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
The first method for smoking ribs that I am writing about is 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 ribs every time.
While competition and traditional BBQ cooks will scoff at fall off the bone ribs, the truth is that most people just 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. Note: all of these recipes can be adapted to baby back ribs. Just cook for a little bit less time.
3 2 1 Rib Method
You like your ribs saucy? Put extra sauce on (I like this Kansas City style recipe)! You like your ribs to fall 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. I start with exposing my seasoned ribs to 3 hours of heavy heavy smoke over low heat. I prefer fruit woods (apple, cherry) when smoking pork, but other hardwoods (hickory, alder) also work really well with ribs.
After the smoke, the ribs are foiled with a liquid of your choosing (I used apple cider, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, and 2-3 tablespoons of butter) and cooked at 225-250 degrees for 2 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 1/4-1/2 an inch. Lastly, the ribs are basted in your favorite BBQ sauce and returned to the grill for a final hour to hour and a half to finish the ribs and set the sauce.
3 2 1 Ribs Recipe
Sticky, sweet, tender and oh so savory. 3 2 1 ribs are probably the most requested meal when I ask what people want me to bring to potlucks or family dinners. I tend to fall back on 3 2 1 ribs for gatherings because I know that they will deliver that tender, flavorful porky flavor every time. And sometimes consistency is super important!
- 1 rack baby back ribs
- 2 tbsp Homemade Sweet Rub
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 2-3 tbsp salted butter
- 1/2 cup BBQ sauce your favorite
- 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 heavy smoke from either hardwood pellets or soaked wood chips. 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.