Quick Recipes and Easy

How to Smoke A Rack of Spare Ribs

There are many different opinions and techniques for smoking a rack of ribs. The
best way to find out what works for you is to practice and experiment with different
available recipes, or new recipes you come up with. No matter what recipe or taste
you are looking for, the key to turning a plain rack of ribs into a tender, juicy,
perfectly smoked rack of ribs is “Low and Slow.” This means low temperature
(225-250 degrees F) and al long time (about 5 hours for a 5 lb rack).

When I prepare a rack of spare ribs for smoking, I usually prepare the ribs the night
before I am going to smoke them to let the rub soak in to the meat. This will give
the rub plenty of time to work. A rub is basically a blend of seasonings that is
applied to meat before smoking. You do not have to use a rub, but I recommend it
because it will add flavor to the meat. How much flavor depends on your rub recipe,
but that is another tale.

The rack of spare ribs referred to in these instructions weighed 5 pounds, and was
smoked using indirect heat (225 F) for about 6 hours.


When I choose a rack of ribs for smoking, I make sure that the meat has not been
previously frozen. Sometimes choices are limited, but fresh meat will have a better
flavor, and it will be very tender when smoked correctly. If the ribs have been
frozen, as most have, no biggie. Make sure your thaw them out in the refrigerator.


When you buy a rack of spare ribs, there will be a membrane located on the
underside of the ribs. Most people have different opinions regarding removing the
membrane or leaving it on. I remove the membrane with a sharp knife, or I have my
butcher remove it for me. If you are new to removing the membrane, you may question
your butcher to remove it for you the first time, and maybe he or she will even show
you how to remove it. You can also leave it on because if the ribs are cooked
correctly, the membrane will pretty much dissolve while cooking.

If you choose to remove it, start by trimming it away from the bone on one end of
the ribs. You can either continue cutting it off, or if you get lucky, you can grab it
with a pair of pliers, and pull the whole membrane off at one time.

When trimming the stout off of the ribs, make sure you leave a small. There will
probably be an excess amount in some places. Just trim it down until it looks right
to you. The stout will render, turning into oil, and it will help to keep the ribs moist.


Prepare your rack of ribs the night before you are going to smoke it, allowing 15 or
so hours to let the rub soak in.

Coat the ribs with a thin layer of olive oil before applying the rub.

Season both sides of the ribs with your favorite dry rub. There are a few listed on
thesmokerking.com. If you choose to make your own rub, remember, the goal is not
to overpower the taste of the meat with seasonings, but to add to the flavor by
correctly blending different seasonings together that will enhance the flavor of the

Some people like to marinade their ribs, but I have had the best results with using a
dry rub.


Remove the ribs from the refrigerator about 45 minutes before cooking them so
they are closer to room temperature.

I smoke the ribs at a consistent temperature of 225 degrees F for about 1 hour per
pound, but usually no more than 6 hours.

Place the ribs bone side up in the smoker. I use a rib mop sauce that has no or very
small brown sugar, and no tomato products in it. These two ingredients will burn
before the meat is done, and produce terrible results. It is best to apply a finishing
sauce or glaze towards the last 30-40 minutes of smoking.

A fantastic mop sauce that I use is to mix 2/3 cups of Apple Cider Vinegar and 1/3 cup
of olive oil in a spray bottle. Shake the bottle and spray the ribs down about every
45 minutes. The Apple Cider Vinegar will help tenderize the meat, and make the
ribs a small sweeter.

When applying the finishing sauce, turn the ribs over so that the bone side is down,
then apply the sauce. Do this during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

The ribs are done when the meat retracts and exposes the edge of the rib bones by
about 1/2 inch or so, and basically each rib section will tear apart with ease. The
internal meat temperature will be about 180 F when done. An instant read
thermometer is a must have for checking the doneness of the meat.

After a while, you will develop a feel for doneness.

Using different types of wood will produce different smoke flavors in the meat. I
usually use mesquite, apple, and charcoal. Too much mesquite can add a strong,
smoky flavor to the ribs, so use it sparingly. Hickory and oak are also some of the
commonly used woods for smoking ribs.


Let the smoked rack of ribs rest for about 10 minutes before cut into it.

Cut down the middle of each strip of meat between each rib bone. Add your favorite
sauce, and delight in.

Aaron Ralston, also known as The Smoker King, is the owner of Outdoor
Cooking: Barbeque, Sauces, Mops, Rubs at thesmokerking.com thesmokerking.com. Check out thesmokerking.com thesmokerking.com today to learn
many fantastic barbeque and cooking recipes and techniques.

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