3-2-1 Pork Spareribs

The weather is starting to warm up which means its BBQ time.  I decided we hadn’t had spareribs in a while, so I kicked off the year with 3 racks of pork spareribs.  I never buy anything fancy, just the 3 rack vacuum bag of ribs from Costco.


We (my lovely wife does a majority of the food prep) start prepping about an hour before we want to put the ribs on the pit.  In this case that was about 10 o’clock in the morning. The downside of the Costco bag of ribs is they tend to be cut like shit.  So we first have to cut them square and remove the membrane.  Next we slather them with yellow mustard.  This isn’t strictly necessary, but it makes the rub stick to the ribs better.  Lastly we rub them with our homemade rub, below.

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup paprika
2 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. white pepper
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. onion powder

With ribs prepped we let them sit while I get the smoker ready.  My pit is nothing fancy.  I have a mostly stock 22″ Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker controlled by a BBQ Guru CyberQ Wifi temperature controller.  I say mostly stock because I have installed gasket material around the door and the lid to help seal the smoker a little better. I use Kingsford Professional Briquets and whatever apple wood chunks Home Depot is selling.  For a 6 hour rib cook, 3 handfuls of wood chunks right onto the coals and 2 gallons of hot water in the pan is all I usually have to use.  Here is my pit warming up to 225.


Usually takes about an hour to get the ribs prepped and the pit up to temp.  So at 11 am I put the 3 racks of ribs on the top rack of the smoker and closed it up for the next 3 hours.

Personally, I think the 3-2-1 method for ribs results in ribs that are bit too tender.  However, my family and friends absolutely love them super tender so I stick with what makes everyone happy.  In the 3-2-1 method you smoke the ribs for 3 hours, wrap them in foil, cook them for another 2 hours, unwrap them and smoke them for another hour.  Overall, this takes about 6.5 hours accounting for the wrapping and unwrapping.

After three hours, about 2 pm, I pulled the ribs from the smoker and we wrapped them in foil.  Many things can be put into the foil with the ribs, but we put a layer of honey, a layer of brown sugar, the rack of ribs, another layer brown sugar then another layer of honey.  We don’t use too much just a light layer of each.  We have done a lot of experimentation with the amount of honey and brown sugar to get the taste we like best.  In the past we also added a little apple juice into the foil, but in our experience it had a tendency to turn the ribs into mush, so we stopped adding it.  We actually found the ribs taste at least as good without it and don’t disintegrate in the process. Here are the ribs as I took them off to be wrapped and back on the smoker about 10 minutes later.

After 2 hours, at about 4:30 pm, I unwrapped the ribs and put them back onto the smoker to firm up.  Here is where I feel 2 hours maybe too much time in the foil.  Often, and this time was no different, an end rib bone or two will actually fall off as I lift the ribs out of the foil.  It only happened on one rack, this time, but to me its a sign that the ribs are actually too tender.  One of these days I will experiment with the timings and see if I can keep the ribs juicy but with a little more chew.  Here are the ribs out of the foil and back on the smoker for another hour.

After another hour, at about 5:30 pm, and I pulled the ribs off and they are ready to serve.


Here is the end result.

I still claim they were too tender, but my wife and kids love them.  For the data inclined, here is a graph (obtained via my CyberQLogger program) of the outside temp versus my pit temp throughout the day.

You can see the only dips in temp were when I opened the lid at 11, 2 and 4:30 and 5:30.  This cook went about as perfect as you can possibly get.  I am sure the steady 60 degree weather helped immensely.  I wish all cooks were this easy.

Any questions, just hit me up below.  Thanks!

Category: BBQ


Something witty! I'm a full-time software engineer, part-time streamer, PhD, RetroSpy developer, bipolar, Ultima fanboy and a video game hardware collector.