Spare Ribs

St. Louis Style Spare Ribs

Cecil Renshaw
Total Time 6 hrs 25 mins


  • 2 or more racks of pork spare ribs
  • Yellow mustard
  • Famous Dave’s Rib Rub
  • Brown sugar
  • Honey
  • Butter
  • Apple Juice
  • Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce
  • Plenty of heavy duty foil and foil pan


  • There is a thick membrane attached to the bone side. Starting in the middle of the rack, loosen the membrane using a butter knife or other semi-sharp object and then work your hands under it.  Pull straight up on it while holding down the middle of the ribs with the other hand. The membrane will pull loose from both sides and come clean off.  Tip: Use a paper towel or catfish pliers if you need a better grip.
  • Removing the Flap.  Sometimes there is also a flap of meat that runs along the bone side of spare ribs. This should be cut off close to the base of the meat to allow for more even cooking.
  • Seasoning the Ribs.  As usual, you’ll need something to help the rub to stick. I either use olive oil (spray works great) or plain yellow mustard. Mustard leaves no taste once it works like a charm. After applying the rub, leave it sitting for about 10 minutes (if you have time). I like to leave it sitting whenever possible to allow the rub to absorb moisture from the ribs and the mustard causing less of it to fall off when it’s flipped over. Flip the ribs over and repeat the mustard/rub process on the other side
  • Leave the ribs sitting for about 10 minutes until they absorb moisture from the ribs while you get the smoker ready. Set your smoker for 225 degrees. I like to use Apple wood.
  • The 3-2-1 Method: The 3-2-1 method is a 3-step cooking process with 225 degree heat applied the entire time.
  • 3 Hours: Place the ribs on the smoker grates unwrapped and let them smoke for about 3 hours at 225°F.  I don’t mop or baste during this first stage.
  • 2 Hours: Place them into a foil pan. I usually use several pans so the ribs are not stacked on top of each other. You may need to cut them in half to fit your pan. Drizzle and brush with honey.  Sprinkle brown sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of the rub and use the brush to fully coat the ribs. Flip and do the same to the other side. Place a pat of softened butter onto the center of the rack of the ribs. Place about 1/4 inch of apple juice in the bottom (do not wash off the rub when you pour the apple juice into the pan). Cover the pan with foil. Place the pans in the smoker and let the cook at 225°F for about 2 hours.
  • 1 Hour: After two hours, remove the ribs from the foil pan and baste with your favorite bbq sauce. We love Sweet Baby Ray's. Continue to cook the ribs directly on the racks for about 1 hour with smoke.
  • The 3-2-1 method which indicates number of hours but everyone has their own level of tenderness that they like. Step 2 is where the tenderizing happens and you can easily adjust this number to increase or decrease the tenderness. If you remove say 30 minutes from step 2, simply add an extra 30 minutes to step 3.  It might end up being a 3/1.5/1.5 method if you follow my previous example. If they are not tender to your liking, then try 3-3-1. I recommend you try it for the first time at 3-2-1 and then adjust once you see how you like it.
  • Once you take them off the smoker, let them rest for about 10 minutes prior to serving.


Important Information * Prep Time: 1 hour * Cook Time: 6 hours * Smoker Temp: 225°F * Meat Finish Temp: 185-190°F or very flexible and lots of bend. * Recommended Wood: Apple Wood.