Have you been looking for a way to make perfectly smoked ribs? Say hello to the tried and true 3-2-1 ribs method!
I was skeptical at first, but after making these tender 321 ribs with a slight moderation, I'm a believer! These ribs are always tender and juicy, and they're so easy to make.
Whether you're a grillmaster or a beginner, you'll be able to make these delicious ribs with ease. So fire up the grill and get ready for some perfectly smoked pork ribs!
Beats and Eats (music to smoke ribs to)
Ribs cooked this way are a 6 hour affair. For me that's plenty of time to chill in my chair outside, sip on some bourbon, and figure whatever I'm focused on at that time. Sometimes that's nothing which is even more piece of mind.
Tela is in the background. Though he's a rapper, there is a real blues vibe with his music and we all know blue smoke and blues are a perfect combination.
Ingredients Needed To Make Smoked Ribs the 3-2-1 Way
For the Ribs
- 1 full rack of pork spare ribs
- 1 cup bbq sauce
For The Rib Rub
- 1 teaspoon Black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ Allspice
- 1 teaspoon Paprika
How To Smoke Ribs 3-2-1 Style (step by step)
Season the spare ribs generously on both sides with the bbq rub. Marinate at least 30 minutes but preferably overnight.
Pre-heat smoker for indirect grilling at 225 - 250 degrees F
Place the seasoned ribs on the grill grate bone ribs down and smoke for 3 hours undisturbed.
Remove the rack from the smoker and wrap the ribs tightly in butcher paper. Return wrapped ribs to the smoker and cook for another 2 hours.
Remove the wrapped ribs and discard the butcher paper. Brush a layer of bbq sauce onto the top of the ribs and smoke for 1 hour. Baste with the sauce as needed as you go.
Remove and place ribs on a wire rack lined rimmed baking sheet for cooling. Serve as is or with more bbq sauce. Marvel at the beautiful pink smoke ring you've created!
Smoking Ribs Tips and Considerations
St. Louis Cut pork spare ribs are the perfect type of ribs for this recipe because they are well-marbled and have a good amount of fat. This fat renders down during the cooking process and bastes the meat, keeping it moist and flavorful.
If you can't find St. Louis Cut pork spare ribs, you can substitute with baby back ribs. However, keep in mind that other types of pork ribs may not have as much fat and may not be as moist and flavorful.
You could also use a different BBQ sauce, but I would recommend sticking with a pineapple-based barbecue sauce for the best flavor. However, if you have a favorite bbq sauce, then by all means use it.
Feel free to remove the thin layer of skin on the bone side of the ribs. I don't always do it as I don't find it makes a big material difference. To remove it use a butter knife to pull the skin away from the bone, then use a paper towel to grip the skin and slowly pull away from the ribs.
Season the rack of ribs generously with the rib rub for the best flavor. Garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, brown sugar etc. are good adds to the rib rub.
Marinate the pork ribs for at least 30 minutes, but longer is better. The dry rub will both add flavor and tenderize the ribs.
When cooking the ribs, be sure to cook them low and slow for the best results. Maintaining steady temperature will be critical. I try to stay around 225 degrees and definitely no higher than 250 degrees F.
For extra moisture spray your ribs with apple juice or apple cider vinegar.
Most recipes for 3-2-1 ribs call for ribs wrapped in foil at the second step. I prefer using butcher paper instead of aluminum foil.
I used a homemade pineapple bbq sauce for this version, but feel free to use your own favorite sauce.
Let the smoked pork ribs rest a few minutes after cooking. Do not skip this step!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) For Making 3-2-1 Ribs
Do You Recommend Using Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil During the Wrap Step?
Most recipes for 3-2-1 ribs call for wrapping the ribs in heavy duty aluminum foil. The reason is this method of wrapping creates a steaming effect that guarantees "fall off the bone" tender ribs. This is where I modify things as I'm not a fan of the term or actual texture.
Fall off the bone is often a sign that the ribs are overcooked. I prefer super tender, but with some texture. The rib meat should pull away easy on the bite/chew but not fall off. I find that replacing foil with butcher paper is optimal. You still get really tender ribs while also maintaining more smoke flavor.
Note competition-style ribs don't allow wrapping ribs in competition.
Does the 3-2-1 Rib Method Work For Baby Back Ribs?
Yes the recipe works for both style of ribs including baby back ribs. The time may differ give a take a few minutes, but on the whole, everything holds. As a side note I've also use the method to smoke beef back ribs as well.
What type of Wood Do You Use To Smoke Ribs?
I prefer fruit woods like apple or cherry wood. I use the bigger chunks over wood chips since you don't have to worry too much about adding wood as you go. Hardwoods like pecan and oak are also really good with smoked pork ribs.
What Temperature Do You Cook 3-2-1 ribs at?
The 3-2-1 approach is based on cooking low and slow so temperatures between 225-250 degrees F.
Do I Need To flip These Ribs During Cooking?
No you can cook ribs bone side down for the entire cook time.
What Kind Of Smoker Do You Use?
I have both the Kamado Joe Ceramic style smoker and a Traeger Pellet smoker that I use and both have been successful smoking pork ribs. 3 2 1 Traeger ribs won't have as much smoky flavor as smoking ribs on Kamado Joe but they will still be really good.
The Kamado is my 321 ribs smoker of choice. Most smokers will work, including the popular Weber smokey mountain, as long as you can cook indirectly and maintain heat levels.
For other ribs recipes try these:
If you’re in the mood for some finger-licking ribs, look no further. This tender and juicy 3-2-1 smoked ribs recipe is perfect for a weekend barbecue. All you need is a smoker or grill, some wood chips, barbecue sauce, and your favorite rub. We hope you enjoy!
If you make these tender smoked ribs please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.
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For the Ribs
- 1 full rack of pork spare ribs
- 1 cup bbq sauce
For the rib rub
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- Season the spare ribs generously on both sides with the spice rub. Marinate at least 30 minutes but preferably overnight.
- Pre-heat smoker for indirect grilling at 225 - 250 degrees F
- Place ribs on the grill grate bone-side down and smoke for 3 hours undisturbed.
- Remove the ribs from the smoker and wrap tightly in butcher paper. Return wrapped ribs to the smoker and cook for another 2 hours.
- Remove the ribs and discard the butcher paper. Brush a layer of sauce onto the top of the ribs and smoke for 1 hour. Baste with the sauce as needed as you go
- Remove the ribs and allow to rest for about 5 minutes. Slice the ribs and serve!