Baby Back question - Does positioning matter?

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Baby Backs on the Smoker.

  • Meat side up

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Bone side up

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Doesn't matter

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
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Smoking Fanatic
Original poster
Apr 9, 2011
White Plains, NY
While smoking some baby-backs this weekend my friend suggested that I smoke the baby backs meat side down so that the juices collect on the concave side (bone side) and "self baste" the ribs as they cook.  His theory is that the juices will evenutally fall through the ribs keeping them moist.  I've seen other posts with the meat side facing up (presumably for spraying or mopping).

Ultimately, in using the 3-2-1 method, I don't think it mattered because they steamed so much while wrapped and they were fall off the bone good.  However, I was wondering if people have any opinion as to whether placement (meat side up or down) has any impact on cooking or bark formation.
While I voted the way I do it -- bone side down -- I think I agree that it probably doesn't matter as much with the 3-2-1 as it might in other cooking methods.  I've never thought about it until now. 
  Dang it, WhtPlainsSmoker, you're making me think here and it's almost Friday!

I'm not so worried about the heat protection factor mentioned by michael ark, as I am using the indirect method anyway.  I smoke my whole birds breast side down for the reason your friend gives (juices flow into the breast meat), but that is a whole lot more meat mass to consider, and were not generally taking poultry way beyond "done" for the sake of tenderness.  I would not hesitate to use a rib rack (which stands them on their side) if space were an issue, so how important is this decision, really?  I will check back as others weigh in......Hmmmmmmmmm........

You should probably add the rib rack as a choice in the above poll.....
Bone down..............hands down!

If the bones are on the bottom and the meat is on top,

it stands to reason that the juices would stay in the ribs longer having to go threw a bone to get out.

The only time i place ribs "bone up" is in foil.
I usually go with bone side down, but I have a WSM 18.5 and I have actually cooked 5 racks of BB's on my smoker, but I had to stand them on edge in sort of a "crown" fashion kinda wrapped around my smoker.
Bone down-even when I used to do rib 3-2-1 or bbr 2-2-1 it was bone side down.
I used to flip 'em and rotate 'em, like a set of tires.  Upper right bone-down (I have two racks in my vertical smoker) goes to lower left, bone-up, etc.  the lower rack in my smoker sits closer to the charcoal pan, so I noticed the racks I put on it would cook faster, thus the rotation.

However, I too read a lot about "bone-down," 100% of the time, so that the juices wouldn't drip straight out of the meat as readily.  And so this past Monday, I did that, but I charred the bottom (bone side) of several of the racks.  Not sure if this was when (probably while sampling margaritas) the water in my water pan accidentally fully evaporated, and my perfect-225 fire flared up to 275-300 for about 10 minutes, or if it was due to the no-rotation thing.  But it was enough to have me go back to rotating 'em the way I used to the next time I do a smoke.

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