David’s 6 Steps To Smoked Baby Back Ribs

David’s 6 Steps To Smoked Baby Back Ribs

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Smoking ribs is a true labor of love, but with some common knowledge and easy-to-follow steps, you too can create mouthwatering, succulent and flavorful smoked baby back ribs. I know this because the grilling enthusiast I live with is pretty passionate about smoking ribs. According to David, it is sure hard to beat a rack of perfectly smoked baby back ribs, slathered in sauce.

So what is David’s definition of a perfectly smoked baby back ribs?

David's 6 Steps To Smoked Baby Back Ribs - Smoking ribs is a true labor of love, but with some common knowlege and easy-to-follow steps you too can create mouthwatering, succulent and flavorful baby back ribs. | TheMountainKitchen.com

According to my grill master husband, David says “perfectly smoked baby back ribs are achieved when the ribs are cooked to the precise consistency; where you render the fat. The ribs should stay firm and in one piece, until you break them, leaving just a little meat for gnawing off the bone. It’s really all about time and temperature”.

To get a perfect consistency, David implores to NEVER EVER boil your ribs. It is surprising to hear that a lot of folks think that they have to boil their ribs before grilling them.

David's 6 Steps To Smoked Baby Back Ribs - Smoking ribs is a true labor of love, but with some common knowlege and easy-to-follow steps you too can create mouthwatering, succulent and flavorful baby back ribs. | TheMountainKitchen.com

AmazingRibs.com says the concept of boiling ribs comes from Eastern Europe where ribs were prepared by simmering them in water with cabbage, potatoes, carrots and caraway seed for pork stew. The problem is, water is a solvent and it pulls so much flavor out of the meat that they are mushy and meat not fitting to eat. All the color and flavor are left in the pot. Believe it or not, boiling the ribs can actually dry the meat out because the proteins in the meat contract and squeeze all the moisture out of the muscle fibers.

The rib meat should not fall off the bone as some people believe. If the rib meat falls off the bone, the ribs were more than likely boiled with no flavor at all. Ribs like this are usually swimming in sauce to mask the fact that the meat by itself has no flavor at all. YUCK!

David's 6 Steps To Smoked Baby Back Ribs - Smoking ribs is a true labor of love, but with some common knowlege and easy-to-follow steps you too can create mouthwatering, succulent and flavorful baby back ribs. | TheMountainKitchen.com

David’s 6 Steps to Perfectly Smoked Baby Back Ribs

What’s Needed:

  • 1 slab of baby back ribs per adult
  • pork dry rub (recipe to follow)
  • charcoal Grill or water smoker
  • 1 bag of hickory wood chunks, 6 to 8 soaked in water and 8 to 0 dry
  • 18-pound bag charcoal
  • water (if using a water smoker)
  • rib grilling rack
  • tongs
  • meat thermometer
  • small sauce pot and grilling brush or mop

Pork Dry Rub:

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

BBQ Sauce of your choice – ours is kind of secret… made of butter, ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, sugar, salt, pepper, and chipotle peppers. Click HERE for the recipe.

#1 Prep the ribs

Rinse the racks of ribs under cold running water and blot dry with paper towels.

Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. The membrane is a thin, white looking skin on the back of each rack of ribs. This membrane can block out the flavor, because it creates a barrier against the seasoning.

David's 6 Steps To Smoked Baby Back Ribs - Smoking ribs is a true labor of love, but with some common knowlege and easy-to-follow steps you too can create mouthwatering, succulent and flavorful baby back ribs. | TheMountainKitchen.com

To remove the membrane, lay the ribs onto a flat surface so that the curve of the ribs point up at you. Using a sharp knife, peel the membrane from one corner near the bone. Pull across the rack with firm steady pressure. If it tears, just pull up and continue where it tore off. Rinse and pat the ribs dry again.

David's 6 Steps To Smoked Baby Back Ribs - Smoking ribs is a true labor of love, but with some common knowlege and easy-to-follow steps you too can create mouthwatering, succulent and flavorful baby back ribs. | TheMountainKitchen.com

Combine all the ingredients for the rub in a small bowl (make sure to work out any clumps from the brown sugar for even distribution); stir to mix. Rub the seasonings onto both sides of the racks. If you have time, wrap the racks in plastic wrap and let it cure in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight. Smoking the ribs right away is ok, but sitting in the refrigerator for several hours allows the rub to penetrate the meat.

David's 6 Steps To Smoked Baby Back Ribs - Smoking ribs is a true labor of love, but with some common knowlege and easy-to-follow steps you too can create mouthwatering, succulent and flavorful baby back ribs. | TheMountainKitchen.com

#2 Prep the Grill or Smoker

Smoking is a form of indirect cooking and usually takes place over a period of hours over low temperatures.

Set up your smoker for what is called the burn-down method. To do this, fill the charcoal bed with unlit coals and add only a few lit coals to the very top. The coals on top slowly light the ones underneath and burn down slowly over time.

David's 6 Steps To Smoked Baby Back Ribs - Smoking ribs is a true labor of love, but with some common knowlege and easy-to-follow steps you too can create mouthwatering, succulent and flavorful baby back ribs. | TheMountainKitchen.com

Soak a few handfuls hickory wood chunks for about 30 minutes in warm water before placing atop the coals. Alternate placing soaked wood and dry wood.

Preheat the grill or smoker from 225 to 250 degrees F. To maintain this low temperature, use only half as much charcoal as usual. (A half chimney-full.)

David's 6 Steps To Smoked Baby Back Ribs - Smoking ribs is a true labor of love, but with some common knowlege and easy-to-follow steps you too can create mouthwatering, succulent and flavorful baby back ribs. | TheMountainKitchen.com

#3 Smoking the ribs

When the smoker or grill is the ideal temperature range, you are ready to smoke, place the rib ribs into the grilling rack over indirect heat; toss a hand full of the soaked wood chunks and some dry wood chunks onto the coals and cover the grill.

David likes to use a combination of dry and wet wood chunks, alternating between the two. The dry gives a quick intense smoke and brings the heat up. The wet wood chunks provide a lower, slower smoke and bring the heat down. Heat adjustments can be made using this technique.

David's 6 Steps To Smoked Baby Back Ribs - Smoking ribs is a true labor of love, but with some common knowlege and easy-to-follow steps you too can create mouthwatering, succulent and flavorful baby back ribs. | TheMountainKitchen.com

Bring the temperature up to 225 degrees F, using the vents to regulate the temperature. Knowing the temp in your grill is crucial, so if your grill doesn’t have a temperature gauge, purchase a digital BBQ thermometer such as ThermoPop by Thermoworks.

You will need to add fresh coals and more wood chunks to each side of the grill every hour for at least the first 4 hours.

#4 Low and slow

Check the temperature of the grill every hour, staying as close to 225 degrees F as possible. Resist the temptation to open the lid. Only open the charcoal door or the lid if you need to add more charcoal or soaked wood chips to maintain temperature and smoke. After at least 4 hours, check the temperature of the meat to see where it is and get an idea of how much more time it will need to smoke.

David's 6 Steps To Smoked Baby Back Ribs - Smoking ribs is a true labor of love, but with some common knowlege and easy-to-follow steps you too can create mouthwatering, succulent and flavorful baby back ribs. | TheMountainKitchen.com

#5 Test for doneness

According to the USDA, ribs are considered done when they have reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. If you use a meat thermometer, you be careful not to take the reading from the bone. David says if you smoke ribs enough, you just kind of know it takes some practice; “smoke the ribs until a dark ‘bark’ (outside crust) forms, the meat starts to draw away from the bone and the temperature of the smoker has remained constant for about 5 to 6 hours.” You can also crack them to test for doneness. To do this: using a pair of tongs, pick up a slab of ribs; bounce the ribs slightly. They are ready when the slab bows over until the meat starts to crack on the surface. A small crack typically means you need just a little more time. The ribs should almost break when you lift the slab.

David's 6 Steps To Smoked Baby Back Ribs - Smoking ribs is a true labor of love, but with some common knowlege and easy-to-follow steps you too can create mouthwatering, succulent and flavorful baby back ribs. | TheMountainKitchen.com

#6 Saucing the baby back ribs

Saucing should be done prior to removing the ribs after the meat is done. David says if you do a 5-hour smoke the 6th hour is for saucing.

David makes his own sauce over a gas burner on the stove. It is already heated and ready to apply. If you use a bottled sauce, you want to warm it up and cook it without burning it. Many sauces, including David’s, benefit from baking onto the meat; they may even add extra depth to the meat by caramelizing.

David's 6 Steps To Smoked Baby Back Ribs - Smoking ribs is a true labor of love, but with some common knowlege and easy-to-follow steps you too can create mouthwatering, succulent and flavorful baby back ribs. | TheMountainKitchen.com

David says it is best to take the racks of ribs out of the rack and lay them flat on the grill grate. When you leave the ribs in the rack the sauce tends to just roll off without a chance to adhere to the racks. Using a grilling brush or mop, slather the meat side of the ribs with sauce. Let the sauce cook onto the meat and then flip and repeat the process on the back. Do this as many times as you want according to how saucy you want to make them. Just remember most of the flavor is in the meat. You don’t want to over sauce so that it masks the flavor of good smoked baby back ribs.

David's 6 Steps To Smoked Baby Back Ribs - Smoking ribs is a true labor of love, but with some common knowlege and easy-to-follow steps you too can create mouthwatering, succulent and flavorful baby back ribs. | TheMountainKitchen.com
David's 6 Steps To Smoked Baby Back Ribs - Smoking ribs is a true labor of love, but with some common knowlege and easy-to-follow steps you too can create mouthwatering, succulent and flavorful baby back ribs. | TheMountainKitchen.com

At the end of these six steps if you break into a rack of ribs and notice a thin pink layer just beneath the surface of the meat. Congratulations! That is the highly prized smoke ring. It’s kind of like a pink halo around the meat; a sign of mouthwatering, succulent and flavorful smoked baby back ribs!

David's 6 Steps To Smoked Baby Back Ribs - Smoking ribs is a true labor of love, but with some common knowlege and easy-to-follow steps you too can create mouthwatering, succulent and flavorful baby back ribs. | TheMountainKitchen.com

Break out a roll of paper towels; it’s time to chow down!

Reporting for David Spivey

6 Steps To Smoked Baby Back Ribs

Happy to share over at Fiesta Friday! Come on over and join in on the fun!

David’s 6 Steps to Perfectly Smoked Baby Back Ribs

Smoking ribs is a true labor of love. These easy-to-follow steps you too can create mouthwatering, and flavorful smoked baby back ribs.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword barbecue, bbq, curried pork burgers, Smoked baby back ribs
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 6 hours
Servings 8
Calories 649kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 slabs baby back ribs (1 ½ per adult)
  • pork dry rub (recipe to follow)
  • charcoal Grill or water smoker
  • 1 bag of hickory wood chunks 6 to 8 soaked in water and 8 to 10 dry
  • 18 pound bag charcoal
  • water (if using a water smoker)
  • rib grilling rack
  • tongs
  • meat thermometer
  • small sauce pot and grilling brush or mop
  • BBQ Sauce of your choice

Pork Dry Rub

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions

Prep the ribs:

  • Rinse the racks of ribs under cold running water and blot dry with paper towels. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. The membrane is a thin, white looking skin on the back of each rack of ribs. This membrane can block out the flavor, because it creates a barrier against the seasoning. To remove the membrane, lay the ribs onto a flat surface so that the curve of the ribs point up at you. Using a sharp knife, peel the membrane from one corner near the bone. Pull across the rack with firm steady pressure. If it tears, just pull up and continue where it tore off. Rinse and pat the ribs dry again. Combine all the ingredients for the rub in a small bowl (make sure to work out any clumps from the brown sugar for even distribution); stir to mix. Rub the seasonings onto both sides of the racks. If you have time, wrap the racks in plastic wrap and let it cure in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight. Smoking the ribs right away is ok, but sitting in the refrigerator for several hours allows the rub to penetrate the meat.

Prep the Grill or Smoker:

  • Smoking is a form of indirect cooking and usually takes place over a period of hours over low temperatures. Set up your smoker for what is called the burn-down method. To do this, fill the charcoal bed with unlit coals and add only a few lit coals to the very top. The coals on top slowly light the ones underneath and burn down slowly over time. Soak a few handfuls hickory wood chunks for about 30 minutes in warm water before placing atop the coals. Alternate placing soaked wood and dry wood. Preheat the grill or smoker from 225 to 250 degrees F. To maintain this low temperature, use only half as much charcoal as usual. (A half chimney-full.)

Smoking the ribs:

  • When the smoker or grill is the ideal temperature range, you are ready to smoke, place the rib ribs into the grilling rack over indirect heat; toss a hand full of the soaked wood chunks and some dry wood chunks onto the coals and cover the grill. Bring the temperature up to 225 degrees F, using the vents to regulate the temperature. Knowing the temp in your grill is crucial, so if your grill doesn’t have a temperature gauge, purchase a digital BBQ thermometer. You will need to add fresh coals and more wood chunks to each side of the grill every hour for at least the first 4 hours. Low and slow: Check the temperature of the grill every hour, staying as close to 225 degrees F as possible. Resist the temptation to open the lid. Only open the charcoal door or the lid if you need to add more charcoal or soaked wood chips to maintain temperature and smoke. After at least 4 hours, check the temperature of the meat to see where it is and get an idea of how much more time it will need to smoke.

Test for doneness:

  • According to the USDA, ribs are considered done when they have reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. If you use a meat thermometer, you be careful not to take the reading from the bone. Smoke the ribs until a dark ‘bark’ (outside crust) forms, the meat starts to draw away from the bone and the temperature of the smoker has remained constant for, about 5 to 6 hours. You can also crack them to test for doneness. To do this, use a pair of tongs, pick up the slab of ribs; bounce the ribs slightly. They are ready when the slab bows over until the meat starts to crack on the surface. A small crack typically means you need just a little more time. The ribs should almost break when you lift the slab.

Saucing the ribs:

  • Saucing should be done prior to removing the ribs after the meat is done. Lay the racks flat on the grill grate. Using a grilling brush or mop, slather the meat side of the ribs with sauce. Let the sauce cook onto the meat and then flip and repeat the process on the back. Do this as many times as you want according to how saucy you want to make them. Just remember most of the flavor is in the meat. You don’t want to over sauce so that it masks the flavor of good ribs.
  • At the end of these six steps if you break into a rack of ribs and notice a thin pink layer just beneath the surface of the meat. Congratulations! That is the highly prized smoke ring. It’s kind of like a pink halo around the meat; a sign of mouthwatering, succulent and flavorful smoked baby back ribs!

Notes

Calories are calculated for ribs with rub and without sauce. For more information about nutrition visit our Disclaimers & Policies Page.

Nutrition

Calories: 649kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 54g | Fat: 46g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 195mg | Sodium: 829mg | Potassium: 710mg | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 240IU | Calcium: 90mg | Iron: 2.2mg
Did you try this recipe? Tell us what you think!Give this recipe a star rating, leave a comment below and share pictures of your food with us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter! We can’t wait to see them! Don’t forget to mention @TheMountainKitchen or tag #TheMountainKitchen!

To learn more about Smoking Time and Temperatures check out the infographic from BroBBQ.com below!

Smoking Times and Temperatures Chart

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Hi, my name is Debbie, Author and Photographer at The Mountain Kitchen, a blog that shares delicious homemade recipes using clean food ingredients, and stories about mountain life.
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