Low and Slow Ribs

April 16, 2015

These low and slow ribs are always worth waiting for! So grab a drink and some friends, cooking these low and slow ribs is almost as fun as eating them! Be patient, this low and slow bbq method doesn’t always have an exact time frame, they are done when they’re done!

Low and Slow Ribs

Low and Slow Ribs


For this post, I’m going old school and cooking up some low and slow ribs. These are the kind of ribs you throw on the grill, hang out on the deck with friends and a drink, and eat when they are done. No real specific time frame. Maybe 5-6 hours-ish? Honestly, my favorite kind of cooking. This method takes a little practice to know when your ribs are done based on what you and your family likes, but practice makes perfect and the pay off is juicy, smoky, rib loving goodness.

low and slow ribs sliced

Low and Slow BBQ

This rack of ribs was cooked over indirect heat with apple wood, but any other fruit wood or mild hardwood (hickory, oak, alder) will produce awesome results. Go for a wood smoke that will complement the pork, not overpower it, especially since it will be exposed to the smoke during the entire cook.

In my 3 2 1 Ribs and my Hot and Fast Ribs, the ribs were foiled with an apple cider and butter braising liquid, there is no foiling step here so I had to keep them moist another way. Using a small saucepan heat the cider and butter and then keep it in the grill with the ribs. The steam from the liquid will keep the ribs from drying out. Also, basting the ribs every 45 minutes to an hour will really help the smoke particles cling to the meat and form a beautiful red mahogany smoke ring.

Ribs on the BBQ

BBQ Ribs

Now these ribs won’t fall off the bone like this recipe, but they do create that perfectly done bite through rib that traditionalists and competitors love to serve and eat. They were also the juiciest of all of my rib methods. With every slice, rib juice literally shot out and covered my knife. I had liquid rib love running down to my wrists by the time I finished cleaning the first bone.

Sauce at the end or don’t, it’s up to you. The smoke flavor is going to shine through either way and my “secret” rub is perfectly sweet/hot enough to carry the flavors on its own.low and slow close up

Low and Slow Rib Recipe

low and slow smoked ribs on a cutting board

Low and Slow BBQ Ribs: Traditional Ribs with

Simple recipe for traditional low and smoked pork ribs.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time : 5 mins
Cook Time : 5 hrs
Total Time : 5 hrs 5 mins
Servings : 3 people


  • 1 rack St Louis pork ribs
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 tbsp "secret" sweet rub
  • 2 tbsp salted butter (melted)
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce ((optional))


  • Start by rinsing your ribs under cold water and patting dry with a paper towel. Trim down any excess fat and remove the thin membrane on the back of the ribs.
    one hand holding an uncooked rack of ribs down while other hand is pulling off the membrane with paper towel in hand to help grip the membrane
  • Season liberally with the "secret" sweet rub and prepare your grill for indirect grilling. The target temperature on your grill is 225 degrees F. Use fruit woods like apple, peach, cherry, or hardwoods like hickory or oak.
  • In a small saucepan combine the butter and apple cider. Place on your grill alongside the ribs. Close the lid and cook for an hour and a half without opening the lid.
    Uncooked Full Rack of Ribs sitting directly on grill grate, next to pot full of water
  • After the ribs have cooked for an hour and a half, baste liberally with the apple cider mixture. Close the lid and continue to cook for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 more hours, basting the ribs every 45 minutes to an hour with the cider mixture.
  • If desired, coat the ribs with desired BBQ sauce and return to the grill for an additional 30 minutes to set your sauce. Allow the ribs to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
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24 thoughts on “Low and Slow Ribs

  1. Hi there. Love your version of 3-2-1 ribs. What purpose do the pats of butter serve? What would be the effect of omitting the butter pats?

    1. Hey Chris, the ribs braise in the butter during the foiling phase. I find it adds a lot of moisture and that melt in your mouth flavor to the ribs. However, it’s not necessary.

        1. Nope! No wrap! I kept a small saucepan on the grill with cider and butter to keep the ribs moist!

  2. I just got a Timberline and tried it out using baby backs and this recipe. They came out great! I don’t think I will wrap my ribs anymore.

  3. Came out great but I’m wondering what type of paprika you would suggest, e.g., Spanish, smoked, sweet? Thanks for the recipe!

  4. Apple cider is hard to find in my area. Any recommendations to an alternative? For example, will apple cider vinegar or apple juice be an acceptable alternative? Thanks.

  5. I made these today with your sweet bbq rub. I followed your method exactly, but used a slightly different mop. 5 hours total at 225 degrees. These were the best ribs I’ve ever had! Not falling off the bone, but extremely tender, juicy, and smokey. Finished with a combination of the mop mixed with bbq sauce for the last 20 minutes. Thank you for sharing!

  6. I love not having to wrap my ribs. I generally use a light bubble water or soda since it’s hard to find apple cider vinegar here as well.

  7. Got a char griller smoking champ for a father’s day/wedding anniversary gift from the wife. Grilled on it before but first time smoking today, used your website to help find the best ways to smoke my ribs!! I’m attempting a mix between this method for one rack and the smoky Dr Pepper method for my other. Thanks for the easy advice I hope all turns out well!

  8. I was going to try this recipe today but I have baby back ribs, what adjustments would I need to make? Or does this method not work for baby back ribs? I’m new to smoking so need all the help I can get!

  9. I have been using 2.5 hours on the grill @ 225 deg.
    then 2.5 hours warped in foil then follow up placing them in a cooler for an hour.
    When I go to cut them the meat falls off the bone. What can I adjust to keep them on the bone?
    I’m not sure where to start my adjustment.

    1. They’re being cooked a little too long. I would try 2-3hrs on the grill at 225, 1.5hrs wrapped in the foil and if they need to be cooked any further put them back on without the foil until they’re done. An easy way to tell if they’re done is the bend test. Grab the ribs with your tongs about a third of the way into the rack, pick them up and allow them to bend. If the meat starts to split, your ribs are done!

  10. I was wondering if it is possible to cook at too low of a temperature. I just did two racks at 175 degrees for 3 hours and then three hours at 250 degrees in foil but then one hour at 275 degrees.

  11. “ Now these ribs won’t fall off the bone like this recipe, but they do create that perfectly done bite through rib that traditionalist” – that link is broken for “this recipe” – curious to know what that recipe is

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