3-2-1 Smoked Ribs

Yield: 2 racks of ribs


  • 2 racks of ribs, approximately 4.5 lbs each
  • 1/2 cup dry rub (give or take)
  • 8 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups apple juice
  • BBQ sauce


  1. Start your coals using a chimney starter (like this one).  Spread the coals into the smoker and follow manufacturer instructions to get it ready (fill the water bowl, place metal grills, adjust ports, etc.).
  2. Soak a few wood chunks in water.
  3. While the smoker is warming up, get the ribs ready.
    • Using a paper towel for grip, pull the membrane off the back of the ribs.
    • On the shorter end, there's usually a small rib hanging out by itself.  Cut that little guy off.
    • If necessary to fit in your smoker, cut each rack in half.
    • Sprinkle generously with rub.
  4. Place the ribs in the smoker.  Add the wet wood chunks to the coals.  Cover up the grill and begin smoking for 3 hours.
    • Adjust the air ports to keep the temperature between 215°F - 230°F.
  5. After 3 hours, remove the ribs from the grill.  Lay out two large sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil.  Cut the 8 tbsp of butter into 16 small pads, 1/2 tbsp each.  Place 4 of the pads onto the center of each of the sheets of aluminum foil.
  6. Place the ribs meat-side-down onto the aluminum foil.  Sprinkle with the brown sugar, top with the remaining pads of butter (4 pads per rack), and then divide the apple juice evenly between the two racks.
  7. Fold the aluminum and crimp to close it tightly so no juice leaks out.  Return to the smoker and cook at 225°F for 2 hours.
    • If you're looking to make life a bit easier, you can do this step in the oven at low heat.
  8. After two hours, remove the ribs from the grill.  Open the aluminum foil and remove the ribs.  Discard the foil.
    • You may notice that the meat has pulled back from the bone a bit -- that's normal.
  9. Brush the meat-side of the ribs generously with BBQ sauce.  Return to the smoker and cook at 225°F for 1 hour.
  10. If desired, brush with additional BBQ sauce halfway through.
  11. Remove from the smoker.  Cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Steps 7-9 can be done in an oven if you're coals have burned out.

Adapted from Hey Grill Hey.