New To Smoking

  • Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.
SMF is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Original poster
Jul 6, 2005
I just purchased a Brinkmann Vertical Smoker.
I have no experience in smoking ribs and would like some advice. In fact I would like any basic advice any of you are willing to give me.
I am mostly worried about controlling the temperature and the length of time needed to cook the ribs.
I hope all you experts will help me as I am really excited about learning this culinary skill.
Thanks so much.
I can not hep you with the temp question but as far as the time for ribs there is a guy here that informed me of the 3-2-1 method that comes out excellent everytime. It consists of buying your ribs and making sure you take off the back membrane very carefully. Then you put on your dry rub liberally and wrap them in plastic wrap and let them rest in the fridge for a day. Then take them out and let them get to room temp and then place in smoker right on the racks with plastic removed of course. Three hours with just smoke and dry rub then take out and foil with a splash of apple juice for two hours. I use more than a splash but I like the sweetness. After two hours back on the rack for 1 hour. I never go the whole hour but I'm impatient sometimes. I don't glaze them, I just use a sauce for dipping that way they are not so messy but you could start galzing them with your favorite sauce the last 20 min or so. Let me know if there is anyting you don't understand and I'll try to get it answered. Thanks
Oh yeah I do all this at 225 but I use gas so it holds very accurate.

Welcome to the forums...

I started out on a vertical brinkmann smoker many years ago and with a little patience you can put out a good piece of meat. I have done turkeys, ribs, pork shoulder, brisket, fish, chicken, just about anything smokeable.. I have done it on the brinkmann.

You are interested in ribs (my personal favorite) :) and so I will tell you what I know and perhaps others will follow suit and do the same to give you a well rounded answer.

I quickly saw that the ribs would not fit on mine just laying flat so I had to roll mine up and used a skewer to keep it together. I then set it upright in barrel formation on the rack.

Let me back up though.. I always remove the membrane which is on the underside of the ribs.. the bone side. This is accomplished by using a spoon, screwdriver or other sharp object to get it started and then using a paper towel to grip and smoothly pull off. This may seem difficult at first but with a little practice it gets easier.

This allows the smoke to better penetrate the meat and makes for a more pleasant eating experience.

I then rub mine generously with my famous dry rub called "Jeff's Naked Rib Rub" (so named because you eat the ribs naked with just the rub.. no sauce is needed)

You can order my famous rib rub recipe here or there are many dry rubs available online if you care to do some searching in Google. I also have a few free recipes at the website.

I put the rub on both sides liberally about an hour before smoking... the easiest way to apply the rub is to squirt some French's yellow mustard onto the ribs.. about a teaspoon or so and rub it all over the meat. Then sprinkle the rub onto the meat and it will adhere to the ribs really well.

Don't worry cause the mustard loses it's flavor during the smoking process and leaves you with a beautiful brown crust.

You can also just squirt a teaspoon or so of mustard on the ribs and then pour on a generous amount of rub and rub it all over together that way.

It is not a science... just whatever is easier for you.

Build a 225 degree fire and maintain the temp by adding coals as needed.

I like to use mesquite in the brinkmann.. get some mesquite wood chips or hickory if you prefer and wrap them in foil. Poke some holes in the foil package so the smoke can get out and lay it holes up on top of the coals.

You may want to add a better temperature guage to the brinkmann if possible... mine had the warm/ideal/hot thermometer and I finally figured out where to have it to maintain about 225 but it was a lot easier after I added a "real" temperature guage" to the lid.

I also drilled some holes in the lid in like a 6 inch round area and made a flap out of some scrap aluminum attached with one screw in the corner so I could open it to allow some damper control.

I also drilled some holes in the charcoal pan on both sides to allow more draw of air for the fire.

I keep smoke to the ribs for at least the first 3-4 hours in the brinkmann and then let them finish with only heat from the coals. I noticed that it took at least 7 hours to get the ribs done in my brinkmann but normally about 6 to 6.5 hours is plenty.

It all depends on how you like them... I like mine falling off the bone pretty much so I cook mine to 170 degrees internal temp.

There are some other good methods that you may want to explore... the 3-2-1 method is one you will probaly hear a lot in here... it is basically 3 hours in the smoker unwrapped, then 2 hours wrapped in foil and splashed with apple juice, then the last hour unwrapped to crisp things up a bit.

Let us know if you need further explanation on anything..
I used the 3-2-1 method and it worked great! I used one of Jeff's rub recipe and couldn't ask for a better flavor and final product. Since reading what these guys post, I am convinced they know what they are doing and are very knowledgable.

Welcome, Libby,
I, too, have used the 3-2-1 method many times with great success. In my opinion, it is absolutely critical that you remove the membrane as Jeff described. I experimented one time by leaving the membrane on just one rack to see the difference for myself (as well as to prove the point to my smart-aleck brother in law who lives right accross the street). All else remaining equal, the rack with the membrane attached was not nearly as fall off the bone tender and did not have the same level of smokiness that the properly prepared racks had.

One other recommendation; when in season, I prefer to use fresh cider as opposed to processed apple juice during the foil step. It seems to impart a suttle sweet/tart flavor that my family enjoys.

My personal choice of wood for ribs is a 50/50 combination of hickory & apple or mesquite & apple.

Experimentation is the key, though, so play to your hearts content. When you find something you like...beleive will find yourself meeting neighbors you didn't know you had!! Good Luck 8)

Libby congrats and good luck in your new smokin "adventure"

the 3-2-1 method is definatly the way to go for fall off the bone succulent ribs

here is a pic of mine after 3 going into the 2 stage
Thanks to everyone that replied to my message.
I will cure the grill this weekend as the instructions tell me to do. If all goes well I will try some ribs Sunday.
I will let you all know how the ribs turn out.
I worry most about controlling the temperature and when to add charcoal.
To maintain the temp of 225, when do you time the addition of the charcoal?
I hope I am not a bother to any of you with my "stupid" questions.
Being new to this as well I'll add my .02 cents before the experts chime in. I read a lot of info on this site and other places around the web and the story with temp control is the same. Control the heat of the fire by opening or closing the draft is hot, closed is cooler.

I don't care for chicken that much by I took the advice of the great people on this site and started by smoking a chicken before blowing $50 or more bucks on ribs. This gave me a chance to get used to controlling the temperature. I quickly found that my grill got way too hot. All vents closed and the temp was way out of range. While vent control is important, the amount of fuel you add to the fire is the easiest to mess up.

Being a long time griller I'm used to firing up big piles of coal and blasting food a high heat and as such put way too much coal in my firebox. Start with just a small amount of coal to get your fire going and add to it slowly to bring the heat up.

For my first rib smoke I was able to hold very steady around 225 by adding a few pieces medium pieces of lump coal whenever the temp would start to dip. Do yourself a favor and get a dual probe thermometer such as (the people who work here are a-holes... no endorsement of BBQ galore!) It will tell you the temp of the grill and the temp down where the food is which oddly is very different from the temp gauge in the dome.

3-2-1 is the way to go! Good luck!!
Hi Everyone,
Well I smoked my first racks of spare ribs.
I believe my problem was temperature control. I had two racks of spare ribs on the grills of the Brinkmann Vertical Smoker (charcoal). I just could not get the temp above 150 degrees no mater how often I added charcoal. The ribs were edible, but a little tough and not "falling" of the bone.
Obviously, I need some more help from you, the pros.
ANY suggestions on what might have gone wrong are deeply appreciated.
Thanks so much
Libby the pest again,
Just wanted to mention I used the 3-2-1 method!
Hi Libby,

I too have the newer brinkman smoker and have had the same problem as you when I first started using it. I could only get the temp to "spike" to 200, but would not stay long.

I finally figured out how to get it going fairly high and have managed to get it up to 350-400. The trick is to get a good charcoal chimney, then fill it with coals and get it started "outside of the smoker". I set mine on an old baking sheet. Once these coals are burning good, put them in the smoker (make sure you have a good pair of insulated gloves and "Be Careful", wait until the flames are mostly out). Immediatly start another set of coals (do not put the meat in yet). Once this second set of coals are burning good, put your meat in, fill your water bowl (if using it), then dump the second set of coals in, throw a few wood chunks on and close it back up quick. Make sure all the vents are open all the way. The temp should spike up failry high, then slowly come back down and settle in aroung 250-300. Adjust the lower vents to bring the temp down a little, the upper vents don't affect temp as much as they affect smoke output.

I find this smoker needs a new set of coals about every 1.5 - 2 hours. This tends to pile too many coals in the bowl for a long smoke. I have a metal bucket that after adding 3 stacks of coals, when I go to add a fouth stack, I empty the carcoal from the bowl into the metal bucket, I then add the fresh coals in the bowl and close it back up. I then water down the coals in the bucket so I don't have a red hot bucket sitting around (got kids).

A good set of thick, leather, insulated gloves are a "must have" with this smoker as you have to play with hot items too much to keep the temp up.

Hope this helps, I'm about to replace my Brinkman as I know this one is very ineffecient. I was thinking about getting a barrel / sidebox style smoker/grill to replace both my smoker and grill with one cooker.
Hi Libby!

First let me ask, because I'm a little confused by some of the posts. When you say Brinkman "vertical" you mean a Brinkman Smoke King Deluxe or an ECB (inexpensive water smoker)?

There is a vast difference between the two! If you have an ECB, then definitely do as Jeff P. suggested an dril out some 7/8" holes into the charcoal pan. 5 or 6 around the sides and maybe 4 or so on the bottom. I don't know if your married or have a boyfrioend that's handy with things like that (perhaps you are yourself!). It also helps if you add a small grate that will bring the charcoal up about 2 to 3 in. off the bottom. One of the design flaws of these type smokers is that the charcoal likes to smother itself out. You can also save yourself alot of clean-up time if you line both the charcoal and water pans with a couple layers HD Aluminum Foil. Hopefully you have done as suggested and purchased a decent dial thermo to replace the totally inaccurate factory button thermo!

If you bought a BSKD, that's a "Horse of a Different Color", and I'll be glad to help you out with hints and essential Mods for that unit as well!

Good Luck!

Thanks for the advice. I have the inexpensive Brinkmann vertical smoker, so one answer seems to drill holes in the charchoal pan. I or my husband can handle that. The idea of keeping charcoal going in the charcoal chimney is also a very good one. I noticed that the charcoal pan got so very full within a few hours and did not empty it at any point. I will try that next time as well. With the inexpensive Brinkmann there is only one chimney and no vents other than that chimney, so there are no other vents for me to open/close.
I am so appreciative of all your suggestions and may try again this next weekend. Maybe with a simple chicken or a smaller amounts of ribs.
Libby is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Latest posts

Hot Threads