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First baby back ribs (plus lessons learned)

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

Smoked my first few racks of baby back ribs this afternoon. As I intend to do with all of my posts, I try to highlight my smoking process and share lessons learned. For me it's all about progress, so any feedback would be much appreciated. 



2016 Traeger Elite 34

Prep time: 12 hours

Smoke time: 6 hours

Rest time: 0 hours

Total time: 18 hours


Outside temp: 65F

Pit temp: 225F (start)

Target IT: 200F


Process (inspired and adapted from SmokinAl's recipe):

  1. Removed ribs from packaging 12 hours before start of smoke (did not remove membrane).
  2. Generously coated ribs with Carolina mustard sauce then applied a light layer of "house" rub.
  3. Wrapped ribs in plastic wrap and let sit overnight.
  4. At 12:30PM the next day, ribs were placed in smoker at 225F with Cookin Pellets Perfect Mix.
  5. Smoked ribs meat side up for 4 hours until IT hit 160F.
  6. Removed ribs from smoker and placed meat side down in foil atop butter and more "house" rub. Added 1/4c water onto bones of the ribs before wrapping tightly in foil.
  7. Returned ribs to smoker until IT hit 200F (6:30PM).
  8. Removed ribs from smoker and smothered one rack in Memphis-style BBQ sauce, one rack in Kansas City-style BBQ sauce, and left on unsauced.
  9. Placed ribs meat side up in hot (~450F) grill for 2 minutes to thicken BBQ sauce. No rest.
  10. Enjoyed with family!



Memphis (top) and Kansas City (bottom) sauced ribs



Unsauced ribs


Kansas City ribs right off the grill - was amazed at the smoke ring


Unsauced ribs - these were my favorite


Lessons learned:

  • Continued to experience large swing in pit temp (190-235F). Not sure if this is normal or if fire bricks/adjusting P temp (?) would help keep the temperature more consistent.
  • Family didn't think the "sauced" ribs were worth the extra time. Will try no sauce/no grill and just sauce on the cutting board.
  • Ribs weren't fall-off-bone at 200F. They were plenty moist and very flavorful, but took effort to tug away from the bone. Assuming a higher IT (205 or 210F) would lead to fall-off? Want to check on this.
  • Also want to see if removing membrane leads to "drier" ribs and if apple cider brings additional flavor - will also test this next time.
  • Is the smoke ring common with ribs?
post #2 of 2
Those smoke rings look awesome. I wish I could've gotten some rings on the ribs I did today like that. I'm going to have to try rubbing them down and putting plastic wrap over them like you did, I bet that would've made mine more flavorful. I think the apple cider vinegar would be a great addition! I use apple cider vinegar and apple juice in equal parts to inject into my butts and the flavor is awesome. Bet it would be really tasty on ribs. Thanks for the ideas though!
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