How Long to Smoke St Louis Ribs: (Ultimate Guide to Perfect Ribs)

Hey, Barbecue-lovers! It’s time to get your grills fired up and cook some amazing dishes. I’m here to share my foolproof recipe for St Louis ribs that’ll have you licking your fingers after the meal!

In this article, I am going to guide you through everything you need to know about making St Louis Ribs: from selecting the right cut of meat, prepping it for cooking, to setting up a smoking schedule. Plus, I’ll be sharing a few tips and tricks on how to make this dish extra delicious.

So buckle up as we take off on a mouthwatering adventure – because by the end of this post you will be ready to make perfect St Louis ribs every single time.

Let’s get started!

Preparation Steps for Smoking St. Louis Ribs

Before diving into the smoking process, let’s talk about the necessary preparation steps.

St. Louis ribs are a rich, juicy cut of pork, known for their uniform shape and meaty texture.

To bring out the best flavor and tenderness, there are a few steps you’ll want to take before you get them on the smoker.

9 Different Types of Ribs

Do you have to remove the membrane from St Louis ribs before smoking?

Good news, rib enthusiasts!

Most St. Louis-style ribs come with the membrane already removed.

The membrane is a thin, tough layer that can interfere with the absorption of flavours and could potentially give your ribs a chewy texture.

If you’ve bought your ribs and found out the membrane is still intact, don’t worry, removing it is simple.

How to remove the membrane

To remove the membrane, you’ll need a blunt knife or even just your fingers.

Start at one end of the rack, slide your fingers or the knife underneath the membrane and gently pry it away from the meat.

It can be a bit slippery, so gripping with a paper towel might make the job easier.

Removing this layer allows your rub to penetrate deeply, giving you even juicier, fall-off-the-bone ribs.

Applying the Rub to the Ribs

Once the membrane is removed, it’s time to apply your rub.

This spice blend adds layers of flavor to your ribs, complementing their natural juiciness.

You can use a store-bought BBQ rub, or make your own.

Don’t be shy when applying the rub; cover every nook and cranny of your ribs for maximum flavor.

The Rub Ingredients

Smoked Pork Ribs Marinate

There are countless rub recipes out there, but a traditional rub consists of brown sugar, paprika, black pepper, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper.

Feel free to experiment with your own combination of spices, just remember to balance the flavors to complement the rib’s natural taste.

Smoking the St. Louis Ribs

Now, let’s move on to the main event: smoking your St. Louis ribs.

Smoking is a fantastic method for cooking ribs because it infuses them with a deep, smoky flavor and keeps them incredibly tender.

3-2-1 Smoked St. Louis Ribs

Perhaps you’ve heard of the 3-2-1 method when it comes to smoking ribs.

This stands for 3 hours of smoking unwrapped, 2 hours wrapped in foil, and 1 hour unwrapped.

This method is popular and effective for achieving tender, flavorful ribs.

Detailed recipe steps

Start by preheating your smoker to 225°F, ideal for slow-cooking your ribs to perfection.

Once the smoker is ready, place your ribs on the grill, bone side down, and let them smoke for about 3 hours.

After the initial smoke, wrap the ribs in foil and return them to the grill for another 2 hours.

During this stage, you can add any additional flavorings such as apple juice or BBQ sauce.

Finally, remove the foil and smoke for another hour.

This final step allows the outside of the ribs to caramelize and become slightly crispy.

How to tell when St. Louis ribs are done

Your ribs are done when the internal temperature reaches between 198°F and 203°F.

A good meat thermometer is crucial here.

Another way to check is by giving the ribs a little twist.

If the meat is ready, the bones will start to loosen.

Alternatively, look for a 45-degree bend in the rack when you lift it from one end.

9 Different Types of Ribs - Grilled Baby Pork Ribs

After Smoking: Serving and Storage

After hours of patient smoking, it’s finally time to enjoy your St. Louis ribs!

But what about the leftovers?

How to serve St. Louis ribs

St. Louis ribs are best served immediately after smoking, while they’re still warm and tender.

They’re delicious on their own, but even better with a drizzle of BBQ sauce or a side of coleslaw and cornbread.

Storing & Reheating

To store leftover ribs, let them cool to room temperature, then wrap tightly in foil or place in an airtight container.

They can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Reheating Smoked St. Louis Ribs

To reheat your ribs, place them in a 225°F oven until they’re warmed through.

If you’re reheating frozen ribs, let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight before warming them in the oven.

Avoid using a microwave, as it can make the ribs rubbery.

Additional Information

Now that you’re a pro at smoking St. Louis ribs, let’s cover some common questions and handy tips.

Meat thermometer recommendations

A good meat thermometer is a must-have for smoking ribs.

Look for a digital, instant-read thermometer for the most accurate results.

Some popular and reliable brands include ThermoPro, Lavatools, and MEATER.

What to serve with St. Louis ribs

St. Louis ribs are versatile and pair well with a variety of sides.

Some favorites include cornbread, baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad, or mac and cheese.

For drinks, consider a cold beer or sweet iced tea.

Optional Additions

While your St. Louis ribs will be delicious on their own, you can always add a little extra flavor with a homemade sauce or glaze.

For the smoked ribs beer and honey sauce (or use BBQ sauce)

To make a simple beer and honey sauce, combine 1 cup of beer, 1/2 cup of honey, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, and 1/4 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce in a saucepan.

Simmer until reduced by half.

You can brush this on your ribs during the last hour of smoking for an extra layer of flavor.

For the BBQ beer sauce (optional finisher sauce / BBQ glaze)

If you prefer a thicker, stickier glaze, try a BBQ beer sauce.

Combine 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce, 1/2 cup of beer, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and 1/4 cup of honey in a saucepan.

Simmer until thickened, then brush over your ribs just before serving.

Remember, smoking St. Louis ribs is as much about the process as it is the end result.

So take your time, enjoy the smoke, and most of all, enjoy your delicious ribs!


What are St. Louis Style Ribs?

St. Louis Style Ribs are pork spare ribs trimmed of the sternum bone, cartilage and flank. These cuts of rib come from the pork belly and are flatter than baby back ribs. They have a higher fat content which makes them especially flavorful when cooked with a BBQ sauce or dry rub.

How Does Smoking Make Ribs Moist?

Smoking helps keep ribs moist by slowly cooking the meat in an enclosed chamber with low heat over indirect heat from charcoal or wood chips. The smoke particles created during this process cause condensation, helping to keep the ribs moist while keeping them juicy and tender at the same time. Additionally, using apple cider vinegar, apple juice or other marinades can add additional moisture to help ensure that the ribs remain juicy throughout their cooking time.

What Should I Wrap My Ribs In When Cooking Them?

Heavy duty aluminum foil is often used when smoking or grilling ribs to create a “steam pocket” that will help keep them moist while they cook and develop flavor. To do this, wrap your seasoned ribs in foil along with some water, beer or other liquid before placing them on your grill or smoker. Be sure to remove any excess air pockets so that they stay sealed tight during the entire cooking process!

How Long Do You Smoke St Louis Style Ribs For?

Depending on your smoker temperature, you should smoke St Louis Style Ribs for 2–4 hours until they reach an internal temperature of 195°F–205°F (90°C–96°C). The best way to check for doneness is by using a digital food thermometer and testing for tenderness – when you poke it into one of the thicker sections near where you applied your dry rub/BBQ sauce it should be able to easily penetrate without much resistance if it’s ready!

How do I prepare wrapped ribs?

To prepare wrapped ribs, first rub the rib meat generously with a dry or wet rib rub. Wrap the ribs in aluminum foil and then place into a smoker or gas grill on indirect heat, ensuring that the heat source is not directly below the rib cage. Smoke over low heat for several hours until your desired internal temperature (around 205°F) is reached. Remove from smoker/grill and add BBQ sauce if desired before letting rest.

What are some tips to ensure my ribs turn out juicy?

When smoking pork ribs, it’s important to remember that fat equals flavor! So make sure you use fatty pieces of pork with plenty of saturated fat marbling throughout the meat. Additionally, wrap them in plastic wrap before adding dry or wet rubs as this helps keep moisture inside of the meat as it cooks so that your finished product will be juicy and tender. Lastly, when using a pellet grill always cook bone side down so that all natural juices remain close to the bone as they cook resulting in juicier results.

What is an ideal prep time for smoked ribs?

Smoked ribs usually require about 1-½ hours depending on how smoky you want them to be and what type of smoker you’re using – electric smokers tend to require less time than charcoal or wood-fired ones, for example. After cooking on indirect heat at a low temperature (between 225°F – 275°F), allow 20 minutes per pound plus 10 additional minutes per pound after adding BBQ sauce, if desired.

Can I apply sauce while smoking meats like brisket or pork?

Generally, it’s not recommended to add BBQ sauce while smoking meats such as brisket or pork because most sauces contain sugar which can burn easily on direct flames resulting in bitter flavors instead of sweet ones. Instead wait until after smoking has completed then brush liberally with your favorite bbq sauce before serving for best results!

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