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How To Smoke Baby Back Ribs

Smoked Baby Back Ribs is one of our favorite things to make for a backyard barbecue.

They are so tender and delicious that the meat literally falls right off the bone.

smoked baby back ribs
Smoked baby back ribs fresh off the smoker.

Not to mention the smokey yet sweet flavor makes your mouth water even before you take the first bite.

In fact, as the ribs are cooking and the smoke begins to roll, you can almost always bet that at least one of our neighbors will show up to see what we have cooking!

But the funny thing is that we actually bought our smoker for another reason.

We absolutely have fallen in love with smoked chicken wings. They are so much healthier than traditional deep fried wings.

Not to mention that we aren’t huge fans of sticky wing sauces. We much rather take a bite into a wing that has been coated in a dry rub mixture.

We make smoked wings quite often. Not only in the summer, but we will even pull out the smoker in the middle of winter on occasion.

ribs in smoker
Smoking ribs in our electric smoker.

But I never thought about making smoked baby back ribs until I saw them on sale one day at the grocery store.

I typically don’t order ribs at our favorite barbecue restaurant. The cost of them scares me away.

Although I love the taste of the ribs, I just feel like I get more meat for my money by ordering pulled pork or chicken.

However, when I saw that I could buy a full rack of baby back ribs at the grocery for under 8 dollars, I jumped at the chance.

Smoked Baby Back Ribs

Our first smoker was powered by propane. I absolutely loved it, until I was gifted an electric smoker.

smoked chicken
Our first smoker that is powered by propane.

Our electric smoker seemed to hold the temperature at a much more consistent rate. And for me, that meant less worry and attention that was required when I was cooking.

But in order to get the absolute best smoked baby back ribs, there are a few steps that must be followed.

First, it is important to remove the membrane on the back of the ribs.

If the membrane is not removed, your ribs will have a fibrous tissue that is difficult to chew.

remove the membrane
Simply remove the membrane by pulling it back with a paper towel

Simply place a butter knife under the membrane to loosen one end. Then, using a paper towel, pull back across the length of the ribs and the membrane will come off.

You may have to do this step a couple of times if it doesn’t come off in one whole piece.

It only takes seconds to remove it, and trust me, it is well worth it in the end!

Next is the secret to great smoked ribs. MUSTARD!

yellow mustard
The secret to making fantastic smoked ribs – Mustard!

Nothing fancy, just plain yellow mustard. Spread it on both sides of the ribs before adding the dry rub.

Not only does it allow the dry rub to stick to the ribs, but it also adds another layer of subtle flavor.

The Dry Rub

Of course you could use any type of dry rub that you would like.

But we have our absolute favorite, go-to dry rub ingredients listed in this recipe.

dry rub
We use this dry rub for not only our ribs, but also on our smoked wings.

We use it not only for our smoked baby back ribs, but this is the same dry rub that we use on our wings.

The smokey flavor of the chili powder and paprika blend perfectly with the sweetness of the brown sugar.

However, you can use whatever dry rub that you prefer.

How Long To Smoke Baby Back Ribs

The key to smoking baby back ribs is by following the famous 3-2-1 method. Well, kind of.

The 3-2-1 method refers to the cooking times.

  • 3 hours of being smoked directly on the smoker racks.
  • 2 hours of the ribs being steamed in a foil packet with liquid.
  • 1 hour of being smoked directly on the smoker racks with barbecue sauce.

The 3-2-1- method works great for smoking a couple of racks of ribs. However, if you are just smoking one rack of ribs, the method needs a little adjustment.

ribs in foil
After the initial cooking process, place the ribs in a foil packet and add liquid.

You would actually use the same cooking methods but the timing changes to 2-2-1.

So instead of the initial 3 hours of smoking the ribs, you would decrease that time to 2 hours. The other methods would remain the same.

Barbecue Sauce Optional

During the final step of the cooking process, you can add barbecue sauce to the ribs if you wish.

Using a barbecue brush, coat each side of the ribs after you take them out of the foil and place them back in the smoker.

The final hour will allow the barbecue sauce to caramelize.

smoked baby back ribs
Fall off the bone, smoked baby back ribs.

However, we prefer to enjoy the taste of the ribs without adding barbecue sauce.

The meat is so tender and juicy on it’s own and the meat literally just falls off the bone.

But the choice is totally up to you!


Mary and Jim

Jim and Mary Competti have been writing gardening, DIY and recipe articles and books for over 15 years from their 46 acre Ohio farm. The two are frequent speakers on all things gardening and love to travel in their spare time.

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Smoked Baby Back Ribs

Smoked Baby Back Ribs

Fall off the bone tender, smoked baby back ribs that are cooked with a delicious dry rub.


  • 1 rack baby back ribs
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard

Dry Rub Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 ½ tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 ½ tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Other Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup beer or Dr. Pepper
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, optional


  1. Preheat your smoker to 225°F.
  2. Remove the membranes from the back side of the ribs by sliding the tip of a butter knife under the membrane and then pulling back with a paper towel.
  3. Slather the ribs on all sides with the yellow mustard.
  4. Mix together the dry rub seasoning.
  5. Season on all sides with the dry rub.
  6. Place the ribs in the smoker and add the wood chips. Close the lid and smoke for 2 hours, maintaining the temperature at 225°F.
  7. Lay out two overlapping large sheets of heavy duty foil on a flat surface, crimping one edge together to create a single, large sheet of foil. Sprinkle the brown sugar down the center of the foil.
  8. Remove the rack of ribs and place meat side down on the brown sugar.
  9. Fold up the ends and sides of the foil and carefully pour the beer or Dr. Pepper on top of the ribs. Tightly crimp and seal the foil around the ribs.
  10. Return the ribs to the smoker at 225°F for 2 more hours.
  11. Carefully drain the foil pouch into a large bowl and then remove the ribs from the foil and place them back in the smoker.
  12. Optional: Brush barbecue sauce liberally all over the smoked ribs. Close the lid on the smoker and continue smoking at 225° F for 1 more hour.
  13. Carefully remove the ribs to a large cutting board. Slice and serve immediately.


Recipe courtesy of Old World Garden Farms

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:

1 grams

Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g
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