Smoked BBQ Side Ribs

3-2-1 Smoked BBQ Side Ribs 

Smoked BBQ Side Ribs are one of my favourite dinners. Have been since I was a little kid. My dad, has been making me ribs several different ways for many years. My favourite being, smoked. Smoked ribs are not hard to do.

If you create a plan and follow it the best you can, you will have a successful cook every time. I always write down a game plan starting when I want to pull them off and all the way down to the beginning where you put them on.

The easiest way to smoke ribs is to use the 3-2-1 method. These numbers represent hours of cook time. This recipe is one that I use for my family and customers as well. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Remember to always make notes as you go, so you can either repeat your successful cook, or tweak where it maybe went slightly sideways.


  • 1 rack of side ribs
  • 4 tbsp mustard
  • salt & pepper (3:1 ratio / pepper : salt)
  • 1 cup of your favourite bbq sauce (or make your own)

Sauce :

(create ahead of time)

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar 



When you go to your local butcher, be sure to grab the nicest, thickets, cleanest rack you can get. Marbling is great. Fat is good and makes for more tender and juicy Smoked BBQ Side Ribs.

Pre-heat your grill to 225ºF

Cleaning it up :

  • To begin, you need to make a choice. We start by cleaning up the rack and squaring off all the sides trimming the excess pieces. This may seem like a slight waste, but those will just burn up anyways, so it is better to take them off now. Your finished rack will have a much cleaner look to it. It also helps with air flow within the cooker. Here’s where the choice comes in. some people like to remove the sternum bone. This is completely up to you and it is a personal preference. If the skirt is still attached, remove this and save it. It is good meat and works perfectly in sausage. You will often hear that it is necessary to remove the hidden membrane before you begin to cook. This is completely up to yo. It does not need to be removed. If you have time, take it off, but if you are doing a bunch for a group, I suggest leaving it on. 

Slather & Rub :

  • Now it’s time to slather the ribs with mustard. You do not need much. You just want a thin layer covering the entire thing. If you put too much, it will just flake off. I’ve suggested using 4 tbsp. You may need less or you ay need a touch more. 
  • Now add the salt and pepper. I like to mix my salt and pepper ahead of time into one shaker with the ratios I have listed above. Then sprinkle it all over the pork starting at one end and moving to the other. Try to get a uniform, even layer. 

Time to Cook THOSE Smoked BBQ Side Ribs:

  • Now it is time to get those ribs on the smoker.
  • Once your smoker is up to temp, add the ribs. They will sit here now for roughly 3 hours. (the first stage in the “3-2-1” method). 

Time to Wrap:

  • After 3 hours, it is now time to remove. the ribs and wrap them in aluminum foil.
  • Lay out a large sheet of foil shiny side facing up. You want the full side out.
  • Give the foil a spritz of the sauce you created ahead of time and listed above.
  • Lay the ribs on the foil meat side down and fold in the ends. Tuck the foil under the ribs. Walk your fingers along the foil, but be sure not to tear the foil. Now fold the top and bottom over and tightly pull it in. This is another point where the bones might tear the foil. Be careful. Walk your fingers along the edge and take your time. Ripped foil defeats the purpose.
  • You can now lay the ribs back on the grill meat side up. You do not want to cook this too far. You want to preserve as much fat in the ribs as possible. This stage usually takes roughly 2 hours at the same temperature of 225ºF. The fats will render in the foil, trapping it inside. 

Last Stage :

  • After roughly 2 hours, remove the ribs from the smoker. 
  • Carefully unwrap the foil so as to not mark up your ribs. You’ve done all this work, you want them to look clean when you’re done. 
  • Now is the time to lay on an even layer of your favourite bbq sauce. Brush the sauce over the ribs and make a uniform layer. The ribs at this point are very delicate, so take your time and be gentle. 
  • Place the ribs back on and crank the smoker up to 270ºF. This will turn that lovely bbq sauce into a beautiful layer of flavour with a matted, yet glossy look. 
  • This stage may not take the full hour. It may be as little as 30 minutes. Keep an eye on them and check every so often. You want the ribs tender, but not falling off the bone. You still want to be able to slice them once they are done. 
  • You should notice the bones sticking out at some point. This pull back is normal. 
  • Remove the ribs, when they are done. You can do this by touching and feeling them. Taking the ribs temperature is not really going to help you here. This is learned from experience. You should be fine if you follow the 3-2-1 method, but it is still important to check in on them as every rack is different. This is where the notebook comes in. Make notes of your times and temps as you go, as well everything else you did along the way. This will help you correct mistakes or tune in even further a successful cook. 

The Cut:

  • I will usually let the ribs rest for 20-30 minutes after I pull them off the grill. I will often wrap them in loose foil or peach paper and place in a cooler. Resting meat is very important after any cook. It allows for the juices to soak back up into the meat.
  • Once rested, cut the ribs between the bones. I will cut with meat side up because it looks better, but bone side up gives you a better visual. 
  • Last step..Enjoy your hard work!


A good quality slicer makes life a lot easier when cutting the ribs. A nice clean line will present better to your guests and there is just something so satisfying slicing into meat with a beautiful blade that cuts so smooth. Personally, when I am making Smoked BBQ Side Ribs, I use my 12” Gladiator Slicer from Dalstrong (This is the US Link) or you can go to and use the discount code CHEFKEVIN to receive 10% off your purchase. . I have several slicers that I use for different cuts. 

Watch Me Make Smoked BBQ Side Ribs

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