How long should i smoke babyback ribs?

Discussion in 'Pork' started by chasady37, Apr 13, 2014.

  1. chasady37

    chasady37 Newbie

    I'm new to but i have been coming here for tips with brisket for quite awhile. 
    I need some pointers with my babyback's now. This is my first time smoking them. I have a vertical charcoal smoker, and some mesquite wood chunks. I've read to use foil and also that some prefer not to. What I'm hoping for is some juicy, tender, flavorful ribs that fall off the bone. Any help is appreciated.
  2. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hello, first I smoke my ribs at 225*-250*. As the smoker is coming to temp, I rub down the ribs with just regular ole yellow mustard & put on the rub... I personally don't foil, but if ya want fall off the bone ribs.... Ya will want to foil.. Some do the 2-2-1 method with babybacks as they are smaller than spares and will get done quicker. 2-2-1 means 2 hours of smoke, then foil for 2 hours, then back into the smoke for 1 hour. I don't go by time, I usually watch for the meat on the end of the ribs to "pull or shrink" back and then the bend test is also a good way to check if they are done. Hope this helps !

    Note---- the bend test is not for fall off the bone ribs, just givin ya a few options on how ya can do the ribs !

    Last edited: Apr 13, 2014
    chasady37 likes this.
  3. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Here's a link to an article on the bend test.

    Also, you can modify the 2-2-1 method a little as ya need to as the longer ya foil the more tender or fall off the bone ya will get with your ribs..

    Note---- The bend test isn't for fall off the bone ribs, just givin ya a few options on how ya can do the ribs !

    Last edited: Apr 13, 2014
  4. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    ^^^^^^^^^ good info.

    But I use a toothpick to check for tenderness. I just don't like the bend test.

    Toothpick tender.
  5. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    2-2-1 is the way to go. No doubt about it. With thicker babybacks I'll even push the foiled time closer to 3 hours if my guests want really fall off the bone ribs. I like a little tug to them, but then they pull clean off the bone. If you want flavorful fall off the bone ribs I'd do this:

    1.Rub them down with a good rub. Heavy on the brown sugar. Most people like sweet.

    2.Smoke at 225 for 1 1/12 to 2 hours with no foil.

    3.Wrap the ribs in foil bone side up. Pour some apple juice on the ribs. With the bone side up they'll kinda make a "cup" . I try to keep most of the liquid in the cup when I wrap them. Maybe 1/4 cup of apple juice per slab and then wrap and put back on the smoker. No need to add wood during the foiled process. Let them go for about 2 1/2 hours for really fall off the bone ribs.

    4. Pull them out of the foil and back on the smoker. Add more wood and let them go another 1/2 hour to hour. sauce if you want to the last 20 minutes or so.

    This is basic 2-2-1 babybacks just titled more in the foil direction for extra fall off the bone ribs.
    chasady37 likes this.
  6. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Anytime I've used the 2-2-1 or 3-2-1 method at 225 - 250 degrees the ribs start to fall apart when I take them out of the foil. I've never had to use a toothpick or anything else to tell they will be fall off the bone. And like I said if you push the time in the foil longer they'll be even more tender. Just make sure you take off the end what you add to the foil process. Meaning if you go 2 1/2 in foil only finish them for a 1/2 hour when you take them out of the foil. Doesn't have to be exactly to the minute but maybe within 10-15 minutes. Always worked for me.
  7. chasady37

    chasady37 Newbie

    Thanks guys! Really helpful. 

    When it comes to maintaining the temp how do i go about doing so? Like i said I have a vertical smoker and the thermometer doesn't have numbers, it only has "low" "ideal" and "hot" 
  8. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Just a suggestion, baby backs are not usually smoked with a hard wood like mesquite or hickory. Usually a lighter wood. So if using Mesquite go a little light handed and I think you'll be a lot happier with the final product.

    Briskets and butts handle heavy smoke well. But if you are comfortable with mesquite and who does work to be so, just cut back on the smoke you use.

     For foiling I would think 1/4C apple juice, 1/4 cut apple cider vinegar, and some of your rub.

    Again, just a  suggestion.

    Hope it all comes out fine.
    chasady37 and jerseypumasue like this.
  9. d-train

    d-train Fire Starter

    Loin back ribs and hickory go together like lamb and tunafish. Or maybe like spaghetti and meatball?

    In all seriousness, I do like hickory with baby backs. Apple is great too, as well as pecan. Never really messed around with mesquite, seems like it'd be overpowering tho.
  10. I rub baby backs with Jeff's rub or Strawberry's, have never foiled, then smoke at 225 for 4 hr 40 min in my MES 40 using Todd's pellet tray and pit master blend. I have had anything but praise.
  11. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    I actually hate mesquite. Never liked it but to each there own.

    As far as hickory I love it on babybacks. I use it all the time. Most if the time mixed with apple or cherry, but I've used it alone on ribs plenty of times. The. Again I like a real strong smokey flavor where a lot of people don't.

    With that low, ideal, high thermo I'm not 100% sure. I don't know how it's gaged. I'd assume ideal wouldn't be much higher than 250 on a smoker. Then again i don't use a vertical smoker. If you don't have a thermometer like a maverick or igrill you should buy one. If you can't before you smoke your ribs is keep it on the low end of the ideal spot on your thermometer. That's decent advice for someone who knows nothing about your smoker. Could turn out great with this advice or could need to be cooked longer. My guess is keeping on the low end of ideal using 2-2-1 method won't over cook them. Then again like I said I've never used a vertical. Hopefully someone familiar with this style smoker can help you a little more.
    chasady37 likes this.
  12. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Also Chasady if ya can post a pic or two of your smoker, sometimes it's helpful to see what ya have and it can be easier to help ya out !

  13. Just to add to my earlier post, I do check the temp in several spots to make sure the meat is at least to 165 degrees - normally well over that.
  14. chasady37

    chasady37 Newbie

    This is my smoker, it's an older model. lol

    the temp gauge is a little charred.
  15. I suggest you order a Maverick  ET-732  for pit temp from Todd Johnson who is a sponsor here and have a probe thermometer to check items like ribs.
  16. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    I'd second the idea of buying a maverick. But if your gonna smoke before it will make it in the mail ribs are easy to do without a thermo. In my humble opinion any how.

    Just use the 2-2-1 method and keep your temps in the ideal range. When you pull the ribs out of the foil after the 2nd two hours if they are falling apart your gonna be ok. While this is not an exact science and people can argue with me up and down with smoker science I'm telling you based on my years of experience your on the right track. Just leave them on foil a half hour longer if your worried.

    Now with that said it'd be smarter to check your temps. You can even go to the store and buy a cheap pen style thermo and check the temps after you unfoil them, and after the final hour unfoiled.

    You'll be ok. Just make sure you post pics of your first rib smoke and details so any issues you have can be addressed and any triumphs you have can be praised!

    Good luck bro.
  17. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    For the record I've never checked the temp on a single rack of ribs ever. I check on pork butt, chicken, turkey, and brisket. But with ribs and say chicken wings i just don't check. I've never had a problem either. It's thin meat so as long as you can control your smoker temp in the range you need you'll be ok had always been my motto.

    With that said about 10 years ago I had my first 2 racks of baby backs smoking for about 5-6 hours on a SFB and they looked great! I mean I was excited cause they looked like the ribs I'd seen on tv with pro pitmasters tending to the pits! I had my family over and they were about as dry and tough as an old Harley boot! Lol! No BS!!! I only embarrass myself with this cautionary tale to say this: if I had a thermo for those first slabs I wouldn't have had the worst ribs ever smoked that night.

    Over the next year or so I ate a few dry slabs, but none anywhere near that dry and crappy. The rest were all edible. Never once did eat or taste an under done slab of ribs.

    Buy a cheap pen thermo at the store. They can be found for under $10. A maverick or igrill is a great investment if your gonna continue to smoke meats regularly. Especially if you start smoking larger cuts of meat like pork butts and briskets.
  18. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    It may not be new but its has a lot of character!
    chasady37 likes this.
  19. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Agreed Foamheart. It's probably smoked countless delicious meats! Do it proud!
    chasady37 likes this.
  20. grammacindy

    grammacindy Newbie

    Hi everyone. Just bought our fist smoker:  Masterbuilt Electric. I am going to try and smoke some BB ribs today.  I rubbed and refrigerated over night and my question is: Do I smoke them meat or bone side up?

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