Introduction: BBQ Ribs Low and Slow on a Smoker

Picture of BBQ Ribs Low and Slow on a Smoker

I will show how to do Spareribs on a smoker, from removing the membrane, adding a rub, and how long to cook them.
What you will need:
A BBQ Water Smoker (or charcoal grill set up for indirect grilling)
A Rack of spareribs
Yellow Mustard
1 cup paprika
1 cup chili powder
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 cup garlic powder
3 TBL granulated sugar
1 tsp Black pepper
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 TBL molasses
Lighter Fluid
3 cinder blocks

Step 1: Removing the Membrane From Spareribs

Picture of Removing the Membrane From Spareribs

Please don't skip this step. Covering the bone side of the spareribs is a thin translucent membrane. Low and slow cooking can do a lot of things, tenderize tough meat, change cartilage into a lip smackin goodness, but there is nothing that can be done with the membrane covering the ribs except remove it. It also prevents flavors from being absorbed into the meat.
Start in the valley between the last 2 ribs. Take a small pointed tool such as an ice pick, or the tip of an instant read thermometer and insert it between the meat and the membrane. Work the two apart until you can get a finger in there. You should have a good piece loose at this point. Grab this with a dishtowel or paper towel which gives you abetter grip and pull. The membrane will come off. Most times only half comes off, and you'll have to go back and take the balance off. This takes a few minutes but is well worth the trouble.

Step 2:

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Following is the recipe I use for any pork I plan to BBQ, from pork sholders, butts, ribs, etc. Everyone has different likes and dislikes. If I can make a suggestion, if you are changeing the recipe, write down what you are do. That way when you hit on something you really like, you'll be able to duplicate it every time.
My spice rub for pork
My spice rub:
1 cup paprika
1 cup chili powder
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 cup garlic powder
3 TBL granulated sugar
1 tsp Black pepper
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 TBL molasses
Mix all the dry ingredients together and then add the molasses. Mix together with a fork, or in a mortar and pestal. It will still be a dry mix.

Step 3: Putting Spicerub on the Ribs

Picture of Putting Spicerub on the Ribs

Put a thin layer of yellow mustard on one side of the ribs and cover with a layer of spicerub. Flip over and do the same to the other side. These ribs came in the size shown and it made it easier to fit in a large freezer bag for overnight refrigeration so I would recommend cutting the rack in half if it is a whole rack. Place ribs in a freezer bag or wrap in cling wrap. Put into a bowl and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours. The salt and sugar will take a certain amount of moisture from the meat, mix with the rub and the bowl will keep your refrigerator clean. The next day when you take the ribs out of the refrigerator, the surface will be wet because the salt and sugar takes moisture from the ribs and this mixes with the spices.. Apply a coating of the spice rub before cooking.

Step 4: Set Up Your Smoker

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Fill the water pan in the smoker about 3/4 full. Put the top grate on.
Initially, I load my smoker up with 32 brickettes. To start the coals, I usually put 4 "matchlight" type brickettes in the bottom of each hole in the cynderblock with a paper fuse, fill the balance of the holes with regular charcoal and light them up. This week I didn't have any "Matchlight", so put 4 regular charcoals in the bottom and added a little lighter fluid to them and continued as normal. I like the assurance that the coals will light, but not the taste of fluid, so this lets me add a minimum of fluid.
Make sure you have water in the water pan. Because I don't have adjustment vents on my smoker, it helps keep the smoker at a low temperature.
You will have to add about 16 new brikettes (already white ashed) to the fire box every hour, so you need to start them about 15-20 minutes ahead of time. Every hour when you replenish the charcoal, check the water pan to see if you need to add more water.

Step 5: Temperature and Time for Spareribs

Picture of Temperature and Time for Spareribs

Keep the heat at about 220 degrees( F) to 225 degrees. For you lucky people out there with top and bottom vents on your smokers this control is pretty easy. After you load the charcoals in to the fire box, the bottom vent regulates how hot the coals will burn. A wide open bottom vent will make the smoker hot. Shut down the air to the coals and the smoker cools down.

Step 6: Put the Ribs Bone Side Down on Your Smoker

Picture of Put the Ribs Bone Side Down on Your Smoker

After you put your ribs bone side down on the smoker, i don't move them again. Put the cover on the smoker and let them go. They usually are done after 4 hours at 220-225 degrees. The way to tell if there done is the meat will pull back a little from the ends of the bones, and there will be a bit of give if you give one of the bones a twist. I know some people like them to "fall off the bone", but I think if they do you've gone too far.

Step 7: Serving the Ribs.

Picture of Serving the Ribs.

I don't like BBQ sauce very much, I think it's too sweet, but many of my friends do. I serve some warmed up sauce on the side for those that want it. To serve, I just take the rack off the grill and cut between the bone with a heavy knife of a cleaver and put them on a serving platter.


MAlky walky (author)2017-12-04

very tasty try with sausage

JohnM1329 (author)2017-05-26

My ribs always come out nicely smoked, but extremely DRY!!

Any suggestions?

PhilM82 (author)2016-08-12

Thank you

pvmvlad (author)2014-12-23


I wonder, is this smoker useful?

What you think?

souza777 (author)2013-07-01

Is there any suggestions on a replacement for the sugar ?

kuhldad (author)2013-04-18

Removing the membrane was a touch of genius! I've always preferred slow smoking my ribs but that little change made a big difference in getting the smokey flavor ALL the way through the meat!
Thanks for posting it.

cookin fool (author)2012-01-27

the rub is an awesome combination of ingredients. I will be trying it soon. I can already taste it.I agree with removing the membrane although some chefs are now leaving it on claiming it holds in moisture. To each their own right.

rein365 (author)2009-08-06

One good way for BBQ ribs is to wrap them in aluminum foil. Then let them cook about 45 - 60 minutes. For nicer look just 30 sec on high heat BBQ without foil. If you get to choose ribs, pick the ones with thinner bones. That means the animal was younger and meat is better.

rprough (author)rein3652010-10-20

If your gonna use the foil method, also known as the "crutch", add a cup of apple juice in the foil. This will mix with the fat and dry rub drippings making an awesome juice. Add some maple syrup and a little water to this juice and simmer and reduce to one third and use this to brush onto the ribs for the last 15 minutes or so of cooking. All I can say is awesome!

Mhbaben (author)rein3652009-08-06

In the winter when I can't get to my smoker I found a recipe from Americas Test Kitchen for doing ribs in an oven. I really can't call it BBQ, but it does help with the BBQ withdrawal pains.

froggi (author)2010-07-03

The yellow mustard you use in this step, is it English mustard or the stuff we call American burger mustard (much milder and sweeter it has to be said)

Mhbaben (author)froggi2010-07-14

It's burger mustard, or what I've heard referred to as baby poo mustard. The mustard actually cooks away and you don't taste it. The english mustard is what Chinese mustard (hot) is made from. I think this would not cook out and overpower the product. By the way if you want to make chinese mustard, take equal portions of the mustard and water and let it sit for 15 minutes (for maximum hot) and then add a bit of white vinegar to hold the mustard at that heat level.

DebbieP817 (author)2009-09-02

These RIBS taste great....I know for a fact he has cooked them for me before... Love Ya Michael

tonyc (author)2009-08-24

Great looking BBQ Ribs........................this is the winner.

Mhbaben (author)tonyc2009-08-25

I'm still hoping, but I seem to be slipping in the voting at this time

cigarsandscotch (author)2009-08-20

Wow, awesome

Mhbaben (author)cigarsandscotch2009-08-21

Thanks. If you like, please rate me

baxterdog (author)2009-08-14

To reinforce what the writer is saying; Put the meat bone side down. This applies to ribs or chicken. This allows the skin/fatty side to drip down.

Mhbaben (author)baxterdog2009-08-17

Ah, a kindred soul

baxterdog (author)2009-08-14

Most people forget this step! Do this and your guests will, unknowingly, be very appreciative you did!

removesstains (author)2009-08-11

Sweet, I made ribs last Friday on my modified ECB Smoker. I used way to much cumin in the rub recipe i used. this was my 1st time smoking ribs and i learned that cumin is gross and over powering. Never again. I'll try your rub recipe next time but leave out the chili powder and use crushed red pepper instead. I should do a how to on modifying the brinkmann smoker. Adding a vent on the lid is extremely easy. i did all my mods for around 20 bucks.

Mhbaben (author)removesstains2009-08-12

That's great. The top vent though pretty much controls how the smoke flows over the product cooking. Wide open you get a lot of smoke flowing. I was thinking of modifying mine with a bottom vent of some kind. That way I could put more coal on and have it last longer by burning slower. It would have to be something that surrounded the entire smoker and could be raised or lowered to adjust temp. Thanks for the praise.

Ricardo Furioso (author)2009-08-07

Where does the smoke come from?

Mhbaben (author)Ricardo Furioso2009-08-07

The smoke comes from the charcoal, which is only wood burned in the absence of oxygen. If you wanted, you could add hickory, mesquete of whatever by making foil packets of soaked woodchips (see my other instructable on Sliceable Picnic Ham)

branonls (author)2009-08-05

Looks pretty good.

Mhbaben (author)branonls2009-08-06

Then by all means, please rate me high. Don't know if you noticed but after so many years of service my smoker is on the way out. I sure could use that Weber Mountain cooker prize. Thanks

About This Instructable




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