• 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.

Ribs with BBQ sauce question

jjlnyc

Fire Starter
59
19
Joined Nov 23, 2015
First let me start by saying I like my ribs not cooked with BBQ sauce. I make a mean homemade sauce, but always serve it on the side, as I prefer more Texas-style - dry rub only.
I am a big fan of, and have had great success with, the 3-2-1 method, using my analog MES, hovering around the 250f mark, with hickory and/or mesquite for the smoke.
Side note: We like spare ribs, not baby back (we like them meatier) and I always trim them St. Louis cut. Sometimes I get from a butcher, often I buy the 3-rack pack from Costco, which are actually really good!
This weekend we are celebrating my father-in-law's 85th birthday, and our first family get-together since last spring (all vaxxed now), and I will be making probably 6 St. Louis racks.
Dad likes his ribs cooked with sauce though, so I am going to try to accommodate him by cooking a couple racks with sauce.
For all of you who do 3-2-1 with sauce, when do you apply it? Marinate even before smoking? During one of the 3 stages? All of them? Two of them?
(Personally, I am leaning towards putting sauce on just for the last hour when I uncover them. I think I tried once before putting sauce on when I wrapped them for the 2 hours, and I seem to recall the sugar in the sauce over-caramelizing and kind of burning..., :emoji_slight_frown:)

TIA!
James
 

bdawg

Meat Mopper
★ Lifetime Premier ★
239
100
Joined Dec 30, 2011
(I like using sauce instead of yellow mustard as the binding agent for the rub, then saucing at the end. I will sometimes do it a few hours before the cook, to let the rub soak in, but even doing it while the smoker is warming up to temp is good)

I use a temperature based variation of the 3-2-1 method:
unwrapped at 225F until they hit 165
wrapped until they hit 185 or so
unwrapped with sauce to finish
The clock is only there as an estimate. Temp overrules the clock.
 

mneeley490

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
2,808
934
Joined Jun 23, 2011
Sauce the last hour if smoking at 240° or less. Anything higher, sauce last 30 minutes, as you don't want the sauce to burn. Just my opinion. Actual mileage may vary.
 

jjlnyc

Fire Starter
59
19
Joined Nov 23, 2015
Sauce the last hour if smoking at 240° or less. Anything higher, sauce last 30 minutes, as you don't want the sauce to burn. Just my opinion. Actual mileage may vary.
Since I use an analog smoker, temp control is not terribly precise - sometimes it is down at 225, sometimes up to 275. Averages 250 though. Do you sauce just one time, or 2-3 times?
 

mneeley490

Master of the Pit
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
2,808
934
Joined Jun 23, 2011
Depends on my mood and time management. I'm a naked ribs with sauce on the side-guy, too. But relatives want what they want. I'd probably sauce no more than once or twice on the grill, and if it's a thin sauce, maybe once more on the plate to give it that sheen. But TNJake's method would work, too. It's just your preference.
 

bdawg

Meat Mopper
★ Lifetime Premier ★
239
100
Joined Dec 30, 2011
I sauce just once for the last half hour or so, and give some sauce on the side.
 

radioguy

Smoking Fanatic
850
205
Joined Jan 12, 2013
I cook mostly with wood /charcoal. I started out with 3-2-1 method. During my 2 I would wrap in foil and use some sauce thinned down with water, beer or apple juice, meat side down. With the 3-2-1 method I found that I tended to over cook the ribs during that braising period. I would finish with one coat of sauce if finishing was needed. I also found that 3-2-1 method very messy dealing with foil wrap and rib goo. Large cooks and comps were very messy.
I started no foil hot and fast (like my brisket). I rub them, put them on at 250F 1 hour, 275, next hour, 300 next hour. Since they are unwrapped it is easier for me to do the bend test with the tongs. I'll move them around from hot to cooler as they finish. I will give them one coat of sauce, when they come off the fire, wrap them in foil. Rest in foil for at least 15 minutes. Put a full squeeze both of sauce on the table.
Naked ribs are great too. Try them with salt, pepper and garlic only.

RG
 

HowlingDog

Meat Mopper
SMF Premier Member
166
98
Joined Jan 16, 2019
I apply some sauce when I pull them out of the smoker then cover and let rest until serving. Sauce melts all over the ribs during the rest. Generally I use Head County regular or hickory.
 

pineywoods

SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
Staff member
Administrator
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
OTBS Admin
Group Lead
27,061
1,759
Joined Mar 22, 2008
Jake and several others are dead on. Most bbq sauces have quite a bit of sugar in them which is subject to burn so doing it that last 45 minutes to an hour reduces the risk. A good coat once is what I usually do when I sauce them. Then warm up some more sauce in a pan and serve it on the side that way if there isn't enough on the ribs when they come out of the smoker people can add more to their taste.
 

whistlepig

Smoking Fanatic
556
170
Joined Dec 23, 2011
A really good rub can make the ribs good enough to eat without sauce. And I do this always. My rub recipe is that good. Sauce is there for dipping after the ribs are done. I never sauce my ribs in the smoker.
 

jjlnyc

Fire Starter
59
19
Joined Nov 23, 2015
A really good rub can make the ribs good enough to eat without sauce. And I do this always. My rub recipe is that good. Sauce is there for dipping after the ribs are done. I never sauce my ribs in the smoker.
My rub is too, and I never do either. But out of 6 racks, I am deferring a couple to Birthday Boy's preference :emoji_wink:
 

Latest posts

Top Bottom
  AdBlock Detected

We noticed that you're using an ad-blocker, which could block some critical website features. For the best possible site experience please take a moment to disable your AdBlocker.