Once you have a grill or smoker, one of the obligatory things you need to make is (pork) ribs!  When you go to the store, you have 2 choices in pork: You can make either Baby Back Ribs or Spare Ribs. I am personally a fan of Spare ribs because they have more meat on them but I would of course never turn down baby back ribs either.

Pork Ribs are different in size based on where they come from on the pig and how they are trimmed. Spare Ribs, (often sold as St. Louis Style Pork Spare Ribs after they are trimmed) are taken from the part of the pig underneath the belly area, and baby back ribs are taken from the area where the ribs meat the spin, and are smaller, therefore called “Baby Back” ribs.

When smoking ribs, the standard way to do so is the 3-2-1 method. This method can be used on spare ribs where as the 2-2-1 method can be used on smaller baby back ribs.

What is the 3-2-1 Rib Method?

The “3-2-1” method refers to breaking the cooking time into segments, starting with 3 hours on smoke, 2 hours wrapped in foil, and the last hour letting the sauce set at a higher temp. St Louis Style ribs are larger than their Baby Back cousins and therefore need longer cooking time, whereas Baby Back ribs use the 2-2-1 method due to their size. This method can be transferred to any smoker for ultimate smoking versatility and full proof results. If you are interested in learning how to make ribs on your Weber Kettle or a standard charcoal grill, I recommend you check out this post on how to cook ribs on a Weber Kettle. 

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grill girl st louis style grilled ribs

Smoked St. Louis Style Ribs, “3-2-1” Method

  • Author: Robyn
  • Total Time: 6 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: serves 3


One you get a grill or smoker, one of the first things you may want to make are ribs! Here is how you can make the kind of ribs your family and neighbors will rave about for years to come!




Serves: 3

Serving size 4-5 ribs

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 6 hours

Smoking wood: apple

Smoker temp 225 and 250

Rest time: 10 minutes

  1. Remove the outer membrane from the ribs- it is always easier to use a butter knife and a paper towel to help grip the membrane.
  2. Rub olive oil all over the slab of ribs, then slather in rub so no part is exposed without rub.
  3. Place ribs in smoker with the meaty side up (you may need to cut in half to fit the entire slab) and smoke for 3 hours at 225 degrees, remembering to set a timer for 3 hours.
  4. After 3 hours, take out two large pieces of foil long enough to wrap the ribs, double them up and place the ribs on top. Add the apple juice on the bottom of the foil and the butter pats on the top of the ribs. Wrap up the foil packet tightly and place back in the foil for another 2 hours at 225. Set your timer for another 2 hours.
  5. Remove your ribs from the foil packet and place back on the smoker grates, meaty side up. Generously cover the meaty side of the ribs with BBQ sauce. At this point, you can crank your smoker up to 300 (you are still cooking on indirect though) degrees- you are letting the bbq sauce set on the grill. Smoke for an additional one hour- set your timer.


If you made these ribs, don't forget to leave a comment below or tag me on social @grillgirlrobyn or on facebook @grillgirlrobyn

This recipe originally appeared in my Healthy Electric Smoker Cookbook but I have reprinted it here for you to enjoy!

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Category: Ribs
  • Method: St. Louis Style 3-2-1 Method


3-2-1 pork spare ribs


I’m a fan of Snake River Farms Pork Ribs! If you re going to spend the time smoking ribs, I feel like invest in the best meat possible to ensure you have the best possible results. 

Want More Rib Inspiration? We love Ribs over here at GrillGirl.com, check out these other rib recipes!


Ribs on the Weber Kettle Using the Grill-Roast Method

Pork Ribs on the Big Green Egg