Smoked Rib Recipe (The Trusty 3-2-1 Rib Method)

Smoked ribs are one of the foundations of BBQ. There is a lot of controversy over the right way to smoke ribs – this can depend where you are from, where you usually eat your ribs and how your family has cooked ribs in the past. 

My way to cook ribs is simple. I like my ribs to be tender, juicy and have a nice crispy bark. Here is my simple rib recipe. For this recipe I suggest using a light smoke, low temperature and a wood that is not too overpowering – we want the flavor of the ribs to shine through! 

3-2-1 Smoked Ribs Recipe

What is the 3 2 1 Rib Method for Ribs?

The 3 2 1 method of cooking ribs is one of the easiest recipes for cooking ribs. All you need to remember is:

  • Smoke the ribs for 3 hours.
  • Cook wrapped in liquid for 2 hours.
  • Smoke again unwrapped for a further 1 hour at a slightly higher temperature.

This simple rib recipe is my variation on the traditional 3 2 1 method, I use a slightly lower temperature and longer cooking time. Ten in the final step I use a slightly higher temperature to ensure I get a really crunchy bark!

321 Smoked Ribs Recipe

Charlies Top 6 Tips For Cooking Ribs

Use the best quality ribs you can: This is an important general cooking tip – not just for ribs. You should always work with the best quality you can afford at your local butcher.

Use a dry rub: I don’t like my ribs to be too overpowered with additional flavor, nevertheless, an important part of cooking ribs is the dry rub. Before cooking you should evenly coat your ribs in your choice of dry rub. Where-ever possible its a good idea to let the rub really wok its way into the meat by letting it marinade for a couple of hours in the refrigerator.

Remove the silver skin membrane: This is something that some people do religiously, and some people don’t care to much about. Personally I am all about removing the silverskin membrane. The membrane is tough and I think you get a much more enjoyable, tender bite without it.

Don’t use an overpowering wood: Pork ribs have a tonne of flavor and can be overpowered fairly easily from strong woods. If you enjoy that good for you, use the wood you prefer, however I would suggest using a lighter wood like apple, cherry, hickory or oak.

Cooking low and slow is key: It doesn’t matter if you are smoking, grilling or baking your ribs, cooking them low and slow is essential for the best result. Cooking between 200 – 250 degrees F is essential.

Wrap your ribs: I am a fan of cooking ribs using the 3 2 1 method and am a big preacher of wrapping your ribs. Always wrap your ribs in a tight parcel and you can never go wrong! 

How Do You Know When Ribs Are Cooked

Your ribs are cooked when they are cooked! With ribs its hard to give an exact time they should take to cook. This is due to the difference in the ribs and more importantly the differences in everyones smokers. We can not give you a specific time, however, there are a couple tricks of the trade you can use to check if your ribs are cooked.

Bending the ribs: This is my go to. Grab your rack of ribs in the middle with a set of tongs. You should see the ribs bend in an upside down ‘U’ shape and crack on the top in the middle. If the crack is only small and the upside down ‘U’ is more like a horizontal ‘I’ they are not cooked yet.

Twisting the ribs: The rib twist test is another go to for me. Again grab your rack of ribs in the middle with a set of tongs. However, this time you need to grab the end of one of the rib bones. Then twist the rib bone. If the bone start s to seperate from the meat you are ready!

Should Ribs Fall off The Bone?

Contrary to popular belief, smoked bbq ribs should not fall off the bone! If your ribs fall effortlessly away from the bone you have overcooked them. Perfectly cooked ribs should have a little bit of chew to them and require a little bit of teeth work to remove the meat from the bone.

Sides For Ribs

Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with sitting down to a big pile of ribs hot off the grill. However, my wife seems to think you always have to have sides. Which is fair enough. Here are some great side dish ideas for bbq ribs.

A classic potato salad
Mac and cheese
Southern collard greens
Spicy corn salad

Desserts For BBQ 3 2 1 Ribs?

Well I am glad you asked! I love nothing more than planning a cookout with friends and family. That means spending a few days working on my menu plan! I always like to include a few deserts (not just for the kids of course) here are a few of my favorite recipes!

Reese Ice Cream Cake
Grilled Pears With Cinnamon Drizzle
Banana Fosters S’mores
Grilled Pineapple Skewers with Coconut Caramel Sauce
Peanut Butter S’mores Cookie Cups

321 smoked ribs in electric smoker

Charlies 3 2 1 Ribs Recipe

Smoked Ribs Recipe

This is a basic recipe for smoked pork ribs. This Recipe focuses heavily on the flavor of the ribs for the majority of the flavor. Please feel free to add more or less to the rib rub, or instead of the beer/cider bath use your own concoction of stock or juice mix.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time6 hrs 30 mins
Resting Time10 mins
Total Time6 hrs 55 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Barbecue
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 351kcal
Author: Charlie
Cost: $25

Ingredients

  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 Rack of Ribs
  • 1 Beer or Cider (stock or juice will also work)
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce

Instructions

  • Preheat your smoker to 200F° – 225°F as per the manufacturers instructions. For ribs I recommend using wood such as apple, cherry, hickory, or oak so it doesn't overpower the natural rib flavor too much.
  • Prepare your rib rub: mix together the ground black pepper, brown sugar, kosher salt, granulated garlic, dried thyme and paprika.
  • (optional but recommended) Remove the membrane at the back of the rack. Cut each rack down the middle, creating two smaller racks.
  • Evenly, season the racks with your homemade rub on both sides.
  • Place your ribs in the smoker and smoke at 200F° – 225°F for around 3 hours.
  • Remove ribs and place on foil flesh side down (you will need enough foil to be able to wrap each rack of ribs up in a parcel).
  • Start wrapping your ribs and make a little pool so you can cover the ribs with liquid. Cover the ribs with your favorite beer, cider or preferred liquid. Finish wrapping and make sure the parcel is closed tight and leak-free.
  • Return to the smoker and continue to smoke at 200F° – 225°F for a further 2 and a half hours.
  • Open your parcels and baste ribs with any leftover cooking juices and leave in the smoker uncovered for 15 – 20 minutes to harden. Increase your smoker temperature to 250°F.
  • Repeat the above step, however, this time paint your ribs to taste / preference with your favorite BBQ sauce. repeat this step 2 times or until you have achieved a crunchy bark to your preference.
  • Remove the ribs from the smoker and let rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing, serving or eating! Serve with additional BBQ sauce!

Video

So there you have it, my smoked pork ribs. One of my favorite recipes. It doesn’t matter if you have an electric smoker, pellet smoker, charcoal smoker or gas smoker you can make tasty ribs in all these smokers.

It also doesn’t matter what ribs you cook with. Obviously each different type of rib has its own pros and cons and flavor profiles. Beef ribs, pork ribs, or even a lamb rack of ribs.

What is your favorite? My favorite racks baby back ribs! you can’t beat baby backs, baby!

Happy smoking ribs everyone,

Charlie

321 smoked rib bones

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2 thoughts on “Smoked Rib Recipe (The Trusty 3-2-1 Rib Method)”

  1. Sharon Turcotte

    Hi Charlie! Going to try this out for our first attempt at smoked ribs. Using an electric smoker, I know during step 2 the ribs will get a drink in the foil – do you recommend putting liquid in the liquid tray of an electric smoker as well? Thanks!!

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