Campfire BBQ Ribs

Introduction: Campfire BBQ Ribs

About: Photography teacher, woodworker, and general repair man

Are you tired of eating hotdogs on your camping trips? Learn how to make fall off the bone ribs with this simple recipe! Sit back, enjoy a few beers with friends and let the kids eat their hotdogs while you enjoy these great ribs after a day of hiking!

What you'll need:

  • 2 lbs of hickory chips
  • 3 racks of spare ribs
  • 64 oz ketchup
  • 16 oz water
  • 1.5 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1.5 tsp black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp ground mustard
  • 2 lemons (squeezed)
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp pork seasoning rub
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 or more cloves of garlic (depending on your tastes)
  • 1/2 cup water or flavorful beer (preferably)
  • 16" dutch oven
  • 12" cast iron skillet
  • patience!

    Serves 3-6 adults (depending on how much hiking you did that day)

Step 1: Prepare Your Wood

Put your wood chips and chunks in a foil envelope. Then, put the envelope in your cast iron skillet and place over an open and hot fire, let it heat for 30-60 minutes (the longer, the better). Use this time to gather and prep the ingredients for your sauce.

If you place the foil directly on the fire, the foil will melt and your chips will light on fire. This isn't a terrible thing as it speeds up the charring process but you may end up with a wood fire if you aren't careful.

Step 2: Start Your Meat

Transfer your chips to your dutch oven. Keep the bottom layer of foil if it still exists. Add half a cup of water or a flavorful beer to the wood chips. Layer in your three racks of ribs. Split them in half if need be. Be sure that the temperature inside the oven does not reach much above 220 F degrees. Let that cook for 2-3 hours.

While the meat starts cooking, get to work on your sauce.

Step 3: Sauce

Start by adding your two cups of water, then your ketchup. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients except for the brown sugar (vinegar, mustard, pepper, red pepper flakes, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, pork rub, and garlic).

Render this mixture down for about an hour or until you have room to add the brown sugar. Stir regularly or constantly to prevent burning.

Then, when there is room, add your sugar. Making your sauce in this manner keeps the sugar, which burns easily, out of harms way for a longer period.

Expect to render for around two hours.

When the sauce is ready, add half of it to the meat. Spread it liberally across all the ribs.

Step 4: Continue Cooking. Then, Enjoy!

Continue cooking the ribs for another 2-3 hours. It usually takes around five hours to complete but this isn't a recipe to rush. The slower the better. Someone once told me, "BBQ is done when it's done, never before." Ribs are done when the internal temperature reaches around 180 F. If they start breaking apart when you try to lift them with tongs, they are usually done.


(We made these while on a camping trip with our cub scout troop. You can help support them if you buy boy scout popcorn online)

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    3 years ago

    I've worked a bbq pit for a bbq shack & caterer, and I really enjoyed your smoking hack here.

    My personal observation is known to many, but here it is: If it ain't smoked, it ain't bbq.

    Keep on exploring and posting instructables. Woo Hoo!



    3 years ago

    if they break apart when you pick them up, they are over cooked. Slow and low is for smoking and BBQ. Not boiling the ever living snot out of them.


    Reply 3 years ago

    I completely agree which is why I said "start breaking" as in cracking and said not to rush them. Nobody wants boiled ribs.

    DIY Hacks and How Tos

    Looks good. I hope you will share more recipes with the community.