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smoked pork ribs

How to Smoke Pork Ribs: Complete Guide

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


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!


  • 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


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!


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

Keywords: smoked pork ribs