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Smoked Pork Spare Ribs

Smoked Pork Spare Ribs – This tantalizing barbecue classic features tender meat, flavorful bark, and a rich smoky flavor. Get ready to whip up an incredible homemade rib rub and achieve that coveted fall-off-the-bone texture that will have everyone asking for seconds. 

Juicy and tender smoked pork spare ribs, glazed with a rich and savory barbecue sauce, served alongside a medley of grilled vegetables. The ribs are caramelized to perfection, with a smoky char that adds depth to their mouthwatering aroma.

Spare ribs take a little bit of skill and a good dose of patience to perfect. But even if you aren’t a seasoned pitmaster, you can master this recipe on the first try. All you really need is a good homemade rub, which you’ll learn to make here, and plenty of time. 🙌

And sure, these ribs take several hours to make, but believe you me when I tell you they are worth it. They turned out to be the best-smoked pork spare rib recipe I’ve ever tried. Besides, this deliciousness is even more hands-off if you can set it and forget it in a pellet grill. But it’s worth it even if you smoke it the old-fashioned way.

I love to start mid-morning whenever my family gets together on the weekend. We usually have a light lunch and enjoy each other’s company while keeping an eye on those tasty ribs. When supper time rolls around, we wrap up an already fun day with a spectacular dinner. 🥰

The Best Rub for Smoked Pork Spare Ribs

I am a die-hard fan of the homemade rub I’ve included in this recipe. It’s taken me a couple of years, but I consider this my perfected version. In my humble opinion, it’s insanely delicious and makes the most crusty, flavorful bark you could ever ask for. I highly recommend it.

That said, the best rub for your smoked pork spare ribs is the one you love best. If you already have your favorite pork rub, feel free to use that instead. Still, you won’t regret giving my homemade rub a try at least once. 😉

Recipe Ingredients

Recipe ingredients for smoking awesome meat covered in tasty BBQ sauce, chillin' with garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, and brown sugar. Got a cool rosemary sprig hangin' out too, for that extra flair
  • Pork Spare Ribs – Don’t confuse spare ribs with baby back or St. Louis-style ribs. You want the full rack of spare ribs for this recipe. 
  • Spare Rib Rub – The key to a crusty bark is in the rub. You’ll need freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, dried oregano, dark brown sugar, chili powder, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and cumin. Don’t skip the sugar, which helps that delicious bark form.
  • BBQ Sauce – Your favorite BBQ sauce works for the final cooking stage because who doesn’t want a good sticky sauce coating their smoked ribs?

How to Smoke Pork Spare Ribs

Step-by-step guide on creating an incredible rub and seasoning the meat before smoking

Prepare the Ribs

  1. The Rub – In a small bowl, mix together the freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, dried oregano, dark brown sugar, chili powder, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and cumin. Stir the ingredients together until evenly distributed. (Photo 1-2)
  2. Prepare the Ribs – Pat the pork spare ribs dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Next, remove the membrane on the backside of the ribs by sliding your fingers under the thin membrane of the pork ribs and pulling it off. (Photo 3)
  3. Season – Rub ribs generously with Worcestershire sauce or prepared mustard. Season both sides of the ribs with a dry rub. (Photo 4)

Make the Spare Ribs

A detailed walk through for smoking meat to impress
  1. Smoke – Place the ribs directly on the smoker, meat side up, and smoke for three hours. (Photo 5)
  2. Wrap – After three hours, use an oven mitt to carefully transfer ribs to foil or parchment paper. Wrap them up, completely sealing the ribs. Continue cooking for approximately 1½-2 hours. (Photo 6-7)
  3. Unwrap – Carefully remove ribs from the heat with an oven mitt and place them on a clean hard surface. Open slowly; be careful of the hot steam. (Photo 8)
  4. BBQ Sauce – Brush both sides of the ribs with BBQ sauce (optional). Remove ribs from the foil paper, put them back in the smoker, and smoke for 30-45 minutes to get a nice, sticky sauce coating. (Photo 9-10)
  5. Final Stretch – The ribs are done when the meat pulls away from the bones, and there is little resistance when you insert a toothpick or probe. The internal temperature should be around 195°F (90°C).
  6. Serve with your favorite sides, and enjoy! 😋
Tender smoked spare ribs, dripping with juices and coated in a luscious, savory barbecue sauce.

Recipe Variations

  • Dry Rub Swap: Customize the dry rub all you like. Make it extra spicy by adding more cayenne and chili powder, or make it mild by leaving them out altogether. You could play with warm spices like cinnamon or add other spices you enjoy.
  • Marinate: Marinating spare ribs is not strictly necessary, given their long cook time, but it can yield tasty results. Try soaking the ribs in beer along with herbs, garlic, and spices for added flavor.
  • More Flavor: Experiment with herb and fruit infusions. Place sprigs of rosemary and slices of oranges, lemons, or limes under the ribs while smoking for aromatic and zesty notes.

Tips and Tricks

  • If you notice the ribs browning fairly quickly during the last stage of smoking, remove them from the heat. You don’t want burnt ribs! 🙅🏿‍♀️
  • You can place a water pan in the smoker to help maintain a moist cooking environment. This keeps the meat from drying out during the long smoking process. 
  • Spare ribs typically take around 5-6 hours to smoke, but the exact time varies based on your smoker’s temperature, the size of the ribs, and other factors.

Make-Ahead Instructions

  • To make spare ribs ahead of time, let them cool in the foil packet after smoking and then store them in the fridge for up to three days or in the freezer for up to three months.
  • Before serving, take them out of the fridge and let them reach room temperature. Then, reheat them in the foil at 350℉ (177℃) in the oven or grill. Take them out when heated through, and serve!
Juicy and tender smoked pork ribs, glazed with a rich and savory barbecue sauce. The ribs are caramelized to perfection, with a smoky char that adds depth to their mouthwatering aroma.

Serving and Storage Instructions

Serve spare ribs hot off the smoker with all your favorite BBQ sides.

Store leftovers in the fridge for 3-5 days in an airtight container. Reheat them on the grill or in the oven at 350℉ (177℃) until heated through.

FAQs

What’s the 3-2-1 method for smoking ribs?

The 3-2-1 method is a common approach to smoking ribs. It involves smoking the unwrapped ribs for 3 hours, wrapping them in foil and smoking for 2 more hours, unwrapping them, brushing them with sauce, and smoking for 1 more hour. It’s similar to the method I’ve used in this recipe. 👍

What’s the difference between baby back ribs and spare ribs?

Baby back ribs come from the loin area, are smaller, and have a more tender meat-to-bone ratio. Spare ribs come from the belly area, are larger, and have more meat between the bones. 

What wood should I use for smoking ribs?

Mild to medium woods work well for pork ribs. Fruit woods like apple, cherry, and peach or and hardwoods like oak and hickory provide excellent flavor.

What Goes With Smoked Pork Spare Ribs

Serve up your smoked ribs with all your favorite BBQ sides. Pickled jalapenos, pickled onions, BBQ baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad, or whatever else floats your boat!

Sometimes I like to make the whole meal in the smoker with smoked baked potatoes and smoked cabbage. Oh! And don’t forget smoked pineapple for dessert. 😋

More Succulent Pork Recipes to Try

Conclusion

These slow-smoked, tender, juicy spare ribs will make your week! Crank up the smoker and get ready to delight your friends and family with this classic recipe. I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments. 🫶

Savor the succulence of smoked spare ribs, impeccably glazed in a savory barbecue sauce.

Smoked Pork Spare Ribs

Get ready to dig into some seriously delicious smoked pork spare ribs! Picture juicy ribs with that perfect smoky flavor, slathered in finger-lickin' barbecue sauce. A BBQ lover's dream that's all about good times and even better eats!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pork, smoked, Spare Ribs
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 900kcal
Author: Imma

Ingredients

  • 1-2 racks pork spare rib
  • salt to taste

Pork Rub

  • 1 tablespoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, mix freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, dried oregano, dark brown sugar, chili powder, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and cumin. Stir until evenly distributed.
  • Pat the pork spare ribs dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
  • Remove the membrane on the backside of the ribs by sliding your fingers under the thin membrane of the pork ribs and pulling it off. This is optional.
  • Rub ribs generously with Worcestershire sauce or prepared mustard. Season both sides of the ribs with the dry rub.
  • Place the ribs in the smoker directly on the grate, meat side up, and smoke for three hours.
  • After three hours, using an oven mitt, carefully transfer the ribs to foil or parchment paper and wrap them to completely seal the ribs. Continue cooking for approximately 1½-2 hours.
  • Carefully remove ribs from the heat with an oven mitt and place them on a clean hard surface. Open slowly; be careful of the hot steam.
  • Brush both sides of the ribs with BBQ sauce (optional).
  • Remove ribs from the foil paper, put them back in the smoker, and smoke for 30-45 minutes to get a nice, sticky sauce coating.
  • The ribs are done when the meat pulls away from the bones, and there is little resistance when you insert a toothpick or probe. The internal temperature should be around 195°F (90°C).
  • Serve with pickled jalapenos, onions, barbecue beans, coleslaw, and potato salad. Or whatever rocks your boat!Enjoy!

Notes

  • During the last stage of smoking, if ribs are browning fairly quickly, remove from the heat. You do not want burned ribs.
  • You can place a water pan in the smoker to help maintain a moist cooking environment. This can prevent the meat from drying out during the long smoking process.
  • Spare ribs typically take around 5 to 6 hours to smoke, but the exact time can vary based on your smoker’s temperature, the size of the ribs, and other factors.
  • Please remember that the nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary significantly based on the products used in the recipe.

Nutrition

Serving: 100g | Calories: 900kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 48g | Fat: 72g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 12g | Monounsaturated Fat: 26g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 242mg | Sodium: 274mg | Potassium: 894mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1721IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 96mg | Iron: 5mg

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