MES question about rib cook time (now w/Q-view)

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Original poster
Jun 6, 2010
Today is my first attempt at ribs on my MES 30".  I've done several butts and never had a problem with recovery time, but today I really loaded it down with 4 slabs of spares, attempting to do the 3-2-1 method, and it's struggling to get back up to correct temp.

I started with the smoker rolling at 275, but once I added the water and ribs, it dropped all the way down to 105 or so.  Right now (an hour into the smoke), it's only gotten back to 170 (but have been getting plenty of TBS).  The temp is rising steadily, but slowly.

My question is...should I extend the cooking time for the first "3" hour segment?  If so, by how much?  Say, start the timer once it reaches 200, etc?

Any advice is appreciated.  I keep meaning to take before-after pictures for a q-view, but keep forgetting.  I definitely skipped the "before" today, but will try to remember some "after" photos....
You are turning the temp down to 230 aren't you??

Was the meat cold from the fridge when you put it in?

It should warm up soon.

I have done lots of spares 3-2-1.

I wouldn't change the time.

I run mine full often.

 Don't worry... have fun!

Pictures are very important here.


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Thanks for the quick reply!  Yes, I turned the temp down to 225 when I put the ribs in, which had been sitting out while I pre-heated the smoker, but not long enough I guess...

It's up to 185 now, so seems to be getting better now (70 minutes into the smoke).  I was just getting concerned since I had not seen this recovery time issue with my previous smokes (butts, chicken, etc), where the smoker was not completely full like it is today.

I'll take a few shots when I take 'em out to foil and the the finished product.  Thanks for the advice....
Just did 6 racks yesterday in My MES and they were awesome

You're really smoking for the 1st 3 hours, then wrap for 2 hours and finish off unwrapped for the last hour.  All at 225°

I like to finish my ribs on the grill for 15 minutes or so.

3 - 3 1/2 hours of good smoke for me.

I use the 3 2 1 method in my SmokinTex with good results
Done with the "3"'s a few pics before they go into the foil.  This is a little less than 1/2 the entire the MES loaded down today.

Did you put hot water into the smoker? If you are having issues holding or recovering temps it can be really important to put boiling hot water into the pan to help with the heat recovery in the smoker. I have never used a MES but plenty of guys on here do so they can give you more tricks about that particular smoker.
I bet that was it.  In my previous smokes, I had used hot water (thanks to that tip by fine folks like yourself) and had no real issues with recovery time.  Today, however, I forgot and just ran it cold out of the tap.  Argh!

Oh well, I let it go a little longer in the first phase and it looked good on the q-view.  Hoping it tastes as good as it looks...
I think Ross hit the nail on the head with putting hot water in the water pan. However, to me the ribs look fine after 3 hours. I would stick to the remaining 2-1. Then check them by grabbing two of the ribs & see if they pull apart easily. If they do their done, if not let them go another 1/2 hour.
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Here's the remaining q-view pics:

After taking out of foil:


After final time in smoker:


Right before they disappeared:


My friends loved them, but I learned a few things for next time (besides to remember the hot water tip):

1) Ribs don't need as much rub as a butt...I felt it was overpowering, and took too much away from the smoke taste or natural pork taste.  Next time, I'll go with a dusting, or maybe even just a light sprinkle of garlic and pepper.

2) They were a little too "fall off the bone" for my taste...would have liked a bit of "tug" when eating.  From what I've read, that just means I should decrease the amount of time in foil (or leave out that step).

Either way, I'll enjoy these leftovers and I can't wait til the next time.  Thanks again to everyone for their help and suggestions...this is a great forum!
They sure look good from here, but I'm with you I like a little tug on the ribs, but like your friends, most of our guests like fall off the bone. So when we have company thats how I make them. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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