What is this "3-2-1" method

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by da toad, Aug 31, 2015.

  1. of which I see a lot of posts?  I did a search but there were hundreds of folks saying they were doing/did it but I could not find anything specific about the method itself.

  2. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    Cooking method for spare ribs to make them fall-off-the-bone tender.

    3 - number of hours you cook them in your smoker uncovered

    2 - number of hours you cook them wrapped in foil, usually with some kind of braising liquid in the foil (apple juice is a common braising liquid)

    1 - remove the foil and cook uncovered for 1 more hour in the smoker...mostly to set any sauce you want to add and to firm up the bark a bit.

    These times were based on cooking at a temp of around 225*.  Most of us who use this method have adjusted the second 2 numbers according to our own tastes and our different smoker types.  In my pellet rig, I generally do something closer to 3-1.5-.5.

    If you are doing baby back ribs, which are a bit smaller than spares, the method is adjusted to 2-2-1

    Hope that helps.

    Last edited: Aug 31, 2015
  3. sawinredneck

    sawinredneck Meat Mopper

    No problem, there's the 3-2-1, 2-2-1 and many other variants! The first number is time on the smoker naked, the second number is time on the smoker wrapped in foil and the third number is time on the smoker either naked or with the foil opened up. All in hours mind you!
    Hope that helps.
  4. westby

    westby Smoking Fanatic


    These numbers are based off of a 225 smoker temp.  If you don't know what your REAL smoker grate temps are, you will most likely end up with over or under cooked ribs.  The temp gauges that come with smokers are almost always not close to actual grate temps.  Actual temps can be obtained by using a Maverick, iGrill, or similar probe thermo.  You really need to know your smoker and do some experimenting to see what works for your smoker and your taste.  If you want to give 3-2-1 a try, I suggest starting with one rack and see how that works and adjust times from there.  I have found it easier to not foil and go for 4.5 to 5.5 hours straight on the grill (until I get the bend I like).  Good luck.
  5. sawinredneck

    sawinredneck Meat Mopper

    Ok, my turn for a stupid question: I keep hearing about the "bend" or "the bend test" and have yet to find an answer. So since we are here doing the basics, what is it?
  6. westby

    westby Smoking Fanatic

  7. sawinredneck

    sawinredneck Meat Mopper

    Thank you!
  8. westby

    westby Smoking Fanatic

    You are welcome.

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