Smoked Pork Back Ribs

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Dive into these smokey, tender, delicious smoked pork ribs. You’ll love this no fuss recipe, and the amazing results.

You might think that because I have a food blog that I’ve always been a good cook, that I was born with it.

I’m here to tell you that no, none of those things are true. This is like one of those “maybe it’s Maybelline” moments.

Believe it or not, I could hardly cook when Kevy and I got married, I’m pretty sure he taught me all the basics.

Now, I’m a self proclaimed kick-ass cook. And so is he.

And these back ribs? Oh baby, these are ALL Kevy.

This recipe is dedicated to learning.

stacked smoked pork ribs.
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Tips + Tricks

No. 1 –> To easily remove the membrane use a butter knife in between 2 ribs. You only need to get the butter knife under the silver skin enough to get a finger underneath it. From there, use your fingers to slowly pull up the membrane until it’s completely detached all the way across the rack, from there it’s quite easy to pull up and remove it completely.

No. 2 –> This recipe also works with side ribs, spare ribs, or St Louis style ribs, but we much prefer pork back ribs in this house.

No. 3 –> Kevy said that tip number three is #meatmagic. I’m not sure exactly what kind of alchemy he’s talking about, but if you follow his recipe, you’ll be making your own meat magic.

No. 4 –> Look for a rack of ribs that has a nice marbling of fat throughout the rack and a somewhat even thickness, this will improve the accuracy of your cook.

smoked ribs on an orange tray


There’s a printable recipe card below with all the exact quantities and directions, this is just a quick glance at the ingredients before we get too far into the recipe!

  • pork back ribs
  • brown sugar
  • pepper
  • salt
  • garlic powder
  • paprika
A man's hand cutting apart the ribs with a granton blade.

How to make

  1. Fire it up. Start your smoker according to the manufacturer’s directions and set to 185f.
  2. Take it off. Remove the silver skin from the bone side of the ribs. Kevy’s trick for this is to slide a butter knife underneath the membrane and wiggle it around till he’s got a hole large enough for his finger, then pulls and stretches with his fingers till he’s able to lift a swath perpendicular to the rib rack, from there it’s as simple as grabbing the loop of silver skin and pulling towards each end to remove. It’s much easier to get off that way.
  3. Get spicy. At this point, you can either mix the rub or sprinkle it on in layers. For this one, Kevy likes to layer his flavour, but either way works. Just remember, paprika only goes on the meat side.
  4. Get smoky. It’s time to put the ribs on the smoker. Place them on the smoker meat side down and smoke at 185f for 3 hours.
  5. FLIP! It’s time to flip your ribs meat side up and increase the smoker temperature to 225f. cook for 1 hour.
  6. Get sauced. Your ribs have now been cooking for 1 hour, meat side up, at 225f and it’s time to baste them with your favourite bbq sauce. Sauce only the meat side at this point, and cook for another hour at 225f.
  7. Bring the heat. Turn up your smoker to 325f. Flip the ribs one last time, and sauce the bone side. Then cook for 30 minutes. There are a couple of reasons for this last 30 minutes; this positions the ribs so they are easy to cut when they come off the smoker, and the higher temperature caramelizes the sugars in your bbq sauce.
  8. Give it a rest. The ribs are now off the smoker, after smoking at 185f for 3 hours, 225f for 2 hours and 325f for 30 minutes. They deserve a break. Let the ribs sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting into them. Cut in between the rib bones as shown.

Which Ribs?

There are 3 basic cuts of pork ribs, all of them work great for this recipe.

Back ribs or baby back ribs

These ribs come from the highest point on the pig’s back and are generally smaller and leaner than spare ribs. That said, they are my favourite ribs for this recipe.

Side or spare ribs

These ribs are located in the middle section, below the back ribs. They tend to be more affordable and the most popular cut of pork ribs. These ribs have cartilage and gristle on the bottom side of the ribs, for this reason, we prefer back ribs.

St. Louis ribs

These ribs are further prepared side ribs. St Louis ribs are cut into a neat and tidy rectangular shape and the cartilage and gristle is removed.

I have never seen these ribs in the wild frontier that I call the supermarket, and they are definitely a less common cut.

Ribs with spices and sugar.

This smoked baby back rib recipe owes it’s glory to the smoker. Here’s the Traeger we own, love, and use extensively! The Timberline 1300 is the biggest, baddest Traeger we could find, it’s double-walled for better insulation, and has 3 stainless steel racks for all your smoking needs, not to mention WiFire! You can get a Timberline from Home Depot or Williams Sonoma.

Cut smoked ribs.

Other smoked recipes you’ll love!

📖 Printable Recipe

stacked smoked ribs.

Smoked Pork Back Ribs

Allyson Letal
Use this easy recipe for tender, meaty smoked pork ribs. Use back ribs, side ribs or St Louis ribs.
4.13 from 8 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 5 hours 40 minutes
Course Smoked
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 289 kcal


  • 2 racks pork back ribs
  • ½ cup BBQ sauce

bone side:

  • 1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar

Meat side:

  • 1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • cup packed brown sugar


  • Preheat your smoker to 185f.
  • With 2 racks pork back ribs meat side down, use a rounded butter knife to work between to ribs to pull up the silver skin membrane. Do this on both sets of ribs.
  • Combine 1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper, ½ tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, and ½ cup packed brown sugar, in a medium bowl and sprinkle the spices onto the ribs.
  • Flip the ribs and combine 1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper, ½ tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon paprika, and ⅓ cup packed brown sugar, before sprinkling on the meaty side of the ribs.
  • Place your ribs on the smoker meat side down and smoke for 3 hours at 185f.
  • After 3 hours, flip the ribs meat side up, and increase the temperature to 225f for 1 hour.
  • Once the ribs have cooked meat side up at 225f for 1 hour, use about a third of the½ cup BBQ sauce to give them a light baste of sauce on the bone side. Cook for another hour at 225f.
  • Flip the ribs again, meat side up, and give them a quick baste with sauce on the meat side, then turn up your grill to 325f for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the ribs from the smoker, place them meat side up, and allow them to sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting in between the bones and serving.


I prefer pork back ribs, but this recipe will work with back ribs, side ribs, and St Louis style ribs as well.


Serving: 1gCalories: 289kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 14gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 1126mgPotassium: 311mgFiber: 1gSugar: 28gVitamin A: 495IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 58mgIron: 1mg
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Traeger smoked baby back ribs pinterest graphic.

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  1. “ Remove the ribs from the smoker, place them face down, and …”

    Up to this point you’ve made the distinction between meat side up or bones side up. What is “face down”?