One of the most common questions I get from other homemakers and food enthusiasts is how to cook ribs that are soft, moist, and delicious. While using the correct dry rub and wood are important, you should also master how much time it takes to smoke ribs properly.
Undercooking ribs will result to a tough, chewy rack of meat that doesn’t melt in your mouth. Overcooked ribs, on the other hand, may become mushy and a bit disgusting to eat.
Knowing the right cooking time is essential to producing tasty and mouthwatering smoked ribs. If you’re asking how long does it take to smoke ribs, then this article may just help you out. I will share two popular methods of smoking ribs, with instructions on how long the racks need to stay in the smoker and the oven.
The Standard Smoking Method
This method requires 5 to 6 hours just to smoke the ribs, and at least 12 more hours to marinade the meat. While this may be sound like the longer and more tedious method, I still prefer doing it this way because it allows the flavors to really sink into my ribs and make them more delicious.
Step 1: Preparing the ribs
Remove the membrane from your rack of ribs and apply a thin coating of mustard, olive oil, or Worcestershire sauce on all sides. Apply a generous amount of dry rub all over until everything is covered completely.
Like Spices, Inc., I also recommend that you wrap your ribs in foil or plastic wrap and keep them in the refrigerator overnight.
Step 2: Smoking the ribs
Remove the rack of ribs from the fridge the next day and let them sit at room temperature for 1 hour. In the meantime, preheat your smoker to 225oF and add your choice of wood. I like using hickory but you can also use mesquite if you want a stronger flavor or apple if you want a sweeter one.
Place your ribs on the smoker and cook them for 5 to 6 hours via indirect heating. To know if your ribs are almost ready, check them at the 5-hour mark. The internal temperature of the rack’s thickest part should be between 160 to 170oF.
Step 3: Wrapping the ribs in foil
Once you reach this temperature, apply BBQ sauce on the ribs and wrap them in aluminum foil. Smoke them for another 30 minutes. Remove the ribs from the smoker, unwrap the foil, and let the ribs rest for another 30 minutes.
The 3-2-1 Method
The 3-2-1 Method is another way of smoking ribs that many BBQ enthusiasts follow. Taking its cue from its name, you need to split the cooking time to three parts: 3 hours for smoking, 2 hours for initial cooking (foil-wrapped), and 1 hour for final cooking (unwrapped). Total time takes 5 ½ to 6 hours.
Step 1: 3 hours of smoking
Remove the membrane from your rack of ribs and slather a generous amount of mustard all over the surface. Mustard is a good taste enhancer and will also help your dry rub stick better onto the meat. Don’t worry: The mustard taste will disappear once you start smoking your ribs.
Place your ribs in the smoker and let it cook for 3 hours via indirect heating. Keep the smoker at 225oF and don’t open it until the 3 hours are up to prevent any moisture from escaping.
Step 2: 2 hours of cooking, wrapped in aluminum foil
Spread BBQ sauce or apple cider on your smoked ribs and wrap them tightly in aluminum foil. Preheat your oven to 225oF and cook your foil-wrapped ribs for 2 hours.
Step 3: 1 hour of cooking, unwrapped
Remove the foil around the ribs and put them back in the oven. Set the timer to another hour. You can check your ribs at the 30-minute mark to see if they’re ready. Once they are, remove them from the oven and allow them to rest at room temperature for another 30 minutes to let the juices settle in.
Tips for Cooking Delicious Smoked BBQ Ribs
Tip #1: Remove the membrane from the rack
While this may seem like a tedious task, removing the membrane is actually important to ensure that you get a melt-in-your-mouth rack of ribs after 5 long hours of smoking them.
The membrane doesn’t cook well, whether in the smoker or in the oven, and keeping them attached usually results to a tough and chewy rack of meat. BBQ cooks who participate in competitions follow this rule, so I highly recommend that you do, too.
Tip #2: Choose a good dry rub
You can make your own dry rub using your favorite ingredients. I like mixing onion powder, paprika, ground cinnamon, and grated nutmeg, but you can also add other spices, depending on your preferences.
You can also buy a commercial spice rub from your local supermarket. I like using Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub or BBQ Bros Rubs Southern Style Barbecue Seasoning, but feel free to try out other brands, too.
Smoking ribs takes time, so be patient and let the smoke do its job. This way, you will get a nice rack of ribs that are succulent, moist, and delicious.
Whether you’re cooking the ribs in the smoker all throughout or you’re following the 3-2-1 method, make sure you prepare the meat well by using a good base and spice rub, like the Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub or BBQ Bros Rubs Southern Style Barbecue Seasoning.
Is this article helpful? Did it answer your question on how long you should smoke ribs? Leave a comment below. Let’s talk about it! And please take the time to share this with your family and friends. Now go and start smoking those ribs!