baby back pork ribs is you can also prepare them in the oven. To do this you want to prepare your baby back ribs the same as instructed above, and season them as desired. 

You can use the recommended seasonings above, or you can simply use salt and pepper. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet, or cake pan, with approximately 1 cup of water and bake at 275°F for 2 to 3 ½ hours. 

Brush the top of your ribs with barbecue sauce, then place back into the oven and broil on low for 5 to 10 minutes, or bake at 425°F for approximately 10 minutes or until the barbecue sauce is nicely caramelized on top. 

Remove from the oven and allow to rest. Then serve and enjoy! 

Grilled Baby Back Ribs

Prepare your ribs as instructed above. Preheat your gas grill to approximately 300°F. Place your ribs directly on your grill grate.

Grill your ribs with the meat side down for approximately one hour. Flip them over, and if they are looking close to done, brush them with barbecue sauce. Continue grilling for another 20 to 30 minutes or until your barbecue sauce is caramelized and your ribs are falling apart.

Remove from the grill, and allow your ribs to rest for a few minutes. Then serve and enjoy! 

What to Serve with Smoked Ribs:

There are many signs that you can serve with your smoked baby back ribs. Below are a few of our favorites! 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Keep Baby Back Ribs From Overcooking?

Cook baby back ribs low and slow on your smoker. Your baby back ribs will not go above the temperature of your smoker. If you enjoy them falling off the bone, then you can get the perfect smoked baby back ribs this way.

However, if you prefer your ribs to be just done, but not falling off the bone, keep a close eye on them and for less time than suggested. 

How Do You Know When Baby Back Ribs Are Done Cooking?

To know when your baby back ribs are done smoking, the internal temperature of your ribs must be at least 145°F. If you are like most people, you probably enjoy your ribs to be falling off the bone. For this to be the case, the internal temperature will be between 205°F and 210°F. You can also examine the appearance of the year ribs to see if the bone is permanently sticking out, and if the meat falls off the bone easily without any sticking to it. 

How much rub should I use?

Do you want to use as much dry rub as desired so that the outside of your rack of ribs is evenly coated all the way around. 

What temperature should I smoke baby back ribs at?

We would strongly encourage you to smoke baby back ribs at 225°F, but be sure to allow enough time for them to fully smoke. You may also smoke ribs at 250°F if you wish for them to be done faster. 

How long does it take to cook a rack of baby back ribs?

How long do you smoke ribs? At 225°F it will typically take between five and six hours for them to smoke, and at 250°F between four and five hours.

However, be sure to factor in the weather, and external temperature of your location as these will impact the amount of time it takes for your ribs to smoke. You will also want to consider how much meat is on your ribs, and how big your rack of ribs is. As each of these factors contributes to the amount of time it takes to smoke baby back ribs. 

How to slow smoke ribs?

Low smoking ribs are when you smoke them at a low temperature such as 225°F, and as a result, you get to enjoy approximately six hour ribs. Smoking your ribs low and slow allows them to cook slowly, and as a result, stay nice and moist. 

Smoked Baby Back Ribs cut open ribs

Easy Smoked Baby Back Ribs (The BEST Ribs!)

Smoking pork ribs are easy to make and taste fabulous. If you’re looking for the best fall of the bone smoked ribs, we would encourage you to give this delicious recipe a try! Perhaps we are partial, but you will be the judge of that. 

Did you try this recipe? Measure to leave us a comment below, a five-star review if you liked the recipe, and send us a picture by email, or take us on social media! We love to hear from you and find out how you liked this recipe. 

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