Who doesn’t love juicy, smoky, meaty ribs? Smoked bbq ribs are one of those foods that are absolutely delectable if you know how to cook them right, or that can fall flat and leave you very disappointed come dinner time. Whether you are smoking baby back ribs, spare ribs, or pork ribs, follow these 5 tips for delicious competition style smoked ribs, every time.
Use butcher quality meat
You don’t want to go get the cheapest meat from the grocery store! Your local butcher will have a fresh selection and great cuts, whether you prefer beef or pork ribs. You can purchase them up to two days before you use them, but day before is best so they are fresh but you have a day to prep them and get that dry rub working it’s magic!
Remove the membrane
Your butcher gave you his best cut, now it’s time to remove the membrane or “silver skin” from your ribs. Flip it over so it is bone side up, and get to work. For a quick video tutorial on removing the membrane click here. Some people skip this step, but it just takes a few minutes before adding the dry rub – it’s worth it for juicier ribs!
Use a dry rub
This is where the flavor begins! The rub can be as simple as salt and pepper and a little cayenne pepper, or a more complex rub with paprika, cumin, onion, brown sugar and whatever else you want to throw in there, but be heavy on the pepper! Be generous with your rub, and thoroughly coat both sides of the ribs. After you wrapped the ribs, place them in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to let all those flavors permeate the meat.
Use high quality 100% hardwood pellets
We have to say it! The secret is in the smoke. When you are going for a specific flavor for your ribs, this is where you’re going to make it happen! You can’t use any old wood chips, you have to use 100% hardwood pellets with no fillers to ensure you get that great smoke flavor. If you want a classic BBQ flavor you can use hickory, for a lighter smoke flavor use something lighter such as 100% Black Cherry Pellets. A mix such as Perfect Mix gives great smoky flavor, but lightens it up a bit with the addition of apple, maple and cherry. We love the Perfect Mix because it’s not too heavy – it brings amazing flavor that won’t be overpowering to a food like ribs. After you’ve picked your pellets, set your grill at 225 degrees.
Use the 3-2-1 method for consistent results. Once your pellet grill is at temperature, place your racks of ribs on a frogmat on the grill (you’ll be very thankful for that frogmat come cleanup time)! Leave them for 3 hours or so, then it’s time to take them off and wrap them. My secret is to add in 2 pats of butter and about 4 ounces of juice with the ribs – pineapple juice is my favorite, but apple juice works as well. Wrap those ribs back up and get them on the grill. Babyback ribs may take up to an hour longer than spareribs, but the foil keeps them from becoming black and keeps the moisture in while the ribs are cooking. Some people skip sealing them in foil and instead regularly mop the ribs with water from a spray bottle, but I think this method gives the best results!
For the last hour of cooking (this is where the 1 comes in), crank your pellet grill up to 300 degrees. Now is the time to whip up your favorite barbeque sauce if you prefer homemade. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, add the bbq sauce, coating all sides of the ribs. Let it set up during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
When you take your ribs off the grill, let them rest for a few minutes before serving. You can add a thin coat of bbq sauce immediately before eating if you’d like. Dig in, and enjoy your delicious smoked bbq ribs!