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Easy Smoked Ribs

This easy smoked baby back ribs recipe results in the most succulent, tender and juicy ribs ever!! For the most flavor, rub the ribs with the spice rub a day or two before smoking (if you don’t have the time you can smoke the ribs directly). Be sure to use heavy duty aluminum foil when wrapping the ribs, as you don’t want any of the juices to escape. I love to serve these smoked ribs with jalapeño cheddar cornbread muffins or roasted oven fries (and plenty of paper towels ?). Check out some of my other favorite serving suggestions above. If you don't have a smoker, I've included instructions on how to cook the ribs in the notes below!
Prep Time1 d 30 mins
Cook Time5 hrs
Total Time1 d 5 hrs 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy smoked ribs, smoked baby back ribs recipe, smoked ribs recipe
Servings: 4 -6 people

Equipment

  • Smoker
  • Heavy duty aluminum foil

Ingredients

Ribs

  • 2 racks baby back ribs

Spice rub

  • 3 tablespoons packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated onion (or onion powder)
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

Sauce

  • cup barbecue sauce, divided
  • ¼ cup apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes

Instructions

  • Loosen the membrane on the back of each rack of ribs by slipping a small sharp knife between the rib bone and the membrane. Using paper towels for grip, hold the membrane tightly and pull it off (check out the video above to see how I do this, or you can ask your butcher to do it for you). Discard the membrane.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, salt, pepper, chili powder, granulated garlic, granulated onion and smoked paprika. Rub both sides of the ribs with the rub. If you have the time, cover the ribs and refrigerate them overnight (or for up to 2 days).
  • Preheat your smoker to 225˚F.
  • Place the rib racks on the smoker, meaty sides up, and cook for 3 hours.
  • Pull the ribs off the smoker (keep the smoker on with the lid closed). Arrange each rack on a large sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil. Brush the ribs with with ⅓ cup of the barbecue sauce (reserve the rest for later). Drizzle the apple cider and vinegar around the edges of the ribs. Dot with the top of the ribs with butter.  Tightly wrap each rack in a double layer of foil to create a leak-proof packet. Return the ribs to the smoker and cook until tender when pierced with a knife, 2-3 hours longer. 
  • Carefully unwrap the foil to expose the meat (be careful not to let any of the liquid in the bottom of the packets drip out—you will use it later!). Brush the racks with the remaining ⅓ cup barbecue sauce, and cook 15 minutes longer, or until the sauce turns sticky.
  • Transfer the rib racks to a cutting board (reserve the juices in the foil packets) and cut them into portions. Transfer to a platter and drizzle with the reserved juices. Serve with plenty of paper towels!

Notes

Do Ahead: The uncooked ribs can be refrigerated with the spice rub for up to 2 days. The smoked ribs can be cooled then refrigerated in the foil packs (with the juices). Before serving, bring the ribs to room temperature, then reheat them in the foil packs in a 350-400˚F oven or grill until warmed through.
Tips:
  • You will need a smoker for this recipe. You can use any brand or model you have, as long as you’re able to monitor and maintain the cooking temperature. I own a Traeger pellet smoker
  • For the best flavor, rub the baby back rib racks with the spice rub 1-2 days before smoking. 
  • Be sure to use heavy duty aluminum foil when wrapping the ribs, and double up on the foil to create airtight packets.
  • You can use any barbecue sauce you like on these ribs. My favorite store-bought brand is Stubbs Original Bar-B-Q Sauce, which doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup and has a robust, peppery flavor (it’s also gluten free). 
  • I serve these ribs with my Jalapeño Cheddar Muffins or Herbed Oven Fries. Below are some of my other favorite pairings with smoked ribs!
  • If you don't have a smoker, you can cook these ribs in the oven! Rub the ribs with the spice rub as directed. Wrap each rubbed rib rack tightly in aluminum foil and arrange them on a baking sheet. Bake the ribs in a 300˚F oven until they are very tender but not falling apart, about 2 hours. Let the ribs cool (reserve the juices in the foil). Pour the juices into a bowl or measuring cup, and whisk in the barbecue sauce, apple cider and apple cider vinegar. When you're ready to eat, grill the rib racks, brushing them with the barbecue sauce mixture and turning them often, until they're heated through and caramelized in spots (about 10 minutes). Cut the racks into portions, arrange them on a serving platter, and drizzle with more of the barbecue sauce mixture to taste.