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Ribs - Aaron Franklin Method

Joined Jan 20, 2020
I smoked a slab of St. Louis-style ribs yesterday using Aaron Franklin's simple recipe and 3-2-1 method. They were absolutely delicious. Moist and tender and almost too fall-off-the bone. I'm wondering what people think in terms of which part of the cook should I have changed to have them be just slightly less "tender". Here are the particulars:

Rub was simply yellow mustard with 2X course pepper/1x salt/paprika
Using Weber Kettle with Slow n Sear insert...temps ranged from 235-270 throughout the cook. Used pecan wood chunks.
Three hours on the smoker (spritzed every hour with apple cider vinegar)
10 minutes each side with a slurry mop of 1/2 barbecue sauce/1/2 cider vinegar). This lets the slurry "set up/carmelize" on each side.
Tightly wrapped in foil along with a little more of the slurry mix of 1/2 barbecue sauce/1/2 cider vinegar
Pulled after two hours and let rest for 1 hour.

Again, they were really, really good...but very fall-off-the bone. Less time on the smoker? Less time in foil? Less time resting? What do you think?

Pic attached (along with some sweet italian sausage I also did).



Smoking Fanatic
Joined Nov 26, 2019
First off ribs look good. When I use 3-2-1 I dont let my temp get over 240. Try to keep it closer to 225 if you can. If you cant keep it that low consistently then I'd try 2-2-1


Smoking Fanatic
Joined May 28, 2017
I think I remember reading that the 321 method was for full spares at a temp of 225. I usually cook at 275 and I wrap after about two hours. I have found that having them wrapped for more than 45 minutes gives them a fall off the bone texture that I don't personally care for. After I unwrap I will throw them back on for another 20 minutes or so. Your ribs do look good though.


Master of the Pit
Joined Oct 18, 2017
Those look really good. Nice job! I think if you want them a little less fall off the bone I would shorten up the foil wrap time. And the last part of the smoke when you unwrapped them just leave on long enough to set the glaze or sauce. The vinegar in the wrap could also be tenderizing a little too much. Maybe use apple juice on the wrap and keep the vinegar mixture for the glaze/sauce at the end. All that beeing said yours look like that made for a nice meal!


Smoking Fanatic
Joined Feb 14, 2018
Less time in the wrap. With the half cup vinegar you're effectively braising them which will tenderize faster. If they were still plenty hot when resting they will continue to tenderize as they sit.
Looks good though, I dig in on that! Though I too prefer them not so fall-off-the-bone.


Master of the Pit
SMF Premier Member
Joined Oct 17, 2014
I just read Franklin's book and I've watched his rib videos on YouTube before. He goes by feel and looks rather than time or temp, of course he's got quite a bit more experience than the average person in their backyard. Like others have advised, less time wrapped will work for you. RAY

Joined Jan 20, 2020
I got Aaron Franklin's "Masterclass" for Christmas ($90/Masterclass.com). I really enjoyed it. Probably 10-12 different video sessions on how to pick/prep/smoke several different meats (brisket/ribs/butt/etc.) Learned a ton and he's an interesting/entertaining host.

The best part about the $90 is you get also access to a bunch of other instructors from Venus Williams...to Carlos Santana...to the Hell's Kitchen guy. Lots of good stuff. But really liked the Franklin series.


Smoke Blower
Joined Jan 10, 2020
I was just reading his book last night, and contemplating a rib cook this weekend.

Just debating on what kind of sauce to make (mustard v ketchup type sauce) to go with. Your ribs look fantastic though!
Joined Jan 20, 2020
Thanks for all the feedback. Much appreciated.

I have yet to make my own sauce (always use different bottle sauces). I didn't use any sauce at all on these (other than the 1/2 sauce/vinegar slurry) and didn't miss it a bit.


Joined Nov 25, 2019
I just changed the time up on them. Sometimes I will cook 3-1-1 and sometimes I cook 2-2-1. Just depends on how they look after the first 2 hours of the cook.


Smoking Fanatic
SMF Premier Member
Joined Jan 13, 2015
Nothing wrong with wrapping. There are many ways to get great ribs. FOTB is a distinction many use to describe their preference. As they say, make 'em the way you like 'em. IMO, FOTB tends to over cook the meat taking it past it's best flavor profile in favor of texture. Our personal preference is opting instead for a 'clean bite' without a tug. To that point, the days of wrapping and all the fussing have long disappeared, replaced by smoking until the doneness we are looking for is achieved. Besides, less fussing leaves time for the more important things in life, such as beer! :emoji_wink:

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