Mastering BBQ ribs – Learn how to barbecue ribs like a pro

Dry, tough, tasteless barbecue pork spare ribs, we’ve all had them. Lots of people try to make barbecue spare ribs only to give up, leaving it to the so called ‘Pit Masters’ The key to making great barbecue spare ribs is to apply the three important principles to the process; flavorize, tenderize, and moisturize. Follow the steps below and you too can make amazing barbecue spare ribs every time.

  1. Choose a great rack of spare ribs. Select a rack of pork spare ribs with some fat covering, not too much though. Also, pick the rack up and hold it by the end of the packaging to see how much it bends. The more it bends, the more tender it will be.
  2. Remove the membrane. Lay the rack down with the bone side up. Start at the 2nd rib on the short end with a butter knife. Slide the butter knife under the membrane and gently lift towards the close end. Once you have a good amount up grab with a paper towel and gently lift away. With practice you should be able to get almost all of it in one pull. This is an important step if you want tender, flavorful ribs.
  3. After removing the membrane trim off any excessive fat. Remember as the fat breaks down it will add moisture so don’t remove it all!   Apply some rub. use your favorite just try to find one low in sugar. If the rub has a high sugar content it might burn during the long cooking process.
  4. Rub the rack down with some yellow mustard, this will make the rub stick to the ribs and not fall off during the cooking process. Apply a generous amount of rub to the rack and rub it in good with your hands, it is called ‘rub’ after all.  
  5. Put the rack in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. This will allow the rub to work it’s way into the meat. The salt in the rub will pull moisture and proteins to the surface and make a great ‘bark’ during cooking. Also, a chilled rack of ribs will absorb more smoke flavor and have a deeper smoke ring.  
  6. Prepare the smoker. Get your smoker of choice or your oven up to 225 degrees. Make sure confirm the temperature with a thermometer. Add the wood chips of your choice now. If you’re using your oven DON’T add wood.  
  7. Put the rack in the smoker meat side up and close the door or lid.   Flip the rack every 45 minutes and spray with apple juice at that time, this will keep the surface of the ribs moist. Cook for about 2 1/2 hours.  
  8. After about 2 1/2 hours you’ll want to foil the ribs. Remove the rack and wrap it in aluminum foil, you can add a little barbecue sauce and/or apple juice to the foil pack for even more flavor at this time. This is an important step, foiling will make the rack juicy and tender.  
  9. After about an hour open the pack and check for tenderness, slide a fork between two ribs and pull out, if the rack wants to come along for the ride then it’s not done, go for another 20 minutes and check again. You want some resistance but not too much, there’s still some more cook time left.  
  10. Once the ribs pass the pull test unfoil them and place back in the smoker, it isn’t necessary to have the smoke going anymore. Crank up the heat to about 300 degrees and sauce the ribs. In 15 minutes flip and sauce the ribs again. You can do this step on a grill if you have one available. Watch the temperature though!
  11. After two saucings remove the rack and enjoy!

For more barbecue tips including how to choose your first smoker, the various wood available and meat selection please visit