Smoked pork ribs hot off the smoker are the quintessential dish everyone wants to make when they buy a new grill or smoker. With the invention of pellet grills, making ribs is easier than ever because temperature maintenance is as easy as using an oven in the Coyote Pellet Grill. Simply load your pellets, set your temp, and let the grill work its magic for slow-smoked ribs, the kind your friends and family will swoon over.

Now, let’s first break down what kind of ribs you want to smoke- this will make a difference in your time on the grill. For ribs, most people have heard of the “3-2-1 method”, but this applies to spare ribs, not baby back ribs. For smaller baby back ribs, we will use the “2-2-1 method”.

Note, in this recipe I used the Coyote Pellet Grill which makes smoking as easy as pushing a button. However, here are tips for setting up a grill or smoker for smoking on any kind of grill. It all starts be creating direct and indirect zones on your grill and smoking your ribs on the indirect side. With the invention of Pellet Grills, this step is eliminated as it offers push-button simplicity.

 

Smoked Pork Ribs on a Charcoal Grill:

Create a direct and indirect zone by pushing your coals to one side – you will smoke your meat on the indirect side. Add wood chips or wood chunks to your coals .

Smoked Pork Ribs on a Gas Grill:

Set up a direct and indirect zone with 2 burners on, 2 burners off to create direct/indirect zones. Your meat will be placed over the indirect zone. You will need to use a smoker tube or create a wood chip pouch in foil to add smoke to your ribs.

smoked pork ribs

I made these smoked pork ribs on my Coyote Pellet Grill but this recipe works for any grill or smoker. If using a grill you will need to create direct and indirect zones and smoke your ribs on the indirect zone with the addition of smoke from wood chips or chunks.

Smoked Pork Ribs – How Long on the Smoker? The 3-2-1 Method

For Pork Spare ribs, you want to follow the 3-2-1 guideline:

  • 3 hours under smoke
  • 2 hours in foil or butcher paper- this part is known as the “the Texas Crutch”, AND
  • 1 hour on the grill.

For Baby Back Ribs – How Long on the Smoker? The 2-2-1 Method

Smaller Baby Back ribs don’t need as much time as Pork Spare Ribs, and therefore they need adhere to the 2-2-1 Method.

  • 2 hours under smoke,
  • 2 hours in foil, AND
  • 1 hour on the smoker.

A breakdown on the 2-2-1 Method:

Pork Baby Back Ribs (all ribs, really) while delicious, can be tough, and benefit from low and slow smoke. This is why the 2-2-1 method works well, it gives ample time to infuse the pork with smoke flavor, braise in foil or butcher paper, and then crisp up the edges and caramelize the bbq sauce at the end. This technique culminates in perfectly moist, tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs every time. The kind of ribs that leave you wiping BBQ sauce off your chin and going in for seconds and thirds. No judgment here- I can eat a whole rack of ribs in one sitting!

For this recipe, we are adding hot honey after adding a bbq sauce glaze for the perfect sweet-with-heat finish on these ribs. This hot honey recipe (shared below) will have you slathering hot honey on ALL THE THINGS.

Ingredients to make Hot Honey Baby Back Ribs using the 2-2-1 Method:

  • 2 slabs of baby back ribs
  • Olive oil (to use as a rub binder)
  • 4 tbsp Sunshine State of Mind Craft BBQ Rub OR your preferred BBQ Rub
  • 4 tbsp Butter
  • 3/4 cup Apple juice
  •  1 cup of your favorite bbq sauce- I prefer Happy Prairie Sauce by Rep Provisions. These are clean ingredient sauces with no junk or preservatives and I’m totally obsessed with the Caribbean BBQ Sauce Flavor. It is truly the best store bought BBQ sauce I have ever had! 
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar

Hot Honey Recipe

  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

 

How to Make Smoked Pork Ribs using the 2-2-1

The first thing you need to do when making ribs is to remove the membrane on the underside of the ribs. A classic “rib rookie” mistake is to not remove the membrane and you definitely don’t want to look like a “rib rookie”. 

smoked pork ribs

It’s important to remember to remove the Membrane on your ribs when making smoked pork ribs. You can do this easily by using a butter knife and a paper towel.

 

How to Easily Remove the Membrane when making ribs:

This is easily done with a butter knife and a paper towel. Using a butter knife, use the tip to separate the membrane from the underside of the pork ribs, and then, with the other hand and a paper towel, use the paper towel to give you a good grip on the membrane and pull it away from the ribs. If this goes well you can remove the membrane in one fell swoop in one piece. If it doesn’t go well, you may have to do this in sections.

Next, pat down the ribs with a paper towel to get rid of extra moisture from the packaging. Drizzle with olive oil, and then add your rub giving it a generous coating on all sides.

Set your Coyote Pellet Grill to 250 degrees and let it begin to smoke (make sure it has enough pellets). Place your ribs on the smoker and let it smoke for 2 hours (set yourself an alarm on your phone to remove the ribs in two hours).

While the ribs are smoking, go ahead and make your hot honey by putting your honey into a saucepan and letting it simmer on low to medium heat for 5 minutes, with bubbles only beginning to form but never letting it boil. Turn the heat off and add the vinegar and red pepper flakes to the honey and let it sit for 5-10 minutes (the longer it steeps, the hotter it will be). Next, using a mesh strainer, pour the honey into a mason jar letting the red pepper flakes collect in the strainer. The longer the hot pepper flakes stay in the honey, the hotter it will be. You can also choose NOT TO strain the pepper flakes out but it will be very hot and get hotter over time. Your choice!

smoked pork ribs

This complete guide makes it easy to make mouthwathering smoked pork ribs at home!

After making your hot honey, you can also make your BBQ sauce glaze while the ribs are on the smoker. This is done by combining the bbq sauce and vinegar in a saucepan over medium heat for 10 minutes, letting the sauce reduce to a glaze. Put into another mason jar for glazing the ribs later and for serving with the ribs at the end of your cook.

After 2 hours on the smoker, it is time to remove the ribs and wrap them in foil. Remove the ribs from the smoker and bring them inside. Lay out two long sheets of foil or butcher paper, enough to cover the full length of the ribs with 2 layers. Place the ribs on the foil and then add 2 tbsp of butter to each slab or ribs. Next, begin to wrap the foil around the ribs creating a foil pouch. Before fully sealing the foil pouch, add your apple juice to the pouch before sealing up. This process essentially braises the ribs in the butter-apple juice mixture and makes them extremely moist, fall off the bone tender. 

Set your timer for another 2 hours and place the ribs back on the smoker set at 250 degrees. 

smoked pork ribs complete guide

The push-button simplicity of the Coyote Pellet Grill made these smoked pork ribs hella easy to make!

After two hours, remove the ribs from the smoker. Crank up the heat on your Coyote Pellet Grill to 350 degrees. We want to get the grill hot so we can “set” the BBQ Glaze on the ribs. Place the ribs on the Coyote and set your timer for 45 minutes. Glaze your ribs with bbq sauce, letting the sauce “set” on the grill. Once the ribs have developed a nice BBQ glaze sheen and a bit of crispiness on their underside from the grill, you can remove them from the grill. This may take less than 45 minutes.

Before serving, put a generous drizzle of hot honey on your ribs. Serve the hot honey and bbq glaze tableside for your guests to add more if they like. Be prepared that there will be no leftovers- these ribs are just too finger lickin’ good!  Serve with your favorite sides, such as my classic “Charleston style coleslaw recipe”, the coleslaw recipe that that even coleslaw haters love! 

Tools Needed for these Smoked Pork Ribs

  • If Using the Coyote Pellet Smoker or any Pellet Smoker, I recommend Cherry or Applewood Flavored Pellets.
  • If using a Charcoal Grill, I recommend apple wood or any fruit wood 
  • Tongs
  • Foil or Butcher paper
  • Mason Jars- for storing sauce 
  • Grill Brush- for painting on sauce
  • Check out my full list of recommended Grilling Tools that all Grillers should have on hand!

Pro Tips for Making Smoked Pork Ribs:

  • Remove membrane from underside of ribs using a butter knife and paper towel to get a good grip.
  • Use the 2-2-1 method for baby backs – 2 hours smoking, 2 hours wrapped in foil with butter and apple juice, 1 hour glazing.
  • Use the 3-2-1 method for pork spare ribs – 3 hours smoking, 2 hours wrapped in foil with butter and apple juice, 1 hour glazing.
  • Wrap ribs in foil or butcher paper pouches with butter and apple juice to braise for 2 hours after initial smoking.
  • Make a hot honey glaze by simmering honey, adding red pepper flakes and vinegar.
  • Glaze ribs with homemade BBQ sauce and hot honey before serving for finger-lickin’ results.

 

GrillGirl Robyn Lindars, GrillGirl, Coyote Outdoor Grills, Coyote Pellet Grill

I get really excited about making ribs on my Coyote Pellet Grill!

Smoked Pork Ribs FAQ

What is the 2-2-1 method for smoking ribs? The 2-2-1 method involves smoking the ribs for 2 hours, wrapping them in foil with butter and apple juice and cooking for 2 hours, then putting them back on the grill to glaze for 1 hour.

Should I remove the membrane from the ribs? Yes, removing the membrane before smoking will help prevent the ribs from being tough. Use a butter knife and paper towel to peel it off easily.

What rib cut should I use for smoked pork ribs? For the 2-2-1 method, baby back ribs are best. Spare ribs need more time, so follow the 3-2-1 method instead.

How do I make a hot honey glaze? Simmer honey briefly, then add red pepper flakes and apple cider vinegar. Let steep 5-10 minutes. Strain for less heat.

What temperature do I smoke the ribs at? Keep your smoker or pellet grill at a consistent 250°F for the first 2 smoking hours.

How do I get the ribs glazed properly? After braising in foil, crank up the heat to 350°F to caramelize the glaze. Baste with sauce and glaze for the last hour.

What wood pellets or wood chips/chunks work best for smoking ribs? For pork, use maple, cherry, apple, or oak pellets in your pellet grill.

How can I ensure tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs? The braising step in foil with butter and apple juice keeps ribs incredibly moist and tender.

What sides go well with smoked ribs? Try classic BBQ sides like coleslaw, cornbread, baked beans or mac and cheese.

How can I use up leftover glazes? The BBQ and hot honey glaze add great flavor to chicken, pork chops, even veggies. Brush on during the last five minutes of grilling since sauces with sugar will burn on the grill.L

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smoked pork ribs

How to Smoke Pork Ribs: Complete Guide


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  • Author: Robyn
  • Total Time: 4.5-5.5 hours (depending on if spare versus babyback ribs)
  • Yield: 2 racks of ribs 1x

Description

Smoked pork ribs hot off the smoker are the quintessential dish everyone wants to make when they buy a new grill or smoker. This complete guide shows you how to make smoked pork ribs for larger pork spare ribs or smaller Pork Baby Back Ribs. Both Techniques are the same, the only difference is time. For Pork Spare Ribs we use the 3-2-1 method and for Pork Baby Back Ribs we use the 2-2-1 Method. This method equates to 3 or 2 hours of time on the smoker at 250 degrees, 2 hours braising in liquid in foil or butcher paper at 250, and one hour to set the sauce glaze with the grill set to 350 degrees. This part caramelizes the sauce and the meat on the grill and will crisp up the edges after being in the braising liquid. In this recipe, we finish with a homemade hot honey for that perfect sweet with heat finger licking finish!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 slabs of baby back ribs
  • Olive oil (to use as a rub binder)
  • 4 tbsp Sunshine State of Mind Craft BBQ Rub OR your preferred BBQ Rub
  • 4 tbsp Butter
  • 3/4 cup Apple juice
  •  1 cup of your favorite bbq sauce- I prefer Happy Prairie Sauce by Rep Provisions. These are clean ingredient sauces with no junk or preservatives and I'm totally obsessed with the Caribbean BBQ Sauce Flavor.. Look for a sauce that uses actual cane sugar, NOT high fructose corn syrup.
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar

Hot Honey Recipe

  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

Instructions

The first thing you need to do when making ribs is to remove the membrane on the underside of the ribs. A classic “rib rookie” mistake is to not remove the membrane and you definitely don’t want to look like a “rib rookie”. 

 

How to Easily Remove the Membrane when making ribs:

This is easily done with a butter knife and a paper towel. Using a butter knife, use the tip to separate the membrane from the underside of the pork ribs, and then, with the other hand and a paper towel, use the paper towel to give you a good grip on the membrane and pull it away from the ribs. If this goes well you can remove the membrane in one fell swoop in one piece. If it doesn’t go well, you may have to do this in sections.

 

Next, pat down the ribs with a paper towel to get rid of extra moisture from the packaging. Drizzle with olive oil, and then add your rub giving it a generous coating on all sides.

 

Set your Coyote Pellet Grill to 250 degrees and let it begin to smoke (make sure it has enough pellets). Place your ribs on the smoker and let it smoke for 2 hours (set yourself an alarm on your phone to remove the ribs in two hours).

 

While the ribs are smoking, go ahead and make your hot honey by putting your honey into a saucepan and letting it simmer on low to medium heat for 5 minutes, with bubbles only beginning to form but never letting it boil. Turn the heat off and add the vinegar and red pepper flakes to the honey and let it sit for 5-10 minutes (the longer it steeps, the hotter it will be). Next, using a mesh strainer, pour the honey into a mason jar letting the red pepper flakes collect in the strainer. The longer the hot pepper flakes stay in the honey, the hotter it will be. You can also choose NOT TO strain the pepper flakes out but it will be very hot and get hotter over time. Your choice!

 

After making your hot honey, you can also make your BBQ sauce glaze while the ribs are on the smoker. This is done by combining the bbq sauce and vinegar in a saucepan over medium heat for 10 minutes, letting the sauce reduce to a glaze. Put into another mason jar for glazing the ribs later and for serving with the ribs at the end of your cook.

 

After 2 hours on the smoker, it is time to remove the ribs and wrap them in foil. Remove the ribs from the smoker and bring them inside. Lay out two long sheets of foil or butcher paper, enough to cover the full length of the ribs with 2 layers. Place the ribs on the foil and then add 2 tbsp of butter to each slab or ribs. Next, begin to wrap the foil around the ribs creating a foil pouch. Before fully sealing the foil pouch, add your apple juice to the pouch before sealing up. This process essentially braises the ribs in the butter-apple juice mixture and makes them extremely moist, fall off the bone tender. 

 

Set your timer for another 2 hours and place the ribs back on the smoker set at 250 degrees. 

 

After two hours, remove the ribs from the smoker. Crank up the heat on your Coyote Pellet Grill to 350 degrees. We want to get the grill hot so we can “set” the BBQ Glaze on the ribs. Place the ribs on the Coyote and set your timer for 45 minutes. Glaze your ribs with bbq sauce, letting the sauce “set” on the grill. Once the ribs have developed a nice BBQ glaze sheen and a bit of crispiness on their underside from the grill, you can remove them from the grill. This may take less than 45 minutes.

 

Before serving, put a generous drizzle of hot honey on your ribs. Serve the hot honey and bbq glaze tableside for your guests to add more if they like. Be prepared that there will be no leftovers- these ribs are just too finger lickin’ good!  Serve with your favorite sides, such as my classic “Charleston style coleslaw recipe”, the coleslaw recipe that that even coleslaw haters love!

Notes

This recipe was developed in partnership with my friends at Coyote Grills. This post is 100% my expertise and opinion and Coyote Pellet Grill is the grill used when writing and photographing this recipe. This is an awesome Pellet Grill if you are in the market for one!

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4-5 hours
  • Category: BBQ, Pork, Pork Ribs, Pork Baby Back Ribs, Pork Spare Ribs
  • Method: Smoke
  • Cuisine: American BBQ

Looking for more Pork Recipes? We love Pork over here at GrillGirl.com and have you covered with all the ways to cook pork- whether it is grilled or pork. 

Perfectly Smoked Pork Ribs: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide To Mouthwatering Ribs at Home
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