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Ribs overcooked. What went wrong? Q view

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I smoked some ribs over the weekend and as you can see by the pics they are little over cooked. However, the meat itself is still tender and edible..only the rubb charred up. I smoked the ribs for 5 hours, maintaing and average of 240 degrees, using Jeff's rib rub recipe. What did I do wrong? Do you think I will be able to just scrape off the rub and they will be okay?  These are to be eaten by family and i don't want them to taste the charred flavor. Advice on saving these ribs?



post #2 of 16



The only way you will get "char" is to have the ribs exposed to a direct fire.  Char is that dried out, crispy burn that I like on my Pittsburg Rare steaks, but not on my Q.


You said an average of 240,  that means the middle of 0 and 480.  not good cooking temps.  We generally look to have the smoker hover within a couple of degrees of the target temp.  I tend to smoke at a bit lower temp, closer to 225 to 230.


If you didn't use direct fire then I would think what you have is an overdone bark.  Bark is good, something we all look to do but if it is too much rub or to much white smoke or overcooked a good bark can quickly become creosote.  Did you wrap your ribs after a couple of hours with aluminum foil?  The aluminum foil allows you to continue to cook the ribs while adding a bit of moisture and slowing down bark development.  What was your internal temp? on the ribs.


Check out the 3-2-1 method for ribs. 


post #3 of 16

You will get a lot of responses on this...my question is did you foil them at all?  A popular method is either the 3-2-1 or 2-2-1 method.  With the middle number being the number of hours in foil.  This makes the ribs tender and also keeps them out of the smoke for a period of time, which is what chars up the outside of meat.  They are not ruined at all.  Just eat them.  Jeff's rub has a lot of brown sugar in it which will burn in the smoker.  Its normal.  This is the "bark" that a lot of smokers actually want on their food.  It goes along with smoking meat on low and slow for hours on end.  Maybe just enjoy these if you can, and then try the next time go with the foil route, and maybe cut your heat back a smidge to 225 and see what happens.  Its an experimentation game...luckily you get to eat the errors...

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the quick reply. Glad to know that it is "bark" and not burnt! I said an average of 240 because for the first hour I was running about 245 but the rest of the time I was around 225 degrees. The last time I smoked ribs I did the 3-2-1 method and they were great. However, this time, I did not. I had to smoke these early for my family that is coming Saturday because my smoker will be full of chickens Sat AM. I figured, to reheat, I would throw them in the foil with some apple juice for about an hour after the chickens get done. Oh, I ate two ribs before I wrapped and bagged them to freeze until Saturday and I thought they were pretty good..they just look overcooked. I would be willing to bet that I could of pulled the ribs off after 4 hours. Do you think the outside temp plays a roll in the ribs cooking quicker than normal? It was around 100 in Atlanta yesterday.

post #5 of 16

its hard to tell but maybe the temp was higher than 240? i do mine 5 hours but try to keep at 225 and they come out great so i can only think the temps was higher maybe? Or maybe way too much rub on them? i dont see a pic of them rubbed. oh well my internet went down while posting and there were no responses then ok too late

post #6 of 16

Another cause for really dark bark is too much sugar in the rub, I uses Jeffs rub myself and haven't had that problem. The next question to ask 'Is your thermometer calibrated"? If it's not, it could be giving you a false reading. 

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

Do you think I should scrape off some of the rub, wrap in foil and add apple juice, and smoke for around 45 mins when I am ready to eat on Saturday? Any advice is appreciated.


post #8 of 16

The real question is how do they taste?  If they taste fine, all I would do is put some sauce on them and bring them back up to temp when it's time to eat.  I think if you go trying to scrape them, that you will end up with a mess on your hands.  If they don't taste good, there is no saving them.  Junk them and re-do another batch. 

post #9 of 16

I just hope you don't end up with mush.  I guess if the rub is offensive you could scrape it/brush it off put a good coat of fresh BBQ sauce on it and reheat in a moderate oven, keeping them basted to knock of the rub.  You didn't say anything about the ribs being dry, if dry then your way will work



Does it taste like burned or just to much spice?


Good Luck,




post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 

The actual meat is great. It is the rub that taste a little burned. The ribs are definitley edible. I just don't know about "serving them".  I guess since they are not dry, I should just throw them in the oven to reheat w/out apple juice?

post #11 of 16



Thats such an open ended question.  I never reheat meat in an oven without some type of moisture.  I just think you will quickly dry the ribs out.  If you don't want to use BBQ sauce you are kind of limited to water, apple juice or one of the many  really great basting mixtures discussed on this forum.  I just don't think you will get that burned taste out of the meat without something wet to baste them with.

Just don't overcook them.  Maybe try warming in a baking pan covered with apple juice for 30 min or so at 300 to get rid of some of the rub, then take them out, wrap and return to the oven for another 30 min at about 200.


What do you want to serve?  BBQ slathered or non BBQ slathered smoked meat?  You do have the option to redo the ribs, saving these for yourself or cut them up and put in baked beans where the burned flavor will just kind of give the beans a smokey taste.



post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 

I think I will try the below and see what happens. Should the ribs be totally covered in apple juice?


Maybe try warming in a baking pan covered with apple juice for 30 min or so at 300 to get rid of some of the rub, then take them out, wrap and return to the oven for another 30 min at about 200.

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

Tuesday, I decided to go ahead and thaw out a couple ribs and give them a shot. Yesterday, after work, I wrapped the ribs in foil with some apple juice and cooked them in the oven at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. I then, painted the ribs with some William Bros. BBQ sauce and put them back in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes. Well, These ribs may have not been the best looking but looks can be deceiving because they tasted AWESOME! There was no burnt flavor or anything. Now, I just need to learn to make them look pretty. :-)

post #14 of 16

Pretty how?   Throw them on a "fire" for a couple of minutes and crisp up the edges.  Will also kind of gloss the BBQ sauce.  Now I mean for only a couple of minutes, on a real fire.   You can also spray/brush them with a bit of diluted honey (water and/or Captain Morgan's rum), and pass over a fire,  this will kind of glaze them for you.  You see chefs sprinkle with brown sugar then passing a propane torch on them.


You can trim them up, exposing the end of the bone like you see in a nice crown roast or lamb chops, I think they call this a "French Cut".


Did you wrap them the second time you placed them in the oven?  Try not wrapping them so the BBQ sauce dries out a bit and gets glossy.


Experienced cooks know how to save a meal, looks like you are getting there.  Good Job





post #15 of 16

There is bark for sure, and of course from looking at the pictures it could be deceiving me, but just my two cents which isn't worth a lot, it looks like you had some pretty hot temps and/or your water pan was dry or didn't have one at all?  Looks more burnt than bark. I've used Jeff's rub pretty extensively, in high humidity/100*+ degree weather, low and slow between 225-240 and have never had any burning or black bark.  If it is burnt because of the Sugar content as some mention, sugar caramelizes at around 338,  and burns when you get up to 350*.  If it was burnt sugar, it would probably taste a tad bitter as well.


As Dutch recommended, calibrate your chamber temp gauge to eliminate any doubt in its accuracy.  

post #16 of 16

A few things I think you should consider:


1) if the dry rub has sugar, it will burn after extended periods, even at 225* chamber temps, which is my normal target for ribs;


2) average temps of 240, while some may have good results, may be a bit high for pork ribs with some types of smokers, causing charring;


3) the charring can be reduced with a wet smoke chamber (water pan);



Keep your chin up, and don't give up...practice makes perfect ribs (or anything else you desire to smoke).




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