Smoker Recipe For Ribs Using the 3-2-1 Method

This smoker recipe for ribs using the 3-2-1 method is definitely one of the best ways to get those lovely fall off the bone BBQ ribs. 

We are going to break down the method for you and humbly offer a dry rub for you to try, as well as our favourite version of homemade BBQ sauce.

We are using pork ribs which are more popular than beef ribs for smoking, and a little sweeter, but the method can be applied to beef ribs just the same, if you can’t eat pork.

Smoker Recipe for Ribs 321 Method
Smoker Recipe For Ribs 3-2-1 method

The 3-2-1 method for bbq smoker ribs involves:

  • 3 hours in your smoker cooked directly on the grill at 225°F or 110°C
  • 2 hours cooking wrapped in butcher’s paper or foil with a little liquid (usually cider or apple juice)
  • 1 final hour of cooking at a higher heat unwrapped and basted with barbecue sauce

Smoker Recipe For Ribs Dry Rub

3 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar

2 Tablespoons of Sweet Smoked Paprika

1/2 Teaspoon of Chilli Powder

1 Teaspoon of Onion Powder 

1 Teaspoon of Granulated Garlic (not the same as garlic powder)

1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

2 Teaspoons of Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 Tablespoon of Fine Sea Salt

Try our ‘How to Make BBQ Sauce Recipe,’ for the final stage of the cook.

A quick word about pork ribs. We are using Baby Back Ribs which are shorter and less fatty than Spareribs. 

We just prefer a leaner meat, but the recipe will work just as well for Spareribs. 

Smoker Recipe For Ribs Step 1 – Remove the Membrane from the Back of Your Ribs

Start by removing the fatty membrane from your Baby Back Ribs. Pat the back of your ribs dry with kitchen paper, and then slowly and carefully remove the membrane and discard. 

Smoker Recipe For Ribs Step 2 – Make Your Dry Rub

Now put all your dry rub ingredients into a bowl and mix them together.

Take your dry rub and use it to season both sides of your ribs, really getting it all over the meat with your hands. 

Smoker Recipe For Ribs Step 3 – Cook Ribs Unwrapped for 3 Hours

Get your smoker ready and bring it up to around 110°C or 225°F. 

When you have achieved the right temperature place your Baby Back Ribs onto the grills of your smoker or barbecue and close the lid.

Smoke your ribs for 3 hours. Depending on your smoker/barbecue you may need to refuel every 50 minutes to an hour. 

Check the temperature remains steady throughout but try not to lift the lid unless it’s to refuel. Lifting the lid will cause you to lose heat. 

Smoker Recipe For Ribs Step 4 – Cover Ribs in Paper/Foil Add Liquid

After 3 hours you can take your ribs off the grills and wrap them up in the butcher’s paper or tinfoil.

Before you wrap your ribs, add a splash of apple juice or cider to the parcel. Some like to add butter or a splash of oil at this point. It’s up to you, but now is the time to add it. 

Make sure you wrap your ribs as tightly as possible so that they are as airtight as possible.

Return your wrapped ribs to your smoker or barbecue and cook for a further 2 hours with the lid down. 

Smoker Recipe For Ribs Step 5 – Baste with BBQ Sauce Cook for Final Hour

After 2 hours braising in the foil you can remove the ribs once again, and take off the paper/foil.

Now we are going to baste the ribs with barbecue sauce for the final stage. You can make your own bbq sauce using our article or use a store bought sauce.

Take a brush and liberally cover the ribs on both sides in BBQ sauce. If you like your ribs extra saucy use plenty.

Now return the ribs unwrapped to your smoker and smoke for a final hour at 120C or 250F.

After an hour you should have sweet, smokey and spicy ribs that will fall off the bone easily.

Now it’s time to serve your ribs with your favourite sides – fries, mash, fresh green salad, barbecued corn on the cob – so many options!

Smoker BBQ Ribs using the 3-2-1 Method nailed.

If you tried this method and it worked well for you let us know in the comments!

You may also enjoy our article ‘Best Dry Rub For Ribs.’

We have another article on ‘Smoker Recipe for Ribs,‘ you might like.

If you enjoyed this article you might like to read ‘How to Smoke Brisket.

Or our ‘Prime Rib in a Smoker,’ recipe.

If you would like to reader another great article about the 3-2-1 Method for Smoker BBQ Ribs try here:

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