10 months ago

Cooking Without Foil & The ‘Texas Crutch’ Method (Updated Nov. 2018)

The Texas Crutch Smoked Ribs

When cooking a BBQ there are two different types of people. Those who choose to wrap their precious meat in foil, and those who leave their meat unwrapped.

Wrapping your meat is also known as the Texas Crutch. The name is believed to have been created in Texas because competition BBQ pit masters used this style of cooking.

There are people who feel very passionately about their chosen method. However, each different method has its own time and place to be used. ​

To become a better barbecue master it is best to understand both techniques and know exactly when to use each. 

The Texas Crutch's Frequently Answered Questions

I get so many questions about the Texas Crutch! So I have we decided to put together a FAQ for yall.

​Hopefully this ​FAQs should and ​answers most of  your questions. It will also help you see all of the perks to cooking your meat both unwrapped and unwrapped. If I have missed something let me know and I will try and answer your questions!

Why Should I Use The Texas Crutch?

In general, there are three main reasons why you should use the Texas crutch:

  • To stop the meat from absorbing too much smoke - this can make the meat bitter.
  • To create a nice moist condition for your meat, this generally produces a more tender & juicy piece of meat.
  • Significantly cuts down the risk of the stall.
  • To stop the meat from absorbing too much smoke - this can make the meat bitter.
  • To create a nice moist condition for your meat, this generally produces a more tender & juicy piece of meat.
  • Significantly cuts down the risk of the stall.

Will The Texas Crutch Enhance The Flavor?

To answer this question we need to understand how the meat absorbs the smoke.

To understand how much smoke your meat should be absorbing we need to first understand that a piece of meat will only absorb smoke flavour until the internal temperature hits around 145 degrees internally.

When not using the Texas crutch method it is important to pay attention to the internal temperature of your meat and exactly how much smoke is being absorbed into it.

You will know when your meat has absorbed to much smoke because it will get that dreaded ‘lighter fluid’ taste.

How To Overcome This?
One way to overcome this problem is to closely monitor the internal temperature of your meat. When the internal temperature hits 145 degrees stop adding wood to the fire.

At this stage of cooking, you want to create a clean burning fire so no more smoke is produced, only heat. This will continue to cook the meat the whole way through without adding more unwanted smoke to the meat.

So, Does the Texas Crutch Enhance The Flavor?
If you have your meat wrapped you are able to control the amount of smoke that is penetrating the meat.

​Charlies Smoking Hot Tip

​I find gas smoker temperatures easier to control. ​Not only that the manual the Camp Chef Smoke Vault 24​ came with has extensive information on ​how to avoid the stall and how to really using the Texas Crutch to get that juicy tender meat

Will The Meat Be More Moist Unwrapped?

Two ways you can replace the moisture lost when cooking:

"Mopping or basting your meat throughout the cooking process. This helps keep a layer of moisture on the outside of your meat so it doesn't dry."

"Injecting liquid into your meat.throughout the cooking process. Injecting is a great way to keep the center of the meat moist."

Moisture is an essential part of BBQ. Even if you have ​of the best gas smoker​, without moisture, you are stuck with a dry, tough piece of meat and let's face it no one wants to eat that.

Wrapped: 
When cooking wrapped, the moisture from the meat is trapped, creating a perfect environment for a tender & juicy piece of meat. When you cooking unwrapped you are in a constant battle to keep your meat moist. 

Unwrapped: 
During the cooking process your meat is trying to push out all the internal moisture, so if you are cooking unwrapped you need to replace the moisture one way or another to stay away from dry, tough meat.

When you are not wrapping it is quite important not to trim too much fat off your meat. Leaving a thicker layer of fat on your meat will act as a natural wrap and will help your meat stay moist throughout the cook.

Charlie's Hot Tip

If injecting meat make sure you inject after your meat is 180 degrees internally, this will ensure the outer layers of the meat are cooked and less juice will escape.

Will Cooking With The Texas Crutch Stop The Stall?

The last thing you want when you are mid BBQ is to find that the temperature of your meat is not going anywhere. It can turn even the best of us into hangry animals.

This phenomenon is often referred to as ‘the stall’. The stall often occurs around 170 degrees, and if you are not wrapped there are two ways out of this.

The first is to give your meat more cooking time. 

The second is to crank up the temperature of your grill. However, in doing this you risk drying out your meat. It is highly recommended that you only do this if you are injecting your meat.

Will I Get A Better Color & Appearance in My Meat?

There is nothing better than opening your grill and seeing a glorious charred piece of meat. This is one big advantage to not wrapping your meat.

When you don’t wrap your meat you are going to get a better bark on the outer of your meat. When you wrap or use the ‘Texas Crutch’ often the outer layer of the meat will be soft and mushy, not ideal. You want to have a nice crunchy dark outer, but not too dark. That will just taste burnt.

Charlie's Hot Tip

​I have two tricks to getting a good bark.

​First; ​Cook the piece of meat unwrapped until you are happy with the colour and texture of the outer layers. ​

Second;  My neighbor has a smoke hollow 44241G2, ​the heat temperatures it holds over long period always gives him crispy delicious bark!


When you are happy that you have found your almost perfect outer, throw over a piece of tinfoil. This is not wrapping, it is only shielding, shielding from your meat becoming to burnt. 


When the meat is almost ready, take the shield off and let the outer crispen up to perfection, this ensures a perfect bark and no burnt taste.

How Long Do Ribs Takes to Grill?

So, how long do you grill ribs?

I can not give you 'one time fits all answer' to this question. This is because each different type of rib takes a different time to cook. Lets look a little closer into the different cuts of ribs listed below  and how long it takes to grill each rib,

How Long to Grill Spare Ribs
Baby Back
Short Ribs
Back Ribs


You might notice that each cooking method is basically the same, it all comes down to several elements. The indirect grilling method and how much time they are on the grill for. If you leave them too long they will end up being dry, tough and in some cases burnt.

Once you wrap the ribs in foil it can be a great flavour enhancer to add some of your favorite stock, beef, cider or other liquid that you may have. This also helps keen them moist and juicy.

How to Wrap Ribs in Foil?

​Wrap your ribs in heavy-duty aluminum foil, double wrap each half rack in its own packet. Make sure you position the meat side down.

How Long to Grill Spare Ribs?

Spare ribs come form the same magical place that bacon comes from. Spare ribs are large ribs and take longer, and can be a little more tricky to cook than others.

With that being said, they also have more meat and a higher fat content than other ribs. This makes them more tender and flavorsome.

​As with most ribs, these are two main ways you can cook em. The slow way, and the fast way.

Cooking Spare Ribs The Sloooow Way:


Cooking spare ribs the slow way takes between 4 and 5 hours.


  • ​Following your grills manufacturers instructions set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to 225°F.
  • ​Place your spare ribs on the grill bone side down and grill at 225°F for 3 hours.
  • ​Wrap your spare ribs in foil and continue to grill bone side up for a further 45 - 60 minutes.
  • angle-right
    Unwrap and place on the grill bone side down and grill for a further 30 minutes.Once 30 minutes is up, smother your spare ribs in your favourite BBQ sauce and move to the hottest part of your grill. You want to grill your spare ribs until the sauce has got a nice crispy coating on the outside.
  • angle-right
    Be careful not to burn them though. You should not need to grill for more than 12 - 18 minutes.

​Cooking Spare Ribs The Fast Way



Cooking spare ribs the fast way takes between 2 and 3 hours. 

  • ​Following your grills manufacturers instructions set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to 350°F.
  • ​Cook your ribs for around 2 hours rotating once.
  • ​Once you reach the 2 hour mark smother your spare ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce and grill for a further 15 - 20 minutes or until your spare ribs are tender to the touch. You want the meat to fall off the bone easily and the meat to still be nice and juicy.

How Long to Baby Back Ribs?

Contrary to popular belief (including my kids) baby back ribs do not come from baby pigs.

They actually come from the pigs upper rib cage near the spine. This is also known as the loin section.

Baby back ribs are much more tender than the bigger spare ribs, this is because they come from a part of the pig that doesn't do much work. This means that they are cooked in far less time and don't take as much to flavour them.

Cooking Baby Back Ribs The Slow Way


  1. Following your grills manufacturers instructions set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to 225°F.
  2. Cook your baby back ribs for around 2 hours bone side down.
  3. Wrap your baby back ribs in foil and continue to grill bone side up for a further 20 - 30 minutes. 
  4. Unwrap and place on the grill bone side down and grill for a further 20 minutes.
  5. Once 20 minutes is up, smother your baby back ribs in your favourite BBQ sauce and move to the hottest part of your grill. You want to grill your spare ribs until the sauce has got a nice crispy coating on the outside. Be careful not to burn them though. You should not need to grill for more than 10 - 15 minutes.

Cooking Baby Back Ribs The Fast Way



Cooking baby back ribs the fast way takes between 1 and 1 1/2 hours.

  1. Following your grills manufacturers instructions set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to 350°F.
  2. Cook your ribs for around 1 hour rotating once.
  3. Once you reach the 1 hour mark smother your baby back ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce and grill for a further 15 - 20 minutes or until your baby back ribs are tender to the touch. You want the meat to fall off the bone easily and the meat to still be nice and juicy. 


How Long to Grill Beef Short Ribs

Beef short ribs are my personal favorite. Why you ask? Its because with beef short ribs you get more bang for you buck.

 Essentially you get more meat for the same amount of cooking time and effort. Not to mention they have a way of being much more tender than the others.

Unlike spare or baby back ribs, you can also choose what doneness level you want them. Which means finally, we can eat a rib that is rare!

When it comes to cooking these beauties there is no slow or  fast way. At the end of the day it all comes down to how thick your beef short ribs are.

Cooking Beef Short Ribs Medium Rare


To be honest this is the only way I think beef short ribs should be cooked. In my opinion you can never get the true flavour and texture potential of meat cooked any more than this. However that rant is for another time.

Following your grills manufacturing instructions set up your grill for indirect grilling and pre heat to 225°F.

  1. Following your grills manufacturing instructions set up your grill for indirect grilling and pre heat to 225°F.
  2. Now it all comes down to how thick your meat is. You want to follow the below cooking times for each thickness.

Note: I like to smother my ribs in sauce for the last 20 minutes of cooking. This allows the sauce to start to develop a nice crust. This is optional though.

​​Charlie's ​Hot ​Recipe

​I know he isn't a bigger griller but I love what​ Gordan Ramsey has done with these beef short ribs in this recipe

Cooking Beef Short Ribs Well Done


Even though I think it is a crime to eat short ribs well done, I will advise you on how you should cook them. Please try medium rare first though! 

  1. Following your grills manufacturing instructions set up your grill for indirect grilling and pre heat to 225°F.
  2. Again, it all comes down to how thick your meat is. You want to follow the below cooking times for each thickness.

Charlie's Rib Cooking Times

1 inch Thick: Grill for 3 hours, turning once. You are looking for an internal temperature of 180°F.
1 1/2 Inch Thick: Grill for 1 1/2 hours turning once. You are looking for an internal temperature of 180°F.
2 Inch Thick: Grill for 4 hours turning once. You are looking for an internal temperature of 180°F.
3 Inch Thick: Grill for 4 hours turning once. You are looking for an internal temperature of 180°F.

How Long to Grill Beef ​Back Ribs?

The beef back ribs are a cut that I typically like to stay away from. This is because they are form a tougher part of the animal.

This means that you have to cook them to well done to get them really tender, not a huge issue but I like my meat to b rare or medium rare at best.

Together with a nice BBQ or hot sauce these ribs are still a crowd pleaser. I like to get a nice char on the sauce before serving, this helps lock in as much moisture as possible.

Cooking Beef Back Ribs The ​Slow Way: 


Cooking beef back ribs the ​slow way takes between 2 and 3  hours. 


  1. ​Cook your beef back ribs for around 1 to 1 1/2 hours bone side down.
  2. Wrap your beef back ribs in foil and continue to grill bone side up for a further 50 to 70 minutes. 
  3. Unwrap and place on the grill bone side down and grill for a further 30 to 40 minutes.
  4. After 30 to 40 minutes mother your beef back ribs in your favourite BBQ sauce and move to the hottest part of your grill. You want to grill your spare ribs until the sauce has got a nice crispy coating on the outside. Be careful not to burn them though. You should not need to grill for more than 10 - 15 minutes.

Cooking Beef Back Ribs The Fast Way


Cooking beef back ribs the fast way takes between 1 and 1 1/2 hours. 


  1. Following your grills manufacturers instructions set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to 350°F.
  2. Cook your beef back ribs for around 1 hour rotating once.
  3. Once you reach the 1 hour mark smother your beef back ribs with your favourite BBQ sauce and grill for a further 15 - 20 minutes or until your beef back ribs are tender to the touch. You want the meat to fall off the bone easily and the meat to still be nice and juicy. 

My Favorite Smoked Ribs Recipe

Over the years I've been asked how to cook ribs on the gas smoker, Well folks here is what I like to call the best foil-wrapped ribs around!

Another common request is our smoked turkey, we find not only our family and friends are requesting but so are you guys!

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The Texas Crutch Smoked Ribs

The Texas Crutch Smoked Ribs Recipe

Over the years I've been asked how to cook ribs on the gas smoker, Well folks here is what I like to call the best foil-wrapped ribs around! Another common request is our smoked turkey, we find not only our family and friends are requesting but so are you guys!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Barbecue
Keyword Ribs, Smoked Ribs
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Resting Time 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 2
Author Charlie

Ingredients

  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • Rack of Ribs
  • Method

Instructions

  1. Preheat your grill to 350°- 450°F.
  2. The best rubs are always when you make your own rub. To make my favourite rub, mix together the ground black pepper, kosher salt, granulated garlic, dried thyme and paprika.

  3. Remove any membrane at the back of the rack. Cut each in the middle, creating two smaller racks.
  4. Evenly, season the rack with your homemade rub. Wrap each rack individually using heavy duty foil. Making sure you seal tightly.
  5. Place your ribs on the preheated grill, oh a medium heat. Cook for 1 hour with the lid closed. Turn occasionally so you get an even cook.Tip: Do not to pierce the foil.
  6. After 1 hour take the ribs off the grill and let rest for 1 hour. Open each packet and remove the ribs, discard any cooking juices.Tip: Use caution and watch out for steam when opening packets.
  7. Add your favourite wood chips to the burning coals or to the smoker box. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions. Once you get a good smoke place the ribs on the grill, bone side down.
  8. Grill with the lid closed for about 10 - 12 minutes, make sure to turn and baste a couple of times. Once they are lightly charred take off the grill and rest for 5 minutes. Cut and serve with lots of sauce!

Final Thoughts

Unless you are in competition BBQ I would always go with the Texas Crutch method.

I love the nice moist meat that is produced from cooking this way. If you see my hot tip above, I usually follow that method. That way I also get a nice bark on the meat.

If your looking for some more great rib recipes I follow many other top notch BBQers. So if want to see where I get my inspiration, have a look at favorite BBQ bloggers.

Do you use the Texas Crutch method?

Happy Smoking

5 (100%) 9 votes

Charlie

You will more often than not find me tinkering around in my backyard. I will have one hand tightly gripped around a can of beer and the other hand tightly gripped around my spatula. Not so long ago (almost 8 years now) I got obsessed with Grilling, smoking and BBQ-ing. I can't get enough of it.. and neither can my family!

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