3 2 1 Ribs

June 10, 2019

3 2 1 ribs are a fool proof way to get fall off the bone tender ribs. The 3 2 1 rib method is based on smoking ribs at a certain temperature for 3 hours, wrapping with liquid for 2 hours, and saucing for the final 1 hour.

3 2 1 Smoked Ribs

Today, I’m showing you an amazing method for smoking ribs: the fool proof 3 2 1 ribs recipe. This method has gained a lot of popularity with home cooks in recent years because of the flawless results in churning out super tender ribs that fall off the bone every time.

While competition and traditional BBQ cooks will scoff at fall off the bone ribs, the truth is that most people really like them that way. Judges for KCBS won’t give you a winning score, but they also won’t be hanging out in your backyard critiquing what you and your family are eating. So I say, cook what you like!

So fire up your smoker (I like to cook ribs on my Camp Chef SmokePro LUX), and let’s get smoking!

3 2 1 smoked rib

3 2 1 Rib Method

I firmly believe that you should cook food the way you like it, and ribs are no different! You like your ribs saucy? Put some extra sauce on them (I like using my Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce)! You like your ribs falling off the bone? Follow this 3 2 1 Rib Method! These are your ribs after all. Don’t you let the man get you down. Just don’t.

Here’s how to cook your ribs using the 3 2 1 method:

  1. Smoke for 3 hours. Start with exposing the seasoned ribs to 3 hours of heavy smoke over low heat. I prefer fruit woods (apple or cherry) when smoking pork, but other hardwoods (hickory and alder) also work really well with ribs.
  2. Wrap for 2 hours. After the initial 3-hour smoke, foil the ribs with a liquid of your choosing (I used apple cider, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, and 2-3 Tablespoons of butter) and cook at 225-250 degrees for 2 more hours. After the braising period I look for great retraction of the meat from the bones. I want the bones to be exposed on the end at least 1/4 to 1/2 an inch.
  3. Sauce and smoke for 1 hour. Lastly, baste the ribs basted in your favorite BBQ sauce and return them to the grill for a final hour to hour and a half to finish the ribs and set the sauce.

Sticky, sweet, tender, and oh so savory, 3 2 1 ribs are probably the most requested meal I receive for potlucks or family dinners. I tend to fall back on these ribs for gatherings because I know that they will deliver that tender, flavorful porky flavor every time. And sometimes consistency is super important!

3 2 1 Rib Method

More Ribs Recipes

Are you a rib fan like me? Then you’ll absolutely love these other rib recipes on Hey Grill Hey:

Best Dry Rub for Ribs
Crispy Sticky Smoked Spareribs
Smoked Dr. Pepper Ribs
Apple Jalapeno Smoked Ribs

3 2 1 Ribs Recipe

Follow the recipe and I’ll teach you the simple steps to making your delicious ribs at home. You can find more of my smoking and grilling recipes and videos on YouTubeInstagram, or our Facebook Page. Let’s make delicious food together!

Want some Hey Grill Hey Signature Sweet Rub or BBQ sauce delivered straight to your door? Patio Provisions has great products to help you make delicious food for your family and friends. These products are designed for smoked and grilled food and make you look like a total pro!

3 2 1 Ribs sliced and stacked on a wooden cutting board.

3-2-1 Ribs: Perfect Fall Off the Bone Ribs

3 2 1 ribs are a fool proof way to get fall off the bone tender ribs. The 3 2 1 rib method is based on smoking ribs at a certain temperature for 3 hours, wrapping with liquid for 2 hours, and saucing for the final 1 hour.
4.96 from 42 votes
Prep Time : 5 mins
Cook Time : 6 hrs
Total Time : 6 hrs 5 mins
Servings : 3 people
Calories : 709kcal



  • 1 rack baby back ribs
  • 2 tbsp Signature Sweet Rub
  • 1 cup apple cider (apple juice also works)
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp salted butter
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce


  • Begin by removing the membrane on the back of the ribs
  • Liberally season both sides of the ribs using the sweet rub, starting with the bone side.
  • Prepare your smoker for indirect smoking. Target temperature is between 180-200 with thin blue smoke. Place the seasoned ribs on the smoker and close the lid. Leave them to smoke for 3 hours.
  • Tear off a large piece of aluminum foil and place it on a large working surface. Transfer the ribs to the foil bone side up so the bones don't tear through the foil. Sprinkle with the brown sugar, top with the butter cut into small pads, and then pour over the apple cider.
  • Tightly crimp the foil together to create an airtight seal. Return to the grill and increase your cooking temperature to as close to 225 degrees as you can get it. Let the ribs braise for 2 hours in the foil.
  • Carefully remove the ribs from the grill and place on a large working surface. Open the foil package (be careful of hot steam) and use tongs to remove the ribs and place them back on the grill, bone side down. Discard the foil and excess cooking liquid,
  • Brush the ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce, close the lid of your grill and cook at 225 degrees for an additional hour until the ribs are done to your desired tenderness and the sauce is sticky and set.


Calories: 709kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 151mg | Sodium: 733mg | Potassium: 749mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 42g | Vitamin A: 645IU | Vitamin C: 2.1mg | Calcium: 194mg | Iron: 5.4mg
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**This post was originally published in June 2015. Images and information have been updated, but the delicious recipe remains the same.

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227 thoughts on “3 2 1 Ribs

    1. If you’re going to use any butcher paper at any time it would be at the end. The point of crutching halfway through is to help break down any remaining cartilage and toughness and butcher paper isn’t going to do that – you need the foil. Then – the last hour restores the bark.

      Butcher paper will help maintain the temperature without mushing the bark or drying out the meat – if you need to keep the meat on the smoker longer than intended, such as a cook that went way faster than expected.

      1. Agreed. I just tried this with peach paper for this set amount of time and the meat isn’t quite done. Stick with the foil.

      1. Foil doesn’t cause steam… air pockets do. The reason for foil is to tightly wrap them so that it minimizes steam and only will braise.

  1. Probably the best thing I’ve ever smoked. This is an amazing recipe! Every one here thinks i am a master chef or something now. Thanks so much for giving away your secrets for all of our benefit. Keep up the fantastic work, and thanks again!

      1. I made these today. All I can say is OMG. Best ribs I’ve ever made. Used my electric smoker with apple and cherry wood. Thx Hey Grill. Definitely a winner.

        1. Just curious how many wood chips did you add over the 3 hours and for how long before refilling the chip tray? Also did you soak the chips?

          1. I don’t generally use wood chips but my advice is to keep the chip tray full for the first 3 hours and that’s it. There’s no need to soak your chips!

      2. My first time ever smoking baby back ribs. Followed instructions to the letter. AMAZING ribs! Look no further for a great, no-fail rib recipe. I’ll be making this again and again. I don’t know how to send you a photo of our ribs.

  2. Used your instructions with 2 slabs of saint Louis ribs. Famous Dave’s rib rub with birch beer as my liquid and applewood rub with black cherry for liquid. No bbq sauce. Was not necessity. Thank you very much.

  3. Do you use the smoker the entire time? I’m new to all of this and just want to make sure. You mentioned smoker in the first round and then grill the next two rounds. Is it all the same? I cannot wait to try this, thank you!

      1. We absolutely love this rib technique! Thanks Hey Grill Hey!
        As a note to above question, and to save wear/tear on our pellet smoke, we have been doing the 2 hour wrap foil cook inside on our kitchen’s convection oven. It’s particularly nice during winter months here in Central Illinois. Helps heat the house a bit. Either way, this 3-2-1 is the best! Enjoy!!
        DK on the Farm, I Central IL

  4. In step 2, you mention putting ribs bone side up and apply brown sugar, butter, and liquid. Sorry, I’m new to this as well, but do they go into smoker this way? The liquid will eventually make its way to the meat side of the ribs even though you put the ingredients on the bone up side?

  5. I smoked both St. Louis and babyback using a slight variation to this method. I didn’t put any sauce on the ribs at the end – it wasn’t necessary. They were fabulous – smokey/tender/juicy and slide-off-the-bone awesome! This is going to be my go-to method from now on.

    1. I use a similar method (3 2 1) with st. Louis style ribs with no sauce. Just dry rubs and an apple cider beer as the liquid. But with baby back ribs i use a (4 1.5 .5) method to keep the bones from falling apart. same dry rubs and liquids though.

  6. Can I do the first 3 hours of smoking the night before? I’m working a large batch (8 racks) for a luncheon and I’d rather not get up at 4 a.m. day of…

    If so, would you wrap and fridge?

  7. I’ve used this twice now and both times they were good but tough, I have a pittboss pellet smoker and the temp is pretty much spot on. I’m only doing baby backs for 6 hours total and it’s getting really frustrating. I’ve had p say cook at a hotter temp and others say low but longer. What on earth am I doing wrong ? HELP !!

    1. I usually don’t put them back on after the wrap. Unless I sauce them. If I do sauce them, I only put them back on the smoker for about 15 min to set the sauce

    2. I had the same experience. I ended up doing 3-2-2 this time just to get them done enough (I stuck a meat thermometer in after one our in the last phase and was only at 160…ribs should be closer to 190 if you want to be able to twist the bone free of the meat).

      I’ve done lots of ribs (not doing 3-2-1) and the smoke temp is 225 the entire time. I’ll return to that temp next time.

      I had baby backs which have less fat than the other cuts too. I think I’d do better to have higher temp for less time to retain more moisture.

      1. Once done from smoking at 215 to 225 , are you allowing for the meat to start pulling back from the bone
        On the ends ? Are y’all cooking them wrapped in tin foil with your choice of a liquid, such as beer or a wine of your choice ? Or even a small amount of your favorite
        Liquor. (The alcohol evaporates very quickly from either, leaving the flavor of your chosen spirits to faintly cut into
        Your meat. Times will stay the same .( this part of the process helps tenderize to that fall off the bone stage that you’re looking for.
        You should continue with your cooking times as this recipe is calling for in these directions. ( if you are following the 321 directions, continue to do so. I’m just trying to help, in areas that some people kinda fudge on a little. Also, I saw where one person wasn’t exactly thrilled with the internal temperature of the ribs. Even though your internal temperature isn’t exactly where the directions here call for ,as long as the meat has started to pull back from the end of the bones half an inch to three quarters of an inch minimum, your meat has more than reached a safe internal temperature. If it hadn’t reached a safe internal temperature ,your meat would still envelop the bones and wouldn’t even look like it was realeasing from the bone. Once you get use to cooking ribs, that one sign, tells you that the bone temperature is actually cooking the meat causing it to realease from the bone. Just trying to let those of you understand that there is ” some ” squirming room when cooking ribs and some other cuts of pork. But when smoking ribs, some slabs have a little more meat, or less meat on the bone.
        Because one end of the slab didn’t give you your spot on temperature, if the whole slab looks basically the same as far as the meat pulling back off of the bone, you can say that it’s safely cooked. ( using the meat releasing from the bone method , will keep it simple for baby back ribs as well as St.Louis style .
        Hope this helps for those who were still unsure, even when the directions weren’t real complete, they were but
        Sometimes you just needed that “what if question ” answered.

    3. I had similar experience with my Camp Chef grill…not so much that the ribs were tough they just didn’t seem like the fat rendered out of of them and they were greasy. I increased the temperature for the “2” to 275 and left it on 250 for the last hour (instead of 220) and it definitely helped on my grill.

  8. Fantastic recipe….easy to follow and great results. I did 2 racks of baby backs. 1 I pulled after the braising and served as is. The other I sauced with Trader Joe’s Siracusa and roasted garlic bbq sauce. Amazing results.

  9. Great recipe! I’m going to try it both ways, sauced and without. By question is: is your smoker generating smoke the entire first 3 hours? What about the last hour if using sauce? I have an electric smoker that needs reloading every 30-45 minutes. I’ve over-smoked some items (chickens) due to inexperience and don’t want to ruin a nice slab of ribs…THANKS!

    1. I would not reload the wood chips more than 2 times on an electric smoker. You get WAY more smoke and smoke flavor on an electric smoker with wood chips than on a pellet grill smoker. On a pellet grill smoker you smoke for 3 hours and still don’t get a really good smoke flavor….in my opinion.

  10. I am new to smoking and I have an electric smoker with a water pan. Should I use the water pan or leave it out since the Apple cider is poured into the foil?

    1. They say to leave it in. I use 1 part water and 1 part apple cider. but only for times its not wraped, otherwise use water. This evaporates and absorbs into the meat with the smoke. Tastes good to me

  11. When you say 3 hrs heavy smoke low heat ? Like 100 f or less? On a smoke setting ? Or like 200f on preset temp setting.
    Trying these now. Can’t wait.

      1. Will 225 the entire time be okay? Was thinking bout smoking a turkey with the ribs, and the turkey recipe calls for a constant 225 temp.

  12. last time I used the 321 rubs turned out great but season was not all the way thru the meat, what to do to make meat have season all the way thru the meat?

    1. You can season the night before, wrap and refrigerate. The seasoning will act as a marinade. The salt content can change the texture of the meat, and they may not be as juicy, but the flavor will be all through.

  13. Thanks for the recipe…trying it today for some friends. I have two questions:
    1.) How much apple juice do you pour over each rack of ribs?
    2.) I’ve seen some recipes that spritz the ribs from time to time before wrapping in foil. Is this a good or bad idea considering your method?

  14. I like a lot of others am using my pitbiss electric pellet smoker for the first time. I’m smoking st.louis style two racks on the whiskey smoker and I gotta day after the initial 3 hours the ribs still appear raw. Is this normal

    1. That is normal, this is a low and slow cooking method so it takes a while for these to come up to temperature and that is what we want. The initial 3 hour cook, your smoker is only running at 180-200 degrees. They still have another 3 hours to go so they will get cooked through.

  15. Tried this today. My first time ever using a smaller and was completely going into it blind. These turned out really good. Hopefully next time better now that I’ve read more tips and tricks lol thank you

  16. More of an FYI than a question. I have a charcoal smoker, and used apple wood chunks that I soaked in water ahead of time. Temp wasn’t an issue, but I over-smoked them. The thicker ribs were ok, but as the ribs get smaller on the ends, they were inedible. Otherwise, this is a magical recipe!

  17. Do you actually Smoke during the second step (second 3 hr) or just have them in the smoker at 225? Thanks.

  18. Greetings from Sweden! Finally it’s spring and I get to try my version, inspired by this, for the second time. The first try last year gave me the best ribs anyone I know had ever eaten..! So I’m quite happy. The method yields tender but smoky ribs with a lovely texture. I did however do it on mostly a slightly higher temperature and with my own rub. My cheapish offset smoker is difficult to keep at a steady temperature. Mostly I smoked them at 110-135 degrees Celsius. And I actually did the 2 hours wrapped in foil in the oven, for a steady 120 degrees Celsius. (No smoke penetrates the foil at this stage anyway) I used orange a mixture of orange juice and swedish craft beer, no sugar since I’m sweet enough. I’m also allergic to Apple… Then I popped them back on the smoker and brushed them with my own barbecue sauce.
    I love it, so thanks again for the great cooking method and tips!
    /the Swedish Chef

  19. Don’t worry about your temperature “swings”. Anytime you are cooking with wood or charcoal, the temperature will vary up and down. My analogy is a gas flame vs. burning wood or charcoal. With gas, the fuel is supplied at a constant rate, thus supplying constant heat. But with wood or charcoal, the available fuel depends on the contact area between the burning pieces to the adjacent non-burning pieces. And that, of course, is entirely random. I hope this makes sense.

  20. Followed to the letter time wise. Just used 1/2 apple vinegar 1/2 beer for the liquid.

    I tried a couple other recipes for ribs on the smoker and this one worked, as good as any of the local restaurants. That was last week, about halfway through a new batch today.

  21. This is an excellent recipe. I have smoked several butts and needed to up my game. So I tried two racks of baby back ribs. They were delicious and fall off the bone as advertised. The key phrase I failed to follow “Note: all of these recipes can be adapted to baby back ribs. Just cook for a little bit less time.” They were too crispy. I have a barrel style with a fire box on end. I placed the ribs near the fire box and chicken halves at opposite end. Next time I will not load up the cooking racks and place ribs away from heat. How much time should I take off the 3 2 1 method for baby backs?

    1. It is actually apple cider. Usually you can find apple cider somewhere near apple juice in the grocery store!

  22. I have made these several times and only change I made was using some cinnamon sugar in my rub. They always turn out delicious. We are goi g to the beach next weekend and the group has requested these again. My question is how can I freeze them and then re-warm them for the clan?

    1. Reheat wrapped in foil on a grill or in the oven at a low temperature, like 225-250. The issue might be keeping them warm and getting them to the beach unless you have a way to reheat there. If you don’t, reheat them and stick them in one of those cheap Styrofoam coolers. That should help keep them warm.

  23. These were quite easy and very good. It was a hit. I used apple juice, no sugar, and only did 3 2. They were fall off the bone. Thank you for the recipe!

  24. Tried smoking these today. Turned out great. Will definitely be cooking these again. Only change I made was instead of wrapping in foil, I used a foil pan then just sealed the top with foil. Once that step was done, I split the ribs in half (which just pulled apart) and did one half with bbq sauce for my girlfriend while I used Buffalo Wildwings blazin sauce on mine. Omg they were delicious. I used hickory pellets. Wouldn’t change a thing. Thanks for sharing.

  25. I tried these today with cheap 1 one pack of ribs get one free at safeway. They were cheap ribs but my first time using a smoker and first time with the recipe. They turned out to be some of the best ribs I’ve ate. I used the rub and method, with stubbs spicy bbq sauce, I mixed a cup of cider in the water I used in the pan as well. Will be printing and keeping this recipe thanks for sharing. It makes amazing ribs.

  26. Just had to try this, and I’m glad I did. I did do a few things different just because…. used my own sweet spice blend, completely forgot the brown sugar (blonde moment I guess) then couldn’t find any apple juice…so I used Pendleton Whiskey. Six hours later and delicious ribs for dinner. Thanks for sharing!

  27. If I’m doing baby back ribs, what would my reduced time look like? I haven’t smoked baby back ribs before, and don’t want to over do them.

    1. A lot of people do 2-2-1 for baby backs. Plan for about 5 hours and just keep an eye on them. When the meat has receded about a half inch off the bone they’re done.

      1. Can you do baby backs on the pellet at 225° w/o the foil wrap? Would it just take longer to cook through? I just got a pellet grill, and have typically done ribs on a gas grill w/ a rib rack. Takes a long time…

  28. I am planning to do two batches of six rib slabs, (16 lbs each in each batch) hanging in my electric smoker. Can I place the smoked ribs wrapped in foil, in my kitchen oven, while I smoke second batch?

  29. Did two St Louis style racks two weeks ago. Best ribs ever. Used a Smoke Hollow with four racks. Split the ribs in half and did one per rack. used your rib rub and then 1/2 cup apple juice each in foil. Then in foil with Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce for the last hour. Kept temp at 240 deg whole time. They finished at 205 deg after 6 hours total. Best damn ribs ever! Thanks for the recipe…..Going to do them again next week.

  30. Last week I bought a pork butt at Sams. Took it home and cut the bone out then split it to half it’s thickness. Cut the pieces into “country ribs” about 1 -1/2″ wide. Seasoned them in “house seasoning” (1 C. salt,1/4 C.garlic pwdr, 1/4 C. B. pepper) let them sit for an hour then grilled on lowest setting on the gas grill. turned every 15 min. the fourth time basted with Sweet baby rays. Finished in one hour. “Ribs” to die for….

  31. I did everything, except a sauced very lightly halfway through first 3, then after unwrap I just let them sit till 195 internal, best ribs I’ve ever had

  32. Duplicated all your instructions but I fell short of ingredients so I substituted apple butter molasses sugar and butter for the cider and brown sugar

  33. I’m halfway done on some pork ribs and they already look amazing. I’ll update in 3 hours.
    Thank you Hey Grill!

  34. Just my 2nd effort on a wood pellet grill (Traeger) and I was a little skittish as my 1st effort was a little rocky. I may have been too ambitious with 1st thing I tried. Happy to say I knocked it out of the park. Super tender baby back ribs. My wife’s not a big eater and she was licking the plate clean. As a lifelong charcoal and gas griller it takes a little getting used to the process. I think I learned today that in the braising phase (step 2) you really need to keep the foil sealed tight as it appears from tracking internal temp this is phase that pushes up to the desired 200 degrees or so and the pulling back of the meat from the end of the bone. Once I had a good seal with the foil the internal temp pushed up and I was home free.

  35. These were amazing! This was our first time smoking ribs. They were the hit at our 4th of July barbecue! It was a joint effort with my husband doing the smoking and I made the dry rub and then the apple juice step. Per don-in-law request, we did steps 1 and 2 on half the ribs and all three steps in the other half. Definitely liked all 3 steps. Making them again today for a large family gathering. Thanks for the recipe!

  36. Did the 3-2-1 method. Smoked mine at 225. Did 2 racks of baby backs. Sauced one rack. Left the other. Both were great. Great smokey flavor. Thanks for the recipe.

  37. I have used this method for ribs many times and it comes out great! However, when I wrap in foil I use butter and honey. Incredibly tender. Half the time they fall apart when I remove from the foil, so the last hour does not happen. They are still great. Just have to let everyone choose if they want BBQ sauce or not. When this happens I don’t add sauce and they taste great as is.

    1. Awesome! Yes, 3-2-1 is meant just as a guide and should be adjusted depending on your preferences. I’m also a fan of sauce-less ribs!

    2. I did it exactly as they said. It was my first time at smoking baby back ribs. I used a pre-made Sweet and Smoky rub. Like you they were falling off the bone after step 2, but I went ahead with step 3. My husband ate a whole rack (I did two) and said they were the best ribs he’s ever had. This recipe is a keeper.

  38. The 3-2-1 method and recipe is a knock it of the park for baby back pork ribs. I have two Treagers to do this recipe on. I use the XL when I’m having 15-20 guest and the tailgater when I’m doing two racks.I use a hickory and mesquite 50/50 mix of the pallets for a flavorable smoke. I use Treagers pork an poultry rub and smoke for three hours bone side down. Then two hours rapped in foil with the butter wedges, apple cider and brown sugar. Temp setting at 250 on the Treager. After that I sauce some of the racks with Rib Rack BBQ sauce and heat them up at 200 degrees on the Treager for 20-25 minutes (out of foil). So I believe I’m following your recipe real close and I certainly appreciate the help. The ribs are amazing if I may say so myself.

  39. Made these this week. Best ribs I’ve ever made. I made them on a Traeger with mesquite pellets. The ribs were from Costco and came pre-rubbed. Used Head Country sauce to finish. My only complaint was that they were not “fall off the bone.” Any idea what might have happened there? I’m looking forward to making these again. Thanks so much!

  40. I was wondering if after the 3hr of smoke can you put the rack of ribs in a foil pan with the liquid and tightly seal with foil for the 2hs ? I have to smoke 10 rack of baby backs.

      1. Tried this today came out beat ever. I let rest one hours after sauce I could pull out the bone after the 3-2 only problem I had was the outer layer of the meat side stuck to the foil and pulled off on one rack? How can I solve that?

        1. It sounds like there wasn’t enough moisture in your wrap. Was the wrap completely sealed? What was the temperature of your pit?

  41. used this recipe many times so easy and so good , the only adjustment i use is at end, might have to leave on 20-30 minutes long till done to pefection!

  42. Hi
    I have a hark gas smoker and want to cook this recipe. It has 6 racks so I will be cooking at least 12 racks of ribs. my question is will this cooking time be extended because of the smoker being full to capacity if so how much longer would I need to smoke them and cook them.

    1. It could be but I still don’t think it’d take longer than 6 hours to cook them. Most of the time, ribs are done before the 5 hour mark.

  43. I’ve cooked ribs on Traeger for years and ribs are super, however the bone side burns some what. Is there anyway to stop the burn? Cooking as we speak and doing the 123 method of wrapped aluminum 220 way but will try one hr 220 and one hr 180 as don’t have 200 setting. Any other thoughts? Tks

    1. The point in the cook the burn is most likely coming from is the last hour. You really don’t need the entire hour, just long enough for the sauce to set up on the ribs! I usually pull them after 20-30 minutes.

  44. Susie,
    At Bare Buns BBQ, we find the 3-2-1 method works perfect for spare ribs. However, we find a 3-1-1 method is better for back ribs. The back ribs are smaller and don’t need the additional hour brazing to create slightly more than the perfect bite, but not fall off the bone.

    We love your recipes and have used many of your ideas in our own recipes. We like using a porter beer as the brazing liquid for our ribs. We’ve even used coffee grounds in the brazing stage.


  45. Great recipes Susie, I use them a lot as they are simple, easy to fallow and flavourful. Ingredients are generally house stocked items which makes the recipes easier to try.
    One question: what spice can I use to replace/substitute for garlic powder? Garlic bothers my spouse so I usually leave it out or use very little.

  46. I’ve used the 3,2,1 method for years, I do wrap with foil, but I don’t add liquid. I shake more of my seasoning on the ribs, the juice coming from the ribs gives enough moisture and keeps the flavor of my homemade seasoning. Still tender and savory.

  47. Gonna try this today, when you add the Apple cider…. do you put on the smoker bone side up or down? Thanks

      1. Mine are in the 3-hour Phaze 1 step right now.
        Nearing the 3 hour marker, what kind of internal temp am I looking for?
        What about final temp?
        Smelling great thus far!

        1. Don’t worry much about the internal temp on ribs. After the final hour they’ll most definitely be done! How did they turn out?

  48. I use 3 2 1 method most of the time for ribs. But I don’t sauce them I rest them in a cooler for an hour. Butter and apple juice in the foil.

  49. Love your website. After cooking a combo of Baby Backs and St Louis ribs yesterday, I was researching for a more precise way to determine when ribs are ready for foil. I know now that when they are ready to eat, the internal temp should be around 200 degrees, but what about when they are ready to wrap? We see videos all the time about how the ribs are supposed to be “floppy” in a certain way, but this is guess work and maybe a little too dependent on the thickness of the ribs. I would think a more accurate way would be temp. Can you help out this part-time griller?

    1. With ribs, temperature isn’t the best indicator. What determines that they’re ready to be wrapped is if you have a good bark built on them. If you can run your finger across the bark and it doesn’t come off, you’re safe to wrap. The reason the first step is 3 hours long is because that’s about how long meat will take on smoke until it just won’t anymore (it’ll also stop at about 140F). So, really what I’m trying to say is wrap whenever you are happy with the bark that you’ve built on your ribs!

  50. This may be a silly question as I’m new to smoking/BBQing… I’m getting an internal temp of 200ish at the end of the foil stage at which point I apply my sauce and throw them back on the grill. My question is at what temp should I pull them from the grill (final stage)? Once I take them out of the foil they seem to drop significantly in temp. After the suggested hour of cooking at 225 in the final stage I’m getting an internal temp of 175ish… is that normal? Do I need to leave them on until they get back up to 190ish? Is this maybe a user error? I could be getting wrong temps though I don’t think so as I’m using a Thermapen that seems to have worked fine in the past…Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

  51. Hey Girl! I’ve done this recipe once with 2 racks and it was awesome! Doing it again tomorrow for my dad’s 80th birthday and I’m going to do 5 racks. Do I need to add anymore time since there’s more racks? Thanks!

  52. Made these ribs today on my camp chef pellet grill. Turned out very good. When prepping ribs I was not 100% sure if the membrane was already of the backside of the ribs. I tried to remove what was there but I was not able to pull anything up. Any tips on what to look for to make sure the membrane is removed. Thanks for all the help.

    1. Most of the time if you look around the edges of the rack, you can see the membrane has pulled back from the cut edge ever so slightly. It’s almost translucent so it can be hard to spot. Once you pull the membrane off you’ll see more definition in the meat and fat on the ribs. A lot of stores pull the membrane off before they package them so it’s good to know what to look for.

  53. My first time today here in OZ on the GBR with my webber Q using pork spare ribs doing 321 and my liquid of choice rose” cider, Ill report the result after 6 tonite ,,, here we Go

  54. Thanks Susie, this method worked great. But some times I want ribs without the wait. I smoked an extra rack for the 3 hours, let it cool, vacuumed sealed then froze it. At a later time I defrosted then and did the braising in my electric pressure cooker. Then I sauced and broiled them.
    A great way to have smoked ribs on a weeknight!
    Thanks for all your advice and encouragement to keep my pellet smoker smok’n! Next, I take on the full brisket!!

  55. I’m from Okla and have been cooking ribs for 40 years the wrong way. It usually takes between 8-10 hrs. for my ribs. I’m super psyched to do this in half the time. Sleeping in. But I’ve always done brisket different and yours was the best recipe I’ve used. I’ll send pics tomorrow afternoon. Smokin:-)

  56. Good recipe! Fortunately they were not “falling off the bone” as those tend to be a bit mushy. Properly cooked ribs stay put and need a nice little tug from your teeth to pull the meat away from the bone. But, to each his own they always say!

  57. Awesome recipe. We loved it. However, I used sweet baby Ray’s BBQ sauce. I will try a different sauce next time. I think they would be even better.

  58. This process works out great. I have the smoker attachment for my grill, I use my coals and a water try (metal meatload pan) in the smoke box and put the ribs (beef) in the BBQ section so that they would indirectly cook from the heat. The water helps the smoke stick better to the ribs as it evaporates. After the first 3 hours I basted them and wrapped them in foil, removed my water try and put them over direct heat for 2 hours. For the last hour i opened the foil and moved them back to indirect heat, although the last hour wasnt necessary. I maintained the temperature abetween 150 and 200°F for the entire cook. Let them set for 20 minutes before pulling them out of the foil and the bones slid right out. They were perfect!

  59. You are so going to the celestial kingdom!!!
    We love your recipes and instructions! From a novice smoker your help has turned me into a real chef!!! Thank you!!!
    3-2-1 amazing!!!

  60. Easy recipe to follow. Made this on our smoker. My husband rated it the best “Meat Candy” he’s ever tasted!

  61. New to the smooking team. This looks and sounds amazing however, If i am doing 2 racks do i need to double the time of eveything?

  62. 3-2-1 is the way 2 go on ribs u can not miss useing this method their is a lot of talk about temp 2 cook at u should not always them of your smoker use a good coat mustard then a good dry rub try makeing your fresh that’s what i do.Look 4 that manogany color about 3 hrs. in then u know u r on your way 2 great smoky &tender ribs.Take your time let them cruse. duke!

  63. When I lay out my foil for the wrap, I lay down a layer of brown sugar, tabs of butter, and a little honey. I then place the ribs meat side down on top of that mixture. They last hour, I unwrap, spritz with apple juice and add the sauce. Love them ribs baby.

  64. Great rib recipe I’m A beginner to smoking and I’ve made them couple times and they come out awesome every time

  65. I’ve been making this recipe for quite awhile a d it works every time. I go to the wholesale Costco they have much cheaper meat because it’s for restraunt’s so you have to know what cut your getting. They sell spair rib portions large sometimes off cuts much meatier but they make the best ribs. I always have to cook it a lityle less with the pre cut but that’s beneficial sometimes not being attached to the grill. I used a Traeger (old) version.

  66. The only ribs I like are Texas Roadhouse. I hate to gnaw on a bone. I did this recipe and am in love. Cooked to perfection. I did leave them in the foil about a half hour longer because my son came over to talk. They were perfect.

  67. Don’t know if my post went through. I only like Texas Roadhouse Ribs. I hate to gnaw on a bone. These were great. Left them in the foil a little longer because my son came over. Fell off the bone. Will do these again.

  68. Honestly I’ve learned everything about smoking meat from your website and you’ve never let me down. I cooked 2 racks of baby back ribs following your recipe and it came out perfectly. Juicy and tender, fall off the bone. Got the thumbs up from my kid. Compared to other smoked meats, it’s a relatively easy cook!
    I made the ribs with your sweet pork rub and then made a Dr. Pepper bbq sauce to brush on top. Soooooo good.

  69. Arnold says”We first saw you compete on BBQBrawl that you shot in Austin Texas. Then a few weeks ago we ran across your show Grill Power . We have never smoked anything before .After seeing your show, we decided to try your 3-2-1 recipe for Baby Back Ribs .We were so excited that they were tender and delicious!! Fall off the bone great!! We even made your Grilled Corn recipe and loved it !! We made the rub you gave of instructions for then . We ordered your rub online and here we are 2 weeks later and are now trying 2 slabs instead of one this time . We hope we see more shows as we are now huge fans. Your instructions are easy to follow. You are our go to grill master now !! Greetings and Thanks from Corpus Christi Texas

  70. I made 3 racks of these last night and they turned out great. I have never made anything like this before but your recipes are so easy to follow. Love the videos as it is easier for to watch and learn than to just have a recipe. They were a big hit even my picky eater loved them.

  71. Bit of a weird side recipe, but I did the 2 hour part of the cook in a foil container instead of a foil pouch and found myself looking at about 3 cups of sweet / savoury liquid. Seemed a shame to throw it out, so I cooked rice in it.

    The rice turned out super flavourful, but also a bit greasy. Decided to set it aside, then used it to make fried rice and it was amazing. Too greasy to have with the ribs themselves, but a great meal for another day.

  72. HOL-Y-CRAP!!!!!!!!
    Today I decided I wanted to smoke some baby backs for my first time ever. I came across this recipe online and followed it to a T! My GAWSH! They came out tender, juicy, FULL of flavor and fell off the bone! Bones were actually falling off as I was taking them off my smoker after saucing.
    I got told by two different people that they were the best ribs they ever had! What!?! I feel SO Chefy LoL
    Thanks for this amazing recipe and all the directions and feedback I found here.
    This will now be my go to rib recipe for many many many delicious meals to come.
    I paired them with some homemade coleslaw and homemade tater salad with some butter garlic French bread slices.
    I can not say this loud enough…

  73. Just to be clear, during the 2 hour braising segment, they need to cook bone side down? Also, should I braise for 3 hrs to get fall of bone St. Louis style ribs?

  74. Going to try this except my third phase is going to be on a grill. I want some charring, and I’ll be grilling vegetables to go along with. I’m also doing these Korean style, so they’re getting marinated first. I think everything will still work out about the same.

  75. I need to make a couple batches and my smoker won’t fit them all. I saw in 1 comment you mentioned to smoke and wrap the night before and put them in the fridge overnight. Does that mean smoke them for 3 hours wrap them and put in fridge, or does that mean do the smoke and braise and then do that last hour the next day.

  76. Hi, Susie! I have a Camp Chef Smoke Pro DLX. For the first part, the 3-hour smoking, should I just put my smoker on low smoke (160)?

  77. Best ribs recipe I have found. The brown sugar, butter, and apple juice step is new to me. It makes all the difference in the world. These ribs were phenomenal and I’m not the best bbq chef. Kudos to you.

  78. Love you guys! But had a little trouble. Did baby back pork ribs and followed your recipe exactly on my Traeger – the meat didn’t recede off the bone like you showed in your helpful video and it came out a little tough (not fall of the bone). What did I do wrong?

    1. Oh no! Have you tested the accuracy of your smoker’s controller with an accurate external thermometer? Sometimes they can be a bit off.

      1. No – let me try that. Are you saying the temp might be hotter than it is, which is drying the meat out?

        Also, for baby backs, do you still recommend following this recipe exactly (3-2-1)? Or shortening the cook time?


        1. It could be the issue. For any ribs really 321 is just a guideline to start from. It’s meant as a guideline to start from and adjust to your preference. Every rack of ribs, every cut of meat is different and will cook slightly different each time.

  79. These are some of the best ribs I’ve ever made. Fantastic flavor and fall off the bone moist. We ate them without BBQ sauce and they had so much flavor. My girls 13-12-&9 had 3-4 bones each. Absolutely delicious thanks for sharing the recipe. Along with all the other grilling recipes hey grill is now my go to website when it comes to grilling.

  80. After following these amazing directions ppl think i am a rib master, thank yall so much best recipe ever!

  81. Hey Susie! Great recipe. If we’re having friends and family round and want to serve different things that require different smoke types, temperatures, etc from the smoker (say for instance these ribs with the hickory pellets and the beef burnt ends with the oak pellets), can both of these be smoked, refrigerated and then be reheated whilst still keeping their flavor, moisture, etc? If yes, what would you say is the best way of reheating the likes of ribs, burnt ends, etc for the best result?

  82. Tried this recipe today exactly like the video.
    They were GREAT and my son said they were “on point”!
    After the two hours wrapped in foil the racks split in half when I lifted them they were so tender.

  83. Seriously amazing, comes out exactly like the video and pictures. I am starting to get into smoking foods as a serious hobby. This was the perfect starter. Super easy, super delicious. Not my first time using a smoker, but my first time in a while. I hosted a family get together and tried this on 4 racks of ribs. Every single one of them was amazing and the family couldn’t get over the flavor. I used applewood for the most part, but a combo of hickory towards the end to give it a little more distinct smoke flavor. Thank you so much and I have been all over this website and recipes making a list of what I am smoking next!! Huge fan of hey grill hey now!

  84. Quick question. I am planning to smoke ribs tomorrow and noticed in your video you had aluminum foil on the bottom of your smoker. Is this necessary and serve a process to the smoking?

  85. Hi , I am fairly new to smoking. I purchased pork back ribs from costo, silly question but this is baby backs?

    I read all the comments and every kept bring up st louise style using the 321 method and some recommendations if using baby backs to use the 221 method. Is your recipe for spare ribs or back ribs?

    Just want to give enough time to cook the ribs.

    1. Those are baby backs! This recipe was written for baby backs so go ahead and follow it. The only adjustment I’d make if using St. Louis style spare ribs is the initial cook temperature should go up from 180 to about 225 since those do take a little longer to cook if you don’t.

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