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Please explain 2-2-1 and 3-2-1 Ribs

post #1 of 2
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I’m using a Master Built electric smoker to smoke spare ribs.

I have tried 4 times and each time the slab turned out tough and twice I had to throw them in the trash because they were that bad.


I found mention of 2-2-1 and 3-2-1 on this forum and using the search I found people saying they used it but I did not find a thread discussing what it is or the temps used. Can someone please provide a link to the details or explain it here in this post?


I’m assuming its 2 hours dry rub slab, then remove and wrap with foil using a juice from this forum and then return to cooker for 2 hours, then remove from foil and return to smoker for another 1 hour with a wet sauce added. Adding smoke only during the first two hours. I’m guessing that temps should remain around 220-240 during each step?


Is this correct? I’m looking for FOTB ribs.


Also I’m trying to determine if there is a membrane on the back of these ribs? Once the membrane is removed is the meat completely exposed or is there a thinner skin over the meat?




post #2 of 2

That's pretty much right.  You smoke with dry rub for 2 (or 3) hours, then wrap with foil (some add a little juice) for 2 hours, then another hour unwrapped.  After that, finish with sauce.  That last hour is to help bring back the bark.  I typically finish ribs with sauce for about 15-20 minutes . .even better if there's a hot grill near by to slap them on.  


3-2-1 is typically for spares and 2-2-1 is for baby backs.  As for temps, a variety of temps work - anywhere from 225-275 should be fine.  Make sure you're checking during that last hour to see if they're done.  They might go a little less or a little more.  For fall off the bone ribs . .they're done when you lift one end of the rack and the rib wants to come off.    


Yeah - there's still a thin skin left after the membrane is removed.  Sometimes the membrane is already removed when you get the ribs so, if you're not sure, just leave it. The ribs will still be awesome even with the membrane.  Typically the membrane is pretty obvious . .if you start to pull it comes off in big pieces.  If it's coming off in tiny little pieces . .the membrane is probably already removed.  


Good luck!

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