With fall upon us and football season a few weeks in, it’s time to light up our grills & smokers! For me, nothing is better than letting some BBQ meats smoke on the smoker low and slow while football is on all day. If you’re not a fan of football, the fall is still a great time for some BBQ. That’s exactly why I needed to share this extremely simple BBQ smoked ribs recipe with you guys. Seasoned with our signature Open Fire BBQ Rub, these ribs are going to blow your mind.
What’s the cooking method?
For anyone that’s an experienced BBQ smoker, you’ll know that there are many different methods to smoke ribs. The 3-2-1 method, hanging ribs, and wrapping in foil are a few of the popular methods that I will be sharing recipes for in the future. But this recipe HAS to be the easiest method of all. I’ll go into more detail in this post but the summary of this recipe is as follows:
- Season the ribs the night before you’re going to smoke them
- Refrigerate until you’re ready to cook them
- Smoke until they are done
Do you see how simple that is? Now that you know what to expect, let’s go into more detail.
How do we season the ribs?
I highly recommend seasoning your ribs the night before you plan on smoking them. I’ve found that there are a few benefits to doing this (this is true with other BBQ meats as well):
- The seasonings will “stick” to the ribs much better
- The ribs will have a much better bark
- Juicier ribs – similar to when we dry brine steaks
- Bonus: your ribs are seasoned ahead of time and you won’t need to worry about doing it when you’re ready to cook
These benefits alone make this worth it. If the ribs still have the membrane on it, remove it. This is a thin layer of white tissue on the bone side. The easiest way to remove it is to slide a blunt knife underneath it on one of the edge bones. Once it’s started, grab it with a dry paper towel and rip it off. After that, all that you need to do is put a light layer of mustard or oil (to help as a binder) all over your ribs and then generously season with our Open Fire BBQ Rub. I make sure to hit every inch of the ribs with our rub. I’ll then put the ribs on a rack with a tray under it and refrigerate. That’s it – you’re done until you’re going to smoke them!
Let’s smoke them!
Now that our ribs got a good night’s rest in the refrigerator, it’s time to fire up our smoker! I like to smoke my ribs at 275ºF but you could definitely do any temperature in the 225ºF to 275ºF range. Once your smoker’s temperature has stabilized, add some smoking wood of your choice (ex: cherry, pecan, hickory, apple, etc). Then add the ribs (bone side down) and let the smoker do it’s job!
To spritz or not to spritz? That is the question.
This next part of the recipe is optional. After about 1.5 to 2 hours into the cook, I’ll spritz the ribs with some apple cider vinegar and continue to do so every 45 to 60 minutes after that. I’ll hit every inch of the visible side of the ribs until it looks moist. Do you absolutely need to spritz the ribs? Nope, but I like to. I’ve noticed my ribs (and again, other BBQ meats as well) will be even more moist and flavorful when I spritz them. If you choose not to spritz them, your ribs will certainly come out well – just know that I do recommend it. You also don’t need to spritz with apple cider vinegar. Some other options include:
- Apple juice
- Grape juice
- Pineapple juice
You can definitely be creative with this! Feel free to use any types of flavors that you like. It will definitely come out great.
How do we know when they are done?
There’s a couple of things I like to do to know when my ribs are done. The first is I will check the internal temperature of the meat. It should be in the 190ºF to 205ºF range – this is typically around the 4 hour mark. The second thing that I like to do is something called the “bend test”. Grab the center of the rack of ribs with tongs and pick it up. If the rack is firm and straight, the ribs need more time. If the rack bends on the outer ends (kind of making an upside down U), then your ribs are ready. What I will typically do is once my ribs are in the 190ºF range and close to passing the “bend test”, I’ll glaze them with either a honey/butter mixture or some BBQ sauce. I’ll then let them smoke for another 15-30 minutes to let that glaze “set” and then boom – we are ready to eat!
Once the ribs are off the smoker, I like to give them a 5 minute rest and then slice them up. The easiest way to slice them is to put them on a cutting board bone side up. You can clearly see where to cut them this way. Slice them and enjoy. The ribs with this cooking method should have tender meat that does not fall off the bone. If you prefer meat that falls off the bone with ribs, then the 3-2-1 method (recipe coming in the future) is better for you. Many BBQ experts will say that rib meat should never fall off the bone (it means they are overcooked) but I say it’s a personal preference. Either way, I think we can all agree that this recipe is super easy and delicious! Invite your friends over this weekend for some football (or whatever fall activities you enjoy) and give it a try. They’re going to be impressed and want to come over every weekend. Trust me.
BBQ Smoked Ribs
- 1 Rack Pork Ribs St. Louis Style or Baby Back
- Mustard or Oil to use as a binder
- Open Fire BBQ Rub enough to generously season ribs
- Apple Cider Vinegar optional
- 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter melted
- 2 tbsp Honey
- Prep the ribs the night before you are going to smoke them. If there is a membrane on the bone side of the ribs, remove it. Add a thin layer of mustard or oil to the bone side of the ribs and generously season with Open Fire BBQ Rub. Repeat on the meat side. Put the ribs on a rack over a tray (so that air can flow through on both sides) and put in the refrigerator.
- When it is time to cook the ribs, light the smoker and stabilize the temperature around 275ºF. Add some smoking wood of your choice and place the ribs bone side down.
- Smoke for about 1.5-2 hours and then spritz (optional but recommended) with apple cider vinegar. Make sure to spritz every inch of the ribs so that they look moist. Continue to spritz every 45-60 minutes after the first spritz.
- At the 3-4 hour mark, start checking the internal temperature of the ribs. Once they are around 190ºF, perform the "bend test". If it appears the ribs are close to being done, combine the melted butter and honey and glaze the ribs. Let the ribs smoke another 15-30 minutes so that the glaze "sets".
- Once the ribs are done, remove from the smoker and let rest for 5 minutes. Turn the ribs bone side up and slice. Serve immediately and enjoy.